Hiring Is 'Marketing,' Too: Treat Applicants Like Your Best Customers

A negative application experience at your company is a story that will get around.

learn more about Karen Mishra

By Karen Mishra

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did you know you are marketing your firm when you are hiring people? So, the way that you treat candidates, start to finish, can impact whether or not they become -- or remain -- good customers.

Related: 7 Interview Questions To Help You Hire Superstars

Sometimes prospective employees will come to your company because they are satisfied customers, and they think that your company is a good place to work. They may have heard great things about your company. Don't lose a prospective customer because you treat a prospective employee badly during the hiring process. As a business school professor, I hear examples from my undergrads and MBA students every day about a hiring process gone wrong. These bad experiences get told and retold and create a negative impression about you and your company.

Don't let that happen to you. Here are some ways you can make sure that every applicant leaves a satisfied customer.

1. Don't leave them hanging.

The most frequent thing I hear from my students is that they don't know what is going on with their application after they have applied or even had an interview. While it is common practice not to thank people for applying or then let them know the hiring result, it is rude to drop the ball after someone has actually interviewed with you. Students regularly tell me that they never hear from an employer after they have done either a phone or in-person interview. Even if they don't get the job, they will appreciate knowing that the job has been filled, and that they are not candidates anymore.

2. Personalize your rejection letter.

Sometimes my students come back to me with stories about their great interview -- how much they bonded with a prospective employer and how confident they are about getting this new job. They are so happy about the process and the way they were treated -- until they get the dreaded form rejection letter. It is confusing to applicants to receive a form letter after they believe that they have had a positive interview experience. That boiler plate document only leaves a bad taste in the mouth, ensuring that they'll never apply with you again and will tell their friends not to, as well.

Related: Keep Your Talent: 5 Employee Retention Strategies for Long-Term Success

3. Give applicants feedback.

Finally, there are times when it is appropriate to give an applicant feedback on why he or she didn't get the job. If this individual has gone above and beyond in the application process, providing you, for instance, with a customized writing sample, it is only professional to reveal the outcome of the hiring process and offer personalized feedback on why the application was ultimately unsuccessful. If you say in your rejection letter that you hope this person applies again for a future position, feedback is even more important Otherwise, you will never see that candidate again.

We all know, any time we apply or interview, that we may not be chosen for the job, but if you're on the hiring end, don't ruin your company's reputation by screwing up the process. Be professional from beginning to end, just as you expect your applicants to be. You just may find yourself with a new customer.

Related: Why the First Interview Should Never Be the Last

Karen Mishra

Marketing Consultant

Karen Mishra teaches marketing at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. She also runs a leadership and marketing consulting firm, Total Trust, in Durham, N.C.

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