How recruiters can improve the effectiveness of their conversations with candidates

Jan 18, 2019 - Cat DiStasio

It’s not enough that recruiters have friendly chats with candidates. They must also share information with top talent so candidates can make informed decisions about their career choices. Recruiters need to understand what types of information candidates want, and how to communicate it effectively.

For a long time, recruiters had to figure out what candidates want to know based on guesses and vague feedback, but fortunately Glassdoor commissioned a survey of job seekers and shared the responses with the world.

The job of a recruiter is not an easy one. They are tasked not only with finding the best candidates who will be a great fit for the position as well as the company culture, but also with delivering a candidate experience that job seekers find satisfying and enticing. Essentially, recruiters have had to become consultants, providing valuable information to the candidate in order to position himself or herself a head or two above the barrage of other recruiters. They must also pivot into a seller role, in order to make successful hires. For both of these goals, understanding what job seekers are looking for in a recruiting process is paramount.

So, about that survey data I mentioned… It’s not surprising to learn that a majority (58 percent) of job seekers say clear and regular communications are the most important element of a positive job application experience. We already know conversations are the key to better hires, but let’s break it down from a candidate perspective, so recruiters know exactly what kind of experience to deliver.

What candidates want to know

We already know job seekers want more communication with prospective employers during the application and interview process. What has been less clear, until recently, is what types of communication, or what information they want to know. That’s where the Glassdoor survey comes in. Thanks to these insights, we can address job seekers’ pain points directly.

And they may be as simple as bringing a little more transparency into your recruiting conversations. Job seekers reported that lack of information about pay and benefits (50 percent) and interview schedule changes (50 percent) are the two biggest causes of frustration during the interview process. Creating a recruiting strategy that allows for effective and timely communication about these things could keep quality candidates from dropping out of your pipeline prematurely.

While the best approach is to share the same information with all candidates, it’s important to note that all candidates do not necessarily share the same expectations. According to the Glassdoor survey, female job seekers are 23 percent more likely than male job seekers to be frustrated about lack of compensation information (57 percent vs. 44 percent), and 29 percent more likely to be frustrated about lack of information about job responsibilities (55 percent vs. 39 percent). These gender specific data points serve to remind recruiters and hiring managers to be hyper aware of the information they are sharing, as well as the timeliness of that communication.

How recruiters can share enough information at the right time

Even when recruiters aren’t working from a script, the candidate evaluation process can get a bit methodical. After all, recruiting is essentially repeating the same process thousands of times with different people. The best recruiters are aware of this danger, and work to avoid the pitfalls of going on autopilot. Instead, they focus on engaging with their candidates in a friendly, personable way, and treat recruiting as what it really is: the process of two humans getting to know one another.

Even in a candidate-driven market, recruiters have the power advantage, and job seekers may be wary of seeming too needy by asking too many questions. In reality, candidates who ask questions demonstrate positive engagement and often turn into stellar employees. To mitigate the misperceptions, though, recruiters must guide the conversation and make candidates feel comfortable asking what they want to know.

During the interview process, ask candidates about their questions at regular intervals. Avoid yes/no queries like, “Do you have any questions?” Instead, ask in an open-ended way: “What questions do you have?” This subtle difference can help candidates feel more secure about asking for what they want to know. Similarly, recruiters can ask candidates about different topics to gauge their level of interest or anxiety.

Here are a few examples:

  • “Would you like to talk about compensation now, or after your phone screening?”
  • “What are your concerns about the job responsibilities?”
  • “What questions do you have about benefits?”

Of course, recruiters still need to assess a candidate’s skills, but hiring determinations should span far beyond the job description and responsibilities. These days, the true value of an employee is also measured by the impact each person has on the rest of their team and on the company and mission as a whole (you can learn more about how BASF is using impact job descriptions by watching this video with their Director of Talent Acquisition, Heidi Gerhard.). These are things that can’t typically be quantified, but fostering security and confidence from the beginning of the recruiting process is more likely to result in a quality hire where these intangible benefits can be redeemed. And, ideally, the organization and the individual will benefit equally.

Other tips on meeting candidates’ expectations

The Glassdoor survey revealed another insight that should have talent acquisition leaders leaping for joy. On the whole, the majority of job seekers prefer a short recruiting process (from initial application to receiving an offer), with 62 percent saying they would like a process that is complete in less than two weeks. Compare that to employer goals of an ever reduced speed-to-hire, and you’ve got a match made in heaven, if your team can pull it off. Properly evaluating candidates can be time-consuming, and all aspects of the recruiting process can contribute to slow downs, from poorly written job descriptions to application black holes to inconsistent recruiter communications. Tightening up job listings, adding a recruiting chatbot to assist applicants with basic questions, and creating (and sticking to) standardized interview questions can all help make the process more efficient and a heck of a lot faster.

Candidates also want authenticity. When it comes to recruiting conversations, the best way to give them what they want in this area is by being present and listening to what they say (while paying attention to what they don’t say). Engaging in real human conversations leads to real human connections, and those connections build lasting relationships  

Satisfaction isn’t guaranteed

Like most things, you can’t make every candidate happy every time. But recruiters can improve the overall candidate experience by being mindful of your candidates’ priorities and concerns. Making an effort to address them clearly and in a timely fashion is also a strong strategy for setting your organization apart from the competition. And at the end of the day, giving candidates what they want makes it more likely to make top talent want to join your team.

What to dig further on the topic of conversational recruiting? Check out our post on "How conversational recruiting can attract qualified candidates."

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