How to Keep Candidates Engaged through a Long Interview Process

Kristine 500px by

The duration of the hiring process has steadily increased in recent years. In fact, research from Glassdoor shows the process has lengthened by a day from 2014 to 2017, with a 15% increase in the time to hire from 2009 to 2017. While the increase in time may seem like a mere inconvenience to recruiters, it can also negatively impact the candidate experience. In fact, more than half of candidates surveyed in 2016 agreed that when the hiring process takes too long, they lose interest and move on to other opportunities.

One solution to keep candidates engaged is to reduce the time between interview steps, and therefore keep the overall hiring process shorter. This can often be difficult, especially in the summer months when hiring slows down, or if your interview process requires multiple steps. Instead, there are a few ways recruiters and hiring managers can keep candidates engaged when the hiring process seems to be dragging.

First, set realistic expectations of how long the process will take. This is especially important if you know that your process tends be long, or requires an ‘extra step’, like a take-home assessment. Setting expectations for the number of steps in your process and average time between them upfront also opens up the conversation. It gives the candidate the opportunity to voice any concerns they have regarding the projected time frame; including competing offers or current contract duration.

Once the candidate begins interviewing, be sure to reach out in a timely manner with feedback and next steps throughout the interview process. More than 20% of candidates will only wait one week after their initial interview to hear back before moving on to other job prospects, so it’s important to proactively reach out and convey interest.

Opening up the lines of communication by texting throughout the interview process can be useful. The benefits of texting the candidate are twofold. On one hand, candidates receive texts more quickly and have an established line to contact the hiring manager or recruiter with any questions, allowing them to be more engaged. On the other, sending a quick text takes relatively little time, but makes the candidate feel prioritized.

While following up promptly and reaching out via text are great ways to keep candidates engaged, you can also give them the resources to learn more about your organization during a lengthy hiring process. For example, sending the candidate content your company has recently produced, or customer testimonials that reflect what your team does best, can work to ‘sell’ the candidate on your role. Sending along content will also make the proceeding interviews more productive, as the candidate will be better informed about your business.

Once the candidate has made it through the process – congrats! Having an accepted offer with a candidate you’re eager to work with is exciting. However, it’s important to engage with your new employee between the offer stage and start date – especially if that time is a few weeks. This can be as simple as having both the recruiter and a member of the candidate’s new team reach out to say congratulations, and of course, setting expectations for the first day. At OpenView, we reach out by sending along a handwritten note and a few selected items of ‘swag’.

As the hiring process becomes more involved and time-consuming, it’s important to keep the candidate experience top of mind. The interview process is, by design, created to filter the best talent for your organization. However, it’s equally important to try to attract and engage that talent throughout every stage. Otherwise, you could end up missing out on your top prospects to competing businesses that were quicker to follow up…or willing to send a text.