The Power of Communication
What do you think the #1 most desired leadership trait is? Probably not a hard guess if you read the title of this blog. Communication. Even marriage and family counselors will tell you that communication is a must to foster solid relationships. When it comes to the workplace, people want to know what’s going on and they often prefer to hear it from you face-to-face if possible. This may surprise you, being that we live on our phones and computers, but it seems as though we, particularly Gen Z and millennials, crave human interaction. In fact, one study found an in-person request is 34 times more successful than an email request.
Communication doesn’t begin once a new hire joins the team, mind you. It begins the second the candidate applies for the job. Whether you partner with a staffing company or go at it yourself, communication is key. Glassdoor found 58 percent of U.S. workers and job candidates believe that a positive job application process should include clear and regular communication by the hiring company. This involves communicating information about the job application process and timeline, interview schedules and expectations, as well as feedback once the interviews are over.
A Career Builder study found 82 percent of workers expect to hear back from a company, even if the employer isn’t interested in hiring them, with 32 percent saying they would be “less inclined” to purchase goods or services from a company that was unresponsive to their application. Even more eye-opening is the fact that these respondents also said a good applicant experience, even if they weren’t hired, would inspire them to tell others to seek employment at that company and even motivate them to reapply again.
It really comes down to common sense. None of us, no matter where you are on the pay scale or corporate ladder, want to be left in the dark. We aren’t asking for trade secrets; we simply want to know what to expect so we can be prepared for whatever we may have to deal with. Communication removes stress and uncertainty, enabling people to be proactive in how they manage situations. The hiring process is no different.
Even hiring managers want to know what’s in the mind of the candidates. Are they seriously looking for a job or just kicking the tires? What are candidates really seeking in the new job and what will entice them to sign on the dotted line? Will they be committed? The interview process is supposed to get to the bottom of these questions and more, and guess what? The interviews are based on personal communication. It’s where you find out the most about a candidate. Sure, the resume is a starting point, but if you really want to get to know a candidate, you look them straight in the eye and start a conversation.
How to Communicate with Candidates
In the distant past, the only way to communicate with candidates was in person or over the phone. Today, however, communication channels have expanded to social media, instant messaging, email and SMS text. Which one is best? It depends.
If the candidate initially reaches out to you via LinkedIn, it’s okay to respond back. LinkedIn is a great way for a candidate to introduce themselves to your organization and pass along their resume. If you’re serious about hiring them, you may want to transition from the LinkedIn platform to a more personal one, like email or phone. We always recommend picking up the phone and talking during the initial phases. It shows the candidate you are interested enough to take time out of your day to pick up the phone and call. It also gives you greater insight into their personality.
From there, you can set up interviews via whichever channel they prefer, likely email to speed calendar invites. Follow-up communication will depend on the outcome of the hiring process. If you want to hire them, an in-person meeting is best. This way, you can shake their hand and make your offer in a positive environment. A phone call may be received at their current workplace and they may not be able to respond. If, however, they didn’t make the cut, you may want to avoid mutual uncomfortable personal interactions and email them instead.
We don’t recommend communicating through Facebook, as it isn’t private. You can message them privately through Facebook Messenger, perhaps in the initial stages, but it’s highly impersonal and your messages may get buried in their personal communication. Take it to email or phone, instead. Again, once you know you’re interested in bringing them in for interviews, give them a call or email to schedule.
Text is a great option to communicate things like reminders, gathering interview availability, or scheduling a phone call to discuss interview feedback. Millennials, in particular, love texting (68 percent say they text “a lot,” compared to 47 percent of Gen Xers), but texting isn’t typically intended for longer-form content. It’s fine to remind them of an upcoming interview or even a quick “thanks for sending your references,” just save any detailed information, job expectations, etc. for a more appropriate platform.
Emails are still popular, even among millennials. The number of emails sent and received is expected to reach nearly 250 billion by the end of this year, with 126 emails sent and received per business user. Emails are great because they enable you to add attachments and say whatever you need to say without space limitation. You can also keep a folder of all emails sent and received for each candidate for each job opening, providing a nice historical reference. Email makes it easy to schedule interviews, too.
Again, once the initial phase of the interview process is established, you may want to pick up the phone to see if they have any questions before they come in. This adds a personal touch and shows your company has more than just wizard behind a curtain, but a real, approachable human that is there to ease the process.
Think before You Communicate
Regardless of the communication channel(s) you utilize during the hiring process, be mindful of what you say. Don’t waste anyone’s time with irrelevant or superfluous communications. Every touchpoint should have specific intent and agenda. It’s the Goldilocks Principle here: you don’t want too little or too much communication, but the just-right level and type of communication.
It’s okay to ask each candidate how they prefer to receive communications from you and/or your company. Keep in mind that a 24-year old likely has different communication preferences than a 50-year old. Millennials tend to prefer texts and aren’t as fond of phone calls, while older generations are the opposite. Giving candidates more control and showing you are flexible can be attractive to candidates of all ages, showing them you value their preferences. Otherwise, keep them informed of what type of communication they can expect from you throughout the process. Remember: people like communication mainly to know what to expect.
One last note on this topic: communication is a two-way street. The candidate reveals plenty about themselves in how they communicate with you as well. Look for candidates who are responsive, polite, well-spoken and prompt. This may give you insight into what you can expect if they were a team member.
Once you’ve hired a candidate, take the time to ask them about their interview/hiring experience. There’s always room to improve, but you won’t know how unless you ask. A simple survey is probably all you need, as asking someone in person how they think of your practices may be uncomfortable and restrict them from being honest. To promote full transparency, opt for an anonymous survey, but let it be known that you value their experience to better the hiring process. They’ll immediately feel the love.
Once you have the feedback, do something with it. Overall, do your candidates rate your communication during the hiring process effective and pleasant? Where could you do better? Use this data to continually improve your practices so you can attract candidates who value a positive applicant experience. Reputation is everything in the staffing world. Build yours by implementing proven communication strategies that set your company apart from the rest.