Establishing an effective communication flow with your candidates is imperative to providing great Candidate Experience, aligning on expectations and giving qualified candidates yet another reason to choose you over competition.
Transparent and timely communication with candidates throughout the recruitment process is not only something they crave, but also a big step towards streamlining your internal hiring efforts and – ultimately – winning the best talent.
In this article, we will lay the groundwork for creating the optimal journey for your candidates, starting from the minute they submit their application until they enter your talent pool or get hired for the position.
Depending on the industry, size and working environment of your company, the tone of voice in the way you communicate with candidates will vary. However, no matter if your tone of voice strategy is casual or corporate, there is always room for personalization and empathy in your messaging, regardless of the outcome of the candidate’s application.
Your tone should be friendly, using simple and accessible language. Are emojis and exclamations regular practice in your company language? Use them to show off your company’s working culture.
A casual tone of voice is usually suitable if you’re filling a more-entry level position; if you’re representing a tech company; if your workforce is generally young or if your culture is more easy-going. If you’d consider your working environment as more formal or corporate, you should avoid this tone for more consistency.
Your tone should be more professional and serious, while still allowing room for creativity and emotion. You can still use emojis and exclamations, but you should keep them to a minimum.
This tone fits entry to mid-level positions for companies with a more formal recruitment or communication culture, while having a more liberal communication style.
Your tone should be strictly professional and use corporate language and structure. The communication will typically provide the necessary information in a shorter, more direct way that doesn’t leave much room for emotion. This doesn’t mean that you should sound impersonal or distant.
This tone of voice should be applied for senior-level positions or for any type of job for large companies that seek a streamlined business tone.
Next to the job description, the application confirmation email will be the first direct point of contact between you and the candidate.
Use it as your chance to leverage the power of a good first impression by providing more information about the recruitment process, the role itself or your company.
Let’s take a look at this standard confirmation email template:
What makes this email inadequate? 60% of candidates spend at least an hour on research before they submit an application; they deserve a more personalized and informative confirmation email in return.
In its current form, the email does not contribute to a positive Candidate Experience because:
Remember how long candidates spend on preparing their application? They deserve to know when to expect a response from you.
Make sure you stick to your time estimate if you decide to include it, not to damage the trust you establish. If you experience any delays, keep the candidates updated and show them they can trust you from the very beginning of their journey towards becoming an employee at your organization.
Candidates often juggle multiple job applications simultaneously. It is important for them to know what to expect from the recruitment process in order to be able to plan and prepare accordingly.
Does your recruitment process include an assessment? A video or on-site interview? Let them know as soon as the confirmation email. Even if the candidate is unsuccessful in this particular role, establishing your recruitment process as transparent does wonders for your Employer Branding.
When they don’t hear back from the organization, 85% of candidates believe a human being has never seen their application. Especially if the confirmation email they received upon submission was robotic and impersonal.
Instead, you should use human and empathetic language, making the candidate feel seen and appreciated.
Candidates are often unsure about the exact expectations for the job they’re applying for, despite having a job description at their disposal.
Our recent report showed that 29% of candidates do not know how to make a good impression during an interview, or how to show the recruiter they’re a match for the job.
Are there any specific criteria you value over others? Use this first communication touch point to help your candidates understand the selection process better and to make the interview process easier for recruiters and hiring managers further down the line.
Not acknowledging the work the candidate has put into applying for a job at your company, failing to offer a point of contact or asking them for feedback on the application process so far may damage your Employer Branding.
82% of job seekers believe that a good company culture is a competitive advantage. Make sure all the communication touch points throughout your recruitment process reflect it, and establish a strong foundation for the right candidate to accept the job offer without thinking twice about your competition.
Take a minute to review your current confirmation email and make sure you’re setting yourself and the candidates up for success by checking most or all of the following:
❏ Provide a recruiter name and contact information (e.g. phone number and email address).
❏ Add a personal touch that makes your message feel human.
❏ Tell the candidate a little bit about how their application is going to be evaluated at this stage.
❏ Share a precise timeline (bonus points for illustrating it with a chart or a video!).
❏ Offer a gift or a token of appreciation for applying (e.g. a gift card for your product).
❏ Encourage the candidate to give feedback on the process so far, showing your candidate-centric approach and engagement.
Many would say that recruitment is not the business of hiring, but the business of rejection. Because of that, the way you reject has a huge impact on the way candidates perceive you as an employer and an organization in general.
A study showed that applicants who didn’t receive a job offer were 80% more likely to re-apply for another position at the same company in the future if they had a positive impression of the hiring organization.
So, a timely, personalized and empathetic rejection is what is going to soften the blow for unsuccessful candidates, encouraging them to stay in your talent pool and turning them into ambassadors.
