What if your interview invitation email wasn’t an email?

Posted September 13, 2017 by


If you text with your candidates during the hiring process, you will likely see things pick up speed. The technology is available, and candidates are waiting for you to use it on them.

Millennial candidates appreciate employers who text with them

Sending texts to candidates has the added benefit of increasing your cool factor. At least for now (before all employers start doing this), this is one way to distinguish your employer brand.

Martin Edmondson, CEO of Gradcore, says that they “generally get a positive response from millennial graduates around the use of SMS. We always provide a simple option to switch it off, and wouldn’t continue to send them if they were not wanted. We recently ran an employability support program for recent graduates and found texting to be their preferred medium for program updates – ahead of Facebook and WhatsApp.”

Most candidates in this cohort get unlimited texting plans so you shouldn’t worry about imposing unwanted fees. Even if that were an issue, giving candidates the power to inform you of their own preferences takes care of that.

What is lost and gained by texting instead of emailing

Candidates check text more often than emailReceiving a text is a more direct mode of communicating. The ping we get from a text compells us to check our phones more so than an email. Thus, employers who text candidates have seen an increased responsiveness from candidates. Edmondson has seen a “notable uplift in job applications or engagement when we do text follow-up, in comparison with email follow-up.”

That said, you simply cannot communicate as much detail in a text as you would in an email (or you shouldn’t), so it is not time to hang up email all together. For any follow-ups or updates, however, that have a simpler objective, texting can be the best method. At Gradcore, Edmondson says they sometimes double up, “especially when sending out reminders of interview slots, as an insurance policy to boost attendance and reduce renege rates during the process.” A text that doubles up with an email should, of course, be a paired down version or a reminder to check their email inbox.

Ryan Kohler, CEO of ApplicantPro, wrote this in his article, Hey CEO… 60 minute of YOUR time might fix your #TalentShortage”:

Is our dependence on email, because it is easy for us, slowing down our hiring process? Do our target job seekers have a habit of checking their email on a daily (or hourly) basis? Are we playing phone tag because we are trying to get a hold of applicants while they are at work at their current jobs? Are we hearing from job seekers that they “got another job” when we finally get a hold of them?

Koehler encourages employers to communicate with job seekers via their preferred platform. He claims that texting is about “10 times more effective than email at engaging a job seeker to schedule interviews or ask them follow-up questions.”

A good recruiter is a marketer. Craft your text message well.

Recruitment is marketing, and there is no way to argue otherwise. Recruiters should play around with different messages to see what resonates most with their customers—the candidates, that is.  In world of employer branding, a positive candidate experience depends very heavily on good quality communication, regardless of your preferred channel. Edmondson has found that their best responses come from “sharp, punchy messages that keep to the essential details. If we need to say more than a couple of sentences, then we either include a link to further web content or use email.”

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Your applicant tracking system might be set up to manage texting

There are separate platforms that manage your text communication with candidates, but some ATS’ are designed to manage and track texting as well. Others are not, so recruiters should review their own system before searching for new tools. Edmondson says “In the early days of using texting, we were managing separate systems, but have since integrated our texting and ATS platforms for ease of use and follow up tracking.”

Interviews via text can bring helpful information out of candidates

Interviewing via text?

Some employers are even interviewing by text. The benefits of this especially apply to entry level candidates, who are inclined to be the most nervous at this step in the hiring process. By texting them your questions, you allow them to relax and think about their responses. This way you might get more genuine—and helpful—information. A prepared candidate knows to bring up examples of their achievements, but the in-person interview often makes a well-prepared, nerve-wracked candidate forget to mention their most impressive stories. With texting, they can more easily describe what makes them qualified for your job. .

Also read: Best practices for employers in video interviewing

A text interview wouldn’t normally replace an in-person interview, but it could bring to light important information about candidates before deciding to meet with them, allowing you to make an informed decision.

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