THE BLOG
10/03/2013 02:03 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2013

The Reverse Interview: How to Attract the Very Best Candidates

As a recruiter or employer, typically you're the one holding all the cards in the hiring process. You scan the resumes, call up prospective candidates and make final decisions. But have you ever thought of your organization as the one in the hot seat?

Recent studies have indicated that candidates are annoyed with that lack of follow-through from employers during the job search. In fact, 75 percent of workers said they didn't hear back from an organization once they applied for a job. This not only made them more skeptical of the organization, it heightened the chances of bad-mouthing the company, failing to recommend its products to friends or deciding never to apply there again.

This means that during the hiring process, your organization is actually in the interview hot seat itself. Whether it's before they apply or during their meeting with you, candidates need you to do all you can to attract (and retain) the very best ones -- otherwise, they could leave with a bad taste in their mouths.

Here's how to ace the reverse interview:

Craft awesome job descriptions
Great job descriptions are the key to finding the very best candidates. Posting a vague position description is the same as finding a candidate without a complete resume or a shoddy online presence. Candidates need an adequate amount of content in order to be attracted to your organization and the position.

Quick tip: If you don't want to include sensitive details like salary information in your job descriptions, direct candidates to your career site. This can house every possible detail about the job and the company, like testimonials, expectations, examples of company culture and perks.

Go to where the candidates are hiding
Some candidates use LinkedIn. Others frequent career fairs. Maybe your ideal candidate is scoping out a niche job board. Sometimes, it's up to you to go where the candidates are hiding in order to find the best ones. Though your approach will likely vary by tactic, you should still do your research to see where the majority of candidates are looking in your industry, and then tailor your search towards that. Take note of where you've found quality candidates in the past, and always ask new candidates how they heard of your organization.

Quick tip: Be different! Lots of companies use job-specific hashtags, alumni centers or referrals to build their staff. Be sure your tactic is different enough to make candidates do a double-take. For example, if you post jobs on your online platforms, make the content compelling enough that they actually want to click on your link.

Open the lines of communication
Candidates want to know what's going on. From noting where their application stands to giving them the correct point of contact for questions, opening the lines of communication not only makes you look better, it also forms a rapport between you and the candidate. Though you personally may not have time to respond to every email or phone call, you can direct them to someone who can provide more information.

Quick tip: Go social. Allow candidates to reach out to you on your social networking platforms, like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Consider holding open "office hours" during which you live-man your social presence and field any questions. This allows candidates to start a conversation or ask questions in an easy, personalized, immediate and accessible way.

Give ample feedback
Let's say your time to hire period is pretty long. That means you need to be sure to keep awesome candidates engaged throughout the entire process. If you don't, they'll likely find other places that will, meaning you'll lose out in the end. Instead, give ample feedback on their application, such as if they're a candidate you're watching or if you need more information. This keeps them informed rather than in the waiting room.

Quick tip: If you don't have time to follow up with every candidate, at least send out a generic email noting their place in the hiring process. Though it may not be a candidate's ideal scenario, they'll at least get the feedback they need and be able to manage their search better.

Next time you're on the lookout for great candidates, remember you're in an interview, too. Be sure to follow the above tips in order to attract, interview and retain the right employees.

What do you think about the reverse interview? What are other ways to attract the best candidates?

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for university career centers that gives students and alumni complete control over their job search. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.

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