The single most important thing to remember when interviewing a candidate

Have you ever had a really horrible interviewing experience yourself? Was somebody rude, or did they string you along? Hiring managers or business owners have almost always been on the other side of the fence. It can be easy to forget that how we deal with unsuccessful candidates can directly impact on business.

I recently met someone who described a lengthy interview process with a very well-known company. After multiple rounds of interviews, he was left hanging. No phone call, no notification. He now swears off the brand entirely.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this anecdote. The single most important thing to remember when you’re interviewing candidates is that they are customers too. Yes, manners matter! Your brand perception as an employer is not only important for attracting top talent, but for overall business.

Anybody who has gone through an interview—and in particular multiple interviews—deserves a polite follow up. In the era of social media and with sites like, these experiences can potentially go on record and damage your employer brand.

In a strange paradox, many companies with a strong brand have shown to give applicants a bad experience. An experiment conducted by a staffing firm last summer found that many companies on Fortune’s 2012 ‘best companies to work for’ list gave candidates a poor experience. When a fictional candidate applied, they found that only 28 percent of the companies replied to the mystery applicant letting him know that he was unqualified or did not get the job.

This of course might not be realistic for a smaller business that doesn’t have an applicant tracking system maintaining the back end. But the game changes when someone makes it to the point of an interview. It is always best practice to follow up.

Candidates are customers too. Treat them with respect and they will probably remain that way.


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