Candidate Engagement: A Comprehensive Guide for Employers

By June 28, 2023HR & Recruitment

Candidate engagement. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, right? Candidates are supposed to seek employment and employers do not need to worry about engagement until after employment begins.

Of course, that means that you have to reinvent the wheel whenever you start your hiring process.

But what if there was a way to keep candidates available and interested in your next job opening? What if that process was also able to get newly hired employees engaged before they start their job? This is what candidate engagement is designed to do. Candidate engagement keeps candidates interested in your company and prepares new hires to become engaged employees.

What is candidate engagement?

Candidate engagement is the relationship between a candidate and the potential employer they’re interviewing with. Candidate engagement should begin with the first encounter a potential candidate has with a potential employer and should continue to build through each on-going interaction.

A critical aspect of recruitment, the candidate engagement process also helps attract top talent, build the talent pool, and create a positive employer brand in order to improve the overall candidate experience. The goal of candidate engagement is to provide relevant and useful content to potential candidates in order to encourage their interest in the position and in the company.

Implementing candidate engagement methods not only benefits the company but also dramatically improves the candidate’s experience. As candidates feel included and valued, their interest in the company grows, consequently increasing the likelihood of retaining highly skilled employees long-term.

Balancing clear communication with tailored support and guidance for prospective candidates, a robust candidate engagement system can significantly contribute to a company’s success in acquiring the best candidates.

Companies can develop a strong candidate engagement process through proactive sourcing and by encouraging applicants to apply for work with the company. By doing so, companies can develop stronger connections with potential employees and ensure they create a positive impression of their brand.

How does candidate engagement work?

Candidate engagement begins as a series of interactions between job seekers and potential employers. These interactions happen in various ways, including email, text, and direct conversation, as well as actions such as submitting applications, attending interviews, and sending thank you letters.

The goal of this communication with the candidate is to create a positive candidate experience. Candidates who have a positive experience are much more likely to become engaged in the process, more likely to become employees and less likely to disappear during the process, also known as “ghosting.”

To measure the success of these efforts, organizations should track actions such as email opens, text replies, job views, and job applications. This ongoing process allows for adjustments and improvements in the methods used to engage potential job applicants and candidates over time.

Implementing an effective candidate engagement process requires businesses to establish a robust recruitment marketing strategy. This strategy should encompass various channels and touchpoints to reach potential candidates.

By ensuring that interactions with quality candidates are meaningful, clear, and appealing to job seekers, organizations can positively influence the impression that candidates have of their brand and greatly increase the effectiveness of their hiring strategies.

The benefits of a strong candidate engagement process

Candidate engagement holds a crucial role in the recruitment process. It refers to the development of a business relationship by continually communicating with top candidates as well as other job seekers.

One of the reasons why engagement strategies are effective is the simple fact that most employers do not yet see the value of ensuring a positive candidate experience. This is short-sighted because there are many advantages.

1. Attracting top talent

A strong candidate engagement strategy can significantly help companies attract top talent. By effectively communicating with job seekers and consistently providing relevant, useful information, companies show that they care about their candidates’ needs and experiences.

This creates a strong, positive impression, making potential employees feel valued and makes them ultimately more likely to choose the company over the competition. This also improves the company’s reputation in the talent marketplace.

Developing a candidate engagement program can result in a more qualified and talented workforce as well as a stronger talent pipeline.

2. Reducing time to hire

Candidate engagement can also help reduce the time it takes to hire an employee. By maintaining regular communication with candidates and keeping them informed throughout the recruitment process, companies can quickly identify the most suitable candidates and move them through the hiring process efficiently.

This is made more effective by using software such as TrueAblity’s Blended Assessments. Identifying the most suitable applicants not only results in time savings but can boost candidate engagement and pinpoint other open positions the job candidate may be more suited for.

Reducing the hiring timeline, identifying top candidates and directing other candidates to better-suited positions helps companies save time and money and provide a better candidate experience.

