Recruiters should recognize that candidates are a lot like customers — their overall experience, from the application process to on-site interviews, impacts recruitment efforts both short-term and long-term.

Just like a customer who has a negative experience with your brand is likely to share that with friends and family, a candidate who has a sub-par experience with your recruiters is likely to share that with fellow job-seekers.

Experience has taught me that some recruiters tend to go through the motions and never stray outside their “job description”, doing what’s necessary but not much more. I call these the automated recruiters, the type who will respond robotically, with generic rejection lines like, “We regret to inform you…

But by treating candidates with kindness and making an effort to personalize their experience, recruiters can make a lasting impact. I was fortunate enough to encounter this type of personalization during my first internship hunt. A recruiter sent a follow-up email the day after my on-site interview, asking if I’d been offered a coffee or water, and whether the interviewers were respectful of my time. This wasn’t a survey, but an actual human demonstrating concern for my experience. This left a lasting impression that I use this to frame my correspondence with candidates.

Recruitment is part of the Operations team’s role at Sendwithus, and we’ve discovered a few simple elements that help create a positive candidate experience, leading to constructive interactions and a higher rate of return applicants.

Personalized Correspondence

When candidates ask for feedback about their application, we always try to communicate with a personal touch. We also try to put ourselves in the candidate’s shoes to better understand what they’re looking for. My personal strategy for doing this is by addressing what the candidate is asking and why they’re asking it. The example below is a candidate’s response regarding the the fact that we passed on their application. I’ve highlighted the what and the why:

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The What is the candidate’s reiteration of their interest in an SDR position and the addition of some personal traits they feel will help. Next, the why is the hope that their application will be reconsidered and if not, that their tenacity will push them to the top of the applicant pool for future openings.

The next step is crafting a response that addresses both the what and the why:

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When answering the what, I made sure to recognize the drive to improve their skills and their eagerness to work with customers. In order to better address the why, I had the hiring team review this new information and reassess the candidate for the role. A decision was made not to reconsider, I offered feedback on what was still missing from the application, so the candidate had something concrete to improve on for the next time they apply. I also let the candidate know we appreciate them keeping us in mind and that we will touch base once a position that better matches their experience opens up.

Moments later, the candidate responded with a positive email:

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Candidate responses like this show me that our communication process is working.

Responsiveness Matters

Candidates often apply to companies that align with their values and where they believe their strengths could be of use even when there is no position posted. Doing so can be a leap of faith, one that often requires considerable courage, so it’s important to understand where the candidate is coming from. The example below is a response to a who had contacted us for a second time, seeking a role we weren’t hiring for just yet. I responded instantly, reassuring them that if an opportunity opens in the future, we would definitely reach out:

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In minutes, the candidate responded with:

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This kind of simple interaction helps build relationships with candidates who are more likely to apply again. A WorkplaceTrends study revealed that candidates are more than three times as likely to apply to your company again if you keep them informed of their application status. Candidates appreciate a response after putting themselves out there – it demonstrates a certain level of respect.

Candidate Support

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From pre-screen scheduling to rounds of onsite interviews, the goal is to make the whole process as smooth and painless as possible. As an Operations Coordinator, I strive to protect the interests of the candidate, and support them as much as possible to create the best interview experience. I do this by setting clear expectations, answering questions, addressing concerns, and ensuring they’re comfortable in our office. As soon as the candidate comes through the door (or email, or phone screen), you, the company, are also in an interview so you better ace it. According to Lever, 83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, while 87% of talent say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.” (Kiran Dhillon).

A recruiter should be measured against multiple KPIs that directly impact the hiring pipeline. One of the most important ones that is often overlooked is candidate experience. In other words, act with courtesy and respect, personalize their experience, and candidates will take notice. It can mean the difference between that great candidate accepting your offer or declining it.

 

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