7 Ways to Make a Great Impression With Your Candidates

By Paul Slezak - Dec. 16, 2022
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There are literally thousands of articles available for candidates on how to leave a lasting first impression throughout the recruitment process. Everything from how to craft an engaging cover letter; to how to make a résumé stand out; and even to what not to wear to a job interview.

With the war for top quality talent raging pretty fiercely right now, it’s also critical for recruiters to leave a positive first impression on their candidates – that is, of course, if they want their candidates to remain loyal and to not run straight into the arms of their competitors.

Here are seven ways to help make a great impression with your candidates and win them over.

Key Takeaways:

  • After a candidate submits an application, make sure you respond to it, even it is an automatic response.

  • Avoid being late to the interview, remember their time is just as important as yours.

  • Avoid asking any stupid or irrelevant questions and make sure you listen twice as much as you speak.

7 Ways to Make a Great Impression With Your Candidates

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7 Ways to Make a Good Impression With Your Candidates

  1. Respond to your candidates. If a candidate has taken the time to apply to an ad you’ve posted on a job board, then you should give them the courtesy of some kind of response – yes … even an automatic response is sufficient.

    For example: You might want to include a ‘disclaimer’ at the end of every job ad that says something along the lines of “only applicants meeting the strict criteria outlined above will be contacted as part of the shortlisting process”.

    That way if the candidate doesn’t hear back from you they understand that in this particular instance no news unfortunately doesn’t mean good news. Set up an auto-response advising candidates of how long the shortlisting process might take.

    At least this helps alleviate the feeling of them being kept in limbo. One of the most common pieces of candidate feedback is that they never hear back from the recruiter even though they followed all the necessary steps in the application process.

  2. Take time to prepare before interviewing a candidate. Don’t wait for the call telling you that your candidate is waiting for you in reception before quickly printing the resume and grabbing it off the printer on your way to meet the candidate. It really isn’t a good look if you start flicking through the resume in front of them making it very apparent that no preparation has taken place.

    Here’s a hint: If you are booking a candidate in to meet with you at 3:00pm, block your calendar from 2:45pm, allowing you sufficient time to print the (correct) résume, and to sufficiently familiarize yourself with the candidate’s work history and background.

    This is also the perfect opportunity to prepare four or five key interview questions before you walk into the interview room. Oh … and whilst this might sound pretty obvious in terms of preparation, ensure that your interview rooms are tidy and presentable. No half finished glasses of water from a few hours earlier; no notes from previous interviews; and no Mentos wrappers scattered across the table!

  3. Never keep a candidate waiting. No matter how qualified or experienced a candidate is, a job interview can still be a daunting situation. So as a recruiter it’s important that you make the candidate feel comfortable and relaxed.

    Do not keep them waiting. Assuming they are on time, then meet with them immediately. There’s no need to pretend you’re more important than they are, or that you’re any busier than they are.

    If for whatever reason you do keep your candidate waiting, please offer them a glass of water. Then when you eventually meet with them please avoid the all too clichéd (not to mention overused) “So did you get here OK?”.

    Unless they look like they fell off the ferry or have been caught in a tornado, then just assume that they had no problems finding your office. Everyone has google maps!

  4. Spend at least 30 minutes with every candidate. Whilst there are some recruiters who still choose to operate under the philosophy of “get ‘em in … get ‘em out”, this is one instance where common courtesy should prevail.

    In order to avoid being tarnished as just another ‘churn and burn’ or ‘bums on seats’ recruiter, you should try to spend at least 30 minutes with every candidate.

  5. Don’t ask your candidate stupid questions. If you’re lucky enough to have a great candidate sitting in front of you, you need to ensure you make the most of the situation … and not waste either party’s time. This can be achieved by collecting, confirming and clarifying as much information as possible through thorough questioning.

    A friend shared a story with me the other day. He’d recently applied for a sales role in the tech sector and apparently the recruiter had asked him just three questions:

    • In your own words, could you please explain the internet?

    • If our company was a sports star, who would we be?

    • What Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream flavor can you relate to most and why?

    Whilst the answers to these questions may be interesting, in no way do they help you accurately assess a candidate’s past behaviour, core competencies or ability to in fact do the job in question.

    Gone are the days of just asking about strengths and weaknesses. And hypothetical questions are a thing of the past. The only way to determine how your candidate will perform in your client’s role, is to ask questions around how they performed a similar task in the past.

  6. Listen twice as much as you speak. Another common reason for a candidate to lose faith in a recruiter is if they felt the recruiter just talked to / at them as opposed to asking them any meaningful or relevant questions.

    In other words the recruiter just went into sales overdrive and talked about themselves or their client’s opportunity for the entire interview. Remember that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

    This means that you should listen twice as much as you talk. Never oversell the role. Ensure your candidate feels comfortable but also don’t spend an hour just chatting to them either. You want to make the right hire so make sure you run a professional and effective interview.

  7. Provide prompt interview feedback. Sure it’s nice to call a candidate, tell them how impressed you were with them at interview and to arrange a time for them to meet with your client or to arrange a second interview with the hiring manager.

    • And we all know how good it feels to call a candidate and to verbally offer them a job. It’s not so nice to have to call a candidate, thank them for their time, but let them down gently and tell them that they have been unsuccessful.

    • But this is still something you must do if nothing else to maintain a professional reputation in the market. Please don’t just send a standard email (or text message!) letting them know your decision to not include them as part of the shortlist.

    • Or to let them know that your client has decided not to take them to the next stage. They more than likely took time off work to come to meet with you, probably did the best they could at interview, so please have the decency to call them and let them down over the phone personally.

    • Some candidates might think that “no news is good news”, while others might think that “silence can only mean one thing”. Don’t keep candidates in a state of uncertainty.

    Provide them with feedback – whether positive or constructive – regardless of the outcome of their interview. They will be grateful either way and more importantly they will respect your level of professionalism.

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Ways to Make a Great Impression With Candidates FAQ

  1. How do you attract top candidates?

    Having a good company reputation and having positive company culture is a great way to attract top candidates. People want to work at a company that they feel welcomed and celebrated for their differences. Investing in your employees and developing personal relationships with them is a great way to help them grow in their career.

  2. What is the best way to create a good first impression?

    The best way to make a good impression with a candidate is to be approachable and smile. Having a friendly demeanor about yourself will help candidates relax and be comfortable with you. Smiling will also show that you are enjoying their company and that you want to be there. Smiling will make you seem kinder and warmer.

  3. How do you make a candidate feel special?

    To make a candidate feel special, you should be on time to the interview and offer them a drink. You should also know who they are and some facts from their resume without needing to look at it. It’s important to make them feel like you have a connection with them instead of them just being another candidate.

  4. How to you ‘wow’ a candidate?

    The best way to impress a candidate is to make them feel special and make them feel wanted there.

    This is especially important is you want to offer this candidate a position with your company. The best ways to make them feel wanted and special is to introduce them to make other managers and members of the team. You can also give them a tour of the office and share any company statistics or facts.

Final Thoughts

Remember, a satisfied candidate might tell a friend about their positive experience. But a disgruntled candidate will tell at least 10 friends how appalled they were with their interview experience. And there’s no stopping the damage they could bring to your (and your company’s) reputation when they begin their social media tirade.

Downloadable PDF: To generate business, most companies have to be creative. Check out the tips in The Ultimate Guide to Candidate Attraction and watch some awesome applications flow into your inbox. Download Your Free eBook.
Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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Topics: Candidates, Hiring Humour, Hiring Talent, Screen, Top Talent