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Optimizing the candidate interview experience: Experts share their tips

In a candidate’s job market, hiring teams need to make sure their interview experience stands out above the rest in order to attract the best talent. That means you need to be able to move quickly, be efficient, and show off your very best brand in the right places. For tips on how, we talked with three experts in the field.

Kathleen Schurman

Kathleen Schurman

On Nov. 1, 2022, we partnered with video interview software company Spark Hire for a webinar to talk about creating a great interview experience for candidates.

More than 600 people signed up for the event, titled Optimizing the candidate experience: A webinar with Spark Hire.

Meet the experts in that webinar:

  • Melissa Escobar-Franco, VP of People at Workable
  • Jackie Sirni, Senior People Operations Specialist at Workable
  • Jeremy Tolan, Partnerships Manager at Spark Hire

A video of the hour-long chat is below – but if you want just the digestible highlights, read on to learn the key takeaways on how to make your hiring process more efficient:

Can you share some tips that you use for personalized communication with candidates?

Melissa: “It’s mostly about continuous engagement with your candidates’ entire journey from start to finish, and how you’re connecting with them. We always say that a recruiter is a candidate’s first friend when they connect with a company. How much more personal can you get when you have someone on the other end rooting for you?”

Jeremy: “Something that we do a lot at Spark Hire in our own hiring process is incorporate video in the email communication. A study from White House Research and Advisory found that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to just 10% when they read it. So taking the time to add that video can really help personalize the process and is super effective.”

With all of the tools and automations that exist, do you see any challenges that may come along with all these personalizations?

Jackie: “Yes, it’s always going to make the recruiter’s life easier by having those automated emails built out, but you have to build them in a thoughtful way. For example, I know that sometimes the hiring process for entry-level positions can go very fast. The candidate could feel like we’re rushing through the process when really it’s just the natural cycle of it. So on that first touchpoint with the candidate, I tell them this could feel a little crazy. We can slow down if you need to, but we do want to fill this position pretty quickly. There’s a need to explain why we’re moving fast, but still make them feel like they have personalized communication with us.”

How do you leverage technology to create a positive and favorable hiring experience?

Melissa: “You really need to have a robust applicant tracking system in place. It’s really going to help you do your job and do your job well. Here are some specific technologies that we use within our ATS that I think are beneficial for both the hiring team and the candidates alike:

  • Job descriptions: We have thousands of job descriptions in our tool so that we don’t have to start from scratch when it’s time to hire
  • Interview Scorecards: These ready-made interview question packages will help you evaluate different elements of a job applicant’s candidacy for a role. They also ensure uniformity and accuracy in interviews.
  • Assessments: You can also use these predesigned assessment tools to assess core competencies such as numerical reasoning, verbal comprehension, abstract reasoning, and so on.

Jackie: “My personal favorite tool within Workable is the self-schedule link. I could sing its praises for the rest of my life. Everyone has been in that moment where you’re trying to schedule an interview and your day gets busy, the candidate gets back to you at the time they’re available and you’re like, sorry, somebody already booked me for that time. Can we reschedule? With the self-schedule link, I send it to the candidate and they get it and book the interview with me within minutes of them getting it. Then it’s on my calendar, and I don’t have to think twice about it.”

Jeremy: “Video interviews are the main feature that our software provides, and there are two types of video interviews that are really helpful for organizations. One of them is a one-way video interview where you’re able to set up questions in advance so that candidates record video responses on their own time. The other one’s a live video interview, which most people are familiar with. We found that on average, the companies that are using Spark Hire’s one-way interviews have made their screening process five to seven times [faster].”

Q: Why is it so important to be transparent with your candidates about the interview process? What are organizations doing to be more transparent with their candidates throughout the process?

Jeremy: “Just put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. Applying for jobs can be a really stressful experience for candidates, so you want to set up an environment where you’re trying to relieve that as much as possible and make candidates feel as comfortable as possible, so being transparent plays a role in that.”

Jeremy (cont’d): “To add that transparency, something that I’d really encourage you to do is ask your team members to be involved in your process. Encourage them to connect with candidates that would be interested in speaking with a member of the team that they’d be joining. Having a candidate talk to a peer can be like the ultimate testimonial for your company. And it can be a great way to win that candidate over and have your organization stand out.”

Jackie: “A huge part for me is building out that interview timeline, and being honest about how long the process is going to take. So I always outline something about who they’re going to talk to and then I’ll give a little bit of information about who each person is in the process.”

Melissa: “We believe in transparency so much that we’re holding ourselves accountable to it. It’s actually included in our performance reviews in terms of how quickly we’re getting back to candidates, what are the touch points in between, what’s the quality of the feedback that’s being given, etc. We care about it so much that we are rating ourselves against it because we really want to do a good job there.”

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