Recruiters be more aware…

How to Set Expectations with Your Candidates

This bog is created on the hand on some discussions on LinkedIn, and I have received a lot of positive feedback. Most of the people who are looking at them moment for a new job telling me all the same. No feedback, no communication left completely in the dark and last but not least salaries are been cut half since the start of this pandemic, something I do understand but now we have a vaccine and we could go back to “normal”. The UAE wants to achieve great things in the near future but not on the account of the employee, so be fair and pay the employee what he/she deserves. A candidate is never going to work for half his salary and staying loyal to the company and it is also far under the norm. I see that Governments are making big revenue while the working class has to deliver half his/her salary, so, who is getting the other half??

During the initial conversation the recruiter should always:

Provide full disclosure of the job requirements, duties, and full responsibilities of the position. At this time, the recruiter should also nail down the expected compensation and benefits. Do not end the conversation without clear expectations about what the candidate needs to make and what you can offer.

Be available to answer the candidate’s questions in an open and transparent manner.

Keep in close contact with the candidate through the qualification, interview and offer processes.

  • Let the candidate know where they stand in the hiring process and provide constructive feedback when necessary.
  • On the flip side, the candidate should always:
  • Provide you with full disclosure of their job search status. This will include, if possible, the companies or agencies that they have submitted their resumes to, the companies they are actively engaged with and the status of each of those engagements.
  • Provide you with a well-written resume, examples of their work when applicable and being available to answer in-depth questions about their background.
  • Keep you well-informed of any changes in their availability to interview or anything that would prevent them from starting a new role, including vacations that may conflict with your company’s or client’s schedule.
  • This is not a one-way or a one-time process. This should be the standard for each and every initial candidate conversation.

As a recruiter, ask your candidate: “Has anything changed in your search status?” on a recurring basis. I’ve seen more “back outs” in my career due to the recruiter not having a 360-degree view of the candidate, their motivations, and all opportunities they are exploring.

The goal of the first conversation is for the candidate to leave with a clear understanding that you’re a professional, an expert in your industry, and a partner in the process. Also, that an open and honest line of communication is a critical component to the recruiting process.

You’ll find one of two things when you discuss these mutually beneficial expectations with your candidate:

The candidate is amenable with the expectations set and it is clear based on their active participation with you during the conversation that they are engaged and committed to the role and interested in partnering with you throughout the process.

Or, your candidate will not be completely engaged with the process even after you talk through their objections and have presented the benefits associated with each of the aforementioned expectations.

For example, the candidate may not be open to sharing their past salary history or their desired rate with you, they may not be open to keeping you informed on their search status, or unwilling to confirm changes with you in a timely manner. These are the candidates you potentially will want to pass on. I say potentially as I’ve been in this business long enough to know that the recruiting process requires us to be flexible (especially when working with top-notch candidates). Make this decision with one caveat: a candidate who is unwilling to conform to simple parameters will be more likely to throw you for a loop at some point in your recruiting process.

Know what category your candidate fits into and resolve any red flags before proceeding.

After the initial conversation, touch base with your active candidates often. Determine whether anything has changed in their status and uncover and resolve any additional concerns.

Reconfirm their ongoing commitment to the opportunity. Many of us have learned the hard way that things change quickly, at time daily! Reconnecting with candidates often will minimize being caught off guard.

You must drive the recruiting process; the recruiting process should not drive you. To keep your candidates as partners in the process, do your part to proactively and routinely reach out, engage, and set mutually beneficial expectations with them. By driving the process, you will stay in control, help your candidates land an amazing job, and achieve record placement results.

Recruiters can quickly get sucked into their own world, meaning that filling the position is all they see at the end of the tunnel. And that’s a great Key Performance Indicator, after all, recruiters depend on getting “butts in seats.”

Whether you’re corporate or agency, the mark of a good recruiter is finding the right person for the job. In fact, analysts like Kevin Grossman at have gone so far as to say that retention is a recruiter’s responsibility.

