Grabbing the attention of top candidates can be challenging for employers trying to court their first picks in the executive, managerial and professional job market. These applicants are typically interviewing with multiple companies and have additional options at their disposal. Employer branding and a streamlined recruitment process are just a few of the strategies companies are using to make themselves more attractive in this candidate-driven market. While these strategies can help make the recruitment and hiring process more efficient, many employers forget to consider the subtle messages they could be conveying about the company, through the interviewing process itself. This oversight can create a lasting impression that turns candidates off before an offer is ever made.

With a shrinking talent pool and increased competition for top candidates, employers have to not only sell the company well, but also conduct an interviewing process that presents the company and its corporate culture in the best light possible. “When companies approach the interviewing process from the candidate’s perspective, they are much more likely to create an experience that is mutually engaging and appealing to the ‘A’ players in their markets,” says Rob Romaine, president of MRINetwork.

The interviewing process should be an opportunity for both parties to evaluate a professional and cultural fit with the company. Yet, consider as an employer that perhaps you are additionally sending out unintended messages about weaknesses in the company culture or work practices.

Have you reflected on the following?

  1. Is your process executed in an organized, seamless manner?
  2. Are the company representatives experienced at interviewing candidates, or are they just winging it?
  3. Are the interviewers polite and sincerely interested in learning more about the candidate’s background, or are any of them annoyed that the interview is taking them away from their work?
  4. Does the company do its best to follow-up with top applicants and keep them engaged or do several days or weeks go by without any feedback from the interviewer?
  5. Is the interviewing process lengthy or is it respectful of candidates’ time?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time to re-evaluate what the company’s interviewing and recruitment practices say about the organization. “Just as employers are concerned about making a bad hire due to poor cultural fit or lacking skillsets, candidates are equally concerned about working for companies that seem disorganized, unprofessional, unreliable or inconsiderate of their employees’ needs,” notes Romaine. “Even the slightest glimpse of poor work practices can send top candidates away from your organization and straight to a competitor.”

At the end of the day, the interviewing process is as much about candidate discovery as it is about employer branding. It is therefore important for employers to evaluate whether their practices are attracting or detracting key talent from their organizations.