As part of our candidate management series, we wanted to look closely at best practices for candidate communications.

We know that good communication throughout the hiring process is essential to the candidate experience and their impression of your employer brand.

It also makes it much more likely that your chosen candidate will stay the course — and be excited to accept a job offer from your company.

So when and how should you reply to job candidates — and what should you be saying?

How to reply to a job candidate: pre-interview

You posted your job ad, and now applications are in!

This is the most labour-intensive part of recruitment communications, as you’ll have (hopefully) a lot of candidates to reply to.

Here’s how you should reply to job candidates you want to invite for an interview — and those who don’t quite fit the bill.

Candidates immediately unsuccessful after the application stage

You may get a high volume of applications, but you should do your best to reply to everyone, even unsuccessful candidates.

When you treat candidates fairly and with respect, candidates will leave with a good impression of your employer brand — which means they may apply for future roles or leave positive reviews of your company online.

So thank candidates for their application and tell them politely and sensitively that they weren’t successful. Recommend that they keep an eye out for future opportunities and signpost the places where new job openings are likely to be advertised.

Candidates you want to know more about before offering an interview

You may come across candidates whose applications are interesting…but there are things you want to clarify before inviting them to an interview.

In this scenario, you could email the candidate to thank them for their application and ask a few more questions. Or just ring them and ask if it’s a convenient time to talk.

When you call, have your questions ready. But start with a bit of small talk to put the candidate at ease. Also, keep things informal as you ask your questions — this shouldn’t feel like a mini-interview.

Candidates you know you want to interview

You’ll want to arrange an interview for candidates whose applications tick every box.

Over the phone or email, congratulate them on a successful application and find a time and date that suits both the candidate and hiring manager.

This is also a good opportunity to ask if your candidate needs any accommodations to attend the interview.  

When deciding how to get in touch, remember that a phone call is more personal — and it gives you the chance to throw a few times and dates around without going back and forth over email.

However, email is the easiest way to send over a link if you use interview scheduling software.

Either way, once the interview has been booked, follow up with an email summarising interview details, including:

  • Time and date
  • Location and directions
  • Who they’ll be meeting
  • Duration
  • Structure of the interview (e.g. any presentation, test requirements)
  • Login details or a link for remote interviews
  • Details of the hiring process (e.g. is this one interview of many?)

How to reply to a job candidate: post-interview

Interviews are done and you now know who you want to see again. Or maybe you even know who you want to make an offer to. Here’s how you should reply to job candidates after interviews. 

Candidates unsuccessful after interviews

Remember that, by this point, candidates have put a lot of effort into the process.

So — over the phone — thank them for their time. Tell them about the good things that stood out about them during the application and interview.

Then give a little constructive but kind feedback to explain why you didn’t think they were the best fit for this role.

Ask them to keep an eye out for future vacancies and provide additional feedback from the hiring manager over email if requested.

Bear in mind that if you have candidates who are coming in close second and third, you won’t want to reply to them until your first choice candidate has accepted your offer.

Replying to unsuccessful candidates requires tact and sensitivity. Check out this article on the crooton blog for more tips.

Candidates you’d like to see again

Stage one of the interview process may be complete, but if there are more stages to come, it’s now time to schedule them.

Let your candidates know they were successful in the first stage of interviews, and that you’d like to invite them to attend the next step in the process.

Again, offer potential times and dates. Pin down one that works. Then send over an email confirming all details, including what they can expect from the next stage and anything they should prepare in advance.

Candidates you’re ready to make an offer to

This is the fun bit! Call up your first-pick candidate and tell them you want to offer them the job.

Answer any questions they might have and work to find out if there’s anything that would push the candidate over the line in terms of accepting your offer.

Let the candidate know a deadline for getting back to you if they want to take some time to decide.

Candidates who have accepted your offer

This is the point when it all finally comes together, and your hard work pays off!

When a candidate accepts your offer, the onboarding process kicks in. You want to make your candidate feel like part of the team as quickly as possible.

Send over all the details they’ll need including:

  • A contract
  • When (and where) they’ll be starting work
  • Any hybrid work arrangements
  • Initial onboarding documents
  • Also, be sure to offer to answer any questions they have

Good, regular communication from now until your candidate’s start date reduces the chance of them getting cold feet. 

This makes it much more likely that your new employee will turn up (or login) on their first day, ready to start work for your company.

Want a little help with candidate management? Get in touch with the hiring experts at crooton for stellar recruitment support.

And keep reading the crooton blog for more information about candidate management and much more!