The single biggest pain point of the recruiting process from a candidate's standpoint? Communication.

Share story

Q: For the first time ever, I have a role in which I will be recruiting and hiring people for my company. What are some things I should do to make sure it goes well?

A: This is a good opportunity to put the “golden rule” into action, treating your candidates as you’d like to be treated if you were in the job market.

There are several elements that go into this, addressing both content and process.

From a content perspective, before you start recruiting, clarify the role so that you’re solid on the contributions you need your new hire to make. You’ll then be able to know the experiences and skills you need to bring on board. Job titles can be opaque, and ambiguity can lead to a poor fit, wasted resources, and hard feelings.

At the same time, be realistic. The wish list of ideal features can create a paragon who doesn’t really exist. Just be aware of your absolute must haves and deal breakers. Also, being wedded to an ideal can cause you to overlook someone who could be a great fit.

Consider, too, the culture you’re trying to create in your organization. For example, if you want a collaborative environment, watch out for people who prefer “command and control,” especially if you’re hiring in a leadership role. Your company — any company — will also benefit from a focus on diversity. If everyone looks the same and comes from the same general set of experiences, you’ll miss a lot of opportunity.

From a process perspective, the single biggest pain point I hear about is communication. Consider the times you’ve been in the job market. Often people are asked to submit through a portal that allows little room for displaying creativity and delivering nuanced information. In the worst cases, they do not even receive an automated acknowledgment. So, one recommendation is to try to bring in a human touch, even at the screening stage.

Once you’ve been in touch with someone, the stakes become much higher, because their emotional investment increases accordingly. I’ve heard people say that they just don’t have time to follow up personally with people, but that’s a short sighted point of view that can have negative consequences. Plus, it just isn’t that hard, since you’ll calibrate your follow-up to your level of engagement.

If you’ve just had a quick screening chat with someone and determined they’re not a fit, send an equally quick email letting them know and thanking them for their time. They’ll appreciate it, you’ll build good will, and it’s the rare person who’ll follow up to pursue the position further. (Sometimes, they can end up being your diamond in the rough, too!).

If someone has been a serious candidate, give them the courtesy of a call. This isn’t the easy call to make, and I think discomfort often keeps people from taking this step, hiding behind busyness. But again, this will help you stand out, build your brand, and create advocates out of potential employees.

Submit questions to Liz Reyer at