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Do’s And Don’ts For Communicating With Candidates

Asavari Sharma

February 07, 2023

The recruitment process is a challenging one, both for the company and the potential candidates. While the HR team has the task of sifting through resumes and holding interviews, the candidates have to wait anxiously for each subsequent round while fearing that they may be rejected at any minute.

In this regard, regular candidate communication helps ease the stress of the process and demonstrates the company's openness and clarity.

Why candidate communication matters

The thing is, when applying for jobs, candidates crave communication. A survey by CareerBuilder found that 84% of candidates expect a personal email response acknowledging that the company has received their application.

Moreover, 36% of them expect to be updated throughout the hiring process. Unfortunately, only 26% of companies proactively inform where the candidates stand when interviewing.

Believe it or not, 58% of candidates are less likely to purchase from a company they applied to but did not get a response. Oh, and the number jumps to 65% if the candidates do not hear back after an interview!

That is the power of the hiring experience. It influences the future buying decisions of the candidates. No business should take that lightly! Consistent communication during the recruitment process affects the candidate experience for the better.

Plus, if you remain transparent with the candidates, they will thus feel more confident about working for you and will be more likely to accept job offers when issued and stay in touch with the team for future openings.

Communication is also a great way to collect feedback on the recruitment process and keep improving it, which directly impacts business performance in the long run. Now that you understand the repercussions of ghosting your candidates let us explore tips to fix this issue.

Do’s And don’ts for communicating with candidates

Here is our handy guide to the dos and don'ts of candidate communication for your company:

I. Job descriptions

Don't: Post generic descriptions

Research shows that 72% of managers state that they provide clear job descriptions, but only 36% of candidates seem to agree. A mere list of skills and required experiences is not enough to convince someone to send in their resume.

The more so because those same skills might be asked for at a variety of jobs. Therefore, you must invest some time to create job ads that are informative and engaging to attract the best talent.

Do: Post lively, meaningful job descriptions

Focus on what the person will do at the job you are offering, rather than the skills the person is required to have. What makes your specific opening unique? What does life at your company look like? What are you offering the candidate that they will not get by working anywhere else?

Give an overview of the purpose behind the role, and then concisely list what the person will be accomplishing daily and what they will have achieved by the end of the first few months. If having specific certifications is a plus, include that as well.

In addition, showcase your company culture. Your candidates want to know about the company they are applying to and may even search for more details. Having a custom company page on Indeed or Glassdoor allows you to demonstrate your employer brand.

Don't: Promote ageism by adding upper limits to experience requirements

Discrimination against candidates based on age is prohibited by law, but the way you phrase your job requirements can do so unintentionally.

For instance, by putting a bracket to the amount of experience desired, such as 5-7 years, you may be deterring older candidates with vaster expertise or those who may have switched careers later in life.

Do: Keep your requirements open

Your dream candidate may not necessarily be someone fresh from their first internship. Experience and consistency count for a lot.

Instead of adding upper brackets, phrase your requirements to include 'at least five years of experience'. This provides more scope for a diverse range of candidates across multiple backgrounds to apply.

II. An inclusive culture

Don't: Use gendered words

Even subtle differences in the words you use to describe your job can deter many deserving candidates from applying.

For instance, data shows that women are less likely to apply to jobs where the descriptions include words like 'dominate,' 'assertive,' 'rockstar,' or 'ninja,' as these are typically seen as masculine traits. Such words make them think they do not belong in the work environment.

Similarly, male candidates would not apply to jobs with "feminine" job descriptions like "honest" or "interpersonal." Therefore, you need to be conscious about the words you choose to use in the copy.

Do: Use inclusive language

Recruiters everywhere need to combat workplace stereotypes and overthrow sexist and racist practices, however subtle.

If you are trying to attract women and applicants from marginalized backgrounds, ensure that the language is tailored to attract their attention and build trust.

You can use tools such as Textio and Gender Decoder that evaluate your job descriptions and flag any potentially discriminatory words while suggesting alternatives.

For instance, women are more likely to apply to jobs like 'adaptable,' 'understanding,' or 'collaborative' in the description.

Don't: Upload generic pictures of work parties

Friday night drinks and birthday parties are all very well, but they are not good indicators of what it is like to work in the office daily.

Do: Build a candidate-oriented content database

To recruit and retain the best candidates, you need to show them what life at your company is like beyond the parties. Curate a library of content about the culture in your company, created by your employees to share with recruits.

Share snippets of daily life, memorable incidents at work, funny stories as well as FAQs that candidates may have. Share this in candidate communications as and when relevant.

You should also welcome questions that candidates may have about things like work-life balance, interpersonal equations, preferred communication styles at work, and so on.

III. Following up

Don't: Leave rejected candidates in the dark

It can be challenging for candidates to have to wait endlessly for news on the status of their applications. By 'ghosting' the ones you have rejected, you deter them from applying to you again in the future and hold up their applications to other companies that might want them. Therefore, communicate freely.

