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5 ways Gen Z thinks you can improve your interview process

Ever wonder how to prevent “ghosting?” Take a good look at your interview process.

You've had a job rec open for a month and candidates are falling out of the funnel. Your business unit's VP is asking you about pipeline, and you don't have an update. Well, you had a couple strong candidates, but now...nothing. They ghosted you.

Was it you? Or was it your interview process?

We surveyed students and recent grads about how they think employers could improve their interview processes. The results?

Read on for 5 factors that can improve the interview process for early talent job seekers.

1. Involve a variety of interviewers

75% of Gen Z survey respondents said they value the opportunity to meet directly with employees from the team they’ll work with

According to Handshake data, Gen Zers prefer to speak with hiring managers, employees, or alumni in the same role they’re interested in. This also benefits you and your team, as you’ll get a better sense of how candidates interact in different situations.

Involve a mix of people on the team or throughout the organization to expose early talent to day-to-day culture and collaboration. For example, early talent job seekers of color are 2.1x more likely to reach out to an alumni they didn’t previously know for career advice or support. By helping to forge those connections, you’re increasing access to opportunity for underrepresented groups.

Get 5 steps for creating and scaling a more meaningful candidate experience with an advocates program

2. Create a 2 weeks-or-less interview process

Over 70% of respondents ranked a quick interview process (2 weeks or less) as a factor that could improve their experience

One way for you to show that your brand is agile and attractive to early talent is to stand out with speed. This is particularly true if you’re recruiting tech talent—who, as you know, are highly sought after by every industry.

One reason that ghosting sometimes happens is a candidate will accept another offer because they don’t know when to expect a decision. Set expectations up front about how long it typically takes to move through the interview process, and try to keep it to 2 weeks or less to attract Gen Zers. If the candidate is a really strong one (who you think will have competing offers), stay in tight communication and try to speed things up.

Ensuring that candidate follow up is a step in your short interview process can help you seal the deal with top candidates. In addition, you’ll have a more predictable timeline to proactively update your team on where you are in the hiring process and what actions you need to take to close the role.

3. Ask team leadership to participate

63% of respondents said they’d like the opportunity to meet with a team leader while interviewing

Gen Z is looking for leadership that is accessible, transparent, and representative. Handshake Network Trends found that 65% of women early talent job seekers are looking for women in leadership roles. A team leader can be a huge champion for both the candidate and for your employer! Plus, it’ll be easier for you and the hiring manager to secure leadership buy-in from the start, rather than have to chase it down at the end.

Leverage your leaders to show how your company invests in the career progression of early talent, showcase how your brand lives your vision and values, and answer questions about their own career trajectories.

4. Clearly communicate throughout the process

Nearly 60% said clear communication from the recruiter or coordinator would improve their interview experience

We all know that interviews are mutual, and clear communication is at the core of all relationship building. Although early talent is new to internship and job searching, they’re looking for red flags as well as “green flags” that will make them want to see the interview process through.

While students will appreciate transparency into next steps, encourage Gen Zers to ask questions of you, too—like how to best prepare for interviews at each step of the process. Take it as a sign that they’re interested in your company and role. Megan Malcolm, an Early Career Recruiter at Handshake, says, “I love when I see this type of engagement from candidates!”

5. Provide feedback from the hiring manager

46% of respondents said that receiving feedback from the direct hiring manager is a factor

Stand apart from other companies that Gen Zers are interviewing with by providing feedback. Feedback as a touchpoint is so impactful for early talent to learn, grow, and land a job—hopefully at your company!

You can let candidates know that you’ve set aside a few minutes at the end of interviews to give live feedback. This approach creates a consistent, and more equitable, candidate experience. For example, feedback that can be very helpful as early talent polishes their interview skills is that they should tighten up their responses, and confirm if they’ve fully answered the question.

Upskill both hiring managers and job seekers by hosting mock interviews. Hiring managers can polish how they offer feedback, and early career job seekers can practice receiving feedback!

Incorporating feedback into each interview also gives you an idea of a candidate’s growth mindset and communication style, and if they implement the feedback during next steps—you’ll get a stronger signal on the candidate. If they move forward, they have better expectations for next steps or the role itself. If they don’t, then your team helped set them up for success in their search—and that is absolutely part of democratizing access to opportunity.

Be known for your 🔥 interview process

Create an interview process where hiring managers, team members and leaders all feel responsible for supporting early talent’s transition into their careers.

In fact, 86% of Gen Z survey respondents want to remain engaged leading up to their start date. Three in 4 said they want to stay in touch with their hiring manager over email, 2 in 3 say they want to form connections with current employees, and over half say they want attend new hire events.

So go the extra mile by extending the interview process seamlessly into the onboarding experience, and help students and recent grads get ready and excited that they picked you!

Are you looking for additional ways you can engage early talent candidates throughout the recruiting process? Get tips for crafting an interview process that's empathetic to early talent—including questions to anticipate, how to be transparent about requirements, and more.

Handshake internal study, July 2022; n= 1,593

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