Celebrate candidate experience day by making a great first impression

Happy job interview candidate

Candidate experience day is a lot like Valentine’s Day. We shouldn’t need a date on the calendar to tell us when to treat our candidates well (shouldn’t that be every day?), but maybe it can be helpful to have an extra little push in that direction.

As we celebrate this year’s candidate experience day, we can’t think of any better guides than Jacqui Maguire, VP of People at Tacombi, Melissa Thompson, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Ford Motor Company and Lori Busch, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition Operations at Toast. Not only do they have decades of experience as talent leaders, but Jacqui and Lori also have prior careers in hospitality to draw on. As you’ll see from their insights, there’s more overlap between talent acquisition and hospitality than you might think at first glance.

We’ll be sharing some of Jacqui, Melissa and Lori’s tips for making a great impression on candidates in this post. Want to explore this topic in more detail? Be sure to check out the on-demand recording of their panel discussion at Open Forum, Elevating the candidate experience with a hospitality-driven approach.


Look for ways to bring a hospitality mindset, even to a virtual setting

Like many talent acquisition professionals, Lori used to relish inviting candidates in for onsite interviews. “Bringing candidates into the office has historically been such a great experience because there’s so much energy and buzz in the Toast office,” she says. Lori admits that switching to a virtual interview setup was challenging initially, but taking a hospitality mindset has really helped.

We think of our candidate experience team as the host of a restaurant or the host of an experience.
–Lori Busch, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition Operations at Toast

When any candidate interviews at Toast, they spend the first part of their day with a member of the candidate experience team doing a virtual tour of the office. While it doesn’t quite capture the excitement of a packed sales floor or give a taste of the conversations you might catch in the kitchen, it sets the tone for the experience and gives the Toast team the chance to share their unique company culture with candidates.


Show candidates you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say

Not every candidate is going to have a positive experience. Sometimes interviewers are late or distracted. Sometimes communication is not as clear or timely as it could be. Rather than ignoring this fact, Melissa recommends embracing it. At her former company, Nielsen, the talent acquisition team asked all candidates who’d made it to the final interview stage to complete a short net promoter score (NPS) survey.

At the end of each quarter, they’d reach out to anyone who’d given them a negative score and ask them if they’d like to provide any additional feedback. This process helped Nielsen gain deeper insights into their candidate experience while showing candidates that Nielsen genuinely cared about them. “When you allow candidates to share that experience, they’re much more likely to be a promoter than when they initially responded,” says Melissa.


Take care of your team so you can take care of your “guests”

In a discussion about candidate experience, does it make sense to talk about what to do for the hiring team? Absolutely, says Jacqui. “One of the lessons from hospitality that I’ve carried over into my work today is that you have to take care of your team to take care of your guests. If you focus on your staff, then they’ll take good care of your guests.”

In the context of recruiting and candidate experience, this means setting your hiring teams up for success. You can do this by creating a structured hiring process so the hiring manager has outlined what they’re looking for and interviewers know which questions to ask during interviews. You can also take other steps like asking candidates to share the pronunciation of their names and their pronouns so every interviewer can address them appropriately.

Creating a welcoming experience for candidates is key to making a positive impression. This is especially important in today’s tight talent market, where candidates are overwhelmed with options. The lessons we’ve shared here will help you put your candidates first, whether it’s officially candidate experience day or not.

Want even more ways to keep up your commitment to candidate experience? Catch the on-demand recording of this panel discussion here.

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Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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