Do: Share prompt and personalized rejection letters

If you are eliminating certain candidates, let them know promptly through an engaging letter that encourages them to apply again in the future. Do not use form rejections — address them by name and tell them what you liked about their application.

If they are waitlisted, let them know that too, and that you will be circling back soon if an opportunity opens up. This shows that you appreciate the time they have put into their application and that you want to see them succeed, even if it is not at your company.

IV. Timing

Don't: Lose touch with gold candidates

Sometimes, you may encounter highly qualified candidates whom you may not have a role for immediately but whom you might like to work with in the future. By losing touch with them or treating them as simply 'rejected' candidates, you risk losing them to other companies.

Therefore, make an extra effort in contacting candidates with such rich talent. You never know who might come in handy and when your company is actually looking to recruit.

Do: Follow up with them at intervals

The first step is to inform gold candidates — the ones who almost made it, but not quite — that you liked their profile and you would like to work with them in the future. Then, send them follow-up emails at automated intervals of, say, three months so that you can connect again if something suitable crops up and they are still available.

V. Interview questions

Don't: Ask the same generic questions

Candidates are likely to get put off if you merely ask them the same basic questions that any company might ask. This approach also hinders you from understanding the candidate and how well they would fit into the role.

Do: Prepare an individualized set of questions

Before the interview, please read up on the candidate and their skills and experience, and ask them specific questions to learn about the individual sitting before you and their potential. If relevant, rope in subject matter experts who can test the candidate on particular skills.

You can also ask your candidates to take standardized tests. Pre-employment assessments help in measuring a candidate's fitment. This approach can help you minimize the number of candidates you interview, which saves time and energy.

VI. Taking feedback

Don't: Ignore candidate feedback

If there are consistent problem areas that crop up in recruitment feedback, it is vital that you know about them and take steps to address them. For instance, if your emails consistently come across as too curt, it is essential to address that and change how you write them.

Otherwise, a negative review on a hiring board could deter other candidates from applying. You have tread cautiously.

Do: Have a specific feedback process in place

Encourage candidates to share what they liked and did not like about the recruitment process. You can either send out a mail survey or schedule a short call to ask them directly. Most importantly, reassure them that their responses will not bear the recruitment decision or any future applications.

VII. Sharing employee stories

Don't: Talk about inclusion without providing real evidence

Merely posting stock photos of diverse employees or providing a diversity statement on your website is not enough. Diversity is not a checklist item to be ticked off.

Applicants from diverse backgrounds want to know that there are more people like themselves at the company and that they will be welcomed as equals and included in decision-making.

Do: Post employee stories of multiple kinds

Ask your employees from diverse backgrounds to share personal accounts of their experience at your company. They could write a short blog post or share a quick video, as they prefer.

Encourage them to speak candidly about any difficulties they have faced and the support they have received. You can also arrange for candidates to talk to senior employees from diverse backgrounds to ask any specific questions.

This will provide an honest picture to candidates about how you treat matters of inclusion and diversity and what their growth path with you will look like.

VII. Talent community

Don't: Ignore referrals

All too often, however, managers do not pay enough attention to their referral network, and that is where they are going wrong. Through an employee referral program, you gain access to improved quality of hires and reduce time-to-hire and cost-to-hire.

A talent community refers to the process of deploying various software and person-to-person solutions to build a solid talent pipeline, comprising passive candidates who are interested in your company to meet any current or future hiring requirements.

You can communicate regularly with your talent community and nurture those who show a strong inclination towards working with your company.

One of the best ways to source such people is through employee referrals. Hiring from referrals yields a higher ROI and is more efficient compared to the direct hiring process.

Moreover, your current employees already know what is expected at the company and are thus likely to recommend people who would fit well.

Do: Have a structured referral system

The key is to encourage your current employees to refer their friends, family, and acquaintances for open jobs and provide them with incentives for doing so.

Plus, be sure to talk to the referrer about the referred candidate so that you can learn more about them and what the best approach for interviewing them might be. Set clear eligibility rules and deploy an easy-to-use employee referral software.

Done right, you can fill open positions much faster and more cheaply than if you were to rely solely on conventional hiring. Plus, have a mix of both financial and non-financial incentives to attract more employees to participate.

Over to you

Your effort in ensuring transparent and informative communication with candidates creates the foundation for a positive experience with new hires. The aforementioned do's can set you on the right path when it comes to keeping in touch with them.

Plus, by using Adaface, you conduct pre-employment assessments comfortably, ensuring a consistent, scalable, and efficient hiring process that reduces your time-to-hire by more than 80%. If you want to know more about how Adaface can help, visit the website!

Asavari Sharma

Asavari is an EiR at Adaface. She has made it her mission to help recruiters deploy candidate-friendly skill tests instead of trick-question based tests. When taking a break, she obsesses over art.

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