What “Modern Love” Can Teach Companies About Candidate Care

In an episode of the TV series Modern Love titled “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist,” young developer Joshua sits in the reception of a tech startup waiting to be called in for an interview. When an employee announces that they’ll be another five minutes late, Joshua mentions he has other interviews that day and notes that they are ten minutes late already. “Thank you for that information,” the employee replies, coldly, before heading back into the meeting room.

Although not happy to wait, Joshua does meet the love of his life, Emma, as a result of the delay. Emma is also interviewing for the position, and gets to go in first. Perhaps it’s telling that Joshua splits before being called in just so he can catch Emma as she’s leaving.

A scene from the episode Modern Love
Joshua chooses love over career in this episode of Modern Love.

Would Joshua have stayed if his candidate experience had been different? Was his decision to leave motivated just by love or did a lack of candidate care play a role in his decision?  

That we’ll never know. What we do discover, as the story progresses, is that Joshua goes on to build a hugely popular dating website—popular enough that he gets profiled in the Sunday newspaper. Not getting the job worked out fine for him. But the tech startup? They clearly missed out on the chance of hiring someone extraordinary, all because they didn’t focus on candidate care.

An empathetic approach to hiring

A scene from the episode Modern Love
Credit: Giovanni Rufino/Amazon Studios

But what is candidate care, exactly? Candidate care is an empathetic approach to hiring that acknowledges the time and effort job candidates put into recruiting processes. Essentially, it’s taking candidates’ needs into account with the goal of creating a positive impression of the company as an employer.

Since candidates engage with companies at multiple touchpoints throughout the hiring process, companies have many opportunities to make candidates feel cared for. For example:

The list goes on—for other ideas, see Perfecting Your Recruitment Funnel.

Why companies should care

A scene from the episode Modern Love
Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Amazon Studios

When companies fail to show consideration and courtesy in hiring processes, they leave a bad impression—not just on candidates, but potentially on their family members, friends, and colleagues. A negative testimonial on social media, for example, can be surprisingly far-reaching.

But fear shouldn’t be the motivator for companies to invest in candidate care. They should care because caring is the only way to attract the best candidates and keep them from jumping ship halfway through the recruitment process, like Joshua did.

Highly-sought out professionals with unique skills don’t want to be treated poorly or work for companies that seem old-fashioned, disorganized, and inefficient.

How to invest in candidate care

Companies that want to ensure job candidates feel cared for should start by defining what candidate care means to them. One thing that’s helpful in this process is going over the data from their recruitment processes.

  • Application abandonment rates and offer acceptance rates show if there’s room for improvement in application forms and compensation—see Recruitment Analytics: The 9 Recruiting Metrics You Should Be Watching for more information.
  • Feedback collected from social media, employer review websites, and applicant surveys provide valuable information about the candidate experience.

In addition to defining the what of candidate care, companies need to define the how. How will they ensure candidates are cared for? What will they do? How will they hold recruiters and hiring managers accountable? This is an ongoing process that companies must revisit as the job market evolves.

Companies shouldn’t expect candidates to care if they don’t

Perception is everything: candidates will assume that however they are treated during the interview process is a good predictor of how they will be treated as an employee. The startup that kept Joshua waiting didn’t value his time. In the end, we think he was right to reassess and move on to better things. Candidate care is just as important as employee care, and companies that invest in both will have an advantage when competing for top talent.

How does your company approach candidate care?

Looking for more tips on how to attract top talent in a competitive market? Check out our blog: Strategies for Attracting Top Talent in a Competitive Industry

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