Keep Your Good Candidates Informed and Interested

The higher education hiring process can take weeks, months, even half years. Often, even if you’ve found the right candidate for a college or university job, the processes and policies in HR offices may take time which can be frustrating for both parties.  So, what happens if you have a stellar candidate (or candidates) you want to hold on to but fear losing them to the process? Here are a few tips for steps to take within your power:

First, be up front and clear about your timelines. If you know it’s possible that it might take 6-8 weeks to be contacted for an interview, consider setting up an automatic response when an application is submitted indicating that this is the expected timeline for academic jobs at your institution. Similarly, if you are discussing timelines during the interview, be sure you have selected realistic timeframes to share with the candidates. This eliminates, at the start, some of the confusion or worry about gaps in employer communication.

Second, communicate. Candidates may feel prematurely rejected if they receive no communication, even if only a short time has passed. Plan to send a brief email, or if possible a short call on a weekly basis, to let the candidate know where you are in the process and that he or she is still being considered. This not only shows the candidate you are interested, but also indicates that you are organized, understanding, and take care to ensure your employees feel valued– something a good employee wants out of their higher education career.

Third, be responsive. Candidates often send emails or make calls to proactively check on the status of the position. It is a best practice to respond quickly, again alleviating confusion and ambiguity, and placing you in a good light.

Though the hiring process may be longer than both employer and candidate hope, there are ways to keep your good candidates actively engaged. By offering clear information up front, providing good communication, and following through in a timely manner,  you not only alleviate stress for the person you really want to hire, you also show the strong values of your institution or department, and keep the candidate interested and excited.

Tara Wainwright is a Higher Education Career Counselor, Adjunct Instructor, and Lifelong Learner who has served on numerous hiring committees and currently resides in the Seattle, WA area

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