According to an annual candidate experience survey conducted by The Talent Board, 53% of candidates don’t receive any feedback after the initial screening and interviewing stage. 69.7% received no additional feedback after being rejected from an opportunity. It’s not legally required in any way to provide feedback to all candidates, but companies who do so see a marked improvement not only in the candidate experience but also in their reputation long term.
Understanding the importance of following up with candidates and how to improve the reply rate will be a top priority in your hiring process. Using messages that work will enhance your hiring brand and attract top talent.
How Important Is It to Follow Up with Candidates?
Following up with candidates isn’t just about making job offers. There are reasons it’s important even when you’re letting someone know they didn’t get the job. This 2018 deep dive by Glass Door published on Fast Company provides a lot of great information about the importance of following up. Here, they go into details such as:
- It provides closure for candidates rather than leave them hanging.
- It demonstrates that your company has respect for their time.
- It can improve your employer brand and reputation.
It also allows you to maintain relationships with potential candidates who, while they may not have been a fit for the current position, could do well with the company in the future. And job applicants talk, so you want them to say positive things about candidate experience. Follow-up is a critical factor in that process.
Interestingly, a survey of EU and UK employers indicated that it’s expected for candidates to follow up after an interview. Still, there is little to show why employers should offer the same courtesy. Just as you want your candidate to research your company, you should research them before an interview. And as you would hope a candidate would send a thank you email after an interview, it’s just as important to let them know where they are in the process. Leaving them drifting in space or falling into a black hole will only decrease the trust in your employer brand.
How to Follow Up with Candidates and Improve Response Rates
To better understand exactly how to follow up with candidates, you want to look at the whole picture. Here are a few components for how to improve reply rates when crafting your message at each step along the way.
Personalize the Message
Candidates don’t like form letters. They provide little to no substantive details to help a job seeker learn about the process or what they could do differently in the future. For candidates in the early stages, a personally addressed automated message will be acceptable. For candidates who have made it to the interview stage but did not get the job, follow up individually.
Use Their Name
Always use their name in the greeting. More importantly, always make sure to spell their name correctly. There are countless women named “Laura” who have received emails addressed to “Laurie.” This step is especially true if the name is not familiar. Check it against their resume or application before typing.
Emails should be short and to the point. Don’t pepper it with too much additional information. For example, don’t cut and paste the entire job description; save some details to discuss when you talk with them. Whatever the message is, get to it quickly and make sure the information is easy to understand.
Your messaging also needs to be consistent. This means it has to be consistent with your brand and the overall tone you want your communications to have. It also means that you need to be consistent with the kinds of answers you give candidates so nothing can be misconstrued.
It can also be helpful to provide data. For example, if one of the top candidates didn’t get selected, let them know how many candidates were in the last round of consideration and your evaluation basis.
Continue the Conversation
If the candidate has additional questions, don’t be afraid to continue the conversation. Even though you may think it will take too much time away from your other work, it will pay off in the long run. This kind of attention will positively impact your employer brand.
Provide Positive Feedback
Of course, you may need to inform the candidate why they weren’t selected, but don’t only focus on the negative. Keep in mind the positive aspects of their interview and make sure they know what they are doing right.
Be of Service
If you can, provide more helpful information that can impact them moving forward. For instance, you may connect them to another company or recommend a recruiter they can talk to about other opportunities.
Allow Them to Be of Service
You can also provide an opportunity to be helpful to you while they maintain a positive relationship. You never know how someone may be able to help your company, whether it’s through a referral or information.
And always keep in contact with former candidates, especially those who made it to the final interviews. They are the perfect candidates to consider for future positions so you can cut down your hiring time and cost significantly.
Reply Message Examples
Now that you know how to compose your message, you need to put it into practice. Here are four examples of various stages of the process to get you started.
In Consideration but No Decision
We appreciate your time here in our office, and we wanted to let you know that we are still interviewing other candidates. We expect to have all interviews completed by (date) and will make a decision by (date). We will be sure to notify you of the next steps as soon as we can.
Let us know if you have any questions, and we look forward to talking with you again.
Another Step in the Process
We are excited to move forward with the second interview. We would love to schedule a time for you to come in and meet with (manager name or department) to discuss the position further.
(Include a couple of interview dates and times for them to choose from).
Offering the Job
Congratulations. We want to make you an offer for the position of (job title). In the coming days, expect a formal job offer to include information on salary, benefits, and schedule. Once you review these items, we will need to complete the next steps of the process by (date). If you have any questions, you are welcome to email me or call me at (phone number).
We look forward to having you on our team.
Thank you so much for your participation in our interview process and your interest in working with our company. We want you to know that the decision was difficult as all of our top candidates possessed skills that would be a great fit in our organization.
We based our decision on (a factor such as the skills of the new hire). We hope that we will be able to keep in touch if another position may become available.
Conclusion: Following Up Can be Easier with the Right Software
Following up should be personalized, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t aspects that can be automated. Working with the right system that can allow for quick and easy follow-up will help you reach more candidates and improve your reputation in the process.
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