Hiring Insights: Who Thanks Whom?

Putting Your Candidates First for a Personalized Candidate Experience

A recent article penned for Inc by Suzanne Lucas made the bold statement: “Dear Hiring Manager, Perhaps You Should Write the Thank You Note.” She continues: “The traditional thank you note is from candidate to hiring manager. That's wrong… Just what are you exactly thanking the manager for? Taking the time to talk with you and consider your application for the job, right? But, what were you really doing? You were taking your time out of your day (and often using vacation time from your current job to do so) to try and solve a problem for the hiring manager.”

At first glance, most would read statements and think “thank goodness this wasn’t a candidate I interviewed; seems quite entitled.” However inverted of a perspective this author seems to hold from standard interviewing protocol, there is an underlying message communicated by her article: It may be time to evaluate your hiring process through a new lens.

If we assume it is the candidate’s responsibility to pen the thank-you note, doesn’t that inherently mean that we also assume it’s the candidate’s responsibility to be thankful for being granted an interview to begin with?

Challenge the Paradigm

Truthfully, you may have this mindset and not even realize you have it. A few questions to consider:

  • How much time do you expect a candidate to prepare for the interview with you? How much time do you spend preparing for that same interview?
  • You likely have asked the question “so why should we hire you” without batting an eye – how receptive are you when a candidate questions “why should I come to work here?”
  • Checking candidate references from past employers is a probable interviewing step; candidates volunteer these regularly. What would your reaction be if a candidate asked to check references from those who had worked under your supervision in the past but were no longer with the firm?

These are just a few scenarios to help challenge your paradigm. Lucas ultimately summarizes this mental shift: “When we think of all the things we demand of job candidates, we should realize that they are the ones doing the hiring managers big favors. You need that position filled, and these people are graciously helping you to do so.”

To be successful in today’s competitive environment, you must shift your perspective to put the candidate’s experience first. By doing so, you increase your chances of persuading them to join your organization.

How to Create a Personalized Candidate Experience

Keeping the following things in mind will help you provide candidates with a positive hiring experience. 

Start with Motivation

The first thing you should do is gather insights, digging deeper than what’s on paper to deduce what they seek to learn in their next role. Schedule time with your recruiter to go beyond more than “the individual is looking to take that next step in his career” and instead have a solid understanding of what the candidate currently lacks and is seeking within your organization. Know what is most important for this candidate to learn from your initial meeting as it relates to what they are looking to accomplish in this career move. 

Additionally, make sure you know “why your firm” –– why this candidate wants to talk with your firm as opposed to others. What is it that initially sparked their interest, and how you can expand on that to have the candidate walk away with their motivating factors addressed?

In the same way you learn why they want to work for your organization, you should also consider "why not". This could be any concerns this candidate has such as the cost of living (if relocation is involved), stability, or any other detail no matter how large or small. Throughout your interview, you are given the chance to address them, either openly or candidly.

It’s the Little Things

Small things go a long way –– especially when potential employees are in a candidate-driven market and may have offers from multiple organizations. Because of this, it is important to put your best foot forward to stand out in the minds of candidates.  

To do so, first, take a moment and look at your physical office space through a new lens –– focusing on the impression it makes to potential candidates. Ask yourself: what does someone entering this space see and experience? Is your boardroom, interviewing space, or personal office dated and could use some modernization? Do you have anything on the walls that showcase your organization’s accomplishments, or highlight your culture? By doing so, you can identify the next steps to make your office more inviting for candidates. 

In addition, the actions you take to make them feel comfortable in your office are just as important. When the candidate arrives, give them bottled water without them having to ask or accept it. When the candidate leaves, consider an exit gift of some sort, such as a small item with your logo on it or something personalized based on what you know about their interests or background. These small details can make a memorable impression, one that may even play a role when weighing their options later on in the process. 

If you are conducting online interviews, it is just as important to communicate your company culture, even through a computer screen. Be energetic and engaging, asking questions that not only assess their skills and qualifications but also work to establish a stronger relationship. With the future of hiring incorporating more and more virtual interviews, your ability to create a personalized candidate experience that feels collaborative and personal, even from a distance, will be a crucial factor in your ability to attain the best candidates. 

The Sell 

As you determine why you should hire a candidate, it is important to communicate all the reasons why your company is a desirable place to work. If during the interview, a light bulb switches on and you have the revelation that this is the exact person you need to hire, you should be able to articulate your true value proposition clearly and confidently. This will ultimately improve the chance that the candidate will want you as much as you want them. 

Here are a few questions that you should take time to craft concrete answers or success stories around to prepare:

  • What are the primary reasons someone would join your organization instead of another firm? 
  • What are some specific career paths from this position and what is your performance management process that supports career development and progression?
  • What in-house resources do you have that give people a competitive advantage? What external resources?
  • How does your company differentiate itself from other competitors in your niche, and what would this mean to someone joining your firm?
  • What is the tenure of your senior staff? What benefit does that provide a new associate?
  • What future growth plans do you have for your firm? What opportunity does that create for someone? 

Even if the candidate does not ask the question directly, you want to remain confident that you are articulating why your organization is the right fit for their values and career goals. 

Learn More: 5 Strategies to Win Over Your Top Candidates

Find and Attract Talent that Makes an Impact

At Kinsley Sarn, we specialize in executive search services to identify leaders who will make a difference in your organization. Our process creates a personalized candidate experience that has allowed us to successfully place hundreds of candidates for clients across a wide range of industries. Using a carefully crafted candidate profile, in-depth interviews and assessments, and post-hire services allows us to confidently guarantee them for 12 months. 

We consider ourselves to be a valued partner for our clients, helping them build relationships and find the right people for their teams. To discuss your hiring and recruitment needs with one of our team members, contact us by clicking on the button below. 

This content was originally written by Karen Schmidt for the Sanford Rose Associates Executive Search Network in May/June 2018 and reworked by Kinsley Sarn in June 2022.

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