From the first point of contact through to the job offer, the interactions a candidate has with an organisation during the hiring process sets the tone for the relationship from that point forward. The impression you make can affect both their likelihood of accepting an offer and the reputation of your business in the market, so getting it right is essential for ensuring you can continue to have your pick of the best talent.Here are three key steps to help you create a positive candidate experience during the recruitment process, which will ultimately bring you closer to closing the deal and retaining people for the long term.Provide a Positive Candidate Experience during the Hiring ProcessIf you were to go to a job interview, what would you expect? Just as your first impression of a candidate plays a part in how you assess their employability, a tech candidate’s first impression of you will play a significant part in whether they want to work for you or not.As with all first impressions, a lot of hard work goes into making a good one. Having a clear and concise job description on the initial application, which highlights all of the necessary information, is a good place to start. Including some information on your company with an explanation of what you do and a little insight into the culture can also be very useful. Remember that during this process, it’s important to communicate clearly with all applicants. Communicating with those you have rejected can be very valuable in giving you usable feedback on your recruitment process, which you can then use to optimise your approach in future.Having a clear application process with strong communication throughout will put you on the front foot by the time you get to an interview. When conducting interviews, try not to wear out the candidate with a one-hundred-step process, as this can lead to them becoming frustrated and disengaged, potentially even looking for opportunities elsewhere.It’s also a good idea to even think about where you’re holding the interview; how this reflects your company and the impression it might leave. If you’re a fun and dynamic IT start-up, give them a tour of the office and showcase the work environment. This will also give them a first-hand look at where they’ll be fitting into the team and the style in which the team works. Similarly, ensure that the vacancy’s key stakeholders (including the role’s manager) are involved in the hiring process, as this shows candidates you are taking the process seriously and provides the opportunity to see how the personalities mesh.Present the Job Offer to the Candidate in the Right WayAfter the interview process is complete and a preferred candidate has been identified, it’s time to make the all-important offer. Research has shown that whilst 65% of professionals want to hear bad news by email, 77% want to hear about good news over the phone – so if you’re giving someone good news, deliver it with a personal touch. Courier over your job offer along with a gift, or branded collateral such as stationery or a t-shirt. Follow this up with a phone call or a face to face meeting to run the candidate through the key elements of the offer. An agency can assist you with this by being a point of contact between you and the candidate throughout the process, providing clear communication if you don’t have the resources or capacity to do so. Don’t rush them into accepting the offer, but do give clear timeframes.When making your offer, think beyond what you can offer the candidate, and look at your culture and the opportunities within your company. Review your interview notes to remind yourself of their key drivers, and ensure that these are addressed in the offer. Keep in mind that although these intrinsic factors are important, your remuneration package must also satisfy the candidate. It’s important to make a credible offer when making your initial approach so that the candidate doesn’t get an unwelcome surprise when the offer comes in. If this isn’t possible, then you may need to readjust your expectations and look for different candidates.It is best practice to make an initial verbal offer at first. This way you can test the waters a little and revise your offer, if necessary, based on the candidate’s reaction. Liaising with a recruitment agency can help you formulate an offer that doesn’t risk insulting the candidate in any way, and jeopardising the hard work that was put into making a good impression.This is another part of the hiring process where you can implement a strong feedback loop. If the candidate accepts your offer, follow up with them and ask them how they felt the offer was presented; what they expected, what you did well and where you can improve. Candidates who didn’t accept the offer can also be great sources of feedback. Ask them what caused them to not accept it, and look at adapting your strategy to address this. This is another point where an agency can help, following up with the candidates and keeping those lines of communication open.Keep the Candidate Engaged Before the Start Date and Have a Strong Onboarding ProgrammeIt’s easy to fall into the trap of not speaking with the candidate until the day they start work. However, if you’re looking to keep that candidate engaged and further improve your chances of retaining them, it’s vital that you continue to communicate between offer-stage and start-date.Keep in touch with the candidate beyond their acceptance of the offer by inviting them to company social events or gatherings, whether remote or in person. This will shorten the lead time when they start and also has the benefit of your team getting to know the new starter. Doing things like getting the candidate to come along for drinks on a Friday afternoon can be a big help in maintaining their enthusiasm to start, and increasing their affinity with the workplace before they even turn up for their first day.Consider the unique circumstances of your candidate too. For instance, if you’ve recruited an international candidate, or your candidate has had to relocate in order to take the role, then you might be able to assist them with their move. Even just speaking with them about the area, giving them tips on places to live, nearby facilities and things to do, can make them feel more comfortable in their new environment – which will help when the time comes for them to start.Having a strong onboarding programme will help your new team member settle in and be more productive. Ensuring that their desk is fully set up and that they receive a company welcome pack will immediately make them feel welcome and valued. In addition to this, try to leave the paperwork until later in the week to put all the focus on getting them embedded into the team. Composing an effective plan for the new starter’s first 90 days, and ensuring that there is a strong feedback loop in place, will improve productivity immediately and give everyone the best experience possible.SummaryWhen it comes to closing the deal with a tech candidate, ensuring they enjoy the hiring process is just as important as being able to meet any remuneration or contractual needs. If you want to secure these top candidates, it takes a strong first impression, a well-presented offer and clear communication and follow-through after the offer has been accepted. If these elements aren’t present, it becomes difficult to attract IT candidates and to retain them even if you do. The way you control, manage and develop your recruitment process itself will often be the difference between closing the deal or falling at the last hurdle.Engaging a recruitment agency can address a lot of these pain-points, especially when communicating with candidates is so vital. If you’re looking for help with this, get in touch with us today.