Talent Acquisition

Candidate Engagement Should Begin Before Recruiting

Most companies I work with understand the importance of employee engagement and the impact that it brings to their business.

But despite that, 70% of employees surveyed in a Gallup report described themselves as neutral of “actively disengaged”. This means they are willing to jump ship anytime, or worse, willing to do damage to their company. And we all know the pain that comes with poor employee engagement, which includes things like lower productivity, profits, quality of work and growth.

It is safe to assume that companies with more disengaged employees will tend to have lower operating profit. Not to mention the higher attrition rate which takes time away from other strategic HR work.

Bringing engagement to pre-employment phase

Most companies prioritise engagement on the employees in their company. They shower perks, offer Instagram-friendly onboarding gift packages and an amazing pantry. Companies like Salesforce provide an amazing gift hamper to their new employees on the first day of the job. With full transparency in the social media era, how do you match up with what other companies are doing? A Ferrari for every new employee is going to hit the bottom line really hard.

Instead of trying to out beat your competitions in giving freebies, perhaps a different approach might help to stand out better. A great alternative (or complement) is to engage candidates before they were recruited. One simple way is to use the concept of real-time online chat.

Why real-time online chats work

There a few reasons why this is a good consideration:

  1. Many candidates have hundreds of questions about the role and the company. This is especially true for new graduates who are often hurriedly ushered into any available openings to fulfill the placement KPIs of the university career services department. But if it isn’t what the candidates want, replacements are almost guaranteed.
  2. It is much more inexpensive than doing it in the traditional way, where you need to provide a room, food & beverages and getting everyone to travel to your premises.
  3. Because it is done in a group chat setting, there might be questions asked by others which might be relevant but didn’t occur to the individual. More could be addressed and this would shorten the recruitment cycle.

Today’s technology makes it really easy to implement something like this which would have cost an arm and a leg a few years ago.

Vodafone UK, for instance, is using a tool called Meet and Engage exactly for this purpose – to keep candidates engaged before assessment and other key areas of the recruitment process. They are also able to host specific chats around different groups, e.g. female STEM graduates at key universities.

The result? They experienced, on average, an attendance rate of 25 attendees per chat with an overall positive sentiment score of 164. The immediate success was measured by the candidate’s comments proving that there is certainly an appetite for live chat sessions where conversations are transparent and relevant.

For organisation like Virgin Media, the sheer volume of graduate applicants make it extremely difficult to maintain positive candidate experience for every unique individual. Which is why they also turn to live web chats with recruiters to manage their volume recruitment better.


With engagement ranked as one of the top 4 trends which Deloitte identified in their Global Human Capital Trends survey, it is something companies need to step up and start interfacing with candidates. And a great and unique way to start is once interest is identified and not wait for until the CV arrives. It not only helps to spread the brand name of the company, it might prevent disgruntled keyboard warriors from entering things you rather not want them to on to Glassdoor.

By Adrian Tan

Adrian is the Regional Leader of Client Solutioning for PeopleStrong, an open enterprise HRIS platform.

He has over 15 years of HR experience over recruitment, outplacement and HR consultancy.

A fervert writer, he writes about HR tech in Singapore at