Skip to main content

Insider tips: how to keep candidates engaged in your recruitment process

16 / 01 / 2019Fiona Doherty

There are many challenges and obstacles to be faced during the recruitment process, both for the candidate and the employer. With graduates in particular applying for a whole host of opportunities at the same time, it’s important to make sure you secure their interest in your company. At the same time, candidates deserve to have the best possible recruitment experience, regardless of the outcome. But how can this be achieved? We interviewed Will Hartley, business development manager at TARGETrecruit, to get insider knowledge on how to keep candidates engaged in the recruitment process.

During the recruitment process, how important is maintaining regular communication with the candidates?

It’s very important. If you aren’t maintaining regular communication then another employer may be, and if a candidate is looking at two fairly similar jobs they will usually buy into the one where they have a stronger relationship with the recruiter at that company.

When communicating with a candidate it’s important to try and specify when you will next get back to them, rather than saying something vague. However, it is important you then remember the specific time you’ve given them and make sure to get back to them by then!

How often would you contact the candidate?

Generally it would only be as often as necessary. Although regular communication is great, if it’s just to report that there are no updates then you may create a more negative impression – the candidate might deem it unnecessary for you to be contacting them with no information. Most communication should be for a specific reason such as scheduling an interview, organising testing, asking them to prepare something for an interview (such as a presentation) or delivering feedback.

If you are aware that a candidate is interested in other roles, how do ensure that they keep your role their priority?

I feel it’s not so much about making your role a priority. It’s up to them to prioritise. Your job is to positively, but accurately, describe your company to them and the role and the career progression that your company offers. Then, throughout the recruitment process, provide fast, honest and informative responses.

Candidates, graduates included, who are well matched for a role will generally keep that role their priority. If they treat the role as a low priority (for example they decline an interview to attend one with another company), then despite their academic ability, experience, or how well they interviewed, in my view they will not be as good a match anyway.

If a candidate is showing the job is a low priority to them when they haven’t even got through the recruitment process, are they really going to want to stay and grow with your company in the long term if you give them the job?

From your experience, at what stage in the recruitment process do candidates most often lose interest?

There are generally more drop-outs in the early stages. Later on, candidates have devoted more time to the process, research, preparation, interviews, site visits etc and, unless they already have a job offer they can’t refuse, they are much less likely to lose interest.

What sort of information gets candidates most excited about a role?

Perhaps it goes without saying but the basics are important: the salary, the location, whether your offices are smart and what the working hours are.

Alongside this key information, I also find that putting together a smart pitch of your business is very beneficial. Graduates care about more than just the basic information, so try and give them a better flavour of your company. Unearth what your company does holistically, as well as the actual work someone in the job and team would be doing and the overall career progression of the graduate. I guarantee that putting the time into having a relaxed conversation with the candidate about this will deliver a much better calibre of candidate who is more motivated and excited to work for your company.

If there are unforeseen delays in the recruitment process, how do you stop the candidate looking elsewhere or losing interest?

The best thing is to first establish what the unforeseen delays are, and for exactly how long they will delay recruitment. You then need to communicate this to the candidate with as much specific detail as possible, explaining why the delay has occurred and when you will able to come back to them with more information.

It’s important to be positive and make it clear that the delay has nothing to do with the candidate. You can reinforce this point by highlighting all of the candidate’s strong points and emphasising why you’re still interested in them. It’s worth noting here that you want to be quite careful about the way in which you communicate about the delays in the recruitment. Depending on the reason for the delay, try and avoid portraying your business as being disorganised, slow or prone to delays, to avoid creating a bad impression.

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to keeping candidates engaged in the recruitment process?

Some businesses have recruitment processes that take a long time. Keeping candidates engaged and communicative with you is more challenging when recruitment takes longer. For example, if you invite a candidate to an assessment centre or job interview over a month in advance of it actually taking place, this might result in drop-outs.

If this is the case for your company, you need to have special tools in your arsenal. For instance, ask the candidates to follow your company on social media as part of their preparation and then provide them with interesting content to softly keep them engaged before the assessment centre or interview. For graduates in particular, this will ensure that they are a bit more invested in your company even though they are likely to be looking at other opportunities too.

In your opinion, what is the most important action you take in securing a candidate’s interest?

Make sure that you are honest during the recruitment process and when communicating to candidates. People tend to be more interested in employers that they trust.

To find out more about what we do at TARGETrecruit, click here.

Get in touch


Mon to Fri from 9am to 5.30pm
+44 (0)20 7654 7204


Mon to Fri from 9am to 5.30pm
+44 (0)1491 826 262


Mon to Fri from 9am to 5.30pm
+353 (0)1 645 1500

New York

Mon to Fri from 9am to 5.30pm
+1 (0) 212-710-2732