Good talent is hard to find. And the last thing you want to happen when you find someone great is to lose them to a clunky interview process. With over 80% of job seekers saying that a negative interview experience can cause them to walk away from a role they were once excited about, candidate experience is becoming more important than ever.

 

But even if your team is ready to overhaul the experience for your candidates, it can be daunting to know where to begin. To find out where to start, we talked with recruiters to get their recommendations.

 

  1. Look at your job descriptions. Candidate experience doesn’t start with your first phone call—it goes all the way back to your job description. Candidates are likely to consult the job description throughout the process, so give them the right information. “Make sure that the job description is very clear so that the candidate knows how to prepare for the interview,” Nate Masterson, HR Manager at Maple Holistics, suggests. And beyond interview prep, having a clear job description can ensure that you’re attracting the right candidates in the first place.

 

  1. Ask for feedback. Sometimes, it’s best to go straight to the source—your candidates. But don’t spring a surprise Q&A session on them. Let them know well in advance that you’ll be checking in. “If the candidate feels they’re well prepped, they will be eager to share their experience immediately afterwards,” explains Richard Pummell, Human Resources Lead at DevelopIntelligence. “I ask the candidate to commit I will be the first person they call after the interview so I can get the feedback while it’s fresh in their head. I’m then able to quickly report feedback to the hiring manager.”

 

  1. Communication is key.If [candidates] receive communication, it’s frequently not timely,” Pummell said. Missteps in communication can leave a candidate wondering where they stand in the process, potentially leading a top candidate to pursue other opportunities. Make sure you’re staying on top of your interview reminders and follow-ups (Clara can do this automatically for you!). There may be situations when it takes longer than expected to schedule an interview or get a status update, but always reach out proactively in those instances. “This one seems obvious, but it’s all too easy to forget,” says Kris Hughes, who once manned an HR department solo, “Remember how difficult and stressful it can be mentally to be waiting to hear where you stand. Use a third-party tool or calendar app if necessary to remind yourself to check in.”

 

  1. Have fun with the process. Job applicants are used to answering the same questions countless times on applications, in interviews, and everything in between. To make the application more memorable, mix things up by asking unique questions. “We ask applicants who their favorite superhero is and why,” says Caitlyn DeFluri, a lead recruiter at AWeber, “Not only does this gives us a peek into the candidate’s personality, but it also most definitely puts a smile on their face and makes the application experience more positive.”

 

  1. Make the candidate comfortable. Walking into an unfamiliar office can be daunting for anyone, but small gestures can make a potentially awkward experience feel much more welcoming. “Once the candidate arrives, ensure that they know where to go and who to speak with,” suggests Masterson. “Make the candidate feel welcome by offering coffee or other beverages, and greet them with a smile.”

 

  1. Get personal. In between verifying skills, determining cultural fit, and determining interest level, it can be easy to jump straight into rapid-fire questions in an interview setting. But candidates are humans, and a little small talk can go a long way in making them feel comfortable. “I like to start off conversations with a little ‘get to know you’,” DeFluri says, suggesting questions about hobbies and personal interests. “It’s a simple thing, but it really helps relax the mood, and in a relaxed setting, you’ll generally get to know the genuine person you may be hiring.”

 

  1. Always leave the door open for future opportunities. Just because the candidate isn’t right for the current role doesn’t mean that they won’t be for future ones. “If you have a great candidate and they don’t get the job, it’s essential to have established the type of relationship where you can contact them for future opportunities and they’ll take your call,” Pummell says. He recommends breaking the news that they didn’t get this role over the phone, providing context on why they weren’t selected, and offering opportunities they may want to explore. “Helping to take some of the edge off a difficult conversation will ensure you have an ongoing relationship,” he says.

 

Do you have any tips for building a better candidate experience? Let us know on Twitter @claralabs. And if you’re ready to improve your candidate scheduling experience, let Clara help. Visit claralabs.com or sign up for your free trial today.