Whether or not candidates become employees, their experience with your company—from discovery to hire—will have a direct impact on your organization’s overall brand. Strong customer service is vital in recruiting and securing top talent. From the first point of contact to the offer stage, each candidate should walk away from your company as a brand ambassador. Use this roadmap to ensure your talent acquisition team provides the best candidate experience throughout every phase of the interview process.

This guide will cover:

Pre-Interview Process

Cut down on time-to-hire

Lessen the time investment associated with phone screens by vetting candidates using pre-recorded video interviewing. This can save your team from phone screening unqualified candidates. It’s often easy to determine within the first five minutes if a particular candidate is a good fit, so pre-recorded videos provide the option of watching the video all the way through, or stopping after the first few minutes. Pre-recorded video interviews help ensure only the best candidates advance through the process.

Remove the recruiting team from interview scheduling

Coordinating both candidates’ and the interview team’s busy schedules is a universal pain point for recruiters. Don’t allow scheduling issues to interfere with the hiring process. Use scheduling software to facilitate different types of candidate interviews—from phone screens to live video interviews—in an all-in-one solution. Scheduling software removes the recruiting team as the middlemen by providing candidates with a self-service platform to allow them to select interview slots that work best with their schedules, reschedule interviews without disrupting your staff and also allows your team to schedule multiple candidates at once.

Help hiring managers

Provide hiring managers with a view into the candidate pipeline, so they can make a more accurate decision in identifying the candidates moving on to the next round. Video interviews are an efficient way for hiring managers to quickly compare and contrast candidates without delaying the hiring timeline. Video interviewing eliminates scheduling complications and delays, reducing the risk of losing candidates to faster moving companies.

Ensure candidates are prepared

Fully brief candidates before they meet with the interview team. Recruiters should provide candidates with the interview team’s LinkedIn bios, interviewers’ top priorities and interview outfit advice to make them as comfortable as possible, so their real personalities shine through during the tough in-person interviews.

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During the Interview Process

Be a gracious host

Every candidate who comes to your office for an in-person interview should be treated like he or she is a guest in your home. Have a designated person greet them, offer a drink, give a tour of the office and if it is a long day of interviewing, offer a snack.

Over communicate

Throughout the interview process, candidates should know exactly where they stand. Incorporate more touch points into the candidate interview lifecycle by automatically sending candidates and interviewers reminders before scheduled interviews. Lessen the risk of losing top talent to faster moving companies by ensuring a timely and collaborative candidate communication strategy in place. The recruiter should provide frequent updates
even if there is no news to report; a brief email letting them know the interview process is still ongoing goes a long way to calm eager candidates’ frayed nerves.

Read between the lines

Listening is a carefully honed skill, and arguably the most important attribute in a great recruiter. Your team needs to be able to listen to beyond what candidates are verbally communicating and hear what a candidate isn’t saying—picking up on key nonverbal cues, as well.

Stay transparent

Whether they are delivering positive or negative news, the team should understand the critical roles transparency and timely communication play in the recruitment process—both with internal and external audiences. If there is a delay in the interview process, the recruiter should let the candidate know as soon as possible. If the candidate pipeline for a specific role is sparse, the recruiter should meet with the hiring manager to brainstorm title or job description edits.

Implement a central repository

Provide your team a place where every team member can access all candidate data— resumes, video interviews, hiring team feedback. Employee turnover and mismanaged information should not be either of the reasons your company loses top talent. Any recruiting team member, at any point in time, should be able to access all candidate data from a central repository of information (such as a shared drive or a talent relationship management solution) to decrease the time to make an offer. If one recruiter is out during part of a candidate’s interview process, every team member should be able to easily to provide support. While delays are often inevitable, inaccessibility of candidate information should not be the cause.

Ask strategic questions

Many candidates have their interviewing game down to a science; they know the most common questions an interviewer will ask and have their canned responses perfected. Based on these carefully honed responses, the interview team may think they are hiring the right person for the job. But, it’s possible this candidate may be a great interviewee, and not such a great employee. Avoid this type of hiring mistake by coaching the interview team to ask the right questions, including:

“Tell me about the interactions you’ve had with co-workers. How would you describe the best relationships? The worst?” This question will provide insight into how particular candidates would be perceived by your existing team and the types of communication strategies they would bring to the group. When answering the question about their worst working relationships, interviewers will gain a clearer answer on how they approach conflict.

“If we were sitting here a year from now celebrating a spectacular year, what would we be celebrating?” Candidates should know why they want to join your company, and what they think success looks like. A successful answer to that question will demonstrate their bigger-picture understanding of the company, and their motivations. Interviewers will be able to differentiate between a candidate who has the strategic vision for the specific role, and a candidate with the perfect canned response to, “what does success look like to you?”

“How will you continue your learning?” During hiring, the expectation is new hires will continue to grow in order to advance to more senior roles. This question will provide additional insight into whether particular candidates are motivated to explore diverse learning opportunities, whether they are virtual, workshops, conferences, or other modes of education. This question will determine if candidates are lifelong learners who are looking to continually better themselves professionally.

“In five minutes, explain something complicated that you know well.” Many interviewers ask for candidates’ GPA’s, but this question does not assess candidates’ abilities to apply rational thought processes in a real-life context. The “something” in the question does not have to relate to the position that they are applying for, but can be a personal hobby or talent. The key with this question is to see how well they can explain a subject to someone who doesn’t understand it—an important skill if the position requires them to teach co-workers or make presentations to potential clients. If a candidate is enthusiastic in his or her explanations, he or she will usually end up being charismatic and influential at the workplace.

“What does being a team player mean to you?” The best employees will gladly perform tasks outside their initial job descriptions. Do the candidates think that way? It’s important to identify those candidates who are ok with pitching in at a moment’s notice and assume a leadership role as the business grows.

Automate interview feedback

Gathering interviewer feedback can be a time intensive, inefficient process. Delayed interviewer feedback can even result in losing top talent to a competing job offer, adding time and money to the hiring process. Collect interviewer feedback through mobile or web evaluation forms in near real-time.

Post-Interview Process

Deliver bad news over the phone

Your team should call the candidates who aren’t advancing instead of emailing. Most candidates have to take a day off of work to interview, dry clean their interview outfit, print resumes and pay for transportation or parking. The courtesy of a phone call to let them know your company is moving forward with other candidates demonstrates mutual respect. Additionally, halting all communication with the candidates who aren’t advancing in your interview process can lead to long-term consequences. These candidates could have an excellent referral network, or be a top future employee after they gain a few more years experience. Don’t jeopardize the company’s hiring future because of a lack of professionalism.

Be a mentor

Take the extra step to provide final stage candidates who didn’t get the job feedback as to why they didn’t receive the offer. Providing them with several reasons will not only pay it forward, but you never know when you will cross paths with them in the future, or with whom or where they will discuss the experience they had with your hiring team and company.

Gather post-process insight

Surveying candidates post-interview, whether they have accepted or rejected the offer, is a key component of the candidate lifecycle. The survey results will provide insight on what is working and what needs to be refocused going forward. Evaluate that feedback and notice any recurring trends from candidates; you may gain insight into gaps in your process you need to fine tune. By seeking information from candidates you can address problems in your hiring process you never knew existed, or find out what is working well to ensure the experience keeps improving.