Attract top talent by treating candidates like customers

Hiring & Recruiting Man buying jeans jeans and a smiling sales woman

It’s been said a lot: if you want to attract top talent, treat candidates like customers. The candidate experience is a key component of your employer brand and if you fail candidates you fail your brand.

Word of mouth is a powerful driver of brand and you need candidates to walk away feeling as though they have been respected and treated professionally at every stage of the process. In this case even rejected candidates, will be your employer brand ambassadors. A candidate who has had a good experience will tell their friends. A candidate who has had a bad one will do the same. You might not believe this but even bad candidates have friends and social media accounts.

Always remember: they are free to take their business elsewhere. And that could be your loss.

Here are five rules for treating candidates like customers.

Listen: The candidate isn’t always right. The customer isn’t always right either. That adage is dumb. Some customers are jerks and should be sent elsewhere. But, barring unreasonable people who just can’t be dealt with, everyone should feel they have been heard.

Know your product: Hiring managers expect candidates to do their due diligence before an interview and show up knowing as much as possible about the role and company. Yet a common candidate complaint is that hiring managers often don’t understand the role they’re hiring for. Know the role.

Know your audience: Similarly, don’t know up not knowing anything about the candidate or without having read their resume. A good business knows its client base.

Say thank you: You know how, when you’re leaving a store, and even though you didn’t buy anything you say “thank you” and the salesperson says “thank you”? You’re thanking each other for your time, for your consideration, for showing up. Do the same with candidates. They made an effort. Be grateful.

Treat them as you would like to be treated: Ultimately, this is the rule that matters most and many – if not a majority of – hiring managers forget it, specifically when it comes time to follow up. Nobody would want to be left hanging for weeks on end, waiting to find out whether they got the job or not. But how many employers do exactly that? Many don’t even let people they have interviewed know that they did not get the job. I’ve written more about this here. But this doesn’t just apply to follow up. It applies all through the process. Don’t be late. Don’t waste people’s time. Be polite. Be knowledgeable.

The golden rule applies in all aspects of life, including hiring.

Think about what you want candidates – both successful and unsuccessful ones – to say about their experience with your organization and do what it takes to make that a reality. That’s how you will attract the best and brightest. And that is how good customer service.

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