Make Applicants Feel Like VIPs

Ask The Expert

Q: With the current shortage of qualified applicants, I want our organization to make candidates feel like VIPs. How can we improve this part of our recruitment process?

A:  Since this is, as you noted, an applicant’s market, it’s a good time to get your entire organization involved in making applicants feel valued. Any candidate who comes to your office should be treated with dignity and respect. These guidelines will help you make your job candidates feel appreciated.

Be sure your job postings are as informative as possible, but concise. Many organizations use job descriptions as job postings. Don’t do that; it’s too much information at this stage of recruitment. Poll your new hires and ask what they wished they’d known before accepting their jobs, and use that information to design your listing.

Make it easy to apply. This includes allowing people to apply from a mobile device. Many applicants prefer to apply this way.

Include information about your organization’s culture on your careers page. If possible, include interviews with and testimonials from current staffers, especially if they’re done on video.

Communicate frequently with qualified applicants. Let all qualified candidates know as quickly as you can that you’re interested in them. Don’t make them wait too long for a phone or video screening interview. Remember: The good ones are applying to several other positions, and you don’t want them to spring for another opportunity because you didn’t act quickly enough.

Good candidates are applying to several other positions, and you don’t want them to spring for another opportunity because you didn’t act quickly enough.

Make sure interviewers are up to date on good interviewing techniques. This involves knowing both what questions to ask and what questions not to ask. Applicants know an illegal question when they hear one and will be turned off if they’re asked one in an interview. Needless to say, this won’t reflect well on your organization.

Try not to keep an applicant waiting. On the day of the interview, if your schedule gets off track, find someone to meet with them until you’re ready. Don’t leave the candidate sitting in the lobby!

Be sure everyone the applicant meets is friendly and approachable. Inform your staff, including your receptionist, about the applicant who’s interviewing at your office and encourage them to greet the candidate warmly.

Don’t make a qualified applicant interview multiple times with multiple people. Try to get everything done in one day, then check references and make an offer as quickly as possible.

Make a strong pitch to your finalists. Have information ready for your final candidates, including benefits summaries and press releases, marketing information, or anything else you think will help persuade them to join your team.

Once you’ve made your decision, let the applicants you will not hire know as quickly as possible, and thank them for their interest in your organization.

Generally, throughout the recruitment process, the Golden Rule applies: Put yourself in your applicants’ shoes and treat them as you’d like to be treated.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

Hiring Organizational Culture