Candidate Experience Part 2: Communication, Context,
and Expectation Setting
This is Part 2 of our four-part series on how to create an excellent candidate experience. Part 1 can be found here.
The second and perhaps most critical step in a great candidate experience is communication. An effective candidate communication strategy includes many different aspects. These can include what, how, and when you communicate with candidates, and most importantly the aspects that are often missed…the context and expectation setting! Not only does your hiring team need to be consistent about their messaging, but candidates need to know what to expect at every stage of the process. Inconsistent communication or unclear expectations are a major turn-off for top candidates.
Quick and consistent communication
Whether you’re using an automated tool or a real human is managing candidate communication, you should prioritize immediate responses. Make sure it’s clear who is responsible for responding. You can create canned responses or templates to acknowledge receipt of materials. This kind of responsiveness is highly memorable, and rapid replies show candidates that the company is present and engaged.
Within the department that is sorting and screening applications, it’s also critical to maintain consistency about qualifications. Which expertise or experiences are absolutely essential to moving a candidate to the next stage? What would immediately disqualify someone? This conversation needs to be had when crafting the initial role description.
Every communication the candidate has with your company needs to be appropriately fast, consistent, and as transparent as you can possibly be. This starts from their very first submission and continues throughout the onboarding process. Not only are fast responses important, but consistency of tone is essential as well.
Provide context, position the company, and be transparent
Never try to hide anything from your candidates…they will eventually figure it out and you have immediately compromised their trust. Of course, you don’t need to air the company’s dirty laundry but there’s no need to withhold information about the company’s goals and opportunities. Good candidates know when you’re covering something up. Providing the whole story will immediately build a solid relationship. Candidates deserve to know what they’re getting into so they can say “no thank you,” or hit the ground running on day one.
Always give the candidate context for why a role is open and its impact on the business objectives. Help them understand their role within the team and within the company. If this is a newly-created position, be transparent. If the timeline for hiring is several months out, let them know.
Ask your hiring team to spend some time reviewing the company’s mission and history. There needs to be consistency across all interviewers on the company’s market position and its values. Candidates should always have a clear understanding of the job expectations, decision criteria, and next steps.
Don’t ghost your candidates—keep them in the loop
Stay in constant communication with your candidates throughout the process. You don’t want to risk losing a great candidate to your competitor who sent more consistent emails. Don’t ghost your candidates or leave them guessing about the outcome. Manage their expectations on when and/or if they will next hear from you.
Scheduling reminders is very helpful, or pre-write template emails for quicker response. Most Applicant Tracking Systems provide robust candidate communication management and are worth the investment. You owe all candidates a clear statement about whether the company has a positive, negative, or undecided disposition towards their application. It’s important to touch base even if nothing has changed. Stay top of mind with regular emails to continue building that trust with your candidates.
Companies that know how to communicate are desirable—and news travels. Great candidates talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of their recruitment experiences. Someone may have gone to school with another candidate, or perhaps they previously worked with someone at a competitor company.
So, polish up your candidate communication strategy before you launch a hiring process. With a bit of strategic positioning and accountability, you can develop a communication strategy that attracts great candidates. Not only will you find better candidates, but a strong communication strategy can prevent a negative candidate experience from tainting your company’s wider reputation. If you’re concerned about your talent management process, Bell Falls Search can help.
Stay tuned for Parts 3 and 4 in our series about creating a great candidate experience. If you missed Part 1, read it here.
About Bell Falls Search
Bell Falls Search is an Executive Search firm that partners with Small Businesses and Emerging Growth Companies to build self sustainable Talent Attraction solutions.
Our team has accomplished this across a wide range of industries, functional expertise and experience levels…and we have the case studies to prove it!
Contact Ron Laneve to learn how Bell Falls Search can help with your Talent growth goals.