At first glance texting and interviewing candidates seems to go together as well as ketchup and lobster. But if you think about it just a minute, texting with job seekers has a lot of potential for human resources.
First of all, most of the people you're interviewing today love texting. Texting is the most widely used app on a smartphone. 97 percent of Americans use it at least once a day, and 75 percent of Millennials would rather give up the ability to talk on their smartphones than the ability to text. So why not embrace the medium that so many candidates are using?
The strategy seems like a no-brainer. Texting solves one of the biggest challenges recruiters and managers face—getting to speak with a candidate. Because most Millennials and Gen Zers don't check their voice mail, texting circumvents the frustrating game of phone tag. Email is still a go-to option, of course, but texting overcomes the time delay of email—90 percent of text messages are read within 3 minutes.
If texting is so effective, why not take it a step further and replace phone interview screening with a series of texts? Let's explore a few benefits and drawbacks of texting before, during and after an interview.
Ease of Scheduling
Most job seekers carry their mobile phones with them 24/7. With near instant response times, the traditional game of phone-email-voice mail tag is over before it begins. Of course you should be mindful of when you send messages: according to Software Advice, a tech firm that compares talent management systems, 24 percent of job seekers find it inappropriate for a recruiter to contact them outside of business hours. But unlike phone conversations, text interviews can't be overheard so it's more likely to generate at least an acknowledgement.
Less Opportunity for Bias
Unconscious bias is a huge and growing problem for companies. Studies show that many judgments made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could predict the outcome. What's more, most of these first impressions are often useless. Text interviewing could be another form of blind hiring to ensure discrimination is avoided at the earlier screening stages. The downside of this, of course, is that it eliminates the human element, which is an important part of establishing a relationship with a candidate during any interview process.
Insight into Communication Skills
One of the biggest criticisms companies have about employees today is their inability to communicate, especially in writing. While it's fair to say that text messages are a far cry from most business writing, you will get to see a candidate's style and professionalism using an informal medium. If their texts are loaded with emoticons, misspellings and abbreviations this might not be the best sign. But keep in mind it is hard to convey nuance and subtleties over text message, so some texts might get "lost in translation".
You don't need new equipment, and little if any training is needed for texting. In addition, texting saves time — one of the things recruiters don't have enough of (the other is, of course, qualified candidates). At the same time, if your employees are using their personal devices to text candidates, you need to have the infrastructure in place to support a "bring your own device" policy in order to protect the company from security risks.
Improved Employer Brand
Texting is one of the simplest ways to boost a company's image with little if any investment. It's difficult to make an interview memorable and give the impression your company is responsive, and maybe even a cool place to work. What better way to engage applicants quickly, embrace the mobile platform and create a good first impression? Just remember that striking a balance is important—while text messaging is increasingly considered professional, research has shown that the majority of candidates still prefer to be contacted via phone and email.
Have you tried texting candidates? I'm curious to hear how it went — fill out my survey if you're interested in sharing your experience!
Photo: Creative Commons