10 Easy Ways to Keep your Candidates Warm

Having hundreds of job applicants is all well and good until it’s unmanageable. Even if you’re limited on time, ignoring job applicants is definitely not the way to go. 

Your next co-worker could be one of the applicants at the end of the pile, or even in the rejected pile, so it’s important that you know how to communicate with all of your candidates to keep them happy.

Besides, job applicants aren’t just selling themselves to you, you are selling the job to them.

So if things go wrong, on pause, stop altogether or they have to restart from scratch, you’ll need to know how to keep candidates warm, interested and still in love with your company. 

Sound like an impossible task? Like rejection and love just don’t mix? It can be done.


1 – Be quick

When trying to hire the top talent, you’ve got to be fast. Your frontrunner candidates will probably be on someone else’s shortlist too, so it’s important that you move quickly.

But you don’t just need to be quick about a job offer. 

Candidates will start losing interest a few days after applying. So if it takes you a month to review all of the applications in your list, you might have a problem.

A handy way we manage expectations while keeping employees warm is to add a line like this to our job adverts: apply today and we’ll get back to you within 5 working days!

This also holds us accountable.


2 – Over-communicate

Speaking of letting candidates know when to hear back from you, it’s worth putting some thought into communication. The how’s, when’s, who’s and where’s are all vital.

We all know that over-communicating is better than under communicating, but it’s important to put this into practice in your hiring.

Beyond the basics of communicating when you need something from candidates, it’s a good idea to communicate your plans. For example, letting your candidates know when they will hear back and sticking to it.

So if you’re going to give them feedback within the week, let them know! If you’re coming to your final hiring decision, let everyone you’ve shortlisted know too. If you’re saving some applicants just in case your job offer is rejected and you have to start again, let them know that you’re moving forwards with others but still interested in them.


3 – Be honest

On a similar note, be honest in your communications.

If something goes wrong, explain the situation. Hiring can be a long process and lots can go wrong. Your needs could change, your lead client could have issues, your funding could be pulled – anything can happen.

It’s important to stay honest and open with your applicants throughout hard times.


4 – Arrange a task

Application tasks are a great way of keeping candidates warm while testing their practical skills.

It keeps applicants thinking of you, the role, researching the company and excited about their chances of scoring the job, while giving you an extra few days to get on top of things.

I’d recommend putting some time into your task and really taking a core part of the role and testing your candidates on it. Whether that’s writing blogs, sales emails or fixing bugs in code, it will give your candidates a taste of what their day-job could be.

This makes it more real, attainable and ignites that passion that you need to keep alive.


5 – Arrange interviews

We like to think that interviewing 5 or 6 candidates is the lucky number, but you can interview 10 or 15 if you have the time!

It’s a good idea to keep this number on the higher end because your interviewed candidates will be warmer than your other ones. This means that if you suddenly decide you can take on 2 hires instead of 1, or if your top candidate drops out of the process last-minute, you have some excited backups in the final stages already.


6 – Give your candidates enough time!

When you slide an interview in between client calls, there’s no way you’ll have your full attention on your candidates. And if you only give them a 20 minute slot, you’ve got less time to get to know them, their skills and whether they’re the right person for the job.

I would recommend trying to fit all of your interviews into one day. This will keep you focused.

My next tip is to schedule an hour-long slot for each candidate. This might be under or over what you need, but it should keep things fair while allowing time for chat.

When your candidates have to rush through their answers – or when you rush through your questions and leave early – this sends a really bad message. This says that you don’t have the time to speak to them, you have better things to do, you’re not interested and not going to hire them. 

So if you want to keep your candidates warm, show them that you’re interested and dedicated to hiring.


7 – Sell them on your company

Treat your candidates like you treat your clients. As I said, your top candidates will probably be someone else’s top candidates , so their opinion of your company could be the thing that makes or breaks your job offer.

There are a few things that candidates look out for in jobs. These are salary, benefits and company culture.

As a tip, using phrases like ‘we’re a family’ doesn’t explain much, but giving examples of the team banding together or celebrating previous wins always paints a lovely picture.

It’s a good idea to touch on your management style, goals and company mission too.


8 – Progression

The other things that candidates are always hunting for is the opportunity to progress in their role. Everyone wants to achieve in their career, so highlighting development and training opportunities within your company is always a good idea!


9 – Give timely, quality feedback

When you’re ready to start rejecting applicants post-interview and task, it’s important to give each person some individual feedback.

Remember that job hunting can be a long, disappointing process. Anything that you can do to help these candidates get a job is helpful and keeps them warm for future roles at your company.

So if you give good, constructive feedback, hopefully you’ll see it put to action next time they apply. And maybe then you’ll hire them!

Giving good feedback is only the half of it however. Giving it in a timely manner is also vital. Ideally it will be no later than a few days after their interview.


10 – Reject well

Speaking of giving feedback, your rejection message could be a wind up.

Try to strike the balance between sympathy, fact and advice. If you’re trying to suggest training to people that have 20 years of experience in that field, you might be met with a little anger.

But it’s important to deal with any upset applicants, explain the situation and wish them well.

It can be hard to keep up with all of your candidates, but hopefully these tips will help you keep all of them warm and excited about the role!


Daisy Hanson creates content for DigitalGrads, the graduate training and recruitment platform for the tech industry. To view their junior roles, check out their website.