While the majority of candidate experience strategies focus on talent attraction and engagement, the steps that follow are equally, if not more important than your first point of contact. After you have used key recruitment marketing tactics like integrating visual job descriptions, social media recruitment and maximizing exposure on your careers page and job boards, it is time to develop ways to strengthen the next part of the process – the post-apply experience.

Congratulations! You now have quality candidates in the pipeline to become potential employees for your company. You have vetted their cover letter and resume and may have even done research online or on social media platforms to learn more about them. While you may believe you are in the driver’s seat as candidates are competing for the opportunity to work for your company, without a post-apply strategy, you may run the risk of losing top talent to competitors. You may also be missing out on qualified candidates who have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Communication is Key

One of the most effective ways to contribute to a positive candidate experience is to have open and proactive communication throughout the process. Fifty-three percent of candidates reported wanting to know hiring timeline details from the beginning, and 81% said that receiving regular updates from hiring managers would improve their view of the candidate experience.

When drafting your initial email or calling candidates to schedule an interview, use this as an opportunity to connect positively from the start. Provide interview times that fit with their schedule (especially if they are currently employed and may have difficulty requesting time off), let them know how quickly you are looking to make a hire and how many interviews they could be asked to attend. It is also a great time to encourage them to learn more about your company and come prepared for an interview with specific questions.

Additionally, you can ask candidates if they have a preferred method for keeping in touch. More and more recruiters are using messaging and texting to stay in touch with candidates throughout the hiring process.

The Interview

The initial screening and interview process can often become a busy time for recruiters, and the intent to create positive candidate interactions can be left on the backburner. If you find yourself bogged down by in-person interview schedules, offer candidates different options, like a phone or video call, at least for the initial screening. This allows you to get the foundational questions out of the way and focus on quality hires for your in-person meetings.

In an effort to streamline processes, consider standardizing interview questions that will make your job easier and help to evaluate all candidates against the same criteria, thus weeding out unqualified applicants. When crafting questions to ask during interviews, make sure you focus on the candidate and avoid just listing off ideal employee skills and qualifications. Ask them why they were drawn to your company or the position, and what they believe they can contribute. If time allows, ask a few personal questions to get to know them better. Keep questions general like inquiring if they have any particular hobbies or passions they’d like to tell you about.

Onboard the Right Way

Once you’ve decided to make an offer and the candidate accepts the job, the candidate experience should continue. Provide important materials, like an employee handbook, culture document or video and other documents that can help to proactively acclimate and prepare employees for their first weeks of work.

Continue to serve as a resource as they prepare for their first day, and ensure they have a designated coworker to show them the ropes as soon as the walk in the door.

Offer a Considerate Rejection

Taking the time to let candidates who didn’t make the cut know that you have hired someone else and thank them for their time goes a long way in the candidate experience. In fact, research has shown that candidates who weren’t hired for a position are more likely to apply again in the future if they felt good about how things were left.

Offer feedback as to why they may have not received an offer, and try to mention ways in which they did impress you during the interview process. This may also be a good time to seek feedback from candidates as to their experience in the process.

Although getting people to apply to your job listings is important, creating a positive post-apply experience for all candidates will ensure your success in gaining qualified employees for your organization.