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3 rules for creating a candidate-first hiring process

Apr 15, 2021 - 8 min read
Joshua Ahn

When it comes to creating a successful business, it boils down to the talents and gifts available on the team. As Steve Jobs once said, “The secret to my success is that we’ve gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” Finding talent is no easy task and finding talented software developers adds another layer of difficulty. A 2018 survey from Jobvite revealed that 74% of recruiters believed hiring great candidates will become more competitive, and 73% of employers believed that skilled candidates are scarce.

You might be asking yourself, “How do I find a talented candidate and keep them on my team?”. The first step you want to take is developing a candidate-first hiring process. In doing so, you set up your hiring process to improve retention rates, promote your company culture, and develop cost-effective strategies.

Before we start, I want to make sure we’re on the same page and refer to various stages of a typical candidate journey. Those steps are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Interest
  4. Application
  5. Selection
  6. Hire
  7. Onboarding

Whether you’re in the process of building or refining your hiring process, here are three rules to consider when creating a successful candidate-first hiring process that we will discuss today.

Our three rules:

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Catered Experience

When creating a candidate-first hiring process, a catered experience gives the candidate a smooth and efficient hiring process. Recall a time you had an amazing dine-in experience. From start to finish, you felt that the venue impressed you each step of the way, and you left feeling encouraged to return. Similarly, a candidate-first hiring process will entice a candidate to join your team in the present or future.

Start with the job description

The job description should include essential qualifications starting from day one and the desired characteristics in a separate section. This extra clarification creates transparency between your company and the candidate while avoiding future miscommunications about job responsibilities.

The job description should also help to establish trust with the candidate. One way to do so is by including perks and benefits upfront. Surveys have shown that the freedom to work remotely topped the list for perks and benefits. Finding ways to communicate these benefits earlier helps candidates feel catered to and sets a strong foundation for the rest of the hiring process.

Create individualized workflow

Once your candidate has gone through the application step, the goal here is to send them through the rest of the hiring process specialized for their qualifications. An individualized hiring process will signal that you value the candidate’s time and acknowledge their unique background.

As an example, consider the following qualities of your candidate when developing catered workflows: source and level of experience. You can cater various workflows to these factors, saving your team resources while communicating care for a candidate’s needs.

Each workflow can be flexible but should represent different scenarios to capture your candidates’ broadest range of needs. Let’s walk through some sample workflow models to get you started.

Workflow 1:


  • Create a cohort of quality and invested entry-level candidates to pull from
  • Communicate a desire to invest in growth & development of candidates


  1. Completion of application
  2. Coding assessment
  3. Phone screening with recruiter
  4. Phone screening with hiring manager
  5. Interview with team members and hiring managers
  6. Selection of candidate
  7. Onboarding with multiple L&D opportunities

Workflow 2:


  • Get candidates excited about the company early on in the process
  • Efficient process for candidates
  • Create early opportunities for candidate to evaluate culture fit


  1. Completion of application
  2. Phone screening with hiring manager
  3. Coding assessment
  4. Interview with team members and hiring managers
  5. Selection of candidate
  6. Onboarding with L&D opportunities

Workflow 3:


  • Get candidates excited about the company culture and product
  • Communicate a desire to get candidate integrated with the team
  • A more efficient process for candidates with less time spent on knowledge assessments


  1. Completion of application
  2. Phone screening with hiring manager and recruiter
  3. Assessment
  4. Interview with team members and hiring managers
  5. Selection of candidate
  6. Onboarding with multiple team-bonding opportunities

Mission & Goal Oriented

It’s no surprise that 46% of job seekers say that company culture is essential to choosing their job. Part of creating company culture involves developing a mission-minded and goal-oriented brand. Giving candidates a sense of purpose with their future work helps with retention and unifies candidates with the rest of the team.

During the hiring process, find various opportunities to promote your company culture and values while also listening to your candidate’s aspirations. Understanding and meeting the goals of each candidate can further showcase your brand reputation. Creating a mission-minded, goal-oriented hiring process shows that you place your candidate’s needs as a priority. This gives your candidate a well-defined purpose to work for your company.

Define the company mission

The goal here is to develop a lasting impression to generate interest throughout your hiring process. You want your candidate to feel they are joining a company whose endeavors capture a larger vision.

  • In whatever form of awareness, provide accessible links in your job description to your company mission and values to guide candidates through their interest phase.
  • As they move past the application phase and enter the selection process, use screening and interview questions to communicate your company mission and to see if a candidate aligns with it.

Know the candidate’s goals

A 2019 study by Codility found that 55% of developers believe professional development is the most crucial factor when choosing an employer. No matter your candidate’s level, establish a common understanding that your company will find ways for the candidate to advance professionally. Here are some ways to set yourself up as an advocate for your candidate’s goals:

  • Provide time to listen to your candidates’ short-term and long-term goals.
  • Give specific opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Share some specific examples of progress within your team.

Try applying these practices during the screening, interview, or onboarding portion of the hiring process.

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Close Communication

Efficient and clear communication sets the foundation for any successful organization. Surveys from HackerRank have shown that 68% of developers become turned off from employers when there is a lack of clarity, while 54% despise slow or lack of follow-up.

Close communication keeps the candidate in sync with the hiring manager, opens avenues for clarification questions, and sets a precedent for what communication looks like in the company. Let’s take a look at what close communication looks like across a candidate-first hiring process.


During the selection process, give the candidate a close point of contact. This role can fall in the recruiter’s hands. Consider placing yourself as a resource for the candidate during this process. Giving the candidate a direct line of communication can speed up questions and sets up a strong foundation for natural connections. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • After sending a work assessment, send a message to the candidate asking if they have any questions and open the door for any future queries.

  • Before interviews, send a quick email asking the candidate if they have any questions.

  • After interviews, send a quick email asking if the candidate has any feedback for the interview experience.

Wrapping up

Creating a successful team can feel like a daunting task, and finding suitable candidates to make up your team can feel exhausting. In review, build your hiring process by keeping these 3 rules in mind:

  • Catered Experience
  • Mission & Goal Oriented
  • Close Communication

By creating a candidate-first hiring process, you open the door to giving the best interview experience for potential candidates and develop a reputation for your company brand. As your candidate converts to becoming a team member, they will start off feeling more connected with the team and build off mutual trust from the hiring process. Even if you’re unable to convert the candidate, the opinion of one candidate’s experience might influence another candidate’s decision in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about what Educative can do to support your team, please contact Educative for Business. Our best-in-class technical courses can equip you and your team with the knowledge needed to meet your goals and stay connected.

Happy learning!


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