A candidate’s first impression will be a lasting one — for better or for worse. So you want to make sure that first impression is a good one; often, that is the interview process, even if the role does not come to fruition for the candidate. Consistently treating your candidates with respect throughout the interview and onboarding process will go a long way to establishing or maintaining that good reputation you desire — and may even fix a bad one. Another critical step? Ensuring the interview process goes as well as possible.
You can do your part by making sure your candidate is prepared as well as your hiring manager. As life science recruiters serving healthcare, biotech, medical devices and pharma, our R&D candidates are in high demand as are our hourly scientific staff. We spend a lot of time extracting information from them that we can pass along to our hiring managers. Those managers then know what is really important to the candidate and this helps sell the candidate on the opportunity. Here’s how to set them up for a successful interview experience:
- Provide your candidate with an interview schedule with names and titles and LinkedIn profiles of those he/she will be talking with. Send good directions. Are the hotel and travel all set? Any dietary restrictions for lunch you will provide?
- KNOW your candidate. Recruiters can help with both professional and a few personal details. Know what that candidate is looking for in their next job and be prepared to pitch your company’s strong points that are in alignment.
- Interviewing is NOT all about the questions. It’s about asking questions that do two things: 1. Make the candidate feel comfortable enough that they answer thoughtfully and completely with little anxiety, and 2. Give you a strong understanding of this candidate’s skill level and whether or not they would fit in well with your team. “Gotcha” questions won’t get you anywhere.
- Roll out the red carpet. Do not leave your candidate sitting in the lobby! That means, tours, lunch or dinner and plenty of time for the candidate to ask questions and get a feel for company culture. For hourly folks, if there is wait time for interviews, offer them coffee, sodas or even lunch. Often times with healthcare candidates, you will have large numbers interviewing for many openings. Try to avoid herding them through the process to avoid any semblance of a “cattle call.”
- Thoroughly explain “next steps” and be honest about the interview process and timeline.
- Streamline the interview process. This starts with keeping your hiring managers engaged! Yes, you’ll likely have to “nudge” — but keep things moving. If you have delays (in our case as medical device recruiters, unexpected visits from the FDA frequently pop up, illness, hiring manager travel), let your candidates know. A great process would look something like this: phone screen(s), then either reject or schedule an on-site interview within a week. Then, make a decision within the second week, either a rejection or offer.
- Keep the ball in the air. If the hiring process drags on, keep your candidate warm through reasonable contact.
- Research and offer an appealing and justifiable offer.
- Provide strong transitional support to your new hire through the move and onboarding.
The way you handled a rejected candidate will say a lot about your company culture. If they have been rejected, let them off the hook in a professional way. It hurts your reputation if you let them fall off with no contact. Higher level candidates should get a phone call, or minimum a brief personal email. If your recruiting process is numbers driven with a large workforce, set up an automated email campaign, either through your company candidate tracking system, or use a stand-alone system. Make sure it’s set up to refer to the specific position the candidate was being considered for.
The hiring process isn’t just about making that hire. A solid hiring process that respects the candidate will set your company apart as someplace that candidate wants to work. This is so important in a candidate driven market. Always take the high road and your company will develop a strong reputation as professional — and a desirable — place to work.