We might not go that far, but it is important to pay attention to the candidate experience, which quite often gets left to the way-side. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey showed that over 75% of jobseekers hadn’t heard back after application. So, what you say? The same survey said 60% never heard back after an interview! Speaking about transparency?

The pressures of time-to-fill and getting the job done can lead recruiters to forget that there is a person on the other end of that phone call or email. Keeping in mind what candidates want, and having a foot in their world has a positive ripple effect starting with the individual and reaching out to the betterment of the employer brand because what candidates want ends up being what employees need.

They Want to Know What You Want

As candidates have their first contact with the company, whether that be through a job ad or the company career site, expectations should be as clear and thorough as possible. Useless jargon, cryptic job titles and vague job descriptions don’t tell the candidate anything except, “Maybe this isn’t the job for you.”

Letting the candidate know what you want should be a theme throughout the hiring process. From when and how to communicate to skill expectations, constant transparency saves time and sanity. And needless to say, if you’re giving them a laundry list of requirements, open up about salary, benefits and culture.

They Want Communication

Hiring processes have stretched out over time. The fear of a bad hire, mixed with this slow rise from the recent recession has left hiring managers reluctant to pull the trigger on new hires. In 2019, the average time-to-hire was 15 business days, compared to today’s 35 days.

Provide a great candidate experience…

If you’re going to require 4 or 5 rounds of interviews, tell your applicants right up front. If those interviews are to be conducted once per week, spell that out in the first interview. If you have a candidate who needs a job before that 90-day mark, they have the opportunity to opt-out or let your hiring team know not to lose them if they’re a hot commodity.

Furthermore, candidates would much rather know that they didn’t get the position than wait around for you to find time to send a simple email. 65% of candidates who were unhappy with their experience stated lack of communication and regular updates on their application as the reason. There’s not really an excuse for this one, as many, MANY applicant tracking systems have email and social safeguards built right in (AHEM!)

We know you can’t overhaul your process overnight, but unless you are hiring for the CIA, you don’t need to keep it top secret.

They Want Their Time to Matter

The hiring process is taking longer and longer. Recruiters (and hiring managers!) are adding interview rounds and meanwhile, this candidate is spending more time traveling, preparing and not bringing home that all important paycheck. Some are working another job, or filling in with temporary work so they can make ends meet, which reduces their available time to interview.

Even if they don’t get the job, the candidate needs to leaving feeling like their time mattered. How can you accomplish that? Forge a professional relationship, connect on LinkedIn, give them constructive and helpful feedback, and if they’re suitable in any way, encourage them to work with the company in the future. All of these ties back to the employer brand and ambassadorship. Being a brand ambassador is an important part of the recruiting role.

They Want an Efficient Process

This all ties back to a smooth and efficient process. From the look and ease of navigation of the career site or portal, to the online application process, your hiring tools should work flawlessly. If the candidate has to create a new email address, fill out 50 fields, do three flips and hit “apply”, you probably need a new system. Taking a look at your hiring lifecycle start to finish, from an applicant’s perspective, makes flaws in the process stick out like a sore thumb. Do your best to fix or “smooth” these issues for incoming employees.

Of course, you are probably sensing a pattern here. All of these things we’re trying to infuse into the hiring process will assist when these bright young applicants are walking through your door every morning, as employees. In effect, your talent acquisition foundation becomes your talent management strategy. By actively incorporating expectations, communication, time management and engagement — you set the stage for a successful partnership, right from the start.

The need to manage candidate expectations has grown significantly in recent years. Increasingly, employers are becoming aware of the potential damage that can be done to a brand, as a result of a recruitment process that isn’t up to scratch in the candidate’s eyes.

Recruiters are battling not just to ensure they avoid inefficient hiring processes that result in missing out on the perfect candidate, but also with the pressure of making sure their brand image isn’t chipped away at because of a poor candidate experience. If a candidate considers the recruitment process as lengthy or unorganized, 56% would be left with an overall negative image of the company and 44% would share this experience with their peers.

So, what is to be done to manage candidate expectations? The key is simple, but not always straightforward to execute – communication. Identifying the best way to communicate and when is important.

