The hiring process can be tricky. It can take forever and a day to screen through that never-ending pile of résumés. But once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential candidates ready for interviews, do things really get easier from there?
Whether you’re down to 50 applicants or a small selection of 2 or 3, inviting a candidate to an interview requires careful thought and planning in order to hire the best candidate. You don’t want to sound too pushy, impersonal or robotic, and you want to make sure you’re representing your organization as professionally as possible.
We are here to give you a roadmap of this process, with some great tips, some email and phone templates, and a useful checklist that will help you professionally and genuinely invite a candidate for an interview.
How to invite a candidate to an interview
Determining “how” to invite the candidate to an interview boils down to two main options: by e-mail or by phone. To help you through this process, we’ve done most of the legwork for you in our evaluation, now just find the option that most closely fits in with your culture and you’re set!
By far the most preferred method of inviting a candidate for an interview, and for good reason, is the email invite. This request allows for personalization while still respecting the boundaries of your candidate, as most millennials prefer emails. If they are currently still employed, and often, the best candidates are, an email allows them the ability to read at their convenience, while not infringing upon their current job.
A carefully crafted email invite provides both the necessary information to the candidate and a paper trail of documentation all in one. Keeping track of discussions with candidates is critical in today’s recruiting culture to ensure proper procedures were followed and to avoid bias. Having as much information documented with a paper trail can further assist in protecting you in this process.
Avoiding confusion is imperative when reaching out to candidates. Often, they are applying to more than just your job posting, so providing them a clearly laid out email gives them the opportunity to refer back to it often and avoids any misunderstandings. Keep the email short, but ensure your excitement is still palpable to the applicant, review the template provided below for an example.
Should a phone call invite seem more in-line with your company’s culture, you could call a candidate with an interview invitation. Be sure you are calling the right number, that your surroundings are quiet, and that you have all the correct information to review with the candidate, practicing good telephone etiquette will be critical!
After the initial conversation and invite is extended, be sure to take the time at the end of the call to summarize key points. Re-confirm things, like the location, the day and time, duration of the interview and what the candidate should bring (if anything).
While best practice would recommend following up with an email that details these items in writing, verbally reviewing them at the end of the call is still good to do when inviting a candidate for an interview by phone.
Tips for inviting a candidate to an interview
By now you’ve most likely picked which side you’re on, either team email invite or team phone invite. Whichever side you landed on, let's go over a few tips that will help you along the way.
1. Pick your timing wisely
What we mean is: know the right time to contact the candidate. This is especially important with phone call invitations. If the candidate is currently employed, they might feel uncomfortable answering your call in front of colleagues or, worse, their boss. While you want to schedule the interview as soon as possible when you find the best candidate, you also want that candidate to be prepared for the job interview, and a workplace phone invitation might be a bit overwhelming.
Some recruiters choose to communicate through email, especially when headhunting candidates. Timing is less relevant in this case, as candidates can check emails discreetly (regardless of their environment), read them in their own time and provide proper replies.
2. Make it personal
The candidate may have applied for other positions simultaneously, so they’ll want to know which exact job application you’re referring to and for what company. Or perhaps, at this point, their interaction with your organization has been strictly through external recruitment methods — it’s time to bridge that gap! Tailor your invitation to the specific person being invited for an interview and clearly indicate the title of the position that the interview is for.
You should mention specific and personal items to this interview, such as what kind of interview the candidate should prepare for, what topics will be covered during the interview, how long the interview process should take, and if it’s going to be a one-on-one or panel interview.
3. Be flexible
Most job applicants are already employed, which means they could work a full-time shift. In other words, it might be difficult for them to simply leave work to come to the interview or even accept a Skype interview. In this case, for one-on-one interviews, try be as flexible as possible and let candidates pick the time that best fits their current needs, hopefully avoiding the need to reschedule the interview.
To streamline the process, it’s easiest to provide the candidate various dates and times to choose from initially, in the rare occasion that none of those are acceptable to the candidate, they will reach out further.
4. Be specific
You want the interview process to be as straightforward as possible, just like when creating your ideal candidate profile, you need to be specific and clear, and inviting a candidate to the interview is no exception. For example, your job description might specify if you want someone to work remotely or strictly in office. Specifics can help your company portray their personality and their organization skills.
Avoid delays that prevent the candidate from getting lost physically or mentally by giving detailed instructions in your invite, too. Be sure to include the position, location (video interview or in person), time, interview attendees, structure and length, any necessary items required for the interview, pre-employment test requirements, and your detailed contact information. Provide the candidate with all the items necessary to succeed in the interview, after-all, you want them to be successful!
5. Be friendly yet professional
Lastly, it is important to bear in mind your tone when inviting candidates to interview. Not only should you sound polite, approachable and professional, but also maintain a voice that positively reflects the company and that sets the mood of the interview itself.
- Keep it light, friendly and conversational: Avoid sounding too direct, serious or robotic.
- Use a voice that reflects your company’s personality: Refer to your social media posts or advertising materials to mirror the company image.
- Sound welcoming and upbeat: Make candidates feel excited to be interviewed and appreciated for their skills.
Remember, waiting for an interview invitation can be nerve-wracking for candidates, especially because only 1 in 7 applicants make it to the actual interview. When they finally hear from you, they’ll want to feel as relaxed, excited and as confident for the interview as possible. This alone can all come down to the way you sound in your email or phone call.
If you haven’t been successful in writing an invitation email from scratch, or if you’re stuck on what to say during a phone call, consider these templates to help you on your way.
Email invitation template
Phone script invitation template
Interview invitation checklist
You’ve done all the hard stuff at this point! You’ve selected an invitation method that best supports your organization and utilized our tips and templates to make the invite amazing, now it’s time for a checklist for you to refer back to during the invitation process. Ensure your interview invitation includes these necessary items:
As you can see, inviting candidates to an interview needs special attention. Remember to:
- Select your invitation method.
- Make it personal.
- Give lots of detail.
- Use a template.
With these tips, inviting a candidate for an interview should feel less overwhelming for both you and the applicant!
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 26 October 2019 and contains contributions by staff writer Shalie Reich.