Win the War for Talent by Prioritizing the Candidate Experience

Jun 13, 2024

Hiring managers have a lot to focus on when they’re trying to fill a position. They have to recruit strong candidates, finagle schedules to get all the decision-makers in the same room at the same time, evaluate candidates to see if they can successfully do the job and will be a good cultural fit, and work with HR and accounting to put together a strong offer — all while doing their normal day-to-day jobs.

Unfortunately, they can do all of those things perfectly — and still have their dream candidate decline the offer at the end of it all. Because in their long list of things to consider, too many hiring managers overlook one of the most important parts of the hiring process: making sure the candidate has a great experience.

Hiring Managers are Sales Managers, Too

It’s important for a hiring manager to evaluate candidates and find the best person for the role. But keep in mind, candidates are also evaluating their interviewers and the company as a whole. Great candidates aren’t going to be begging for a job, especially in a candidate-driven market. They have options, and a hiring manager’s job is to make sure that the candidate wants to choose this option over all the others.

A company’s values can shine through in a lot of ways that hiring managers might not think about: for example, whether the hiring team respects the candidate’s time by sticking to a schedule and being fully present with them during interviews, how interviewers talk about the company’s operations and key players, and what the candidate sees and hears during site visits and building tours. At every step of the hiring process, candidates know they’re “selling” their skills and qualifications, but they also need to “buy” what the company is offering.

Communication is Key

One of the most common mistakes busy hiring managers make is neglecting to communicate in a timely manner with candidates. Communication is arguably the most important part of ensuring candidates have a good experience during the hiring process. Return calls and emails within 24 hours at most. Tell candidates when to expect feedback on interviews and when they’ll hear about possible next steps, and then stick to that timeline. Don’t cancel or delay a meeting or interview unless there’s an unavoidable emergency — and if there is, call the candidate on the phone and explain it to them; don’t just send an email or text.

Keeping lines of communication open does two important things. First, it shows candidates that you respect them and value their time. Second, it gives them a glimpse of what it will be like to work for you — you are someone who will do what you say you will do.

Effective Recruitment Leads to Long-Term Retention

Prioritizing the candidate experience during the hiring process can, in the short term, help you successfully recruit and hire your top-choice candidate for the role. But more than that, it can actually help you retain your top talent over the long term. A candidate who feels valued and respected during the hiring process is going to start their career with a positive, engaged attitude. An employee who knows that the company they work for keeps their promises and values their employees is going to be more likely to commit to a future there.

And the candidate experience doesn’t stop with their first day on the job. Instead, hiring managers can continue to prioritize new hires and support them as they make the transition into their new role, continuing to show respect, communicate openly, and follow through with their promises.

Keep in mind: all candidate experiences matter, not just the experience of the candidate who ultimately joins your team. Even if you don’t end up hiring a candidate, they will remember how you treated them and how they felt during the hiring process — good or bad — and news can spread fast in your market. When everyone’s experience with your company is rooted in respect and integrity, you can’t go wrong.

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie joined Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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