The Human Side of Hiring: Candidate Experience Best Practices

Nearly 6 years after interviewing with Mondo, I remember and feel the experience like it was yesterday.

The difference between Mondo and the opportunities with other companies was palpable and was a huge part of what made saying “yes” so easy – even when entering into a completely new industry and my first corporate job.

As a hiring manager, it’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like you’re swimming in a pool of bad resumes and allow that frustration to leak into your interviews.

However, keeping the candidate experience top of mind is the #1 way you can ensure you secure the right talent, and leave even the bad interviews with a good candidate experience. 

What is candidate experience?

The candidate experience is a journey that starts on the initial introductory call, continues through each touch point to share preparation and feedback pre- and post-interview, and (most importantly) includes the way the interview is conducted.

When I think about candidate experience, I think of Maya Angelou’s famous words – ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

As a hiring manager, the onus is on you to ensure the interview is a space for open and authentic dialogue, and that the candidate feels seen and heard.

Below are some easy reminders and tips that will help you navigate interviews more naturally, and build deeper connections with candidates.

Strategies for building authentic connections with job candidates

Strategies to build strong connections with job candidates include active listening and empathy, personalized communication, consistency throughout the hiring process, and showing appreciation for job candidates’ time and effort.

  1. Active listening and empathy
  2. Personalizing communication and outreach
  3. Providing timely feedback and follow-up
  4. Consistency throughout the hiring process
  5. Creating opportunities for candidates to ask questions
  6. Encouraging job candidates to provide feedback
  7. Showing appreciation for candidates’ time and effort

1. Active listening and empathy

The age of “ping-pong” inquisition-style interviews are over – at least if you want to actually connect with the individual you’re interviewing.

In order to set the stage to build an authentic connection, it’s imperative to come in prepared with a few questions but to also create and allow space to stay curious about the candidate’s responses and dig deeper to gain an understanding of not just their abilities, but who they are as a person. 

2. Personalizing communication and outreach

It’s easy to fall prey to articles (including this one) telling you the “right” way to interview and lose yourself in the process.

It’s important that your communication – from written to verbal – is authentic, aligned, and consistent.

Whether you are reaching out to candidates yourself, or simply replying to thank you notes, be yourself, not chatGPT!

3. Providing timely feedback and follow-up

Frankly put, this piece can make or break hiring your ideal candidate or losing them to competition.

Hiring is a two-way street, and days left on “read” makes everyone feel the same way – unwanted.

Even if you do not have all of your ducks in a row, providing timely feedback and clear expectations around your decision timeline are crucial to keeping your candidates engaged and also eliciting the same transparency from them.

4. Consistency throughout the hiring process

Another way to build trust with all candidates is to align the interview process and keep it consistent throughout.

Adding a step may not seem like a big deal to you, but typically causes candidates to question where they stand and may cause them to reconsider their excitement about the opportunity.

Staying true to your word is essential for showing candidates that you follow through with your word – remember, they are interviewing you as well!

5. Creating opportunities for candidates to ask questions

Questions from candidates are not only important for their understanding of the opportunity, but also a key source of insight into the way they think, and what’s most important to them in their search.

If someone asks about remote flexibility or career growth, it can open the door to discussing why that is important to them, and what has not worked for them in the past to gain deeper insight into their past and personality.

6. Encouraging job candidates to provide feedback

The best way to show candidates it’s a two-way street, and that you value them and their time, is to ask for feedback from them.

Not only is it a great way to open the door to understanding them better, but it will also allow you to continue to improve your interviewing skills.

The tips in this article are a great way to start, but there’s no better way to improve than by eliciting feedback from those you interact with directly.

7. Showing appreciation for candidates’ time and effort

While interviewing has certainly become easier than ever, it’s important to remember that time is our most precious asset.

While the person you’re interviewing may not be “the one” for your team, they may know the right person.

Go into the interview with this perspective in mind and show your appreciation through your presence, active listening, and of course by expressing it directly to close out the interview.

Benefits of human connection in candidate experience

The benefits of taking the time to build human connection in the candidate experience cannot be understated and include making candidates feel valued and respected, improving candidate communication, and reflecting well on the employer brand.

Making candidates feel valued

Treating people the way you want to be treated never goes out of style.

Putting yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and keeping their perspective top of mind is an easy way to ensure you listen to understand rather than reply.

Not only will this help the candidate feel valued, but it sets you up for success to hear what is said rather than what you want to hear!

Making candidates feel respected

Respect takes time to build and minutes to destroy.

The good news is that it’s built in the little moments, and following many of these tips (specifically providing timely feedback and keeping consistent throughout the process) are simple ways to show you appreciate the candidate’s time.

Most importantly, remember to stay focused and present in the interview – put the chats/pings away and stay fully present!

Improving candidate engagement and communication

Expectations around timelines – both for the entire process and for each step throughout – are crucial to setting the stage for candidate engagement and communication.

By understanding and communicating your timeline, you give each candidate the opportunity to align or withdraw from the opportunity.

The right candidates become more engaged, the wrong candidates show their true colors.

Reflects well on the employer brand

When you approach interviews with a relationship-focused perspective, candidates feel it.

Even if they are not a fit for your company, they are more likely to refer others and speak well of the company.

Interviews can either decrease or increase the candidate pool the next time you hire – do your future self a favor by investing in increasing the pool and your options!

Conclusion paragraph

While it’s easy to overthink hiring and get wrapped up in what you “should” do, the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to be yourself, and remember that an interview is just an interaction with another person.

Staying true to yourself and what you need, while also balancing the perspective of the interviewee in mind is the best way to build connection rather than a 30-60 minute interrogation, which is exhausting for both parties.

Have fun with your interviews, stay curious, bring yourself to the conversations, and remember that each interview is a chance to learn and improve!

Looking to hire top-tier Tech, Digital Marketing, or Creative Talent? We can help.

Every year, Mondo helps to fill over 2,000 open positions nationwide.

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