There used to be a time when candidate engagement didn’t matter. If you didn’t get a call back from a company that you sent a resume to, that was that. Businesses didn’t have time to waste by engaging candidates who didn’t cut it.

But in today’s competitive talent acquisition market, businesses have to focus on candidate engagement in order to recruit top talent.

What is Candidate Engagement?

Candidate engagement is the experience candidates have with your business at each touchpoint through the interview process. While it can start when a candidate first applies for a job, it can also start when a recruiter reaches out to a potential candidate. It’s the actions both parties take to get to know one another before an offer is made. According to a study done by CareerBuilder, 80% of candidates use the hiring process to determine how a company will treat its employees.

It’s A Job Hunter’s Market

Over the past few years, the job market has generally improved for candidates as the number of job openings continue to increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 5.6 million job openings in December of 2017 — during the Great Recession in 2008, there were just 2.4 million.

There is a caveat, though. Even though there are more jobs, there’s also more competition. There are more people in the job market right now — five generations, in fact. It won’t be long before Gen Z  starts entering the workforce en masse, and that generation is even larger than the Millennials.

With so much choice, it’s difficult for recruiters to find the right candidates. And yet, they are under more pressure than ever to fill roles. Every day that passes without a position being filled is a day of inefficiency for the company — and it can take months to get a position filled. Given this pressure, it’s important for recruiters to balance speed with making a great first impression on candidates.

Top Talent Requires Engagement

When you approach top talent, they know that it’s a buyer’s market out there for positions.

Candidates don’t have time to waste with an employer who takes too long to hire, doesn’t communicate, or gives a disorganized first impression. Even a rejected candidate can still feel respected and positive about not getting a role if it’s done in the right way. A negative recruiting experience can spread throughout an industry really quickly thanks to social media and job boards. Enough stories about poor communication, long pipelines, or even perceived bias will make top talent shy away from applying to a position in the first place. Worse, it can even decrease revenue. Candidates who are rejected poorly may also stop being your customer.

Technology Steps In

How can recruiters juggle the needs of the business with the consequences of irking the candidate pool? It’s a tough challenge. Burnout is a real problem in the recruiting industry. Fortunately, there are new technologies that recruiters can leverage to ease the stress of their roles and become more efficient.

Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) — which gives machines the ability to perform “human-like” tasks — hiring managers can achieve high levels of candidate engagement without compromising their ability to choose the best candidates or creating a longer time-to-hire. AI-powered recruiting assistants allow hiring managers to do tasks like:

  • Automate high-volume, repetitive tasks like calendar scheduling and conference room booking (these take up to 20% of a recruiter’s time.)
  • Ensure accuracy, consistent communication, and reduce human error (AI can handle re-scheduling and multi-day interviews.)
  • Manage candidate evaluations and reduce time-in-pipeline.
  • Reduce time-to-hire and cost-per-hire, ultimately driving a competitive advantage because it gets talent in their roles and working on projects faster.

How AI Solves The Problems Of Candidate Engagement

Candidates want timely communication about where they are in the hiring pipeline, what the next steps are, and  if they are still under consideration for a role. Recruiters can provide this information, but fielding these calls is a real chore. By automating follow-ups, AI-powered recruitment tools ensure consistent, timely, and accurate communication. This keeps the interview process running efficiently, ultimately reducing time-in-pipeline by up to 78% and reducing time-to-hire by 51%.

AI is a major competitive advantage, as lost revenue from open positions can be recovered faster and employee morale will also rise thanks to the extra help from new staff.

Using AI to assist with candidate engagement is a win for everyone. It also means that AI will soon be an essential tool for companies that want to retain their edge in the war for talent. Companies that create better candidate experiences will attract a higher level of talent and have the ability to quickly process all candidates to find the best ones for the job. So, don’t leave candidates sitting by the phone or their in-box waiting for a response. Investigate how you can improve candidate engagement and how you can leverage technologies like AI to help.


Deepti Yenireddy is the Founder and CEO of My Ally, the makers of Alex, an AI recruiting assistant. Prior to starting My Ally, Yenireddy was an investor at USGT Investors and Oppenheimer Funds. Yenireddy, who began her career as a Petrophysicist and Field Engineer at Shell and Schlumberger, studied Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and resides in San Jose.