Why waste months “reinventing the wheel” when you could just use ours?

3. Improving company reputation

Lastly, a positive candidate experience and engagement strategy can have a significant impact on a company’s reputation in the job market.

When candidates have a positive experience with a company during the hiring process, they are more likely to recommend the company to their networks and reapply at a later date, even if they were not selected for a position when they initially applied.

Engaging candidates effectively can lead to better word-of-mouth promotion and ultimately aid in maintaining an attractive company image among job seekers.

How to develop a candidate engagement process

Candidate engagement should be a crucial aspect of the modern recruitment process. The most effective candidate engagement strategies seek to develop a relationship with the candidate, providing a much stronger return on the recruiting process than simply posting ads on job boards.

A solid strategy of candidate engagement should involve employer branding, application and assessment processes, job offers, onboarding, and more. By developing strong candidate engagement, recruiters can create a candidate-centric environment that ensures the candidate journey is a positive experience for job seekers and ultimately improves the quality of hires.

In today’s competitive job market, it is essential to approach candidate engagement strategically, focusing not only on technological solutions but also on personalized communication and timely interventions.

Continuous candidate engagement ensures that job seekers are engaged in the right way at each stage of their job search, promoting a smoother and more efficient recruitment process. As a result, companies can significantly enhance their overall talent acquisition outcomes, attracting top-notch candidates and retaining them in the long run.

Moreover, engaged candidates become engaged employees.

In order to achieve successful candidate engagement, recruiters must offer valuable, relevant, and informative content to potential candidates. This content can come in various forms, such as company updates, industry insights, or career advice, allowing job seekers to feel informed and involved even before they apply for a role.

Building these relationships early in the application process can help create a positive image of the company, making it more attractive to prospective employees and increasing the likelihood of securing top talent.

Here are steps to take to develop a robust candidate engagement process for your company. 

1. Personalize communication

An effective way to engage candidates is through personalized communication. This involves tailoring messages to highlight specific skills and experiences that resonate with the individuals you are trying to reach.

By demonstrating an understanding of their background and aspirations, you can initiate meaningful conversations and create stronger connections with potential candidates. Segments of personalization may include addressing candidates by their preferred name and referencing particular accomplishments or projects relevant to the roles they are applying for.

The importance of accuracy in personalized communication can’t be emphasized enough. When reaching out to candidates, be sure to use their preferred name rather than a common nickname.

For example, if a candidate is named Jonathan but they use their middle name, David, by all means, use David. If another candidate is seeking to transition from sales to marketing, be sure that all communication references marketing.

Incorrect data in personalized communication is toxic to candidate engagement.

2. Use multiple touchpoints

To maintain candidate engagement, it is essential to establish multiple touchpoints throughout the recruiting process. This can involve using a mix of channels such as phone calls, emails, text messages, and face-to-face meetings.

By diversifying your approach, you can maximize engagement, adapt to candidates’ unique preferences, and reduce the risk of disconnection or lost opportunities. Creating a consistent and structured follow-up plan also helps in reinforcing your commitment to building lasting relationships and catering to their concerns.

3. Maintain a social media presence

A strong social media presence can act as an invaluable tool for candidate engagement. By showcasing your company’s values, culture, and opportunities, you can attract and engage passive candidates who may not have otherwise considered your organization.

Social media channels allow for easy sharing of job postings, updates, and employee-centric content to reach a broader audience. For example, LinkedIn can be utilized for connecting with potential candidates and sharing relevant industry news, while Instagram can be used for real-time engagement and showcasing your company’s lighter side.

4. Keep in mind, little things mean a lot

Small gestures can make a big difference with candidate engagement, especially when those gestures are unusual among other employers. 

Gestures like sending a thank you note to a candidate for taking the time to meet with your company, or being flexible and accommodating when scheduling interviews are great ways to show that a company respects and appreciates their candidates.

5. Continually improve the candidate experience

Enhancing the candidate experience is crucial for maintaining engagement throughout the recruiting process. This involves being transparent about the hiring process, setting clear expectations, providing timely feedback, and ensuring efficient communication with talent acquisition teams.

