When is the last time you looked at your company’s hiring process from the candidate’s perspective?
Do you treat it only as a tool to filter out the unqualified candidates and hire the qualified?
Or are you also using it to make a strong argument for why candidates should want to build their careers with you? If not, you might be losing the best talent along the way.
The five tips below will show you where your company might be losing the most talented candidates without realizing.
Related Article: How to Recruit Top Talent (Even if Your Company Isn’t Cool)
1. Your Job Description
Does your job posting read like a dry, boring list of requirements? Or is it a glimpse into what it’s like working for you, what interesting challenges you offer, and what your future might look like?
Sure, a job description’s purpose is to communicate requirements and give candidates an idea whether they should apply or not. But you can use it to accomplish much more.
AppSumo, an Austin, TX technology company does a great job with their descriptions, from creative job titles (everything has the word “Sumo” in it) down to small details in the job posting.
Here’s an opening paragraph in one of their job postings related to a software tool that they sell: Nearly 10,000 businesses a week sign up for SumoMe. A lot of them are your favorite sites. They have questions and are looking for answers if SumoMe is the solution for them. You'll do whatever it takes to help the right customers get the right solution. You love helping and selling.
This communicates the basics but also makes it interesting and appealing, and answers the question, “Why should I care about this position?” Notice the tone, too. Does it sound like a corporate document or does it sound like somebody having a conversation? They use plain, welcoming language to achieve the latter.
AppSumo is smart to realize that the top candidates have many options and are probably seeing their job description after reading 10 others, so they make it stand out. A candidate reading this will immediately sense that the company values straight-forward communication and individual personality in the people they hire.
So make sure the tone and messaging of your job description embodies the company culture you want to portray. Also, to attract the best talent, make sure the selling points you’re choosing are interesting to the candidate. In the example above, the selling points were 10,000 new signups per week and the fact that the software is being used on many popular sites. Don’t just guess when it comes to this; talk to your current team and ask them what they’d find most exciting about the position.
2. Your Application Process
The job application is a candidate’s first impression of how you do business. Does the process make them feel wanted and valued? Or is it set up like a giant obstacle course? In general the fewer steps you have, the better. Some companies include a direct email address at the bottom of the online posting, so an applicant can submit a resume hassle-free.
The type of systems you use will depend in part on the size and structure of your operation, but there are some things you can do to improve the candidate experience no matter what. Are you asking candidates to upload a resume and then fill out a form with the exact same information? Try to eliminate repetition like this.
Are you asking for salary requirements before even talking to somebody? If so, you're implying that paying as little as possible is one of your primary goals. Also, just like with the job description, try to humanize the process and add a bit of personality. You don’t want your candidates to feel like they’re sending their resume into some anonymous computer system.
Something as little as a unique confirmation message can work wonders to set you apart. Try something like this: “Awesome! We received your application and are excited you found us. We’ll take a look as soon as possible.” A frustrating, impersonal application process will deter some of the best people. The best candidates have many opportunities available to them and are more likely to leave and apply elsewhere if your process is difficult.
3. The Interview
Is somebody with limited experience and a call script getting on the phone for the first interview, telling your candidates nothing about the company and just asking questions? How about during the on-site visit, how are the meetings set up?
If your interview process is to walk the candidate into a small room, ask them a series of questions, and then send them home and make a decision, don’t be surprised if the best people are rejecting your offers. If you like a candidate, walk them around the office and introduce them to a few different teams. Consider giving them a chance to have lunch with the group they'd be working with.
Or have somebody other than the hiring manager get a coffee with the candidate to break up the interview. If possible, set this up in a neutral area (such as a lobby or nearby coffee shop). Choose somebody at a similar level to the candidate and have them invite the candidate to ask any questions they’d like, with the promise that it won’t leave that room.
Do as much as you can to build comfort and show them what it’s like to work for you. If you want to take this further, consider letting qualified candidates do a bit of work alongside one of your team members. A lot of the top technology employers do this when interviewing software engineers, through something called pair programming.
It’s a way of evaluating skill while also letting someone from your team get a feel for what it’s like to work with this candidate. In a Forbes study of the top 10 factors for on-the-job employee happiness, good relationships with colleagues was #2. Doesn’t it make sense that this will also be a primary factor when deciding which job to take?
4. Your Website
Most A-level candidates are going to check your website before meeting with you. Some even use it to judge whether they want to accept or decline the interview. Chances are your website is written primarily for customers, but it’s worth considering how it represents you as an employer too. How are you telling your story? What are you doing to show the impact and purpose of the work you do? How are you describing your current team and environment? Do you have employee photos and bios?
Consider having a video describing what a typical day looks like, or a testimonial about what it’s like to work for you. Spotify’s careers page does a great job of this. You might not have the budget to put something exactly like this together, but you can modify the idea and still deliver a similar message.
5. Your Responsiveness
This is an area where a tiny bit effort can have a big impact on how people view an opportunity with your company. Did you tell the candidate you’ll make a decision by Wednesday and then have to push it back? Send them a brief email and let them know! If it’s appropriate, share information about what’s going on in the process. A bit of transparency goes a long way in terms of building trust, and therefore interest.
Job seekers are conditioned to expect the worst because that is what so many companies deliver. If you make the effort to stay in contact, provide updates and show some transparency, it will set your firm apart and make a lasting impression.
Your hiring process is a means of filtering and finding talent, but it’s also a tool for recruitment and branding if you set it up correctly.
How you communicate and how you treat people throughout the process will directly influence the type of talent you are able to attract, as well as the long term reputation you build as an employer.