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January 17, 2022 | 5 min read
How To Engage Candidates During The Hiring Process


While your hiring process may have evolved over the years, providing a strong candidate experience is still paramount to your success. From the moment you reach out to an applicant until you extend a job offer, all your actions and communications (or lack thereof) have implications. Many companies turn to digital recruiting tools to help facilitate and accelerate this process, but unintentionally lose the critical element of humanized touch.

In other words—your preferred candidate is more likely to accept your offer if they are treated like a person, not a reference number. This ultimately comes down to ensuring candidates feel heard, responded to, and respected. To accomplish this, you need to care about candidate engagement.

Why? Think about it. Active job seekers typically fire off one to two applications a day—maybe even more in a candidate-driven market. If you are not doing enough to keep their attention, they’ll quickly lose interest and move on. This can lead you to miss out on a lot of talented people, especially in a competitive hiring environment! On the other hand, keeping candidates engaged is a great way to generate buzz and excitement about working for your company.

Continue reading to learn how to engage candidates throughout the hiring process.

Respond to new applicants

25% respondents to our annual Hiring Outlook, cite “a lack of updates” as the most frustrating part of the interview process. With job seekers applying to multiple companies at once, you can lose a qualified applicant before you even begin reviewing their resume.

Utilize automation software to set up replies to anyone who has applied. This can be a simple acknowledgement that lets a candidate know their application was submitted properly and received. If you can, it’s helpful to provide a timeframe of when they can expect to hear back if they are a fit.

Have an outreach schedule

Before you start the hiring process, you’ll want to come up with your own timeline and expectations for outreach. This includes setting aside dates and times for initial interviews, making a final decision on a candidate, and having all the necessary documents ready for them to officially join your company. This schedule will help you stay accountable for moving the hiring process along and communicating with candidates—setting the stage for a successful offer acceptance with one of your top choices. Read also: 4 Ways To Speed Up The Hiring Process To Win Over Top Talent 

Be proactive about communicating

Throughout the hiring process, it’s critical that you know how to keep candidates engaged by being proactive about your outreach. Instead of potential hires reaching out to you about next steps in the process, you should be the one to initiate those conversations. For example, if you’re conducting multiple rounds of interviews or waiting on feedback from other hiring managers, proactively keep candidates informed of where they stand as well as what next steps look like. 

Share more information about your company

When moving a candidate to the next step of the hiring process, it’s always a great idea to share more information about working for the company. Whether that’s through employee testimonials, benefits and other perks, employee achievements, or unique company initiatives, these assets should help the prospective hire envision themselves working at the company. When possible, try to tailor your messaging and content to the specific role the individual is applying to or the team they will be joining. Taking this extra step can not only help you keep candidates engaged, but get them more excited about working for the company.

Provide essential details about the interview

Interviews can be nerve-wracking. You can mitigate some of this stress by being more transparent about details for the interview. This includes the time and location, the questions being asked (behavioral vs. skills based), and who is conducting or attending the interview. If you are utilizing a video interview process, you should communicate information such as the link for joining, approximately how long the call will last, and if anyone else from the team will be joining.

Get the team involved

While the job may be a perfect fit for a candidate on paper, to make an informed decision, they’ll need a more realistic view into their day-to-day and the dynamics of the department they are joining. To do this, make sure you get their potential team involved in the hiring process! This can be especially critical during a remote interview process, when candidates cannot see your office or the culture in action.

Don’t ghost

Communicating professionally with candidates is also important when you don’t have an update! If it’s been a while since you last spoke, make the effort to check in and let them know you are still interested in moving forward with them. If not, you risk losing them to another employer! At the same time, be transparent with candidates when you are changing focus or not moving them forward in the process. Not giving applicants closure can actually hurt your employer brand in the long run. Not only is it unprofessional, but word can spread fast. This can prevent you from attracting new talent, as well as engaging with former candidates you want to revisit for future roles. 

Answer their questions promptly

Even if you’re proactive in your outreach, there’s a good chance that candidates will still have questions during the interview process. While you should be prepared to answer all of their questions, from what remote tools your company is offering to what your expectations are should they be hired, there may be times where you don’t have an immediate answer. In this case, you should promise and commit to quickly getting them a response. If you find yourself in a position like this, set a goal to respond to their request within the day. This way, a potential hire knows that if they do decide to join your company, you’ll be attentive to their needs throughout their time with you.

Set them up for successful onboarding

Once you’ve made your hiring decision and your preferred candidate has accepted their offer, don’t think that the hiring process is over! While you’re close to the finish line, you aren’t actually done with the hiring process until you’ve started onboarding and training your new hire. Before their first day, be sure to give them an overview of your onboarding and training process. As their start date gets closer, be in touch about the details of their first day—including what time they’ll be starting and who they will be meeting with. Starting a new job can come with a mix of emotions, from excitement to nervousness. Setting expectations for their first few weeks can give them the tools needed to start on the right foot! 

Looking for more hiring and onboarding tips? Check out our annual Hiring Outlook!

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