I’m sure you’ve heard about the public relations challenge recently faced by Skip the Dishes, the successful food delivery company based in Winnipeg. It was reported that a young applicant was turned down for a second interview because she asked a question about compensation and benefits. The remarks made by the human resource manager suggested that talking about compensation so early in the recruitment process was deemed inappropriate and thus the candidacy opportunity was halted. Now of course, since the candidate posted her dilemma on the internet, Skip the Dishes is scrambling to recover its tarnished public image.

However, this incident is just one of the many candidates encounter and should be a signal to all employers. Recruitment is all about public relations. In other words, how you treat candidates during your search process leaves an impression….good or bad. While I agree that search consultants and/or corporate recruiters rarely send out a thank-you letter for submitting a resume anymore but there are many other opportunities to connect with a candidate and make a good first and lasting impression.

One of the most important elements of the job interview process is to be fully knowledgeable about the job you are recruiting for. Be sure to have all the details about the job so that you can answer all the questions that you as interviewer might be asked. This includes reporting structures, team makeup, whether this is a new job and/or if a vacancy is being replaced. Be prepared to discuss some of the challenges the individual may experience and if there is travel involved. The key thing here is to be absolutely honest. There is nothing more challenging at this stage than misrepresenting a job, the supervisor’s leadership style and the work environment. People appreciate honesty so that they can make their own decision.

Share the full job description prior to the interview. Contact them to provide information on the where, when of the interview, what they can expect and who they will be meeting with. Then, be sure to Interview candidates at the workplace when possible. For finalist candidates, find a way to show them their potential workspace, even meeting potential colleagues ahead of time. Keep in mind candidates are assessing your company just as much as you are assessing their skills and abilities. Be sure that your interview room will not be interrupted, turn your own phone off and pay attention to the communication.

Prepare your questions and ensure they related directly to the job - ask the right questions for the right reasons. Typically, the best style of questions include the behavioural interview framework where candidates are asked to describe their experience in certain situations.

Out of politeness, ask permission from the individual to write notes in their presence. Wait until the interview is completed to complete any scoring as it is inappropriate to do this in full view of the individual candidate.

Another important step in the interview process is to make sure you have enough time between candidates. There is nothing more embarrassing than bumping into other candidates as they arrive and/or leave. Arrange to have the receptionist escort candidates to a private space.

Be sure staff are keeping in touch with the candidate throughout the recruitment process. This is especially challenging when candidates are waiting for a response yet you can’t inform them of any decisions. Be sure to be polite and confirm that you will give them a call once a decision has been made. At the same time, it is important to call candidates who are not successful. Be open and honest with them regarding their candidacy, keeping in mind that they will often enter other competitions for your organization.

Overall, recruitment is a great public relations opportunity and as evidenced by the Skip the Dishes challenge, it is also one that can quickly take the shine off your reputation.