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How to Thank a Candidate for Interviewing for Your Job: 5 Ways Saying Thanks Builds Your Employer Brand [Includes Template!]

thank candidates

Overview

These days, only a fraction of the candidates who apply for a position will send thank-you notes. Sending a note itself doesn’t guarantee a job offer, of course, but receiving one is a rare event for the hiring manager. 

Now, what would happen if a candidate were to receive a note from the company’s recruiter or hiring manager? Just as sending a thank-you note doesn’t guarantee a candidate a job, sending a note to the candidate won’t guarantee that they will choose to engage in the company’s interview process. However, the simple act of sending a note could build a positive reputation for the company and entice good talent to apply in the future. 

Candidates Are Looking for the Right Fit

Candidates carefully weigh a company’s culture and the compensation, perks, and benefits of a position when they are job hunting. They look for organizations they can trust, like, and collaborate with to build a fulfilling career. Candidates are also interviewing the company during the hiring process and evaluating whether they will have a chance to learn and grow at the company or are more likely to crash and burn in the position. Recruiters and hiring managers, in turn, want to know that the candidate cares about the company. 

One recent study stated that 72% of candidates base their job decisions in part on how smooth the hiring process is. Candidates know they must advocate for themselves, and many know that finding the right company and the desired salary is hard work. More than a third of the workforce is open to new opportunities, and having a positive first impression of the company is important for the candidate. A company that shows empathy and understanding of the candidate’s experience can showcase a positive company culture. Most companies want to attain and attract top talent, but to do so, they often need to create a better relationship infrastructure.

Building Potential Future Engagement with Candidates

Rhona Barnett-Pierce, a talent acquisition leader and a LinkedIn Top Voice, suggests that companies, especially recruiters, send thank-you notes to candidates. She writes, “We don’t wait for candidates to send us a note; we send one first!” Hiring managers and recruiters aren’t always trained interviewers, yet either can set the tone for a beneficial future relationship by being engaged in the candidate’s perspective. 

Gratitude: An Investment in Your Employer Brand?

Interviews aren’t interrogations. They are business conversations aimed at considering the possibility of collaborating to grow the company while advancing the candidate’s career. This value exchange during an interview is the making of a relationship beyond meetings. That is why focusing on how to thank a candidate is important.

5 Ways Thanking Candidates Grows Your Employer Brand

  1. Saying thanks makes you memorable to top talent.

Companies looking for the ideal candidate recognize that their top choice will have options and competing offers from other companies. It’s essential that a company stand out to candidates and vice versa. How many recruiters or hiring managers value their interview preparation as much as a candidate values theirs? 

Top candidates interview the company, as they understand the value of their time and skills. A company that takes the time to express gratitude to a candidate shows that they, too, realize the value of the candidate’s time. Sending a thank-you note sends the right message to the candidate about how much the company values their interest in the company.

  1. Thanking reinforces a positive work culture.

Most employees are energized by a company’s efforts to recognize good work. Shouldn’t hiring managers and recruiters likewise recognize a productive conversation? An employer’s brand is as important as ever in this job market, as news of layoffs continues to dominate the headlines. Sending a note to a job candidate is an opportunity to increase awareness of the company’s brand. A thoughtful, personalized thank-you note would promote positive morale (and vibes) regardless of the hiring outcome.

  1. It’s an investment in a working relationship.

It’s just as important to value a relationship for the long term as it is for current hires. The job cycle for ideal candidates could be as short as two to three years. A candidate may not be a fit now, but what’s next? In some industries, people frequently cross paths, such as in membership organizations, associations, or alumni networks. A positive candidate experience could promote a company’s good hiring reputation. The candidate’s positive message about a company is brand messaging a company can’t buy.

  1. It’s an opportunity to get useful feedback.

Great interviews are opportunities to provide a valuable exchange of ideas that both parties can benefit from. Candidates with multiple interviews can use the experience to inform their future opportunities, and companies can use feedback from interviewees to enhance future candidate experiences. Sending a thank-you note soon after the interview can be an opportunity to invite feedback from the candidate. As Barnett-Pierce says, “The goal is to send them shortly after an interview and to thank candidates and let them know when they can expect to hear back on updates or next steps.” 

