One of the biggest complaints from candidates is the lack of communication during the interview process. Hiring managers have a lot on their plates, and the occasional check-in e-mail or phone call during a process that can take anywhere from weeks to months can easily fall to the wayside. Communication breakdowns appear to be a side effect of hiring.

But when great candidates are waiting to hear from the hiring team without a clear idea of when they should expect an update, companies can miss out. Before you lose your top candidate to another organization, address and correct this communication breakdown.

The Importance of Communication During the Interview Process

From a hiring manager perspective, going a week or two without interacting with a candidate you’ve already interviewed as you interview others feels like no time at all. If anything, hiring managers feel pressed to make a decision already.

But from a candidate’s point of view, weeks of silence spells rejection. Those weeks are also an additional time when candidates are still applying and interviewing at other companies… Companies that could have a shorter hiring timeline than yours.

So many candidates never hear back from companies on where they are in the process, or even if they are still in the process, and this lack of communication turns professionals both off your hiring practices and your brand.

In addition to the risk of losing a star candidate, hiring managers are often inundated with communications from candidates checking in on their statuses – even before the hiring manager has decided whether to move a candidate forward. When you’re fielding many resumes, the time it takes to respond is time that could have been spent making progress in the hiring decision or spent focused on strategic business initiatives.

While “ghosting” during the interview process goes both ways (consider the “no call, no show” candidate who skips an interview), the breakdown isn’t inevitable.

So how can you avoid this breakdown of communication in the interview process?

Setting Communication Expectations

To avoid these pitfalls, you need to set clear expectations during each step of the interview process. Give a very clear timeline of when candidates should expect to hear back from you, and (most importantly) make a point to stick to that timeline or reach out to the candidates to check in when you cannot. Similarly, good candidates should reach out to you when the deadline approaches to also check in.

What does this look like?

Ideally, when a candidate submits a resume, whether through an online process, direct e-mail, or through a referral, your response would include a time window when he or she can expect to hear back on the status of his or her application. Once you decide to move a candidate forward, an additional touchpoint should include a timeline of when he or she should expect to schedule a phone interview or the next step of your process.

This also means that you should let candidates know when you will not be moving them forward in the process. Rejection is rarely easy on either end, but candidates who receive a polite note will still appreciate being informed. Many candidates dislike not hearing back from companies when they are no longer in consideration. By respecting candidates’ time and expectations with a note on their status, you can still leave them with a favorable impression of your brand.

At each step of the process, set expectations on when candidates should hear back on the next step. When you close a phone interview, for example, you should give the candidate an idea on when he or she should hear back from you again. Candidates, in turn, should ask for this timeline when they are told they will move forward. Strong candidates will confirm interview times and follow-up with thank-you messages post-interview.

When Should You Communicate?

It isn’t always feasible to stick to projected timelines when making a hiring decision, especially when you’ve just begun the interview process or with hiring team members’ availability. With that in mind, it’s best to send a touchpoint in the following circumstances:

  • If your previous timeline has changed
  • If the candidate is moving forward in the process
  • If the candidate is removed from the process
  • If the process has been extended
  • If the position has been filled
  • If the position has been put on hold

Depending on how far along a candidate is in the process, this message could come from a quick e-mail or from a more personal phone call. These communication points establish your company as one that is respectful of candidates’ time and investment.

When Should You Expect the Candidate to Communicate

  • If his or her timeline has changed
  • If his or her hiring status has changed (i.e., the candidate has accepted another position elsewhere)
  • When an interview has been scheduled
  • If the candidate needs to reschedule the interview
  • After the interview for additional inquiries and to reconfirm interest
  • When an offer has been received

Often underrated, confirmation and thank-you messages haven’t gone the way of the dinosaurs. Strong candidates will follow-up with both, and you can also expect to hear from them as your own communicated timeline approaches. And if you don’t communicate the next steps for whatever reason, strong candidates should also reach out to the hiring manager to inquire.

Stop the Communication Breakdown Before It Begins

Keeping up communication during the interview process is no easy task. Finding the right balance and tone can be tricky, especially since you need to adhere to HR best practices and stay true to your company voice. On top of that, making the time to communicate with each candidate can be difficult when your bandwidth is already stretched.

ADAPTURE hiring experts can help your organization find and maintain the right communication level in addition to finding you the superstar candidates you’re looking for. Our team will take over the communication touchpoints so your team can focus on what they do best.