Need to fill an open position?

Chances are, you will follow the standard process.

Step one:

Require anyone wanting to join your team to fill out a tedious application form. When designing this application form, make sure you leave little to no space for candidates to fill in their hopes, their aspirations, and their reasons for wanting to be part of your culture.

Instead, make them list every job they have had and every school they've attended since the moment they entered ninth grade.

Step two:

Narrow those applicants down to five or six candidates--often using only the most arbitrary of criteria.

Step three:

Bring those final five or six candidates in for an awkward interview with their potential future supervisor, the HR Manager, and Gary from accounting.

Why Gary from accounting?

Because Gary's Outlook calendar said he was open that day--and per corporate policy you must have at least three people on the interview panel.

Hence, Gary.

Step four:

The interview panel sits down to meet candidates. Over the course of the next seven hours, a series of unique individuals with differing experiences and perspectives are asked the same ten questions, in the same exact order--as though you can boil the diversity and wonder of the human experience down to the way someone will answer the following question:

"If you were an animal, what type of animal would you be?"

The candidate will tell you a lion, because a shark seems too cliché.

What the candidate won't tell you is that they want to be a lion because a lion would never, ever place its future in the hands of Gary from accounting.

He would just eat Gary.

Throughout the entire process, the candidate is rarely made to feel welcome.

And the candidate is almost never engaged.

What does it mean to focus on candidate engagement?

Candidate engagement means educating applicants and potential applicants on your company, your culture, and your mission. It's about making sure they feel supported and welcomed throughout the hiring process.

It's about treating candidates like human beings.

And understanding that unsuccessful candidates will share their experiences with anyone who will listen.

It's about making sure you really know a candidate and the candidate really knows your company and culture--rather than Gary and the rest of the interview panel knowing how the candidate answered the "What's your greatest weakness?" question in a way that kept all actual weaknesses hidden.

(For now.)

"With the tighter labor market and shortage of skills, candidate engagement is important. Candidate engagement helps to both retain in-house talent for organic growth and acquire new candidates. Technology plays a critical role, including AI. However, technology should enhance the human experience throughout the hiring process--not be a substitute for it," said Giridhar Akkineni, CEO of AkkenCloud, a candidate-engagement platform.

Candidate engagement is especially crucial for hires requiring relocation.

"Moving is always stressful, especially when moving to a new country without your friends and family. As an offshore recruiter, we spend a lot of time making sure our candidates get a warm and fuzzy feeling about the move, as well as supporting candidates after they've become a new hire," said Steve McIntosh, CEO of international recruiting firm CML.

Listen to the experts.

Engage your candidates.

Treat them like human beings.

And never, ever ask another adult what animal they would be.

Published on: Apr 25, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.