How to Keep Candidates Interested Throughout the Recruitment Process

Mary Lorenz


It’s not easy being a recruiter today. With unemployment at a 50-year low and an extremely tight labor market (the tightest one Alan Greenspan has ever seen), it’s a job candidate’s world, and they’re letting recruiters know it. Staffing firms are seeing more and more candidates at every level disappearing on them in the middle of (or at the very end of) the recruiting process. While you have little control over what candidates do, you can take steps to mitigate the chances of being “ghosted” by candidates.

Follow Up Early and Often

Nearly a quarter of workers lose interest in a job if they haven’t heard back within one week of the initial interview, a recent CareerBuilder survey shows. Another forty-six percent give up within two weeks. The vast majority of workers (82 percent) expect to receive a clear timeline of the hiring process and regular updates throughout. If you’re not communicating with candidates early and often, you risk losing their interest (and gaining their ire).

Even if you have nothing new to report, continue to touch base with them every few weeks. Ask them how their job search is going and send them content relevant to their career interests, including industry news and job search advice.

Keep in mind that not every touchpoint has to involve a lengthy email or phone call. Text messaging is growing more acceptable as a fast, easy (and sometimes preferable) way to check in with candidates, update them on their status and ask if they have any questions.

Help Your Hiring Managers Help You

For the majority of candidates, the most frustrating part of the job search is the long wait after an interview to hear if they got the job, according to research from Robert Half. Unfortunately, as a recruiter, you have little control over your clients’ hiring processes, which can drag out due to hiring managers’ busy schedules. While you can’t force your clients to speed up their decision-making, there are some strategies you can use to help facilitate the process.

Start with an intake meeting to get a better understanding of the position, establish goals and set timelines with the hiring manager. Come to the meeting armed with data on the supply and demand of candidates in your area and competitive compensation rates. This can help you set realistic expectations about time to hire and salary expectations with hiring managers. The more you prepare for your intake meeting beforehand will mean less time spent going back and forth later, ultimately speeding up the hiring process.

Next, minimize the time spent going between hiring managers and candidates to coordinate interview schedules, which can drag out for days. Knowing that hiring managers’ schedules can be unpredictable, block out one or two days designated solely for interviews. Or, perhaps even better, use an online tool like Calendly or Doodle to facilitate interviews quickly and easily.

After the actual interview, follow up with the hiring manager quickly to get immediate feedback on the candidate and keep the process in motion. Use this check-in to remind them that the best candidates are off the market within 10 days, so the faster you get their feedback, the faster you can proceed with the hiring process.

The Bottom Line: Communication Is Everything

With candidates in the driver’s seat today, it’s more important than ever for staffing firms to provide a positive candidate experience. Show that you understand their frustrations with the job search process and that you’re actively working to help them. The more you show that you have their best interests in mind, the more engaged they will be and the less likely they are to go MIA.

Check out the best techniques for staffing firms to use when sourcing candidates.

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