  1. It builds a future talent pipeline.

Showing appreciation to job candidates can help companies passively build a stream of talent to hire in the future. Hiring is costly and time-consuming, and it will always be a work in progress. Over time, word of mouth about pleasant interview experiences (whether the candidates were hired or not) can lead to a larger applicant pool. Showing appreciation to job candidates is thus a passive way to build a brand reputation and improve the hiring process. 

Bonus: Template

A basic template through ChatGPT could be customized to help produce a useful guide to send candidates. It can help streamline notes to address the basic information for the next steps and leave room for the interviewer to add their brief thoughts. 

Dear [Candidate’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. On behalf of the team at [Company Name], I would like to extend our sincere thanks for taking the time to interview with us for the [Position Title] role. We understand that job searching requires considerable effort and time, and we appreciate your efforts in getting to know [Company Name] and your interest in joining our team. 

It was a pleasure getting to know you and learning more about your skills and experiences. Congratulations on your career successes to date. Your background in [mention a specific skill or experience relevant to the job] was interesting to hear about and we are fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with you.

Our decision-making process will take approximately [provide a timeframe], and we promise to keep you updated on the status of your application. Please feel free to reach out if you have not heard from us by then, as we encourage open communication. Regardless of the outcome, we believe that talented professionals like you are what drive success in our industry, and we are appreciative to have crossed paths with you.

Additionally, we are always looking to improve our recruitment experience. We would be grateful for any feedback you might have about your interview process with us. Your insights are invaluable and will help us enhance our approach for future candidates.

Should you have any questions or need further information in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you once again for your interest in [Company Name] and for the valuable perspectives you shared during our conversation.

Wishing you continued success in your professional endeavors,

[Hiring Manager’s Full Name]

[Contact Information]

What to Include in a Thank-You Note to a Candidate

The hiring manager or the interview panel will likely write the thank-you note. While it’s not a job offer, the goal is to leave the candidate with a positive impression of the company. Here are a few things the writer can include:

1. Express appreciation for the candidate’s time and effort.

While it costs money for companies to interview candidates, it is also costly for candidates to interview. Some companies compensate candidates for interviewing, but for a company to show genuine appreciation is a rare and powerful branding tool.

2. What information did the interviewer find valuable to learn about the candidate?

What impressed the hiring manager during their time together? Create space for hiring managers to personalize their thoughts and share with candidates the value they could add to the team. Candidates want to know that the interviewer heard what they had to say during the interview. Barnett-Pierce recommends that the interviewer “reference something unique from each interview. Mention specific points from the interview to show genuine interest.”

3. Invite feedback from the candidate (but consider that they may want to give the input anonymously).

Improving the hiring process is a work in progress. Asking a candidate for feedback on their experience can enhance their opinion of the company while providing the company with valuable information. What candidate wouldn’t appreciate being asked what could have been better?

4. Invite communication for additional questions or thoughts about the conversation during the interview.

Most companies consider employee engagement as a key to their long-term success. Since candidates consider an interview a sample of the company’s culture, asking for their thoughts is a way to create a working relationship before hiring. 

5. Set clear expectations.

Whether it was a good or bad experience, candidates look forward to hearing about the next steps from the employer. Pierce says she includes wording such as ‘updates’ or ‘next steps’ when communicating with candidates “because I don’t want to give anyone false hopes. There’s always a possibility that they aren’t moving forward.” It benefits everyone involved, whether it’s a panel interview or one-to-one with a recruiter or hiring manager, to be on the same page

Conclusion: Strengthening Your Employer Band Through an Attitude of Gratitude

Candidates evolve and grow their careers over time and reevaluate the companies they want to work with. A candidate who receives an appreciative note after a job interview will view that company as potentially worth having a relationship with. Companies must realize that they are competing for the attention of candidates. Little gestures such as a thank-you letter acknowledging the value of a candidate’s time and effort can be vital to their business. 

Small gestures show an engaging company culture most candidates want to experience as an employee. Good candidates use their experiences in the hiring process as a barometer when choosing where they want to work. Showing meaningful appreciation to candidates is a way for companies to improve their chances of hiring top talent without spending more money and time on expensive hiring campaigns.

Mark Dyson
Mark Dyson
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career writer, thinker, podcaster, and speaker in the careers and job search space. He has written for Glassdoor, Recruiter.com, Payscale, The Financial Diet, The Balance Careers, and more.

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