If you’ve worked in the recruiting field for awhile, you know that “Time Kills All Deals”. It’s an old saying that simply means that once an opportunity has presented itself, you’d better be ready to pounce, otherwise you will miss out.

How many times has this happened? You’ve worked hard to find, engage, interview, and move a candidate through the process. You’ve done all that it takes to excite and delight them, loved them like a new puppy. They love the company and the job, they leave the interview ready to quit their current company, and then…SILENCE! Leaving the candidate to wonder “What just happened?”

Over my 20 years of recruiting, I’ve seen companies get caught up in the craziness of their business, their schedules, and forget that candidates should be wooed through the entire process. Often, they don’t realize how damaging that radio silence is—especially when you consider that it’s a candidate-driven market.

According to BLS statistics, the unemployment rate has dropped to 2.6% for professionals 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree. Job seekers are getting multiple interviews and finding work far more quickly. Top Talent can pick and choose between employers.

Bottom line? Attracting and closing talent is getting more difficult. In order to hire the best employees, you need to put your best foot forward and be ready to move quickly!

Today, if there’s a fine line between winning a top-tier candidate and driving one away, the one thing you have in your control is the candidate’s experience. So here are four tips that ensure you don’t miss out on hiring the best talent.

  1. Set expectations with candidates that it may be a bit of a wild ride. While experienced hires will likely understand the madness that occurs behind the scenes, you still need to communicate. Keep it nebulous—tell them it could be tomorrow or it could be a two weeks. That way they know what to expect and you haven’t over promised. No one’s getting hurt.  
  1. Coach your hiring managers. Educate them on the state of the market in your intake meeting. Get them to understand that the best talent has to be wooed away from their respective organizations and that interviewing is a two-way street- candidates are interviewing companies as much as you are interviewing them.Did you know that the best candidates are off the market in 10 days? Set the expectation that if a great candidate comes through the door, the hiring manager may need to be ready to move quickly toward making an offer, no matter how many candidates they are expecting to see. Hiring managers also need to be prepared to provide quick and timely feedback about candidates they’ve interviewed.
  1. Provide timely updates. Even when you can’t get hiring managers to give you feedback, it’s vital that you keep in contact with the candidate during the interview process to ensure that they know they haven’t been forgotten and that you’re are trying to move the process forward. Though it may take a little more time and effort to communicate, this can have a positive impact on job candidates’ satisfaction, which can ultimately lead to better performance on the job, as 15% of candidates who have a positive hiring experience put more effort into a job.
  1. Get back to old tech. It seems so much easier to drop a quick email to a candidate, but more than ¾ of candidates would rather hear good news via phone, so take the two minutes it would take to write an email and pick up the phone and call them. Better yet, if the candidate is the one you want and the process is dragging a bit, get the hiring manager to make the call. Ask your hiring manager—if they were in the candidate’s shoes, who would they rather hear from- the recruiter or future manager?

If you’re losing your best candidates after the interview, it’s time to give your candidate experience a facelift.