Advertisers advice

How to communicate with candidates

Communication with candidates during the selection process is vital. Here’s how to get it right.

How you communicate with potential hires speaks volumes about your company.

Recruiting is a two-way street, and clear, regular communication during the process goes a long way to convincing candidates that yours is a great place to work.

Let’s take a look at why this is so important, and how you can get it right from the first interaction to the last.

Why is communication with candidates important during the selection process?

1. Creating a good impression

Put yourself in the shoes of the job hunter. If every attempt you made at communication was met with stony silence, would you think this is the sort of place you want to work? Unlikely. In fact, according to a survey of New Zealand job seekers we conducted in January 2020, the single greatest frustration they have with recruitment cycles is a lack of feedback.

What’s more, with the existence of online review sites, and social media, not responding to candidates could come back to bite you by putting off future applicants. Therefore, responding to candidates promptly isn’t just professional and polite, it’s an integral part of attracting quality talent.

Quick and helpful responses to candidates helps create a positive impression of your business.

2. Keeping candidates interested

The other risk you run by not communicating effectively with your candidates is that they assume they’ve not made the cut.

We’ll talk about timeframes later, but ensuring your candidates know they’re still in the race is key to giving yourself options.

3. Not wasting your time

If a candidate hasn’t heard from you in a while, they’re unlikely to notify you if their plans change and they take another job or decide to stay where they are. This means you could shortlist one applicant, at the expense of another, only to find out they’re no longer interested.

How to communicate with job candidates

These are the golden rules to follow to avoid the problems we’ve just discussed:

1. Hit the key touchpoints

You should be open to talking to candidates throughout the hiring cycle, but job hunters will definitely expect to hear from you:

  • When they apply: candidates applying through Trade Me Jobs will get an automated email from us notifying them their application has been sent. However, we highly recommend following this up with your own acknowledgement of receipt, and some insights into next steps.
  • After interviews: at the end of a job interview, let the candidate know when to expect your decision. This might not be for a week or two, but stick to your timeframes.
  • If they’re successful, or not: of course you will contact the candidate to offer them the job. But you should also contact unsuccessful candidates who made it to the interview stage to let them know. If they made it to second round interviews, we recommend doing this in person, and providing constructive feedback on why they weren’t successful.

For candidates that went far in the progress, but who were ultimately unsuccessful, take the time to provide constructive feedback as to why.

2. Be prompt and provide clear timeframes

We’re not saying you need to drop everything the moment a candidate gets in touch, but try to respond as soon as you can to emails, texts or voicemails.

Timeframes are integral to running a successful hiring process. Be sure to include them:

  • On the job listing: giving a closing date will mean you don’t get candidates asking for updates before you’ve even created a shortlist.
  • On emails: give candidates plenty of notice if you’re asking them to come for an in person interview. They’ll likely have to arrange time off work, transport and maybe childcare.
  • In interviews: it’s important candidates leave interviews with a clear idea of when they will hear a result.
  • When making an offer: candidates need to know when they have to make their minds up, especially if negotiations are involved. This also means you won’t wait too long and lose your second choice if your preferred candidate jumps ship.

As much as possible, stick to your timeframes. However, sometimes the unexpected happens – just make sure your candidates know about any changes ASAP. These status updates should include a reason for any delays, and new deadlines.

3. Be human and be polite

Job hunting can be really stressful for candidates, especially if it’s their first time, so warmth and approachability go along way. They also contribute to a positive perception of your business, and you as a professional.

Politeness is also key. You’ll get applicants who ask for info you’ve already given, you’ll get applicants who want updates every other day, and you’ll get candidates who change interview dates at the 11th hour. It’s just part of the deal, and worth it to find that dream member of staff.

This humanness is particularly important when informing candidates of interview decisions. No one likes rejecting candidates, but it’s important you take the time to contact unsuccessful applicants and provide useful feedback to help them with their next hunt.

Bonus tip:

While responding to individual enquiries is vital, another great step you can take to improve the candidate experience is creating a resource hub on your website. This can include FAQs and guides to help candidates get quick info on navigating your hiring cycle, as well as contact info if they require more guidance.