Hiring Manager’s Guide to Improving Employee Engagement from Interview to Preboarding

Improving candidate engagement during the interview stage is the first step to securing the right person for your vacancy.

Too often, employers forget the candidate-driven nature of the current recruitment landscape, assuming that candidates will simply say ‘yes’ if they are presented with a job offer.

This is not the reality. Candidates have more choice and factors they consider than ever when it comes to deciding their next career move. It’s a competitive process, where companies are battling against one another to secure the best talent, meaning those that want to get ahead have invested a significant amount of time and energy into improving their remuneration package, EVP (Employee Value Proposition) and hiring processes.

If a candidate is not compelled by your offer, they can easily go elsewhere. But before the offer stage has even commenced, candidates need to feel engaged with the opportunity at hand, and this all starts with their experience from the interview.

Drawing on three decades of experience in real estate recruitment, we’ve witnessed situations first-hand where hiring managers have failed to engage prospective candidates and consequently received negative feedback as a result. This not only tarnishes your company reputation as candidates often speak about their interview experiences, but also means you’re less likely to attract the right type of candidate.

In this blog, we’re sharing some employee engagement strategies with insight from our recruitment consultants to highlight how engagement impacts successful candidate placement.

Why Improving Employee Engagement Can Boost Your Company Reputation

Candidates often share their interview experiences with one another, highlighting which companies did and did not provide a good interview experience.

Real estate in particular is a tight-knit sector, with many professionals already knowing one another as a result of their experience or network. This makes it very easy for them to share information about different employers, both good and bad, with the aim of helping people make informed decisions about moving jobs.

This makes it incredibly important for employers to maintain a positive reputation as this helps them attract desirable candidates through word of mouth referrals.

“Candidates essentially give employers a rating. They might rate them out of 5 for their interview process, clarity of role expectations, and communication, thereby helping them make a decision when it comes to figuring out their next role.”

If this rating is low and they share their experience long after the interview (perhaps years after), the likelihood of people applying for future roles at that company is reduced.

Key Messages for Hiring Managers to Improve Employee Engagement

Throughout the interview, it’s the responsibility of the hiring manager to communicate the full breadth of the opportunity.

This goes beyond the basic job description and salary as candidates might have already seen these details on the job advertisement. Whilst they are important, the purpose of the interview from the candidates perspective is to get a better understanding of the wider picture.

This extends beyond their pay; they want to learn more about the company and the broader package, as this is what truly excites them about the role. Getting paid is a given, and something they would receive at any company they applied for, but what sets you apart is what you can offer them in terms of growth opportunities, showcasing the company culture, and unique benefits. Demonstrating how your company invests in its employees’ development and well-being, for example, will make your offer stand out.

Our salary survey report gives hiring managers this insight, referencing over 15,000 salaries and over 3500 survey respondents worldwide.

The table below outlines what real estate professionals value when seeking a new job role, filtered by the level of seniority.

value factors table for employee engagement

The data shows that even before bonus potential, candidates are carefully considering the company’s reputation, values and if they will be a good cultural fit into your team. This is notably most important for senior to board-level candidates.

This information is vital for hiring managers, as these factors should be clearly communicated during the interview process.

Understanding what candidates seek in a new role and what influences their decision-making allows you to address these points effectively.

By clearly communicating your values and the culture of your company or the team, you can better align with the needs of interviewees. This approach increases their interest in your company and improves your chances of attracting top talent.

four employees smiling at desk

Strategies for Improving Employee Engagement

A significant area where lots of companies fall short is that they forget to sell the opportunity.

They assume candidates should jump at an offer without really taking the time to engage them and promote the opportunity at hand. Whilst salary remains a key factor, ranking number 2 in our list of sought-after benefits, it’s not the primary deciding factor.

With that in mind, we’ve devised the following strategies for improving employee engagement next time you’re hiring:

Engage candidates from the beginning of the process

From the moment a candidate steps through the door (or jumps on a video interview if the role is remote) they need to be engaged in your company.

This includes the way you introduce yourself and the opportunity, as you want to create a friendly and welcoming environment. This kick starts the interview on a positive note and will help the candidate feel more comfortable.

When speaking about the role, make sure you tie this back to the individual and how they can benefit/ progress as a direct result. Many candidates want to understand the growth of the opportunity and how this is going to progress in the future.

You need to take them on this journey and communicate how they will play a direct role in the success of the company. This is what excites and motivates them, as they are not just considering the job as it is today but envisioning its future potential. Additionally, emphasise the benefits they will enjoy, particularly for senior hires who will be interested in long-term incentive plans (LTIP) and shared schemes.

Promote the company values and culture to build reputation

As our research concludes, an increasing number of candidates are becoming interested in the values a company stands for. Whether this is a focus on diversity and inclusion, or a dedication to community engagement, these values play a crucial role in their decision-making.

More candidates are now seeking companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and contribute to a greener planet. As global awareness of environmental impact grows, candidates prefer to work for organisations that prioritise the health of the planet.

Therefore, you need to highlight your company’s environmental initiatives throughout the interview process. This shows your awareness of current environmental sentiments and how your company is proactively addressing them, both in office and with any real estate projects.

