First impressions: Treating candidates like customers


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Cast your mind back to the last time you applied for a job and didn’t hear back from that company. Were you under-qualified? Were you over-qualified? Perhaps you weren’t quite the right team fit. Or maybe your CV and cover letter wasn’t up to scratch.

Time passes and you patiently wait, but there is no response. No matter the reason, these unanswered questions leave you feeling disappointed, confused, and dissatisfied.

Next, think about flipping this scenario around, with roles reversed: you are the potential employer who left your applicant hanging with no response. Now imagine that they are out there sharing with their friends and family about their negative experience with you and how no update, feedback or response was given. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation for your business.

Treating candidates like customers is key. Here we outline recommendations to help you deliver an exceptional recruitment experience.

First impressions

First impressions work both ways – in particular the power of first impressions is a stand-out for many job seekers. The very first encounter is an opportunity to build a trusting relationship with a potential employee and show them first-hand the values and culture of your business. Even for those candidates who decline offers or who are unsuccessful in the process, the quality of their experience through the recruitment process is fundamental. On the flip side, negative experiences can have far-reaching consequences.

Transparency and responsive communication

Communication points throughout the recruitment process are critical for engaging candidates and to prevent them from being hired by your competition. Many companies believe that candidates who are unsuccessful don’t need to be notified, and that if they don’t receive an update, they will assume they were not picked for the job. Many view this as unprofessional. Customers in a store would never be ignored or have inquires unanswered – why would we treat job seekers any differently?

Candidates deserve to be acknowledged when their application has been received and updated, whether they have been selected for an interview or not.

For candidates who are ultimately unsuccessful, they should be advised when you have decided not to progress their application.

During this time, share this feedback politely, as there is nothing worse than getting a blasé rejection email that leaves the candidate with unanswered questions, other than no response at all.

Build steps into your recruitment process which allow for personalised feedback to candidates who you are not progressing with. Candidates appreciate that you have taken time of offer feedback, and it has potential to help them improve and move forward on their job-searching journey.

Other key aspects include offering honest, clear and concise job adverts and descriptions, detailing specifically the skills, experience and qualifications which are both required and advantageous for the role. Good adverts provide a balance of the qualities the employer is looking for in a candidate and what candidates can expect to receive from the employer.

Welcoming hospitality

An interview process is an opportunity for a candidate to gain an insight into what it might be like to be part of your business. Creating a positive image by greeting them in a friendly manner, making them feel welcomed and comfortable, treating them with respect, encouraging their questions and promoting career opportunities can be the difference between a candidate accepting or declining your job offer.

Following the interview, whether they are successful or not, take a step further and provide them with insightful feedback which they can use to assist with future applications.

Listen, refine, repeat

The recruitment process isn’t just an opportunity for an employer to screen potential candidates. Job seekers are measuring their experience in the process, and establishing whether your company is right for them. Asking candidates to complete a survey with regard to assessing their interview experience with you can be helpful. Feedback can help you further understand your candidate audience and how you can continuously improve to offer the best candidate experience.

Employees are an organisation’s greatest asset and taking the time to recruit the right person is absolutely a worthwhile investment. Businesses that have the best chance of recruiting the best people are those who truly understand the power of ‘customer experience’. Employers that go above and beyond in their recruitment and on-boarding efforts are far more likely to attract quality talent and see greater pay-off with retention and job satisfaction in the long-term.

It’s worthwhile considering – who really are your customers? All great companies believe their customers deserve the best and candidates should be treated with the same philosophy. Set your business apart and attract the best talent – start by delivering an exceptional recruitment experience.

Talent ID are Recruitment Specialists and can support you through your recruitment process. Please feel free to talk to us about this by calling 07 349 1081 or emailing

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Kellie Hamlett
Kellie Hamlett
Director, Recruitment & HR Specialist, Talent ID Recruitment Ltd. She can be contacted on kellie@talentid.co.nz or 027 227 7736. Talent ID are Recruitment Specialists and can support you through your recruitment process.

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