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Employers: Give a Great First Impression and Exceptional Candidate Experience

“We value our people!”   “ We take care of our employees!”   

Does this sound familiar? There has been a major shift in priorities for employers over the last few decades to knowing the value of their number one asset: their people. However, how is your company treating people who aren’t employees, yet, and how is that impacting their perception of how you treat people after the offer? 

Something we talk a lot about is creating an exceptional candidate experience, but what does that really mean?

It begins with something as simple as your communication during the early stages of the interview process. Say you’ve reviewed an applicant’s resume, and they sound great! Now it’s time for an interview. Your process probably looks something like this:

Process flow map showing candidate interview process: Invite candidate to job interview, interview candidate for job, follow up with candidate.

Rinse and repeat for more than one interview. Seems pretty easy, right? But if your company is sending the bare minimum of communication to its candidates, then this may be where things are going sideways. Employers have an opportunity to prove that they prioritize the candidate experience and value their people by providing supportive, clear communication for candidate interviews.

Here are a few ways you can set a high standard of how you treat people in your company:


If you think you’ve been clear, or don’t need to confirm an interview with a candidate, think again. By sending not only an initial interview confirmation email, but following up with the candidate within 1 business day before their interview to check in and ensure they’re ready is mutually beneficial. For one, this is an opportunity to discreetly see if anything has changed for them by way of checking in to confirm they have everything they need for the upcoming interview. This also serves as one more built-in touchpoint to the candidate that shows you care about your pre-employees. 

Be Timely & Communicate Changes ASAP!

Send interview invitations as soon as they’re scheduled, and check-in with the candidate one business day before the interview. If there is a change and the interview absolutely must be rescheduled, that should be communicated as immediately as possible to the candidate. Especially for in-person interviews, candidates may have had to massively make way in their day for this time, whether it’s time away from their current job, childcare, appointments, etc. If the day of the interview, the interviewer for some reason cannot interview the candidate, an alternate interviewer should be assigned so the candidate’s time is not wasted. Too many rescheduled interviews is, and should be, a major red flag for candidates. If you’re not respectful of their time now, they will only imagine how disrespected their time will be when they’re actually hired. No, thanks!

Respect the Candidate’s Time.

While we’re talking about being respectful of what a candidate has done on their end to prepare for the interview, respect the interview timeline you’ve set for them. Too often, we have heard interviews scheduled for 60-90 minutes only for the interviewer to hold them hostage for 2+ hours– one even went as long as SIX HOURS when the candidate was told two and a half hours. We wish this was a joke. With the exception of a handful of candidates who may advocate for themselves and let you know they need to leave, we do consider it a hostage situation, as you– the company– are driving the timeline of the interview. This is beyond disrespectful, and again– if you are not staying true to your word now, imagine how the pre-employee will be treated after they actually start working for you. Hell to the no, thanks.

Set the Candidate Up for Success

You wouldn’t send one of your team members into an important meeting with no expectations and preparation, would you? Assuming the answer is no, we recommend sending candidates into your interviews with similar preparation. If you’re sending the bare minimum of information to candidates– where and when to be– you’re missing out on another easy opportunity to build trust, transparency, and connection with your candidates. In addition to the basics, we recommend including the following into candidate interview communications:

  • If it’s an on-site interview, don’t forget to include who they should ask for, and any parking instructions (i.e. garages, street parking, or do you validate if paid parking?).

  • Interview agenda, and interviewer names with job titles. This is especially important if there are multiple interviews and interviewers.

  • A link to your company’s website and a link to the job description, with a reminder to review the job description.

  • Especially if you’ll be asking behavioral questions, recommending candidates follow the STAR-L method of responding to questions will make the interview easier for all! The candidate will be able to share specific examples of their previous work, and you’ll be able to more easily glean relevant and transferable skills from the response.

  • Invite the candidate to ask any questions that may come up prior to the interview. This seems like an easy one, but the simple offer in writing to do this shows unquestionably that you are approachable and willing to help.

Does this seem like you’d be over-doing it? We’ve had a number of clients argue that providing a link to the company website and job description with a reminder to review is something the candidate should already know how to do. Perhaps it is! However, you may miss out on a great employee who is interviewing for the first time in a long time, or someone who may not have had someone to tell them how to prepare for an interview. Why not give your candidates the best opportunity to be successful?

Pro tip: create a basic template with most of this information, and then plug in the information that is specific to each candidate. This saves a ton of time!

Follow-Up When You Said You Would… Even with No New Information.

You shook the candidate’s hand at the end of the interview, and let them know they’d hear from you in about a week. Now it’s been 10 days– 2 business weeks, and you haven’t followed up because there were some delays with candidates and you’re still in process OR some interviewers haven’t made a decision yet OR you were late yesterday because your dog threw up on your shoes, and you just haven’t had a second to move forward with the candidates.

Regardless, this is not the candidate’s problem, and now you’re a liar. 

This is a very easy one to avoid! How? Follow up when you said you would! Even if you don’t have the next steps quite yet, something as simple as sending an email to the candidate to say, “hey– this is taking longer than expected, and we are hoping to have something by the end of the week. Regardless, I’ll follow up with you by specific date.” And then follow up with them by specific date.” No one wants to be left hanging, and showing you’re true to your word will speak volumes when and if they are eventually hired.

This is a crazy time for everyone involved in the interview process, whether you’re an employer or a candidate. Stand out from the others and prioritize that exceptional candidate experience!

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