How to Build Strong Relationships with Candidates (Even If They Don’t Get Hired)

Luke DoublerUncategorized

by Madelon Deming

the HOW TO build strong relationships with candidates

In another blog post, we told you why it’s important to build strong relationships with candidates, now we’re going to show you HOW to build these strong relationships.

As you work with job seekers and learn more about them, you’re also building trust and cultivating a relationship. This allows you to better understand their needs so you can match them to a job that perfectly fits what they want.

Here are eight ways to go the extra mile for your candidates and build stronger, lasting relationships with them.


1. Focus on the candidate, not the job

When you’re speaking with someone who is seeking job opportunities, you want to focus your attention on what they are looking for, their wants and needs, their strengths and weaknesses, etc. Try not to let your own interests or agenda get in the way. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Ask them what they are looking for in a job. What do they want long-term? When you better understand their goals and objectives, then you can match them easier to job openings.

2. Be attentive

It’s important for recruiters to ask candidates questions to get a better sense of their skill level, personality, etc. But, it’s also important to take a step back, just listen, and give your job seeker a chance to tell their story and let you know what they need. Once you ask a question, give them a moment to respond and just be attentive, not saying a word but just listening. This not only allows you to better understand their needs, but it also shows them that you can listen and be respectful.

3. Be personable

Recruiting is all about getting as much information about the candidate as possible. However, you can interject with some personal information as well. This helps to create common interests between you and the candidate, which strengthens your relationship. It can also put the person at ease if they are feeling nervous knowing that you are the same as them in certain aspects.

For example, if a person mentions that they love to hike, then you can ask where they go hiking and tell them that you’re an avid hiker too. If you have a hiking picture with your friends framed on your desk, you can show it to them. Now, you’re creating a common bond with your candidate and you both can talk about all things hiking to break the ice and create a level of comfort.

4. Be transparent

The last thing a candidate wants to be is left in the dark, especially if they’ve already met with you and are waiting to hear back from the employer after being submitted for a job. Even if you don’t have any news for them, keep in contact and communicate with them.

Being open, honest, and transparent can also differentiate you from other recruiters and adds a special touch that most candidates will remember and keep them coming back. They want to know that you care about them and aren’t brushing them off or ignoring their calls or emails. Just a quick response to let them know that you are still thinking about them or have received their messages helps to build trust and reliability. Transparency and communication can go a long way.

5. Know your candidate

Job placing is not always a fast process. It can take weeks or even months to place your candidate into a job that fits perfectly. During that time period, you’re building your relationship and the quickest way to ruin it is by not really knowing what they want. If you propose a job to a candidate that they have absolutely no interest in or don’t have the skills for or the salary is $15k under what they are asking for, then you’re not being a very good advocate for them.

6. Share feedback

When candidates do not get a job offer, end the process by notifying the candidate that they will not be moving on. “According to recent data from SHRM, only 20 percent of candidates on average receive an email from a recruiter or hiring manager and only 8 percent receive a phone call letting them know they aren’t moving forward in the hiring process.” Don’t leave a bad impression by failing to follow-up with candidates, which could make them hesitant to apply to future jobs.

Sharing feedback when a candidate does not get chosen for a job can also boost your relationship, especially if they make it beyond the initial application and first interview in the process. For example, you can disclose that they did not have the exact skills the client was looking for but they may be better suited for another position, or another candidate had a little more experience than they did. By giving candid feedback, your candidate will feel valued and leave with a good impression of your company. They can also use this information to work on improving weak areas.

7. Look for hidden agendas

The more you communicate and are in contact with a candidate, the less likely they are to reject offers or “ghost” on you. Many people change jobs based purely on a higher salary, but this gives you an opportunity to dig deeper. Find out their motives for changing jobs beyond a pay increase. If they are happy with their current job but will quickly switch companies for a small increase in salary, there may be other elements of their job that they find dissatisfying.

8. You’re working with someone’s life

At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people’s lives and livelihoods. Changing jobs or even careers can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life and affects everyone around them. Remember to see the human being behind the candidate. Don’t try to push positions onto people that do not meet their needs or may not be a good fit. By doing so, you could ruin your relationship that you spent weeks or months investing and strengthening. And 95% of the time, people do not last their guaranteed time period in a job that was forced upon them and they do not like.

Pro Tips:

  • Use video with long-distant candidates. Distance can make fostering relationships with people more difficult when you can’t meet face-to-face. You may have job seekers living in different states or even countries, which means you’re dealing with different time zones. Flights and travel can be costly, but there is an easier and cheaper way to continue building long-distant relationships – video interviewing. Video is more personable than a phone call and can provide more valuable interaction. Use Zoom, Skype, or any other video platform as a tool to speak with non-local candidates. Most are free to use.

  • Provide a FAQ sheet. It may seem mundane to keep answering the same basic questions asked by candidates over and over during the interviewing process. It can be easy to fall into an automatic response that doesn’t sound like there’s much feeling behind it, which candidates can tell. But to them, all questions asked are critical in their decision-making process. Therefore, you can make all your candidates feel more valued, save time from repeating yourself, and add that special something extra that builds trust by offering a FAQ handout sheet. It provides basic answers to fundamental questions. Then, it frees you up to answer any new questions or concerns with more enthusiasm.

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