Candidate or customer?

Of course, recruiters must identify whether a candidate has a suitable skillset and the potential to fit comfortably into the company culture. However, a recruiter’s role is also about keeping the brand in high esteem with applicants, after all the most skilled candidates will likely have a range of options. And for those who are unsuccessful, it’s always recommended to provide a positive experience with the company.

As long as both employer and candidate are selling themselves, and what they can offer, the recruitment process is also a customer experience. The candidate is testing out how their needs would be met within a company, and there are plenty of vacancies to consider. Nowadays, candidates can afford to be choosy, as the majority of people looking for jobs are already in employment.

This “buying” process means that sometimes candidates can be left feeling detached from the brand, if the recruitment process is long-winded or not what they expected. Ultimately, a negative experience doesn’t just affect recruitment; it can damage your brand as a whole.


Be clear with timelines and stick to them

Establish realistic timings with the candidate. Whether this is communicated via a series of automated emails, a personal applicant dashboard, or via telephone depends on the resources at your disposal. The important thing is that the candidate can refer to a timeline, so they are not left chasing their recruiter for updates unnecessarily.

Give feedback where you can

52% of candidates are frustrated when they don’t receive feedback following an application. If they have not received constructive feedback, it means they will be less likely to apply for a more suitable role, or re-apply once their experience matches the position– after all, the candidate still does not know what the company is looking for beyond that initial job description if they have no feedback along the way.

Personalize the experience

Time is not on the recruiter’s side, but in the long term personalizing the experience as much as possible pays off. A personalized experience with plenty of communication between recruiter and applicant (as long as it always serves a purpose) means a good customer experience. It shines a good light on not just the recruiter, but the brand, recruitment process and customer service.

With the current UAE skills shortage and the demand for skilled workers increasing, employers are having to re-think their recruitment process or face missing out on the most valuable talent.

In this candidate-driven market, to be within a chance of attracting and retaining the best talent, an organisation has to offer a more positive candidate journey and meet their candidate’s expectations.

How to meet candidate expectations

Here are ten ways that you can meet your candidate’s expectations to ensure that you’re seen as an employer of choice to your most sought-after candidates.

Ten ways to meet your candidate’s expectations when hiring in 2020

1. Clear job descriptions

2. Easy job applications

3. Showcase your employer brand and company culture

4. Promote employee benefits and incentives

5. Help on how to successfully complete an application

6. A shorter time to hire

7. Engage with your candidates

8. Ensure you have a smooth interview process

9. Provide timely feedback

10. Onboard your new hire

The Job Advert Stage

A job description has to go beyond what experiences and qualifications are needed to work at a company if you are to get the right candidates applying to your opportunities. A job description has to tell prospective candidates what is involved in the role, what a company requires and the type of person they think will succeed in the role. Candidates also want to know what’s in it for them so be sure to include salary, benefits and development opportunities to ensure that you’re enticing candidates to apply.

  1. Clear job descriptions

As an employer, you want to find the right person for the job, but how often have you found that your candidates are either unqualified, unskilled or don’t have the necessary character traits to thrive in your workplace?

  • Easy job application

Put yourselves in your candidate’s shoes; imagine finding the perfect opportunity at a fantastic company only for the application process to be overly complicated and difficult to navigate.

Would you want to proceed any further with the opportunity? Probably not, especially if you are filling in a form during a lunch break or on the commute home after a long day at work.

Therefore, it is imperative that your application process is easy to navigate and well-optimised so candidates can easily access it on multiple devices. By making the application process easier, you will see the number of applications increase along with the increase of more relevant candidates.

3. Showcase your employer brand and company culture

Before applying for a job, a candidate needs to be assured that the organisation they are applying for is the right company for them – after all, it is a big decision. Because there is now a huge number of professionals searching company career sites to find information on an organisation before deciding to apply, it is now crucial to have a careers site that showcases your organisation’s strong employer brand and company culture. You can give candidates a real insight into what it’s like to work at your organisation, what your company culture is like and whether or not they would feel ‘at home’ in your organisation.

