Expert Tips for Improving CX By Over-Communicating

As we know, constant communication is one of the best ways to improve the candidate experience (CX), yet it seems most employers are falling flat in this area. Addison Group research finds that 70% of jobseekers will lose interest in a prospective employer if it takes more than a week to hear back after the final interview.


Source: Rawpixel / iStock / Getty

Whether it’s communicating after the final interview or the minute the candidate submits his or her résumé, recruiters need to be on the ball and provide constant communication to keep candidates happy throughout the hiring process.

Claudia Johnson, Director of Internal Recruiting at Addison Group, joins us to discuss how over-communicating with candidates is NOT a bad thing; in fact, it may help you land the top talent you desire. Johnson offers some great tips and advice in the Q&A below.

HR Daily Advisor: Research shows that constant communication with jobseekers improves the CX. How quickly should this communication start, and how often should recruiters be interacting with candidates throughout the hiring process?

Johnson: Communication should start as soon as the recruiter is matched with a candidate. From there on out, it will vary depending on where the candidate is in his or her job search. For example, if a recruiter has multiple opportunities for a candidate, weekly communication should be the standard.

However, if a recruiter is working with a candidate who has an interview that week, the recruiter should be in contact with the candidate a minimum of 24 hours before the interview to prep him or her and 24 hours after the interview for a debrief.

HR Daily Advisor: In your experience, what is the best way to get a candidate to respond to your communications (whether it’s through e-mail, phone, text, etc.)?

Johnson: The best way to get a candidate to respond to a recruiter’s communications is by ensuring the recruiter is covering all channels. Typically, the best route has been via a call, as most people have their phones in possession at all times. However, that’s not to say an e-mail or a text won’t work just as well.

As a general rule, I encourage recruiters to call the candidate first and then follow up via e-mail if they don’t get a response, detailing that they just tried to give the candidate a call and sharing the best number at which they can be reached. If a recruiter has an established rapport with the candidate, he or she could send a text instead of an e-mail, depending on the relationship.

HR Daily Advisor: Do you use catchy subject lines to get candidates to open your e-mails or InMails? And if so, what’s one of the best lines you’ve used that’s resulted in a successful hire?

Johnson: I like to keep my subject lines straight to the point. Typically, they will say something along the lines of “Quick Update” or “Quick Question.” Then, in the body of the e-mail, I share more relevant details. From my own experience, these types of subject lines work well.

HR Daily Advisor: Experts say that in order to attract the talent you’re looking for, you need to be reaching out to them on the thing they use most: their phones. Do you encourage your recruiters to reach out to candidates via text? If so, what are some best practices for texting candidates that have worked for you/your recruiters?

Johnson: I always encourage recruiters to reach out via a phone call first. When there’s no preexisting relationship between the two parties, an e-mail or a text is not the preferred avenue for an introduction, as it’s less personal.

However, and as mentioned above, if a recruiter and candidate have an established relationship, or if the candidate said he or she prefers to be texted, then that avenue is an acceptable way to communicate.

As far as best practices for texting candidates, I recommend recruiters keep to an 8 a.m.–8 p.m. window for communication and keep their messages as succinct, professional, and clear as possible.

HR Daily Advisor: Have you used chatbot technology during the hiring process? If so, do you find that this tool helps improve candidate communication? Or does it hurt candidate communication?

Johnson: I have not used chatbot technology during the hiring process. That being said, I don’t think it’s a necessary channel of communication to explore. What recruiters and hiring managers do is so personal, given the nature of the business, and chatbot technology takes the people element out of recruiting, and it becomes too robotic.

At the end of the day, it’s all about people and building relationships, which I feel a human can do better than a chatbot.

HR Daily Advisor: No one likes giving bad news, but sometimes, it comes with the job. When you have to reject a candidate, do you prefer to do that over the phone or through text channels (like text message or e-mail)? In your experience, what has the best avenue been for breaking the bad news to candidates?

Johnson: When I have to reject a candidate, I always call the person. If I don’t reach him or her through that avenue first, I’ll follow up with an e-mail asking for him or her to please call me back. If it’s an urgent message I need to relay, I might include that in the e-mail, but as a rule of thumb, I don’t divulge any specifics in e-mails or voice mails to candidates; I save them for the call itself.

What’s most important to keep top of mind is that at the end of the day, candidates want to know if they got the job or not. As a recruiter, it’s our job to let them know they did a great job and to share any information that would be beneficial for them to know, such as if the company decided to take the role in a different direction or if it was looking for a more niche skill set.

Keep feedback general when possible, but make sure they aren’t left with more questions than answers.

HR Daily Advisor: Do you have any tips for recruiters/hiring managers for improving their communications with candidates? What’s the one thing they should avoid doing?

Johnson: The biggest piece of advice I have for recruiters is when calling candidates, make sure you’re calling them with a purpose. Do you have valuable information you can share with them? Or, are you just calling to check up on them? We need to respect the fact that everyone’s time is valuable, so as a result, it’s crucial for successful recruiters to have an agenda and make the most of their time when connecting.

On a similar note, when recruiters call candidates, they need to be sure they are being as detailed as possible. Do they have one job interview lined up for you? Two? Three? Get specific. If you aren’t sure they are the best fit for a role, let them know, and let them know why.

Also, make sure to set expectations with your candidates. The biggest complaint candidates have about recruiters (in general) is that they never hear back or that recruiters do not make time for them. Establishing the next-step expectation creates a sense of commitment from the recruiter that this is his or her communication process. If you tell candidates you are going to call them next Thursday at 1 p.m., you need to keep good on that promise and follow through.

I always tell recruiters to under-promise and overdeliver. Recruiters get one chance at a first impression, and it’s easier to establish trust the right way from the beginning than trying to regain it once it’s been compromised.