Denver is one of the best markets in the country for job seekers at the moment. Record low unemployment and a strong economy are creating fierce competition between companies hiring similar candidates. When top tier candidates are looking to move, they will likely be choosing from several attractive offers.

How can companies ensure that top candidates choose them over competitors? You must create a memorable candidate experience. In today’s market it’s not just how much money you offer. To quote Maya Angelou, “people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve found that when it comes to hiring, how you treat each candidate throughout the entire recruitment process is incredibly important. From the phone interview to the final offer, treating candidates well and making their experience as pleasant as possible increases your chances of winning them over. Here are a few ideas on how you can create the best experience possible for prospective hires:

1. Set a clear timetable for the process up front
First, carefully select a small number of people to make the hiring decision. Choose those who represent your company well and are champions of the organization. Remember that first impressions last!

Second, limit interview rounds to no more than two or three. Make the best use of everyone’s time by making sure each interviewer has a clear agenda and knows what information they need to gather. One interviewer could assess cultural fit, one interviewer could evaluate quantitative skills, and so on.

If you know you will require a longer process, set the expectation up front with each candidate. Let him know the reason for the long pause between steps. Be sure to emphasize your continued interested in him. It’s much easier for a candidate to remain patient when he knows what to expect.

2. Understand what motivates each candidate
Every candidate comes with their own set of motivators and core values. First, ask them what’s most important to them and why it’s important. Second, determine if it’s in line with your company’s core values. This will help you understand where you have synergy and you can highlight the aspects of the opportunity and company that they will most value. Focus on questions that will help you align what you want in an employee with what they value as an employee.

3. Stay in constant communication with top choice candidates
When you find someone you like and need more time to put together an offer, communicate your interest as much as possible. Essentially, you’ve got to keep her “warm”. Don’t let her wonder about your level of interest. Maintain communication and use every touch point as an opportunity to highlight your company and communicate the benefits and opportunities for development that matter most to her. When a candidate can sense that she’s your top choice, she’s more likely to prioritize your company over competing offers– even if the interview process takes longer than desired.

My most successful clients understand the value of a positive candidate experience throughout the interview process. They know the top performers they seek are likely to have several offers to choose from and they do what they can to create a favorable impression of the process and their company. They invest their time in understanding candidates’ desires and motivations, and make a strong case for how their companies can meet those desires. Not only does this kind of positive recruitment process increase their ability to close great talent, but it also means that new hires start work with a positive attitude and appreciation for the company.

How do you create a positive candidate experience? Share your experiences in the comments below.