7 Ways to Keep Candidates Engaged Throughout the Hiring Process

A great hiring process helps you effectively evaluate candidates and choose the right person for an open role. On the flip side, quality candidates are also evaluating you during this time, so keeping them engaged and invested in your company is important. 

Engaged candidates become hired candidates. So how can you improve candidate engagement in your hiring process?

Tips for keeping candidates engaged: 

  1. Start with a strong job description
  2. Make the application process easy 
  3. Showcase your employer brand
  4. Respond to candidates early and often
  5. Automate interview scheduling 
  6. Keep candidates informed about next steps
  7. Conduct great interviews 

Why candidate engagement matters 

Candidate engagement is a crucial part of an effective hiring process. If you aren’t getting candidates excited about your company and effectively communicating throughout, then you’ll struggle to make the right hires for your team. 

Candidates have more options than ever in the current job market. If someone applies to your company and doesn’t hear back promptly or gets a bad first impression in initial conversations with you, they won’t want to move forward. 

Candidate engagement and the candidate experience go hand in hand. We know from our annual Candidate Experience Report that 81% of candidates say a positive candidate experience has influenced their decision to join a company. 

The candidate engagement tips we’ll share in this article contribute to a more positive candidate experience and can help you get more of your top choice candidates to say yes to your job offers.

Candidate ghosting 

Another big reason to focus on keeping candidates engaged? It can also help you mitigate one of the biggest challenges employers have been facing during recruitment: candidate ghosting

Candidate ghosting refers to when a candidate disappears and ceases communication with an employer during some point of the hiring process. Since 94% of employers have reported experiencing this, it’s likely that it’s happened to you. 

Keeping candidates engaged through the hiring process makes them much less likely to drop out of it. If you are able to establish a connection with them and help them feel more invested in you and your company – even if they decide to move forward with another offer, they will be more likely to keep you informed instead of disappearing without a trace. 

Candidate engagement will ultimately give you more options as it keeps more people in your hiring process. Let’s get into some best practices. 

7 tips for keeping candidates engaged 

1. Start with a strong job description 

Job seekers begin drawing conclusions about a company as early as the job description. For this reason, you need to make sure your job title and description resonate with applicants. Your job post needs to attract top talent and entice them to apply. 

Start by describing the functions of the role accurately. We found that “clearer and more accurate information” in the job description was one of the top improvements job seekers want employers to make in their hiring process. 

Make sure to include benefits and compensation information in your job description. Remember, applicants have a lot of options and are just as busy as you are – they want to spend their time applying to jobs where they’re certain of the salary range, not on jobs where they have to guess what the compensation might be. 

Lastly, don’t list too many qualifications or describe the perfect candidate in too much detail – this could intimidate applicants that may not have the exact experience but would still be good for the role. Think about hiring for growth potential and consider the soft skills that are just as important as the specific qualifications for the role. To learn more about hiring for growth potential, check out this video from CareerPlug’s very own Senior Director of People, Natalie Morgan: 

2. Make the application process easy 

60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out applications because of length and complexity. If your application is too long or difficult to complete, you’ll lose great candidates before you ever get the chance to meet them! 

job seekers quit filling out complex applications

To improve candidate engagement early in your hiring process, make it easy to apply to your open role. Don’t make applicants create an account or login to apply, and definitely don’t make them re-enter information like work history if they’ve already attached a resume. 

And though we do recommend two to three pre-screen questions in your application, be sure not to overdo it or ask for any sensitive information. Both of these things could turn applicants off. Lastly, make sure your application is as easy to complete on a mobile device as it is on a computer. 

Remember: the best candidates have the freedom to be choosy – don’t make them jump through hoops to apply for your open role. Curious what job seekers think about your application experience? Click the button below to download our free “Application Grader”. Rate your application and make the necessary changes to keep job seekers engaged. 

3. Showcase your employer brand

In a competitive labor market, keeping candidates engaged means standing out from the crowd and showing job seekers what makes you great. You want candidates in your hiring process to be excited about the prospect of working with you, so you don’t lose them to other opportunities. 

You’ll want to showcase a strong employer brand, or your business’ reputation as a place to work. Your employer brand affects your company’s ability to attract and hire the best employees. You can actively manage your employer brand with employer review sites like Glassdoor and JobSage. Ask existing employees to share their experiences working with you and politely respond to negative comments about your business. 

Natalie Morgan shares her advice, “Stand out; make sure you’re leading with your best foot forward. Help people learn what it’s like to work with you. Look at how you can lead with that as early as possible to help people stay engaged with you throughout.” 

Natalie Morgan quote on candidate engagement

Showcasing your company culture early on is a great way to attract candidates and keep them engaged, especially younger generations. 67% of Gen Z feel that it is important to work for a company that shares their values. 

