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Careers Advice & Resources

How to Create the Best Candidate Hiring Process

5 min read

Helen Thomas, Principal and Head of Candidate Care in Ireland, and Mark Freebairn, Head of the CFO and Board Practices in the UK, explain how to create the optimal candidate experience to secure the best talent.

While the Great Resignation may have softened, competition for candidates remains fierce. In 2023, candidates have higher expectations from their initial interactions with companies, especially as top talent often find themselves engaged in numerous hiring processes and presented with multiple offers. To attract the best leaders, it is crucial to establish a dynamic and engaging candidate experience, as also emphasized by Forbes in their recent article.

The online experience

Candidates want and expect blended online and in-person interviews. Initial interviews may be online and should present a flawless image of the company. This means ensuring technology works, engaging tech teams to check connections ahead of time, and providing back-ups or alternative software in the event of issues.

Online interviews are an opportunity to convey brand and culture, and companies should consciously decide how they want to represent themselves.

To present a professional company image, cameras should be positioned to enable eye contact, interviewers should build a rapport through good introductions, referring to the candidate by name and being aware of initial ‘tone’ to set the candidate at ease.

Interviewers should also consciously project energy and enthusiasm, listen actively, speak slowly and take care to avoid excessive or distracting movement. The aim is to convey high engagement and so the panel should pay attention to posture and behaviours; for example, nodding and smiling as appropriate to the conversation and taking notes with care to avoid looking distracted.

Throughout, there should be clear direction from the chair or interview lead, obvious flow to the questions with follow-ups and time allotted for candidate questions at the end.

Online and in-person interview preparation

Developing an engaging candidate experience requires preparation and structure.

The panel should prepare ahead of time, agreeing on questions, protocols for fielding those questions and follow-ups, and identifying leads for potential question areas.

Panels should also build a short buffer in the diary to re-focus the session and have a realistic interview load for the day, rather than back-to-back interviews without time to regroup and collectively prepare for them.

Offering flexibility around online and in-person meetings also helps to convey a culture of agility, and candidates will remember those companies who accommodate them. Likewise, providing information packs with curated content for the candidate in question, and offering multiple opportunities for both the panel and candidate to judge ‘cultural fit’, demonstrates attention to detail and the desire to find the best person for the job.

Post-interview assessment

While candidates can’t ‘see’ a company’s post-interview processes, ensuring they are in place means a greater likelihood of building a strong candidate experience.
Post-interview wash-ups should identify cultural fit gaps from the candidate and the company, assess the practicalities of working with the candidate in the short and mid-term and agreement on potential adjustments to the business and its strategy.

Psychometric testing

As head-hunters, we assess skill set and competence, alongside the candidate’s ‘fit’ with the leader, executive team, and wider business. The process relies on intuitive assessment built on decades of experience and emotional intelligence to align the role with the organization’s needs.

Psychometric testing uses science to help prove our intuitive assessment and can highlight key strengths or development areas with data which is then combined with judgment, intuition and experience to ensure the best candidate is selected.

It also means the candidate is confident they are the best fit for the company, provides them with science-backed evidence for their strengths and weaknesses and demonstrates a rigorous selection process.

Four key mistakes to avoid

  1. Online interviews have created an almost ‘false’ sense of flexibility, with companies believing candidates will be available at the drop of a hat. This isn’t the case, and demonstrates a lack of organization and care if interviews are not scheduled in good time. Likewise, slow-moving interview processes also suggest a lack of urgency and desire for the candidate.
  2. An absence of detailed feedback throughout each stage of the interview process also creates a sense of disconnection between the candidate and the company. Most candidates want to know why the company has - or has not - progressed them to the next stage; providing this feedback demonstrates high engagement.

  3. Many companies also take too little time to design the candidate brief and sometimes won’t even have this ready at the start of the search. Representing the company as well as possible means attention to both content and design. At Odgers Berndtson, we employ designers to maximize a client’s brand and messaging on candidate briefs.

  4. We have also observed instances where the role profile changes at the final interview stages and requires a complete rework of the position. To candidates, this conveys a lack of care, and paints a picture of mismanagement and disorganization. It is highly advantageous to go to market with a clearly defined brief.


To find out more about how to prioritize candidate care in your job search, contact our authors, get in touch with us here, and you can also find your local Odgers Berndtson contact here.

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