4. Promote employee benefits and incentives

Modern professionals are looking for more than just a decent wage when it comes to choosing a place to work. The most sought-after candidates are searching for organisations that will value them as an employee, reward them for the hard work they do, offer them flexible working and a better work-life balance.

By listening to what your current employees want in the workplace, you can put together a package of employee benefits and incentives that will not only attract the best candidates to apply, but will also encourage your best employees to stay too.

5. Help on how to successfully complete an application

 Students coming out of education for the first time, or candidates coming from a different industry or sector, are probably not going to be familiar with what is required to make a perfect application at your company and could be put off by confusing terminology or jargon found within the job specification and desired credentials. Over-complicating the application form with industry-specific requirements could leave your company at risk of deterring the next generation of talented young professionals from applying to your organisation or industry.

However, providing guidelines and tips on how to complete the application while avoiding any unnecessary jargon, they can ensure that their opportunities are accessible to a larger pool of talented candidates.

6. A shorter time to hire

If an organisation has a slow or delayed hiring process, not only will the organisation miss out on the best talent but they could end up frustrated and be put off the rest of the candidates in the hiring process,

Consequently, you could end up leaving a big proportion of your candidates with a negative impression of your company that could lead to negative reviews on Glassdoor or social media.

By digitizing the application process from attraction to onboarding however, your organisation can streamline the recruitment process to ensure that you have access to the best talent as well as giving your candidates a more positive experience. For more information on how a prolonged time to hire could be affecting the quality of your candidates, click here.

7. Engage with your candidates

Candidates want to know where they stand in the hiring process but will often not have any information on the selection process or will often not hear anything back, leading to many frustrated candidates who now could have a negative outlook of that company. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if you spent ages on an application just for it to disappear into a black hole?

To ensure a positive candidate experience, employers need to be upfront with their application process and make sure that their prospective candidates are aware of when the interview stages are and when they should expect a response.

Organizations also need to make sure that they are communicating with every single candidate and with multiple applications, this can be a challenge. Using an Applicant Tracking System’s centralized database, an organisation can set up an automated template that sends personalized responses that acknowledge every single candidate who has applied to an opportunity.

8. Ensure you have a smooth interview process

Interviews for most can be a nerve-wracking experience, so the last thing an interviewee needs is an organisation that complicates, or is unclear about, the interview process. 

From constantly rescheduling the date to disjointed and unstructured interviews, the interview process can soon deter a potentially fantastic employee.

Interviewers need to ensure that their interview process is as slick as possible and up-to-date with the technology of today. Providing interviewees with a self-service platform that allows them to book, reschedule or cancel interviews will create a smoother process and reduce the amount of time taken to manage all of the appointments.

9. Provide timely feedback

Not communicating with a candidate that they have been rejected can be very frustrating for the candidate. Candidates want the truth, especially if they’ve made it to the final stages of the hiring process, so it’s important to give honest and open feedback to all of your rejected candidates.

As well as showing that you care about the candidate, the organisation can demonstrate that they will go the extra mile for its applicants and can enhance the chances of your candidates applying again to your organisation in the future.

10. Onboard your new hire

Finally, your perfect hire has signed on the dotted line and ready to join your organisation, you can now sit back and relax, right?

Unfortunately, not, by leaving your new hires in the dark throughout their notice period, your new employees could start to have doubts about working for your organisation and could be tempted by other opportunities elsewhere. Ensure you have an employee onboarding process in place that communicates and engages with new hires from the point of the job offer, and beyond.

With an effective employee onboarding process, you can introduce new hires to their colleagues, set expectations and reinforce to that employee how great your company is to work for. For more information on effectively onboarding your new hires, click here.

From attraction to onboarding, the impressions that you give to your candidates in the recruitment process can be the difference in whether your organisation can attract, recruit and retain the best talent.

By following the above steps, your organisation can go some way in meeting your candidate’s expectations and enhance the chances of your candidates seeing your company as an employer of choice.

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