What Candidates Really Think of You

If you could read the minds of candidates, what would they say? As a recruiter, having super powers, specifically the ability to read minds, would be really awesome. Unfortunately, we haven’t made enough advancements to be able to do that. But we do have access to some really opinionated and outspoken candidates! So we brought together a group of four candidates in the Bay Area to have a candid conversation with Greenhouse CEO, Daniel Chait.

Read on to get the an inside look at what candidates are thinking while being recruited, interviewed, and onboarded!

Starting the search

All candidates who took the stage for the “What Candidates Really Think of You” panel had gone through the hiring process within the previous two weeks to two months, so what worked well as part of the job hunt, interviews, and onboarding processes were top of mind for these folks.

The panelists shared a similar perspective in regards to timing when looking for new roles. For the most part, they waited for big projects to wrap and quarters to end to begin seriously looking. They felt it would be a tough situation to put the team in if leaving immediately after a milestone or right before the kickoff of a large project.

Once they were ready to start looking, all of the candidates reached out to their immediate networks—people at companies they’d heard of doing cool things that had a nice set of values—via phone, email, or LinkedIn to let people know they were looking. On average, each person reached out to 6–10 people to get the initial word out. As part of this journey, it forced the candidates to really think about what they wanted (aside from what was already a given based on their current experience). The company’s brand and mission were two things they mentioned as important aspects at this stage.

Listen up, recruiters!

These candidates didn’t miss a beat when walking us through the things they loved when talking to recruiters that reached out. Here are a few of their definite dos!


  • Address the correct person (this feels like a given, but we’ve all received an email with the wrong name in the greeting and it truly starts things on an awkward note)

  • Reference the candidate’s experience and how they will specifically add to the current team

  • Share facts and news that accurately reflect how the business is doing and showcase the company’s credibility

  • Introduce yourself and explain what your role is in all of this

  • Be a human (this feels like another given, but candidates appreciate authenticity and interacting with someone they could grab a coffee or drink with)

  • Use an easygoing approach with low pressure

  • Be a generally helpful person, one that isn’t just trying to fill a role

  • Let them know what they can expect of the role, the company, the interview (if you’re at that stage)

When considering multiple offers

What exactly is going on in the minds of the candidates when they have multiple offers on the table? A wave of relief, for one. Looking for jobs is no joke! As a recruiter, you don’t have much insight into what the other offer(s) include but here are some things that are top of mind when candidates are weighing options and offers.

  • Flexibility around the role and working conditions

  • Competitive compensation

  • The ability to grow with the company

  • If the team will make them better as an employee

  • Company culture

  • The people—manager, leadership, direct team

Hop on board

To finish off the panel, candidates shared their favorite parts of onboarding at their respective new companies. These things stood out to them and helped set them up for success.

  • A meeting with the VP of each department for an hour within the first 14 days. This is hard to do as the company scales, but helps a new employee understand how to work well with respective teams and offers other insights that are super important in the first month

  • Pairing new hires up with tenured buddies to help answer questions, know they have someone watching out for them, and to show them where the snacks are (a very serious matter!)

  • Flexibility from the hiring team on a start date, if possible

  • Emails from the team on what to expect on the first day

  • Onboarding that doesn’t drop off after the first week (most candidates agree that a solid program should last around 90 days)

  • Completing paperwork before the first day so they can be sure they won’t be sitting in a room filling out forms for half of their day

  • Walking through OKRs and larger team goals early on for visibility

  • Hosting an informal happy hour or game night before a new hire’s first day to help them get acquainted with more of the team in a casual setting

  • Allowing employees to choose their own workspace materials. After all, they’ll be most efficient and effective if they’re using tools that work well for their work style

For additional insights and detailed stories, watch the recording of the panel discussion here!

Want to attend an event like this live? Head to the Greenhouse OPEN website to learn about our upcoming events. 

Caitlin Doherty

Caitlin Doherty is the Events Coordinator at Greenhouse. She enjoys the ability to work within a small but mighty team to bring People thought leaders together in one room while creating memorable experiences. She resides in New York City where she fills her extra hours practicing a newfound love of improv, experimenting with recipes in her small Brooklyn kitchen, and taking long walks with strong coffee. You can connect with Caitlin on LinkedIn.

Filed Under:

Candidate Experience