To lead with your best foot forward in a hiring process, we also recommend building a strong careers page where you can host your open jobs and give job seekers an idea of what it’s like to work for you. Include employee testimonials, photos of your team, and let your core values and culture shine. Plus, we found that a candidate that applies through a company’s careers page is 3.5x more likely to be hired than someone from a job board. 

4. Respond to candidates early and often 

25% of job seekers we surveyed said they ghosted an employer that took too long to respond to them. In a labor market where candidates have more options than ever, if you wait too long to reach out to candidates, they will move on to the next opportunity. 

If you expect candidates to engage with you, it’s important to meet them where they are – and that’s via text messaging. Text messages are opened 4.9x more than email and receive 7.5x more responses than email. Employers who are relying on phone and email alone to engage candidates are putting themselves at a disadvantage in today’s job market. 

As a business owner, we know it’s unrealistic for you to be texting applicants on your phone all day long! That’s why CareerPlug’s applicant tracking system comes with built-in email and text message recruiting tools, so that you can text candidates instantly without ever leaving the software. 

And from the candidate’s perspective, they’ll see a potential employer who is communicative and easy to contact, making them more likely to remain engaged throughout the hiring process. 

Check out this video to see how savvy business owners use text recruiting to communicate with candidates more seamlessly:

5. Automate interview scheduling 

There’s an old rule in dating that says you should wait three days after a date to call someone so that you don’t seem too eager. The opposite is true in hiring. 

You want to reach out to candidates as quickly as possible. A candidate who doesn’t hear from a job they applied to after a few days could have easily found another opportunity, leaving you to play “catch-up” and compete for their attention. An employer that shows immediate interest in a candidate is an employer who receives immediate interest from a candidate.

But we know that as a busy hiring manager, it takes so much time to reach out to applicants, wait to hear back, coordinate schedules, and to reach out again when they don’t respond. Our advice: automate the communication in your hiring process wherever you can so you can be the first to reach your best candidates. 

Autopilot is an automated interview scheduler available in CareerPlug Premium. Autopilot instantly sends your qualified applicants a text (or email if they’ve opted out of texting) with a link to book an interview directly on your calendar. Candidates also receive automatic reminders if they haven’t scheduled their interview yet. 

Automatic interview scheduling keeps candidates engaged early and it’s more convenient for them to interact with too. From the candidate’s perspective, you’ve just made it even easier for them to move forward in your hiring process – it’s win-win! 

Plus, CareerPlug clients that use Autopilot have cut their interview scheduling time by up to 91% and scheduled as many as 8 times more interviews! Here’s what one Autopilot user had to say: 

CareerPlug Autopilot testimonial

6. Keep candidates informed about the steps in your hiring process 

At CareerPlug, we send all candidates a video that explains exactly how our hiring process works. Setting expectations right away is really helpful for candidates and can keep them more engaged during what can sometimes be a long process. 

41% of candidates want to hear about stages/next steps during the initial interview (20% want to know before the interview!). Let candidates know up front what to expect so they can gauge where they are in your hiring process. A candidate that is unsure of what’s next or where they stand will be much more likely to drop out of your process and pursue other opportunities. 

Help candidates feel prepared for interviews by giving them all the information they need to succeed and letting them know who they’ll be interviewing with beforehand. 

7. Conduct great interviews 

An easy interview scheduling process will take you far. Now it’s time to build excitement with candidates with a great interview experience. 

We found that 22% of job seekers have declined an offer because of a negative experience with people in the interview process and the majority of candidates that have ghosted an employer did so after interviewing. 

Imagine this: A candidate is interested enough in the role to speak with you about it, they show up, but are so discouraged by the experience the interviewer provided, that they drop out completely. This is a common, yet totally preventable scenario. As an employer, the interview experience is something you can control that can help you prevent ghosting and get more candidates to say yes to your job offers

Make sure that all hiring managers at your business  are trained to conduct great interviews. This involves being adequately prepared and asking appropriate questions. Interviewers should be present during interviews, create a warm, welcoming environment, and be respectful during all interactions with candidates. 

Summing it all up 

A well-run hiring process should help you make the right hiring decisions consistently. But it’s also important to remember that candidates are evaluating you during this time as well. And since more and more employers are struggling with candidate ghosting and increased competition for talent, keeping candidates engaged during recruitment is essential. 

Start your candidate engagement efforts early with a strong job description and easy application process. Showcase your employer brand online and stand out by sharing your company culture. Prioritize fast communication and automate interview scheduling. Finally, win candidates over by conducting great interviews. 

Keep Candidates Engaged with CareerPlug Premium

Some things just go well together: peanut butter and jelly, french fries and ketchup, and… text recruiting and automated interview scheduling. Try CareerPlug Premium to see how our easy-to-use hiring software can automate candidate communication and keep your most qualified applicants engaged.


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