Make a Lasting Brand Impression During the Pre-Interview Phase

One of the main goals during the pre-interview phase is to narrow your list of candidates down to a smaller list of the candidates you absolutely want to interview. Ideally, the questions you ask will help you get the insight you need.

But once you arrive at your list, what happens to the candidates who almost made the list?

Let’s say you sent out your pre-interview questionnaire via your applicant tracking system to 10 top applicants. A week later, you’ve narrowed the list down to 3 candidates to bring in for interviews. Should you simply forget about the other 7 candidates? It’s possible that a few of them will have made a strong impression on you. Therefore, you can use this opportunity to cultivate a connection that might support your company going forward.

These days, great job candidates can be difficult to come by.

As we wrote previously, today’s hiring environment is one of the most competitive we’ve seen in decades, and job seekers have more options—and greater control—than they’ve had in a while. The unemployment rate continues to hover at 4.1%, while the “quit rate” remains on the rise. Translation: top candidates can see greener pastures almost everywhere they look, and many have the luxury of keeping their current job before deciding to hop the fence.

If your company is in growth mode, is pivoting in one direction or the other, or just wants to keep good candidates close, then you most likely want to leave a positive impression on all the candidates.

It’s possible that you’ll decide to reach out to these candidates directly when a new opportunity opens up. But that may not even be the most important reason to keep them close. We’re in an era when the line between a company’s consumer and employer brand is as thin as ever. Having come close to landing an interview with you, these candidates are in a unique position to become advocates of your employer brand, whether that means they’ll express their thanks via social media, or provide a positive ranking on a site like Glassdoor.


There’s never a “wrong time” to emphasize your employer brand. A solid pre-interview strategy can help you leave a positive impression on the job candidates you’d like to stay in touch with. Read our recent Spotlight, “Setting Up Your Pre-Interview Strategy,” for tips on setting up and following through on a pre-interview strategy that is positive and powerful for both you and for job candidates.

Download the Report


When you’re ready to break the news to these candidates, keep your tone and timing in mind as you construct and share the message:

  1.  Make it personable

If you’re using your applicant tracking system to communicate with candidates, then there’s a chance that you’ve sent plenty of stock messages out to job seekers at nearly every step of the process—from auto-replies after applications entered your system, to the “we’ve narrowed our search down to other candidates” message that went out to your No list. When you’re communicating with top candidates, consider striking a more personal tone. After all, they were most likely excited to make it through the first few rounds of resume review, and get that much closer to an interview.

Complimenting a job candidate on something can leave the door open for future connections. Perhaps you want to mention something about their experience that stands out on their resume, or how thoroughly they answered your pre-interview questions. Calling something out in a reply note can set the stage for creating a strong brand advocate who speaks positively about your company and their experience. Just be sure that doing so is within compliance.

  1. Avoid a disappearing act.

As you wrap up your pre-interview phase, do your best not to leave candidates wondering about their status. After the excitement of learning that they reached the pre-interview phase, your top job candidates might get frustrated if the communication suddenly stops, or if they get stuck wondering whether or not they’re moving to the interview stage.

Many hiring managers and HR leads follow a simple rule at this point: treat candidates like customers. In other words, let them know where they stand as soon as possible. Or, if the process is taking longer than you originally planned, send a quick note to let them know. Remember: when it’s time to break the news, an honest answer is better than no answer at all. That way, your top candidates can move forward with other opportunities.


Within your larger recruiting picture, everything you do could affect candidate perception and impact your employer brand. Contact a myStaffingPro representative to learn more about how our applicant tracking system works with your employer brand throughout every stage of your hiring workflow.

Contact myStaffingPro