By the time you've created a compelling job description, posted said job description, proactively sourced candidates, screened candidates, assessed each candidate's skills and qualifications and/or checked references, you've invested too much time and energy creating a shortlist to lose them now. But it happens all the time - you lose your best candidates to another company, the candidate realizes that your opportunity isn't the best fit for them, or the candidate simply gives up because your process it too tedious. Now you've wasted your time, and theirs.
Here are some quick tips to prevent this from happening:
During your initial meeting (usually a phone screen), or before, make sure you understand what your candidate is looking for in their next opportunity. Much of the time, the first conversation revolves around what the job entails, what the employer is looking for, and whether the candidate is a good fit - which is important, but the recruitment process can't be treated like a one-way street. The candidate must also feel that your company and opportunity are the right fit for them. Ask what their pain points are in their current, or last, position so you can really get a feel for what they're looking for. Use open-ended questions, such as, "If you could change a few things about your current position, what would they be?" and, "What are your career goals?" Make sure you come up with interview questions that dig into your candidate's passion and drive to ensure a mutual connection.
Also during your initial meeting, or before, let the candidate know what your entire interview process usually looks like. It can be frustrating for the candidate to go through a 30 minute phone screen with the recruiter, another 30 minute phone screen with the hiring manager, and an hour and a half long in-person interview with the hiring manager - only to find out later that they also need to do an hour long presentation, and then spend another 2 hours meeting with the head of the department and other key players. The candidate knows that they will not necessarily make it through every stage in your interview process, and all they really want is to be informed of what to expect, and when, so that they can allow time for it in their schedule. This leaves fewer surprises for people that move on, so they don't drop out later in the process because of scheduling conflicts or burnout.
Once you let the candidate know about your interview process, make sure your candidate is comfortable with the scheduling of the interviews. Ask them what is the best way for them to interview with you. Candidates may have other job interviews scheduled, possibly on top of their current job - which they don't want to put in jeopardy. You should be flexible to allow for both larger blocks of time where they can complete the entire interview process at one time (or over fewer days than usual), or smaller blocks of time spread out over a week or two. You should also provide afterhours times that you are available – perhaps staying late once per week or offering a weekend time to meet. This prevents you from scaring off your employed candidates, as well as those with other obligations. You may also want to consider a more casual environment to meet your team, such as a lunch or happy hour – where everyone can make sure the candidate is a good cultural fit.
At each point in the interview process, ask I where each candidate is in their job search. Some may only be considering your company (score!), but others could be close to closing an offer, so you’ll want to move more quickly for those. Also ask that they keep you informed on any changes, and stay flexible on moving interviews around to accommodate your more active job seekers (as well as your passive candidates that may have schedule changes due to their current job!).