How to improve candidate engagement

Keeping candidates warm is one of the most challenging parts of the recruiting process. In 2019, LinkedIn reported a 20% increase in candidate drop-off during the hiring process. You may have experienced active candidates who stop showing up to interviews and even new hires who stop responding to you after being sent an offer. How can we improve candidate engagement? In this blog post, we’ll share some candidate engagement ideas and dive more into this concept so you can reduce candidate drop-off during the hiring process.

What is candidate engagement?

Candidate engagement is the process of continuous and consistent engagement with candidates through mediums such as email, text or in-person conversations. Candidate engagement is important throughout the hiring process so that candidates feel heard and valued, and maintain their interest in your company while they're interviewing with several other companies.

Candidate engagement in recruitment and throughout the entire application and interview process keeps candidates interested, demonstrates your company’s level of care, decreases candidate dropout, and contributes to a positive work environment for the candidate who becomes the new hire.

Candidate engagement vs candidate experience

Candidate engagement is essential to a great candidate experience. Many conflate the two, but they’re not the same thing. Candidate experience is an overarching concept that encapsulates the overall emotion of a candidate throughout the entire hiring process. Usually, candidate experience has to do with how the candidate was treated overall throughout their interactions. Candidate engagement, on the other hand, is more specific. Candidate engagement considers how the recruiter or the hiring team communicates with the candidate to ensure the candidate has a good experience during the interview process. Typically, candidates who experience increased engagement with the hiring team or recruiter will have a better overall candidate experience. There are several ways to engage with candidates, and this post will outline six candidate engagement strategies that you can start using immediately.

6 candidate engagement strategies

The value of staying engaged with candidates during the hiring process is extremely important. It’s never too late to start implementing new tactics to help reduce candidate drop-off and increase candidate interest. Here are some effective candidate engagement best practices to keep in mind.

1. Review applications in a timely manner

Your company might intentionally wait a few days to respond to candidates for a few reasons: to create an impression of demand for the position, to gauge the candidate’s interest level, or to avoid impulsive decision-making. In reality, responding quickly is an easy way to increase candidate engagement by demonstrating interest in the candidate, engaging a passive candidate and/or maintaining the connection with an active candidate. Prompt communication with candidates often correlates with a higher likelihood of them accepting a job offer from your organization.

2. Stick to a hiring timeline

To ensure continuous candidate engagement, it’s fundamental to stick to the hiring timeline you’ve established. Always establish a realistic hiring timeline, maintain open communication, and stay transparent about the organization’s hiring process. The more information you give a candidate, the more likely they are to feel prepared and confident in the following stages of the process. This establishes trust between the recruiter (by default, the organization) and the candidate.

3. Offer feedback

According to the 2020 Candidate Experience Benchmark Report by the Talent Board, candidates’ overall satisfaction ratings increased by nearly 20% when candidates received feedback early in the recruiting process. Understanding how to engage candidates through actionable feedback will help minimize candidate drop-off during the hiring process. Remember, actionable feedback is specific and constructive; it clearly outlines actions to take immediately.

4. Provide information on your company and the role

In the job description and throughout the hiring process, ensure the candidate has all the information they need about the position and the company. In the job description and on the company website, ensure you’re giving a true sense of the work environment and company culture. Don’t leave out important details like qualifications, compensation and benefits, and the application procedure.

5. Keep candidates engaged during a hiring freeze

Candidates can still have a positive experience with companies experiencing temporary hiring constraints. During a hiring freeze, keeping candidates engaged with timely updates and transparency with the status of the hiring freeze can help candidates stay informed and invested in your company. Additionally, maintaining an active presence on social media and job platforms, sharing industry insights, and offering resources to candidates can help create a strong talent pipeline for when your hiring freeze ends.

6. Take an organized approach to interviews

Part of creating an engaging candidate experience is taking a very organized approach to interviews in the form of structured interviews. For example, ensure that different questions are distributed across the interview process and across interviewers to prevent redundancy. Another approach is to ensure all behavioral and situational questions are created ahead of the interview, and that they assess skills that are specific to the role. Last but not least, an essential part of structured interviewing is developing an answer guide, a standardized scoring method, and rating each question according to that guide. Hireguide can help you create structured interview guides complete with tips on what to look for in a great candidate response — so you can assess candidates fairly and effectively, while providing a consistent experience.

Keep candidates engaged throughout the entire interview process

Maintaining a strong candidate engagement strategy is crucial in today's competitive hiring landscape. By implementing the candidate engagement strategies outlined in this article, you can significantly reduce candidate drop-off rates and provide a positive experience for your potential hires. Remember, it's not just about communication but creating a holistic, engaging journey for candidates.

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