Maintaining candidate engagement during your interview process

July 12, 2019

Over the last 6-12 months the market for in-house legal recruitment has changed in a number of ways. One of the most significant changes for hiring has come at the junior to mid-level, with candidates having multiple suitable roles to choose from. As a result of this high level of competition we are seeing increased numbers of candidates dropping out of processes, bidding wars at offer stage, and counter offers from current employers. 

To avoid your preferred candidate slipping through the cracks there are a number of steps you can take. One is ensuring a positive candidate experience throughout the interview process. From a recruitment perspective we frequently see the experience at interview factoring into candidates decisions, particularly when comparing with another opportunity.

I appreciate that some businesses have very standardised, codified interview processes and structures. These are sometimes difficult to deviate from. That being said, there is plenty of things you can do (as the interviewer) to ensure you are benefiting the hiring process. Below I have identified some key points for candidate engagement.

Striking the right tone at first interview

First stage interviews are sometimes slightly tricky to get right. On one hand, it is the opportunity for you to establish if the potential candidate is the right fit for the role and someone you want to invest time in. On the other, this is the candidates first face to face impression of your business.

It is vital that your first interview strikes the right balance of assessing candidate fit, and advocating your role and your business. One of your first stage interviewees will be the person you eventually offer the position. You do not want a slightly abrasive first interview to have tarnished the message you’ve tried to convey in the subsequent interviews. All too often we see first stage interviews that focus too much on grilling the candidate, whereas an informal chat through both their experience and the role will lead to far more favourable outcomes.

Clear structure and purpose

In order for candidates to remain engaged and interested in the role, each interview should serve a purpose. It is frustrating and off putting for candidates when they engage in 2-3 interviews in which they are asked to cover the same topics and hear the same description of the role. Interviews should progressively cover a variety of topics, with the selected interviewers having a genuine insight/purpose for being there.

Clear timelines

It is very important to set out clear timelines to candidates AND to honour them. Candidates for the most part are happy to wait a significant amount of time between interview stages, if they are given a clear idea of when they will be updated on next steps.

Stumbling blocks happen in the recruitment process that will cause unavoidable delays. Crucially these delays should be communicated clearly to candidates, and new timelines proposed if possible. All this means that the candidates you want to keep engaged feel involved and valued, and those you don’t wish to continue with will have had a positive experience.

Timely Feedback

It is really important to keep candidates appropriately informed during the process, whether successful or not. Candidates are always very grateful for initial interview feedback, even if there is more detailed feedback to follow. Delayed feedback or lack of any feedback, can be really harmful to your brand in the candidate market place.
Candidates will share with their peers that they were ignored for weeks, or never heard back on their interview performance. Further, a delay in general feedback could
dampen the enthusiasm of successful candidates. 

These are the key areas I would consider when formulating and carrying out your interview process. By ensuring you are considering candidates experience throughout, it will lead to more success come offer stage.

To discuss this topic or for advice about planning the interview process, feel free to contact me here.