Hey {{COMPANY_NAME}}, it’s me {{CANDIDATE_FIRST NAME}}, are you there?

The job application process can be a black hole. You’re shouting into the abyss…

Thiiiiiiis iiiiiiiiis whyyyyyyyyyy
Yooooooou shoooooould hiiiiiiiiire meeeeeee!

Messages that you do get from so many companies are minimal and coldly transactional. They typically promise to contact you — if you’re a good match for the position. You’re on the other end waiting, and thinking, “Well, I guess I’m a bad match,” without any confirmation either way.

My mission for our hiring process at Customer.io is to treat the people who want to work with us as real people. One way we live by this golden rule of hiring is by increasing the frequency of our communication with candidates, customizing even our automated messages, being transparent about the process, holding ourselves accountable to it, and soliciting feedback from candidates to make sure you’re living up to their standards.

Humanize your auto-response

At Customer, we use Greenhouse as our applicant tracking system (ATS), and they allow you to create and choose which message you’d like your candidates to receive throughout the interview process. Most of these messages I trigger manually, but one I started using is an automated “application received” confirmation email.

Greenhouse uses “placeholder variables” to personalize messages and subject lines, similar to what Customer.io does with attribute/event data and liquid tags. Putting a little effort into the autoresponse like using natural language and some details specific to the position helps jump-start a more human experience for candidates when applying and interviewing with the team.

Hold yourself accountable

We added a timeline for when we will get back to candidates with an update. Sometimes, there isn’t a substantive update other than the fact that we need more time, but I will send an email to folks who had been promised a response regardless.

Devin, who joined our team last month as Site Reliability Engineer, received my message above.

Lots of things will come up during the hiring process, whether it’s an urgent customer request, service outage, or people away from work/on vacation, but candidates will still appreciate your keeping them in the loop.

Make sure someone’s answering the “phone” (email inbox)

Depending on the functionality of your ATS, you may be able to set a real email address as the reply-to. In our case, I added myself as the CC address, and ask people to use that address if and when they have questions.

What’s important is that your candidates know exactly how to contact you (or another real human being) if they have questions about the role, company or application process. y setting the standard up front, you’re showing respect for the folks who may potentially join your team soon.

Don’t go it alone

Our latest hiring team set up a Zapier workflow to automatically notify our hiring Slack channel of when new applications came in.

Keeping the channel aware of new candidates kept us all accountable, and gave a space to talk about each application outside of our ATS and in a tool we all were in every day. When I needed to remind the hiring team to review applications, I could easily link to them in chat, where they could all respond in the same place (thread). Keep in mind, you may want to use it anytime after the first stage of initial application. Otherwise, you might flood your channel with all of the applicants, instead of highlighting the most qualified candidates and having your hiring team focus on those.

Tell us how you really feel

I’ve seen how powerful feedback from customers can be for Customer.io both in 1:1 conversations or an NPS survey. Why not do the same with the people who want to work at your company?

There seem to be a couple of ways to ask for feedback from your candidates: if your applicant tracking system (ATS) has that feature, enable it! Talk with your hiring managers, leadership team, marketers, etc and find out what candidate feedback is most important to them. Make sure to humanize your survey — prioritize just a few questions along with an NPS-type gauge to ensure you aren’t wasting a candidate’s time further. Remember, they already spent a lot of time applying to the position (and possibly interviewing too).

You could simply ask candidates to visit your company’s page on GlassDoor.com and fill in feedback there, too.

Oh, it probably goes without saying that you need to acknowledge and respond to candidates who leave you public or private feedback right? 🙂

Admittedly, we haven’t yet implemented a way to gather feedback from candidates before or during the interview process. In attempt to focus on just one thing at a time, I’ve recently focused on improving our onboarding process (and gathering feedback from our new hires along the way). But that, my friends, is a blog post for another time.


Certainly, there are more ways to improve a candidate’s experience before, during, and after the interview process, which is why I’d love to hear from you with any recommendations of how you make life a little nicer for the folks who want to get to know you and your company.

(Also we’re hiring!)

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