Job candidates know the importance of follow-up — and yet, interviewers often forget basic follow-up strategies, which leads to poor candidate experiences and damaged business reputations. Successful, in-demand candidates often decide against otherwise exciting job opportunities solely because the company didn’t follow up properly. Furthermore, treating your rejected prospects poorly can create a widespread negative perception of your organization.
The ideal candidate follow-up strategy should be based on a single controlling principle: Treat all candidates like valued customers.
The interview can make or break a candidate’s perception of your business. A recent LinkedIn survey found that 83 percent of candidates say a negative interview experience can damage a previously trusted company’s reputation, whereas 87 percent of candidates say a positive interview experience can bolster their perception of a previously doubted company.
In an article on Recruiting Blogs, Marvin Smith, strategic talent sourcing consultant at Lockheed Martin explains the situation like so:
“The social media revolution has set expectations that a person interested in employment with an organization should have transparency into the interview and hiring process … Great tension is created when [the] transaction does not align with social expectations — the very people that we are trying to assist are negatively impacted by the process. The answer, is to walk your talk. Establish the expectations for the candidate experience with the initial engagement and communicate the candidates’ status at each step of the interview process.”
Hiring managers often get hung up on trying to land the all-stars and either forget or don’t care that other candidates are waiting for responses. You wouldn’t neglect to communicate with your customers. Why neglect your candidates?
Candidates need feedback. Approximately 94 percent of respondents in the LinkedIn survey mentioned above say that they want to know how well they did in an interview. And yet, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, about half of employers only bother to respond to half of their applicants.
DockAll candidates need consistent updates throughout your candidate search and interview process. Nobody likes to be kept waiting for an answer — good or bad.
The Australian government advocates giving unsuccessful candidates the SPA treatment when it comes to providing feedback:
- Strengths: Tell the candidate what they did well
- Propose Alternatives: What could the candidate have done better?
- Acknowledge: Thank candidates for their time.
You can incorporate this idea into your follow-up strategy:
Rejected Candidates: Email rejected candidates with timely feedback on their performance and the reason for their rejection. Your input might just give these candidates a springboard into a better fitting job. If you need help figuring what to say in your rejection letter, here are some great templates that can help you stand out.
Successful Candidates: Have the hiring manager call the candidates that impressed enough to move on in the process. Even if these candidates are simply selected for a second round of interviews, give them an ego boost and some reasons to be excited about the position.
When you pass off a candidate to multiple people in your organization during the hiring process, it signifies to the candidate that they are just another cog in the machine. If you are serious about recruiting top-tier candidates, you should designate a single person to communicate with your candidate(s) from start to finish. In addition to making the candidates feel more comfortable, this gives brings a “concierge” feel to recruiting process, giving candidates the impression that they are truly valued.
“Relationship recruiting” has been a key to hiring the best people for years. It only makes sense to extend it to your follow-up strategy:
Rejected Candidates: Just because certain candidates don’t fit for one position, that doesn’t mean they can’t be valuable in other positions. By forming relationships with candidates now, you can make it easier to source talent for other positions in the future.
Rejected candidates who have a good rapport with your hiring managers are more likely to do business with you or recommend friends and associates to work for you.
Successful Candidates: Relationship-building allows you to follow up with and close on your chosen candidate with greater success than traditional hiring practices. If consistent communication doesn’t totally seal the deal, you will be more likely to land the all-star by fostering a connection from early on in your recruitment process. After all, recruitment is all about relationships and trust. The follow-up shouldn’t be any different.
The hiring manager will know how to play into the candidate’s self-perception when closing, which includes knowing what the candidate values. Obviously, salary is one of the most important factors to consider, but knowing your candidate will help you know for sure if other perks are more highly valued.
To Sum It Up
Managing and maintaining relationships will work in your company’s favor far beyond the recruiting process. It is important to implement these principles of professional candidate follow-up with everybody. Too often, candidate follow-up is reserved only for the people you really want. This works against your best interests.
Just being polite goes a long way toward promoting your brand. Treat people well, and people will regard you well — and want to work for you. It’s a simple formula.