By making the process more candidate-centric, you create an environment conducive to building long-term relationships and promoting a positive image of your organization.

One way to achieve this is by implementing candidate engagement technologies such as applicant tracking systems and chatbots that streamline communications and help provide a seamless and interactive experience for the candidates.

Role of technology in engagement strategies

The role of technology in candidate engagement has become increasingly important in recent years as companies strive to streamline the recruiting process and attract top talent. This section will explore various forms of technology that assist in candidate engagement and their applications in the recruitment process.

1. Applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software solutions that help organizations manage their recruitment process. They automate tasks such as job posting, resume screening, and candidate communication, allowing recruiters to focus on more strategic activities.

ATSs also provide analytics and reporting, assisting recruiters in making data-driven decisions about their talent and candidate pool.

2. AI and chatbots

AI-powered chatbots have emerged as a useful tool for candidate engagement. They can be used by recruitment teams to answer common questions from candidates, assist with scheduling interviews, and provide personalized information about the company.

By offering real-time support, chatbots can help improve the overall candidate experience and reduce the workload of recruiters.

3. Testing

Skill-based tests or assessments can be employed to better understand a candidate’s aptitude or fit for a role. This can give the hiring manager and the candidate a more clear idea of the candidate’s potential within the company, reducing the risk of a bad hire.

By using testing, companies can help reduce or eliminate unconscious bias in their talent acquisition process. Additionally, these tests can be customizable and automated, enabling consistent evaluation of candidates at scale.

Companies like TrueAbility help reduce bias in hiring by providing a level playing field for candidates.

4. Video conferencing

Video interviews have become a popular option in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. They allow for a more personal interaction with candidates, while still offering the convenience of remote engagement. Video interviews can e recorded and shared among hiring managers to facilitate better communication and decision-making.

One effective use of videos is to have team members record short snippets about themselves, their jobs, and what it’s like to work for the company. These can provide candidates the opportunity to imagine themselves in the role they are currently interviewing for.

5. Recruitment software

Technology can play a significant role in reducing bias in the hiring process. Recruitment software is particularly useful in screening resumes. By using this technology, companies can remove unconscious bias that may otherwise be present.

Other methods of reducing bias in hiring that are less dependent on technology include using structured interviews, involving diverse hiring panels in the hiring process, and anti-bias employee training can also reduce bias.

Combining tools such as standardized assessments, pre-recorded video interviews, and recruitment software, companies can help ensure that candidates are evaluated objectively, leading to a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Measuring candidate engagement

In order to gauge the effectiveness of your recruiting process, you will need to measure and track candidate engagement. There are a number of ways to measure candidate engagement, and the most successful engagement strategies should use more than one.

1. Key metrics

Measuring candidate engagement involves tracking various key metrics throughout the recruitment process. Some essential metrics include the number of applicants, the time to fill a position, and the acceptance rate for job offers.

2. Number of applications

Keep track of the number of applications received for a position and the percentage of candidates who respond to initial outreach or communication. Higher application and response rates will indicate a higher level of candidate engagement.

3. Online interactions

Candidate interactions on social media platforms, such as likes, comments, shares, and mentions related to your organization’s job postings or content are a good indicator of active interest and involvement. Other online interactions, such as the rate of email opens and click-throughs are excellent indicators of the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

4. Interview conversion

One of the most important measures of candidate engagement is the interview conversion rate. This rate represents the number of candidates who progress through the interview process and receive a job offer.

High conversion rates can indicate a strong level of engagement, as it shows the number of candidates actively participate and invest their time in the hiring process. It also helps identify any potential bottlenecks or issues in your recruitment strategy that may affect candidate engagement

5. Feedback and surveys

Gathering feedback from candidates is essential for evaluating their experience and engagement levels during the recruitment process. 

