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Building a Better Candidate Experience: 6 Ways to Prep Applicants for Interviews

December 19, 2018 Jeevan

To secure more placements, recruiters need to put in the work to prepare their candidates for the interview process. A perfectly qualified applicant who performs poorly with the hiring manager may get passed over, and your staffing firm will have missed out on a golden opportunity. Below, the 247 Team lay out a number of ways recruiters can avoid that, and effectively coach their candidates prior to being interviewed.

1. Polish That Resume

A candidate’s resume serves as an introduction to recruiters and potential employers, allowing the candidate to make a positive first impression before they ever sit down for a face-to-face interview. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for some hiring managers to disregard talent based on a shoddy resume. Recruiters, on the other hand, should understand that not all talented individuals are good at presenting themselves on paper, and that’s why it’s imperative we work closely with candidates to refine their resume for employers. This means properly assessing not only a candidate’s technical skills, but their soft skills as well. If you think a particular skill set is present but isn’t highlighted on their resume, suggest they add it—especially if it fits the job description. This will not only improve a candidate’s chances, but will provide the hiring manager with a better idea of the candidate when they eventually sit down to interview. 

2. Ensure Candidates Have the Right Documents

Ensure your candidates have all the necessary paperwork and documentation for the interview will further enable them to make a positive first impression. It’ll also speed up the onboarding process, as they won’t have to submit documentation they didn’t bring to the interview at a later date. Additionally there are certain situations where more documentation may be required, such as visas or tax info. We had a situation come up recently where a candidate listed extensive self-employment on his resume. Our recruiters then suggested that he carry his W2 and 1099 tax documents to the interview, which hadn’t occurred to the candidate before.  He was thankful for the suggestion, as he was able to cement a positive first impression with the hiring manager for paying attention to the minor, often overlooked details. 

3. Always in Style: Dress for a Good Impression

A client’s first impression of a candidate sets the tone for the entire screening process. So while the resume technically functions as a first impression, the actual interview is (more than likely) the first face-to-face meeting between the candidate and their potential employer. This means your candidate needs to dress to impress! A suit is not always required, but it can signal to a client that a candidate is serious about the position, improving their chances in the long run.

A quick story: Recently one of our candidates found themselves in a predicament. The hiring manager liked our candidate, and wanted him to come in for an interview the very next morning. The candidate accepted, but he had a problem: he didn’t own a suit, and he’d need one for this interview. Through some quick thinking— and a little luck— the recruiter found a department store close to the client’s offices. He suggested that the candidate stop at the department store and buy a suit en route to the interview. The recruiter then had the candidate expense the suit to us at 247, which paid off because the candidate received an offer.

Recruiters often have to work on the fly, and the best ones are able to excel despite unusual circumstances.

4. Provide Navigation Details & Parking Information

The devil is in the (transportation) details. Throughout the years we’ve seen a handful of interviews go awry because of navigation and parking problems. Candidates are human, and are likely to get frustrated when they can’t find the client’s offices or a parking spot. We even knew a candidate who drove to the interview and then called it off, out of frustration with city traffic and unavailable parking. That’s a double whammy because a cancelled meeting not only reflects poorly on a candidate, it can also hurt the reputation of the staffing firm. 

Recruiters need to go the extra mile, so to speak, and always provide navigation details for candidates, especially if the client is located in a city. In some cases it might even be necessary to arrange for an Uber or Lyft. If the candidate is driving and wants to ensure absolutely nothing goes wrong, suggest they drive out to the client’s office a few days before so they can get a sense of the route and drive-time. There’s also apps like SpotHero, a parking reservation company that works with different facilities nationwide. Drivers can reserve a spot in advance and SpotHero ensures they’ll have a place to park at the location and time they selected. A candidate that knows where they’re going, who also has a guaranteed parking spot, is much more likely to reach the client’s offices on time and perform better during the interview.

5. Know the Company Profile

Educating your candidates on the companies they’re interviewing with is key to successful placements. For one, it demonstrates to the candidate that you as a recruiter have done your homework, which will translate when that candidate eventually sits down with the hiring manager. And two, talking with your candidates about potential future employers generates brand value in a candidate’s mind. It should also be said that with today’s low unemployment and tight job market, skilled candidates have no shortage of job offers. Compensation is, of course, a huge factor, but strong company culture can be the difference maker, and set one offer apart from another. 

6. Build a Good Rapport

As a recruiter it is critical to communicate with all applicants throughout the entire hiring process. This means touching base with candidates and hiring managers (or account managers) before and after interviews. In most cases, the client will have feedback regarding an applicant’s performance, which should be passed on to potential candidates as soon as possible. A recent article from The Undercover Recruiter recommends setting up personalized email templates so you don’t spend hours following up with each individual candidate.

Even if a candidate accepts another offer or gets passed over, it’s still important to follow up. Skilled candidates are constantly contacted by recruiters, so making an effort to build a good rapport to set yourself apart can pay off for your staffing firm in down the road. A candidate who truly feels valued by a recruiter will be sure to reach out to that recruiter when they’re looking for new employment opportunities.

These are just a few ways recruiters can effectively prep their candidates prior to being interviewed. Implementing these strategies, and creating a process with multiple touchpoints will allow your firm to secure more placements.

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