Candidate experience is about how we as recruiters make people feel—supported and heard; that they MATTER to us.
This starts with asking the right questions, and following through with clear and consistent communication.
So what are the right questions to set up the best candidate experience?
Instead of asking a candidate to walk me through a chronological list of their work history, I find leading with open-ended questions such as, “Tell me about your current situation and your background,” gives the candidate the opportunity to share what THEY think is most important about their background and interests, and lets them lead the way.
I also ask the candidate to be open with me about things they DON’T like. Just because a job role or experience is on their resume doesn’t mean they want to do it again. Like, ever. Allowing them to be open and honest with me about their likes AND dislikes creates a stronger connection.
I always ask candidates about their industry preferences and if there are any industries they haven’t supported that they would really like to gain experience in. Same goes for company size, structure, and culture. Asking a candidate to describe their ideal company culture gives me great insights into their values and preferences.
What’s my favorite way to drive home a great candidate connection? Two words: Active listening. I’m always intentional about active listening. I engage in the conversation by summarizing what I’ve learned to let them know I’m truly listening, as well as smile and nod enthusiastically when they say something interesting. Active listening is especially important in virtual meetings, when it’s hard to get a feel for someone’s personality. I want the candidates to know I am 100% focused on getting to know them.
While I don’t pry for personal details, I always ask questions once they bring up their families or hobbies. This opens the door for a more meaningful connection. When appropriate, I openly share about my family and interests too. I let candidates know if I’m working from home and mention that my dog may bark at any moment. Being open about my personal circumstances makes me relatable and “human;” not just a recruiting robot with a canned set of questions.
I’m honest with them about the ways we may be able to help them, and also up front about things that may be limiting from their experience or profiles. When we leave the conversation, they have a realistic expectation of how much they may hear from us, and about what kinds of jobs. I don’t try to be everything to everyone, but even if we don’t have a current job fit, I can ALWAYS give advice that will be helpful in their job search—whether it’s suggestions for their resume, LinkedIn advice, job title targets, or salary range information.
As you can tell, I’m passionate about the candidate experience and really getting to know people through the interview process—people are interesting!