Companies who solicit honest feedback and surveys from candidates will get valuable information for building their candidate engagement strategies. Always request feedback from candidates and use it to improve your hiring process. 

Implementing feedback forms and surveys at various stages, such as after interviews or upon receiving a job offer, provides valuable insights into a candidate’s impression and engagement. Analyzing this feedback helps identify areas for improvement, allowing you to tailor your hiring process to better engage and attract top talent.

By using a combination of these metrics, you can gain insights into candidate engagement levels, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your recruitment strategies accordingly. Remember, candidate engagement is a dynamic process, and continuous measurement and improvement can help enhance the overall candidate experience.

Frequently asked questions

What happens with an engaged candidate if they aren’t hired?

Maintaining positive relationships with engaged candidates who are not hired, and keeping the lines of communication open, has a long-lasting positive effect on your employer brand and future recruitment efforts.

What can managers do to increase candidate engagement?

Managers play a crucial part when it comes to increasing candidate engagement. Managers are the drivers in the hiring process and can keep candidates engaged by encouraging candidates to ask questions and to share their thoughts and ideas.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the recruiting process is as much for candidates to find a new employer as for a company to find a new employee. By making the entire process as positive and painless as possible, companies can greatly improve their candidate engagement.

Are employee referrals more likely to be engaged?

Employees are a great resource when it comes to candidates. Your employees already know the company and can act as trusted advisors to the candidates they refer. More than that, they can serve as sounding boards for candidate concerns and questions.

Engaged employees are much more likely to refer friends and colleagues, and those friends and colleagues will come to the company already pre-disposed toward engagement. Any company that gets a referral from a company should thank the employee and make an effort to show that they appreciate the referral, even if the person referred does not end up getting a job offer.

By showing respect and appreciation for employee referrals, companies will encourage more referrals.


Candidate engagement is a crucial aspect of the recruiting process. It functions by opening the lines of communication with potential candidates throughout their application journey and keeping those lines open after the candidate is hired or the position is offered to another candidate.

By keeping candidates informed about the company, the roles they apply for, and the expectations from both sides, organizations can effectively attract highly skilled qualified candidates, and develop a positive employer brand.

A successful candidate engagement strategy uses several channels of communication and offers different types of content to provide relevant and useful information to candidates. This may include sharing insights about the company culture, outlining the requirements and benefits of specific roles, and keeping applicants updated on their application status.

By developing an open dialogue with engaged candidates, businesses can ultimately streamline the onboarding process, enhance productivity, and retain top talent.

It is essential for companies to continually evaluate and update their candidate engagement strategies to keep pace with the ever-changing demands of the job market.

Adopting a proactive approach towards candidate engagement—informed by data, tracking, and feedback—allows businesses to effectively reach desired talents and cultivate a strong, vibrant workforce that propels the organization towards its strategic objectives.

Jodi Mai began her career as a recruiter after college. She moved into an HR Generalist role and later, into HR management, working on such topics as employee relations, benefit administration, and payroll. Over the last 15 years, she has worked in the talent acquisition and management industry, and since 2018, Jodi has expanded to HR consulting and writing on HR and recruitment topics.

Learn more about TrueAbility—an industry leader in providing assessment testing and has experience offering testing, certification, and training to companies, such as Google, SUSE, VMWare etc.

About TrueAbililty 

TrueAbility is a trusted global performance-based technical assessment provider offering a community ecosystem allowing technical professionals and employers to collaborate and measure skill sets through AbilityScreen®. AbilityScreen is the only fully-managed performance-based technical assessment platform operating in a live, cloud environment that automates recruiting and hiring processes to definitively assess and qualify a technical professional’s technology experience.

TrueAbility has executed over 20,000 technical assessments logging more than 18,000 hours of live server practical skill evaluations. Employers have collectively hired hundreds of qualified technical professionals for specific job positions across an array of industries. Founded in 2012, TrueAbility is privately held and headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, please visit

# # #

AbilityScreen is a registered trademark of TrueAbility in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks, trade names or service marks used or mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.