At this point in the recruitment process, you would have only “met” the candidate by reading their CV, cover letter and any other accompanying documents, so providing personalized feedback to somebody you haven’t really met might seem possible.
But it is easier than you think to give your initial rejection emails a human and empathetic tone.
Let’s take a look at an example of a generic rejection email we have all seen at some point in our professional life:
This is a rejection letter that does not meet any of the criteria for a personalized rejection because:
Although it shows a degree of appreciation for the candidate’s effort by thanking them for their interest, it does so in a cold and robotic manner.
This way, the recruiter does not appear empathetic nor people-oriented, lowering the recipient’s impression of the company.
A genuine way to thank a candidate should focus more on acknowledging the effort they’ve already put into assembling and uploading their application, rather than simply recognizing their interest.
Although the email encourages the candidate to re-apply, not providing any personalized feedback will curb their interest in the company instead.
Based on this email, the candidate doesn’t know what they could do better to improve their application in the future. In this way, the rejection becomes the end of their relationship with the company, rather than an invitation to stay in the loop.
The way you should encourage your candidates to re-apply does not lie in giving feedback alone. The language you use should be more actionable: invite them to connect with the company via LinkedIn to stay updated on current happenings and other open positions, or even provide a direct link to your career page where they could sign up for job notifications.
Making it easy for the candidate to stay updated on future open positions at your company demonstrates your genuine interest and increases the chances of qualified candidates actually re-applying.
Working with people every day allows you to identify certain patterns that can be used to streamline your workday.
In the perfect world, crafting a personalized rejection email to every single applicant at the initial CV screening stage would be the norm. Unfortunately, when dealing with hundreds of applications per job post, it is counterproductive for recruiters to do so.
Instead, look at your applications and identify some of the most common reasons why you’re rejecting candidates. Is it lack of experience? Mismatched skills? Misaligned expectations?
Whatever they are, you can group the unsuccessful candidates by the reason you’re rejecting them and prepare corresponding templates that include more information on how they could improve their application in the future.
Once you’ve reviewed all the applications and you have good news to share, make sure to include all the necessary information with the candidates you invite to an interview.
This way, you’ll be giving them every chance to succeed and a way for you to see them at their best. Remember that a well-prepared candidate makes your job of choosing more efficient.
Consider the following when writing your interview invitations:
❏ Use a human tone. The interview will take place with a real-life person, not a robot. Make sure the candidates feel at ease from the start.
❏ Refer back to their application and state what you like about them as a candidate. This way, you will show them that you took the time to read it thoroughly, making the time they spent preparing it worthwhile.
❏ Tell them where and when the interview will take place. If the interview will be held online, don’t forget to include a calendar invitation or a direct meeting link. If you’ll be meeting on-site, make sure to share any pointers about getting to the right room/location.
❏ Give a short – but clear – outline of your expectations and what you’re looking for in the perfect candidate.
❏ Attach a basic agenda for the interview.
❏ Confirm who will attend (even if it’s just you and the candidate, it’s better to state the obvious than keep the candidate guessing).
❏ Let them know you are looking forward to meeting them.
The further the candidate gets in the hiring process, the more difficult it is to tell them they have been unsuccessful (and – of course – the more difficult it is for the candidate to be on the receiving end of this message).
It is likely that the candidate felt good about their performance during the interview, considering they were able to meet the recruiters, possibly even visit the company premises in person and meet members of the team. How do you break the news to them now?
Bearing in mind that your communication with candidates should always be timely, it is best practice to contact them within 48 hours after the interview.
In addition, at this stage, sending an email is not enough. Candidate Experience improves by 29% if you reject candidates over the phone, so you should always give candidates a call first to explain your decision verbally.
A study shows that 86% of job seekers want constructive feedback about their interview performance, but only 57% have ever received it. Consequently, taking the time to provide feedback when rejecting candidates after an interview will put your EVP above average from the get-go.
Follow up with an email to confirm your reasoning and encourage them to keep your company in mind for future opportunities. In your email, keeping a human tone is essential to show empathy.
Don’t forget to use this opportunity to ask for feedback. Unsuccessful candidates have invested a significant amount of time in your recruitment process already, so they might have insightful information to share.
The way you communicate with your candidates throughout the recruitment process can make or break their Candidate Experience.
It can also directly impact their perception of your company and their willingness to re-apply in the future.
Candidates crave personalization, constructive feedback and transparency in recruitment, and the companies that meet those expectations will be deemed as desirable workplaces.
So, no matter the stage of the hiring process or the outcome of a candidate’s application, your email templates should be as human and empathetic as possible, even though they are most likely automated within your ATS system.
Feedback is key to keeping your talent pool supple and transparency is imperative to setting successful candidates up for success.
Make sure you harness the power of an optimized communication flow to attract and hire the best talent.
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