Forming connections with candidates is the future of attracting, winning, and retaining top talent. In fact, in our 2022 Hiring Insights Report, 46% of HR and talent leaders agreed that creating meaningful relationships with candidates is now non-negotiable. So, how do you form these bonds? Connecting with candidates all boils down to your ability to recruit with empathy.

Recruiters that put their best empathetic foot forward possess a keen understanding and awareness for how candidates experience the job seeking and interviewing process. Empathetic recruiters take this understanding and action on it to create a hiring process that attracts great candidates and shows that their hiring team cares.

Empathy is critical to the foundation of any relationship, including the connection between recruiters and candidates. Here are nine ways to recruit with empathy.

1. Understand That Life Happens

Everyone deals with their own unique stressors. You never truly know what’s going on in someone’s life, especially when it comes to candidates. Remember to handle candidates with a heightened sense of understanding. 

This isn’t to say that you should tolerate candidates ghosting you mid-interview process. However, if a candidate needs to reschedule an interview, recognize that life happens. Respond back from a place rooted in empathy, and provide them with the flexibility to meet with you at an alternative time.

2. Be Considerate of Virtual Candidates

Remote interviewing comes with an abundance of benefits for both interviewers and candidates. However, it also opens the door for frustrating complications to arise on the candidate side. 

Experiencing Wi-Fi issues and other disturbances in the middle of an interview is a virtual candidate’s worst nightmare. If a candidate’s in the middle of grappling with untimely interruptions, they’ll more than appreciate patience and reassurance from their recruiter. 

3. Small Talk Goes a Long Way

With candidates interviewing at multiple companies and receiving a handful of offers, it can feel difficult to stand out from the crowd. Want to know one crucial way to differentiate your hiring process? It’s incredibly easy, yet few recruiters put it in practice: talking to candidates like they’re humans. 

No matter how many interviews a candidate’s sat through, interviewing is an all-around nerve-wracking experience. Opening the conversation with light and easy small talk goes a long way in easing the tension and making candidates feel comfortable. With less stress on their shoulders, they’ll interview to the best of their ability.

4. View the Recruiter-candidate Relationship as Mutual

When recruiters operate with the sole purpose of turning applicants into new hires, their relationships with candidates become purely transactional. Candidates want to genuinely connect with your recruitment team, and navigating your hiring process with this transactional mindset is a surefire way to push them away.

Spend time nurturing the recruiter-candidate relationship. Find out what candidates want in a role—not just what they can offer your company. After all, you want future employees to enjoy their jobs.

5. Give Candidates a Voice

As all humans do, candidates want to feel that their opinions are valued. However, despite the 68% of candidates that would like to provide feedback after an interview, 75% report rarely or never being asked for their opinions. Let your candidates be heard!

Collecting candidate feedback actively conveys that you appreciate the input of candidates. Better yet, it also allows you to continuously reengineer your hiring process to best suit the needs and expectations of applicants.

6. Practice Active Listening

Meaningful communication is founded on active listening. Learn to live by the 70/30 Rule of Communication. To put this rule in action, aim to listen 70% of the time and speak 30% of the time when in conversation with a candidate.

And yes, active listening really does make a difference. When you listen for the content and feeling behind a candidate’s words, rather than waiting for your chance to respond, you build trust and rapport with your candidates. In turn, candidates will be more willing to fully express themselves.

7. Honesty Is the Best Policy

Applicants want to know what it’s like to work for your company from the very beginning of the interview process. In fact, 39% of candidates expect to learn about compensation in the initial job post. 

You’ll make it much easier for candidates if you’re open from the get-go on potential deal breakers, such as salary. Interviewing is time-consuming, so don’t make candidates wait until the final round to find out that they’ve wasted time on a position that offers less money than what they’re looking for.

8. Interview at a Time That Works for Candidates

In today’s candidate-driven market, don’t expect candidates to move their schedules around to suit your calendar. Instead, ask for their availability. Show that you respect their time by letting them schedule their interviews for whenever works best for their calendars.  

As we’ve said, your candidates are probably interviewing for multiple other companies. They’re more likely to remember and value your interview process if you act with flexibility and understanding. 

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9. Recognize That Candidates Must Do What’s Best for Them

No recruiter wants their star candidate to send them the dreaded, “I’ve decided to go in another direction” email. However, at the end of the day, candidates must stick with the career move that’s best for their future. 

When you receive this type of message, respond with grace and celebrate their win. While this might seem like a small act, you’re setting the standard for how your company interacts with candidates, regardless of if they’ve accepted an offer. Remember: your actions reflect not only you as a recruiter, but also your company’s brand.

Recruit With Empathy Using GoodTime Hire

 Empathy is a muscle that can be developed with exercise. The more you recruit with empathy, the more your muscle will bulk up.

If you want to remain competitive and stand out from the talent competition, you need recruitment tech that champions empathy and puts candidates in the driver’s seat. Look no further than GoodTime Hire.

By empowering candidates to schedule their interviews, presenting applicants with the best available interviewers, and unlocking data to continuously optimize your hiring process, Hire builds lasting connections with every single candidate.

Learn more about the power of GoodTime Hire today.

About the Author

Rachel Heller

Rachel is passionate about creating and distributing powerful, engaging, and expert-vetted content. As the former Content Specialist at GoodTime, she covered the latest trends, insights, and expert recommendations for all things talent acquisition and recruiting.