Text me maybe: keeping in touch with Candidates during the (long) recruitment process

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6 mins, 1 secs read time

Think the recruitment process seems to be getting longer? You’re not wrong.

Since 2009, the average recruitment time has increased more than 15 percent. Today, businesses require an average of 23 days to complete the screening process, making the already long wait on the part of the candidate even longer.

It’s essential to keep candidates engaged and interested during this period, otherwise, you risk losing your top picks to other companies (remember, you’re probably not the only job they’re applying for).

As the weeks pass, it’s important to maintain a proactive role in communicating with candidates in order to secure the talent you’re looking to hire, and maintain good relations with the ones you’re not ready to hire yet.

Here are some tips to keep things rolling while you’re still in the vetting stage:

Respond quickly after the first interview

If too much time passes after the initial interview, many candidates may assume that you’re not interested and will focus their attention on other opportunities. The ball is in your court! Reach out soon after the interview. Even a brief text within an hour of the initial interview can do wonders to build a positive candidate relationship experience. An example of a text could be as simple as:

“Hi Jason, it was great meeting you this afternoon. Thanks so much for interviewing with us. We’ll be in touch within the next couple of days to let you know where we are in our hiring process.”

This will give them a timeline for when to expect a follow-up message and put their wondering minds at ease. As Liz Ryan, CEO and founder of Human Workplace says, “Good recruiting is fast. The best candidates will be off the market soonest.”

The stats confirm this: 29 percent of candidates believe a hiring process is lengthy if the recruiter fails to contact them within two weeks of the first interview. And 46 percent lose interest if they’re waiting too long for a response.

Don’t forget to follow up

So, you’ve let them know that you’ll follow up. Now you have to actually do it. You don’t have to tell candidates whether or not they’re hired, but you do have to say something. Anything. Prolonged silence is the death knell of recruitment, often signaling to candidates that you’re not interested in hiring them and that it’s not a priority to create a positive candidate experience. This is a good time for a reminder that sites like Glassdoor exist. Candidates have the power to describe in great detail their interview experience with your business. Your employer brand may suffer if your recruitment team doesn’t follow through on promises of response and continued communications during the interview process.

A simple follow-up like this one can go a long way to make the candidate feel in the know: “Hi Sarah, we were delighted to meet you the other day and just wanted to touch base. We haven’t reached a decision yet, but if you have any questions you’d like to ask, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.”

This lets them know they’re still on your list and also opens the door for further communication which is what you want. Yes, it’s more time-consuming if the candidates start asking you questions. But it keeps them engaged while you’re still making your decisions.

Another tactic to keeping in touch is through the use of smart content sharing. Sending a relevant blog or asset detailing your company’s cultures and values keeps candidates engaged with your company throughout the interview process, further strengthening the candidate experience and your employer brand.

Benefit from text

Texting is a recruiter’s best friend, allowing you to directly reach candidates on a device that they’re sure to have nearby at all times. With a text, you’ll get a quicker response rate, allowing you to optimize your scheduling process and potentially even cutting down the entire screening process just by communicating with a more efficient platform.

Centria Healthcare, an in-home healthcare provider, uses text messaging to communicate with candidates at all stages of their process, from first touch through to onboarding. Centria's Director of Operations and Healthcare Recruiting even mentioned, "We would not be able to keep up with our current pipeline and interview volume, not to mention onboarding new candidates, without text messaging."

Answer their questions

Whether you invite them to ask questions or not, candidates may write to you with questions about benefits, long-term opportunities, the possibility of relocating, and other queries. The worst thing you can do is ignore their questions. It will make them feel like they’re not worth your time and may cause them to lose interest. It’s a buyer’s market in the world of hiring. Candidates will translate their interview experience and how they are treated directly into envisioning how they will be treated as an employee of your company.

Remember that this stage is all about maintaining communication so if they’re reaching out to you spontaneously, it should be your priority to respond.

Sell the company

Of course the candidates will have to prove their merit throughout the screening process, but the business world isn’t a royal court and it’s not appropriate for you to sit back and cross your arms and wait for candidates to come and entertain you like the court jesters of old. If that’s your tack, you’re missing a golden opportunity to prove why candidates should choose you.

Even though you will only hire a small percentage of the pool of candidates who apply for a position, you have a captive audience who are paying very close attention to every message you send. Take advantage of it and sell your company to the candidates.

Talk about important milestones, the benefits of working for the company, its vision for the future. The ones who didn’t get hired in this round will be sold on the company and when the time is right, they very well might make great candidates in the future.

If you do a really good job with this, they may become brand advocates and spread the word to their other qualified friends and colleagues. Basically, it’s a chance to improve your company’s reputation with an elite class of candidates, ensuring that you’ll always have a pool of top-quality recruits to choose from.

Accept that screening does take time

Waiting can be frustrating on the part of the candidate, and equally frustrating for recruiters. You may feel pressure to ensure a great candidate doesn’t slip through the process, especially if it means losing them to your competition.

You may be tempted to rush through the interview process just to nab the dream candidate. Don’t. Take your time and complete the entire screening process. There’s nothing more costly and time-consuming than hiring the wrong person. Often it’s during those final stages and last interviews that reveal who’s actually the right fit for the role and who isn’t.

It can be challenging to engage candidates while you’re making a decision, but good recruiters know how important it is. Maintain active communication with your candidates, send frequent updates and answer their questions to keep the best candidates warm until you’ve finished the vetting process.