How to Use a Customer Service Mindset in Recruiting


Last month, a client of mine was interviewed for a VP-level position with a reputable organization. She spent hours completing the employment application and several more hours preparing for the interview, which included giving a professional presentation to a panel of interviewers. After the interview, one interviewer told her that if she didn’t hear back in two weeks to just assume she didn’t get the job. They were only planning to call the candidate they offered the job to and no one else. Similarly, a friend of mine recently interviewed for her dream job with a large employer. She was interviewed by a panel of professionals including the CEO, the HR Director, and several other employees. They told her they’d get back to her on Friday.  That was several Fridays ago, and she still hasn’t heard back. 

What if these two applicants, my client and my friend, were customers of these companies? Would the company have treated them differently by quickly getting back to them? What’s the impact of treating applicants this way?

Research shows that dissatisfied customers are more likely to tell more people about their bad experience with a company than a good experience. I believe it’s the same for applicants- they’re more likely to tell others about their negative experiences than the positive ones. The impact is that a greater number of people have a negative perception of working for the company. Because of that negative perception, people may forgo applying for a job with the company in the future. In a time of increased job openings and difficulty finding qualified staff, employers cannot afford to have a bad reputation among job applicants.

It sounds so simple but applying a basic “customer service mindset” to the company’s recruitment process is one of the most effective ways to attract quality employees. 

By using a “customer service mindset” the company effectively provides a quality recruitment “service” to applicants (aka customers). The goal is to establish a quality customer experience in order to attract and retain the most qualified employees.

I recently saw a post online contemplating the traditional phrase “hire slow, fire fast.” It got me thinking how outdated this phrase was. In a time where companies are competing for top talent, a key recruitment “competitive advantage” is a company that moves quickly with hiring. Companies don’t have to forgo quality for efficiency either. Just like with any product or service, a process can be designed to capture both quality and speed.

Here are a few ways employers can apply a “customer service mindset” to their recruitment process:

#2- Make Your Recruitment Process Visual

#2- Make Your Recruitment Process Visual

  1. Gather Feedback– Getting feedback from newly hired employees is critical with determining where the recruitment and hiring processes need improvement. Ask newly hired employees what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what they would recommend changing to improve the quality and efficiency of the recruitment process. To get an even clearer picture of what’s going on, I also recommend giving a survey to applicants who are not employees of the company. Applicants are likely to be even more candid with their feedback.

  2. Make Your Process Visual – Just like with a manufacturing process, it’s important to visually draw your recruitment process. My favorite way to do this is with markers on a white board. I draw each step, along with timelines so I can identify any duplicate work or inefficiencies. Our brains process pictures differently than we do the written word, thus making issues more glaring to us when see them in picture-form.

  3. Make Following Up a Priority – This means following up with each and every applicant. For applicants who have interviewed, I recommend personally calling them. Applicants put a great deal of time into applying and interviewing for jobs. If an applicant has made it to the interview round, they deserve at least a phone call thanking them for their time and letting them know they were not selected.

  4. Be Transparent – Give applicants all of the information they need in the job posting to determine whether or not they want to apply for the job. This includes benefits, pay range, work location, and reporting structure. Just like we would with a customer, we want to make sure the applicant has all of the pertinent information so they can make the best decision for themselves. Plus this saves us time in that applicants will self-select out prior to applying if the job does not meet their criteria.

  5. Use a Marketing Strategy– Applying traditional sales and marketing strategies can make your job postings and your company stand out to qualified applicants. This includes using employee testimonials, such as employee videos or pictures with quotes on your website. I also recommend what I call “benefits-forward” advertising. Tell applicants all of the great things about working for your organization in your job postings. Include both traditional (medical, dental, vision, vacation, etc.) and non-traditional benefits (the mission/vision/values, work-from-home programs, flexible scheduling, office location, etc.) in the job posting and on the company’s website.

  6. Set Expectations – Tell candidates how your recruitment process works and how long it takes in order to set realistic expectations. This is especially important for complex recruitment processes that require several steps, such as multiple interviews and a background check. A great way to do this is to visually outline the process with timelines on the company’s website.


Do you need help with recruiting?

With over 15 years of hiring experience, I take the hassle out of recruitment for you by:

  • Creating a recruitment strategy unique to your company and the job 

  • Advertising the job and finding and networking with qualified candidates

  • Reviewing applications, phone screening top applicants, and scheduling in-person interviews

  • Creating unique discussion-oriented interview questions

  • Checking references and facilitating the job offer process

Contact me at: or (208)-819-2341 for a complementary strategy session.


Skye Mercer, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

HR Consultant / Career Coach


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Skye Mercer