This might include:

  • Implementing green practices
  • Sourcing sustainable materials
  • Improving energy efficiency in facilities
  • Offering eco-friendly products
  • Achieving recognised certifications for sustainability (i.e. LEED certification)
  • Communicate the full breadth of benefits beyond the salary

Salary is only one factor that influences a person’s decision when looking for a new job.

There are several benefits that professionals value in their next role as illustrated by the table above. An increasing number of candidates are valuing work-life balance, allowing them to juggle their commitments outside of the workplace.

Senior candidates in particular value being able to contribute directly to the senior leadership team, as this allows them to have greater input in the trajectory of the business.

With this insight, hiring managers and those present in the interview should be talking about the broader remuneration package rather than solely emphasising the salary. Whilst this can be mentioned, it should be supported by the other benefits that employees can enjoy if they are offered the position.

This 360 degree approach shows the candidate that you value them as whole, rather than just valuing what they’re bringing to the table.

“When clients make candidates feel valued and engaged during the interview, candidates are more likely to accept a job offer if and when it is presented to them. By investing in a good interview experience, clients can feel quietly confident in the candidate's acceptance. This makes the hiring manager’s job much easier as they don’t need to spend more time and money on re-interviewing.”

Don’t cancel interviews with clients unless absolutely necessary

Cancelling an interview without adequate notice reflects poorly on your company. Candidates often take time out of work or make other arrangements to attend, investing significant effort to be there. Last-minute cancellations are very disappointing and show a lack of respect for the candidate’s time.

Through our extensive experience partnering with various real estate companies, we’ve seen instances where employers cancel interviews while the candidate is already in the waiting room. This demonstrates a total lack of care and compassion for their time, as they’ve made the effort to travel to the interview only to be turned away.

Additionally we’ve witnessed situations where interviews are rushed, lasting only 15-20 minutes. This is insufficient time for both the employer to properly assess the candidate and for the candidate to learn about the company. Correct interview etiquette and time management are key to ensure a positive experience for all parties involved.

Focus on a wider pool of one individual

Another area where lots of companies go wrong when interviewing candidates is that they focus too much on one individual.

They pin all of their hopes on this one person, assuming that they’re going to accept the job offer when it’s presented.

The problem being that companies build up a picture of an ‘ideal candidate’ which clouds their vision. They’re unable to see past this persona which means they miss out on other potential candidates who could have been suitable.

Unfortunately, if the ‘ideal candidate’ rejects the job offer, the client is back to square one. This might also mean they need to try and re-engage candidates who were interviewed but not initially offered the position. These candidates may now have a lower opinion of the company and, out of principle, may not want to re-engage.

As a result, the client could miss out on a significant pool of potential candidates.

“The key thing for companies during interviews is to make every candidate feel valued. This involves genuinely engaging them in the opportunity and effectively showcasing what the company offers. It's important to sell the wider opportunity, highlighting how candidates can contribute to business growth and reap direct benefits. Additionally, companies should ensure that candidates feel excited about the role and as though their time is valued throughout the interview process. All too often clients ring-fence a single candidate, essentially putting all of their eggs in one basket. They’re looking for a ‘golden fleece’ - a candidate that has it all which can lead to them overlooking other potential hires. However if the offer falls through, the client is back to square one as they’ve not invested enough time and effort into other candidates who might have made the ideal fit.”

women colleagues inside meeting room

Improving Employee Engagement Through Preboarding

Preboarding refers to the process between a candidate signing an offer letter, and them actually starting the job.

This is significant when it comes to employee engagement as a lot can change in this time if clients don’t continue to engage the employee.

For example, doubt might set in about whether they’ve made the right decision or they might be presented with a counter-offer from one of your competitors. This can be the case with senior-level employees who have a wealth of experience and expertise as this is desirable for lots of companies.

Even when the letter is signed and a candidate has accepted the job offer, employee engagement shouldn’t stop there.

In terms of preboarding, we recommend the following strategies to maintain the candidates interest before their start date:

  • Keep in touch with the new hire through regular updates and check-ins. This can include emails, phone calls, or virtual meetings to keep them informed.
  • Send a welcome pack that includes a personalised welcome letter and useful information about the company culture and what to expect on their first day.
  • Provide access to company resources such as an employee handbook, team directories, and an overview of ongoing projects.
  • Arrange virtual meet-and-greet sessions with key team members. This helps the new hire build relationships and feel part of the team from day one.
  • Invite the new hire to any company events, meetings, or social gatherings that take place before their start date.

Recruiter’s Guide to Improving Employee Engagement from Interview to Preboarding

Improving employee engagement during interviews is key to finding the right candidate and for maintaining a positive reputation.

The last thing you want is for clients to be bad-mouthing your company, as in a closed-knit sector such as real estate, word will soon get out. This could limit your chance of finding talented professionals in the future as people will be less likely to apply for open positions.

Employee engagement starts at the very moment you meet a candidate and should be carried throughout the entirety of the process. This includes the pre0boarding stage which is essential in maintaining a candidates interest up until their start date.

When the individual is in post, the hard work doesn’t stop there as to retain employees long-term, they need to be consistently engaged in your company. Our salary survey can help you achieve this by providing you with insights into what professionals value at varying levels of seniority across multiple locations. Armed with this knowledge, you can continue to build a thriving workforce where employees feel valued and motivated.

To find out more about how we can help, get in touch with our team.

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