It’s a part of human nature to look for connections with our fellow humans. This is as true when it comes to recruiting as it is for any other facet of life.

With the spread of the Internet and other communication tools, it’s now easier than ever for companies to start conversations with potential candidates. Yet, many businesses fail to see the value of adding conversation to their candidate experience.

Below we will go over the benefits conversation can bring to your hiring process, tips on how to engage your candidates, and ways you can include conversation as a part of your hiring strategy.

What is Candidate Experience and Why Does it Matter?

Simply put, candidate experience is the way a potential candidate feels about your company during the recruitment process.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how important it is to design a great candidate experience. Not only will it improve the image and reputation of your company, but it will also reduce the time and cost of hiring new employees.

Finally, once you’ve created a shortlist of candidates, having a great candidate experience will ensure you have your pick of the top talent available.

The Importance of Conversation for Candidate Experience

Conversation (and the skills related to it) is an often overlooked part of designing candidate experience.

Many HR departments tend to have a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment. This can go from a minor annoyance to a major negative when applied to the interview stage.

So much so that a poll by Indeed found that 45% of candidates stated interviewers being unprepared as a major negative for candidate experience. 41% also consider poor communication to be a major problem.

Having a set of default questions and a template for interviewing candidates isn’t bad in and of itself. It can make the interview process a lot more convenient, saving time and effort that can later be spent on choosing the right hire.

But an interview template should be just that: a template. Treat it as a framework that will help you build a custom interview experience for each individual candidate.

Not only will this help you find out the unique strengths and talents of each candidate, but it will also have a major positive impact on the overall candidate experience.

Tips for Better Candidate Conversation

Considering how important conversations can be for building a great candidate experience, here are some ways you can improve the way you engage with and interview potential hires:

Use Open-Ended Questions

If you can, make sure you’re not just asking questions with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. Include open-ended questions that call for judgments and problem-solving. This will help you gain insights into past performance and how they have dealt with a variety of situations. You will also get to know their personality and how they communicate since they can’t default to a one-word answer.

Remember to Say, Not Only Ask

Asking the right questions is the essence of the interview process. But don’t forget to take the time to make statements, especially about your company and its values. You can learn a lot from how candidates react to these statements. It will help you screen those candidates who might not be on board with your company culture. Also, having the candidates expand on your statements can yield a lot more insight than even a series of questions.

Do Your Research

As we mentioned above, being prepared for the interview stage of recruitment is crucial to building a great candidate experience. The obvious way of preparing is, of course, to analyze a candidate’s resume and cover letter. But if you want to dive a bit deeper, you can also reference their social media profiles. Platforms like LinkedIn can offer more insight into the things a candidate values and what they might be looking for in a job.

How to Start Using Conversation in Recruitment

Now that we understand how to include more and better conversations into our candidate experience, all that’s left to do is start.

Here are some of the ways to inject a more conversational approach into the way you communicate with candidates. This way, you can start building more rapport from the moment you reach out to a potential hire.

Email

According to GetResponse, email open rates have fallen to an average of 22%, while click-through rates are even more disheartening, at a mere 4%. The main reason for this is the trend of spam and automated emails. These kinds of emails don’t add any value for candidates, and so they mostly get skipped over.

This doesn’t mean you should get rid of automated emails. There are many situations where this approach is invaluable, especially considering that you won’t be able to answer every email personally. However, there are ways you can improve your email templates. Make sure the templates you’re using are simple and to the point. Design the wording as if you were talking to a coworker or a friend. This way candidates won’t think you’re just sending them another impersonal and spammy email and are much more likely to respond.

Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots have been around for a while, but it’s only if the last couple of years that they moved from being used for customer support to become a part of the hiring process. Still, these chatbots are far from perfect since they're able to answer only basic questions. However, new improvements are being made every day, especially if you combine AI chatbots with machine learning. Setting up an AI chatbot system with predictive learning will make the interaction sound more like a natural conversation.

Video

Using video to improve conversation may sound counterintuitive. After all, video is a strictly one-way method of communication. However, if you script your videos in a laid-back and conversational tone, you can combine them with other channels we mentioned here, like email or social media. This way you can initiate a conversation with hundreds or even thousands of candidates with a single video clip.

Social Media

Even though social media is built around conversations, many companies fail to use it properly when engaging with candidates. They simply post a list of job openings, hoping the candidates will take it upon themselves to start the conversation.

Instead, consider also posting valuable content, such as industry news and company updates. You can start a conversation around these posts, inviting passive candidates to comment and give their opinions. At the same time, you’re creating engagement with candidates and seeing if they are the right fit for your company. And if you do it right, you will have the candidates reaching out to you every time there’s a job opening.

As recruitment continues to skew toward candidate experience, it’s important to remember the basics and just how valuable solid conversational skills can be. We already have all we need to start the conversation, and technology can now help our voices reach further than ever before. All we need to do is start applying it.