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This scenario is something recruiters hear a lot from hiring managers. Most times, the company is a great place to work. Their employees are happy, their salaries and benefits are competitive, and they have a solid backlog of work that provides a sense of security to their workers. They don’t have high turnover rates, so they don’t think it’s a company culture issue. And yet, they have trouble reeling in high-caliber candidates, and they frequently have generous offers declined.

Does this frustrating problem sound familiar? If so, candidate feedback shows that the interview process may be to blame.

Common Interview Process Mistakes

Remember that the interview process is the first experience a candidate has with a company and its culture. If a company makes a bad first impression, that can be very difficult to overcome.

One of the most common complaints recruiters hear from candidates is that the hiring manager was not attentive enough. If the candidate has trouble getting a response to emails or phone calls, or if they wait for days for an update with no word from the hiring manager, it can make the candidate feel unappreciated. It makes it seem like the company will not value them once they join the team—even though the other employees at the company are happy and fulfilled. Perhaps even more damaging is an interviewer who seems distracted during an interview or reschedules meetings at the last minute. These behaviors can communicate to candidates that the employer does not value their time and may not be truly interested in having them join the team.

Extremely long interview processes and low-ball first offers are other common turn-offs to potential new hires. If a candidates experience any one of these issues, it can prevent them from continuing along the process or accepting offers if they are extended.

Bad News Travels Fast

Losing out on a sought-after candidate due to a rocky interview process is bad enough on its own. But the bad news doesn’t stop there: the job market is a small world, and word spreads quickly if a company makes a bad impression on a candidate. From that point on, the company risks a damaged market reputation. From candidates who are actively seeking new roles to passive candidates who might be open to career-enhancing opportunities, the market’s top talent might be reluctant to consider interviewing with the company because of the negative feedback they have heard. This can be extremely frustrating to hiring managers who know they have a great opportunity and that their company is a great place to work. But even one bad interview experience can have a ripple effect on a company’s reputation and ability to bring in new talent.

Treat Every Interview as a Branding Opportunity

Every interview is an opportunity for a company to make a good impression—not just with the candidate they’re interviewing, but with every person that candidate will talk to about their experience. Hiring managers should focus on making every interviewee feel like they are important and their time is valuable. Respond promptly to emails and phone calls, keep the lines of communication open, and make decisions as quickly as possible to keep the process from dragging out. Make every person who walks through the door feel special. Even small gestures can make a huge difference, like offering interviewees a glass of water while they wait or making sure they are greeted with a smile and a pleasant demeanor from every employee they come in contact with, from the receptionist to the hiring manager.

Even when the interview process doesn’t end with an offer, that candidate will walk away with a positive impression of the company and will pass that impression along to other candidates in their network.

It is easy for hiring managers to get busy or stressed and let things slip through the cracks. Too often, the interview process is one of the things that suffers. But by putting in the effort and treating every interview as a top priority, managers can open up doors to top talent across the market.

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