Call Sales +44 808 164 2563
< Back to Hiring Blog

Here’s what job seekers really want to know in their first conversation with you

December 22, 2021
iCIMS Staff
5 min read
Learn how iCIMS can
help you drive ROI

The candidate experience is no longer just a nice-to-have. Not that it ever really was. But certainly not at a time when resignations are up, and open roles far outpace the number of applicants. At least that’s the world as William Tincup, President and Editor-at-Large of, sees it. But what does a positive candidate experience mean in today’s tight labor market?

Tincup outlines three main things candidates want to know from potential employers:

  1. How long is the hiring process, and when will I have a decision?
  2. What is your work from home policy, and will it change?
  3. What are my opportunities for career growth?

You can hear more from Tincup in this on-demand webinar, How to attract top talent in a tight labor market. Watch it here.

The answers to these questions may vary role to role, candidate to candidate, storefront to corporate headquarters. According to Tincup, it’s less about the answers you give, and more about how you give them. The key is being honest when asked hard questions and having the courage (and respect) to say, “I don’t know.” Good or bad, candidates want to know sooner rather than later.


Candidates want to understand the hiring process

This means letting them know right away what they’ll be expected to do. Who will they interview with? Will there be a skills assessment? When can they expect a decision?

Above all, candidates want to arrive at a decision quickly – yay or nay. “The most common complaint I get from talent [professionals] today is [candidates] want to move fast. And for whatever reason – whether it’s technology, process, mindset, whatever – we’re not moving as fast as they want,” says Tincup. “We have to think faster.”

Decisions get made faster when obstacles are removed. This means speeding up communication both between recruiters, candidates, and hiring managers. While there’s no substitute for prioritizing communication throughout, a digital assistant can help automate tasks and eliminate busywork.


Candidates want to understand your remote work policy

In today’s labor market, it’s no longer enough to simply explain what the job is. Increasingly, candidates want to know how the job will get done. For many, this means clarity on remote and hybrid work.

“If you don’t really know the future, it’s okay. But you need to communicate that. I think that’s where historically we’ve gotten into trouble – when we don’t have an answer, we don’t respond,” says Tincup. “In today’s candidate market that’s unacceptable.”

Saying “I don’t know” is okay, but there’s a caveat. Candidates want to feel understood and that their needs are being listened to. For some, wanting to work remotely or have access to an office may be a deal-breaker. It’s important to know that upfront.

In fact, advertising your work from home policy on your career sites and in job descriptions can be a great way to drum up interest and attract candidates who might not have applied otherwise.


Candidates want to know there are opportunities for growth

People change jobs for any variety of reasons, including to take a higher salary, relocate, escape a difficult manager, or pursue new interests. Top of that list is career growth. But candidates aren’t necessarily thinking about career growth in the way they used to.

For many, growth may mean moving from one industry to another. It may mean jumping from marketing to sales or from store manager to operations specialist. Candidates don’t necessarily see growth as linear.

A report by Gartner finds that, “In a fast-paced and changing world… the practice of defining a career goal as a specific position will become obsolete. For a growing number of employees, it is more important to collect experiences and build a portfolio of work that matches their values and career purpose.”

Or to put it another way, candidates want to know they’ll have opportunities to learn new skills and get involved in special projects – it’s a more organic approach that’s less structured and far more open-ended.

The key, Tincup says, is “being more aggressive about training, skills development, and talking to candidates about not just internal mobility and where they’re going to next, but how you’re going to invest in them and make them better.”

Candidates want to know they’re going to grow professionally, so don’t wait to have the conversation until you make the offer. Instead, use that as a selling point for why they should want to join your team.

“This can be the first conversation you have with a candidate. ‘Listen, you’re going to wonder how we’re going to make you better. Here’s how we do that.’ Hitting them with that is their expectation. If you don’t, it’s at your peril.”


More on how to attract talent when the labor market is tight

Tincup’s advice – that employers should address these three candidate questions early – is sound. But you don’t have to take my word for it. In fact, you can listen to the man himself describe how to tackle these issues and more in our webinar: How to attract top talent in a tight labor market.


Click here to watch it on-demand.


Learn how iCIMS can help you drive ROI

Explore categories

Explore categories

Back to top

Join our growing community
and receive free tips on how to attract, engage, hire, & advance the best talent.

Read more about Recruiting tips

Tailor your recruitment solution to keep top talent engaged

Read more

3 strategies to build your winning workforce from Europe’s TA experts

Read more

Does your TA tech prioritize the employee experience?

Read more