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On the surface, inviting a candidate to an interview seems easy. Just write a snappy email subject line, suggest a reasonable time to chat over Zoom, and send a link, right?
Not if you want to find the best people for the role.
Understanding how to write an effective interview invitation email can make all the difference in whether a candidate accepts a job offer. Here's what you need to know to make your invites more engaging.
What’s so important about interview invitation emails?
First, let's examine why a seemingly simple email can have such a far-reaching impact.
It’s no secret the job market has transformed radically. The unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April 2020 to just 3.9% in December 2021. Still, the current labor force participation rate is the lowest in 45 years.
Job seekers have an incredible amount of power in today’s market. Consider these recent surveys:
73% of Americans feel “newly empowered” at work and can make positive changes to their work/life balance.
Job seekers can now land a new role with just 1–3 months of searching. (The average was 5 months in 2018.)
82% of passive candidates evaluate a company’s brand and reputation before applying for a role.
Candidates can afford to be selective about where they go. Your invitation sets the tone for the entire interview process and makes a critical first impression. If your interview request seems impersonal, lacks details, or has unclear instructions, job seekers may decide your human resources team doesn't care about them or their goals.
Similarly, burying the candidate in back-and-forth interview confirmation emails and scheduling changes could make them see your organization as inefficient or even annoying. (And how much worse would communication be with actual employees?)
Job seekers have plenty of other opportunities where they can spend time and effort. A good interview invitation email entices those candidates to focus on yours, and requires a combination of logistical details, an engaging tone, and efficient processes.
With a little planning, you can create interview invitation emails that show the interview process will be a positive experience. That takes the pressure off candidates so they can focus on preparing for the interview questions. This guide shares tips and templates to put you on the right track.
Nailing the tone and style of your interview invitation email
Writing interview invitation emails is a delicate balance. With multiple candidates to schedule, you might not have time to fully personalize every invitation. However, a formulaic or generic request will sound robotic and hurt your chances of engaging job seekers. (If you need immediate help, jump down to our sample templates.)
It’s critical to get the tone right for your scheduling emails because it sets the mood for the entire interview process. Even though they are in the driver’s seat of today’s job market, a staggering 93% of job interviewees feel anxious going into an interview. (No wonder when they’ve already stressed over the job application and cover letter.) Your invitation is the first opportunity to diffuse tension, build rapport, and create a better candidate experience.
Your goal is to connect with job seekers. Use upbeat, conversational language in your message to be approachable and engaging. (What good is an invitation if it doesn't sound inviting?) This approach creates a welcoming atmosphere that’s less intimidating, so the candidate feels comfortable asking follow-up questions and clarifications.
You also want to be concise. Focus on the information the candidate needs most for the interview, using bullet points to separate important information and bold text to highlight details. Make sure no information gets lost or appears confusing to the candidate. (Also, be sure to watch for pesky typos.)
Finally, remember your interview invitation should reflect your brand. Adopting a tone that doesn’t mix with your company’s communication style isn’t authentic. Candidates will notice the difference as they have more interactions through the interview process, and may engage with companies with more consistent messaging.
5 must-have interview invitation email details
With your tone set and goals in sight, it's time to start writing. In order for your emails to successfully woo potential candidates, you need to include all the details those candidates need to thoroughly prepare and (hopefully) knock that interview out of the park.
1. Job title
Your candidate may have applied for different roles in your company. After a brief greeting, you should clarify exactly what job title your candidate will be interviewing for. Including role specifics upfront eliminates potential misunderstandings and helps the candidate conduct additional research to prepare for the interview.
Try linking the job title to the careers page on your website or including it in an attachment. This approach not only makes the job description details easy for candidates to find (especially for passive candidates you contacted first), but also keeps your email short and more engaging.
2. Job interview location
Remote job interviews
Video interviews and phone interviews have quickly become the norm in hiring processes. Depending on your communications tech stack, you should provide:
Links for accessing a videoconference (Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Skype)
Conference phone call dial-in, meeting ID, and access code numbers
Provide the conference call information in a one-touch format so candidates can focus on their notes instead of access codes — especially when they’re on the go.
In-person job interviews
Job seekers interviewing onsite need your address at the very least — including the building name and your floor. (You know your company’s exact location, but don't assume your interviewee does.) To help candidates avoid last-minute delays or confusion, provide instructions for getting to your office and accessing the premises, such as parking options, nearby public transit stations, landmarks, tips for navigating the area, and any check-in procedures.
Make your address a Google Maps link. That way the candidate is just a click away from personalized directions to your office.
3. Details about the hiring manager and other interviewers
Names are important, especially when multiple interviewers are involved. For each one, list their first and last names as well as their title so the candidate knows exactly who they'll be speaking to. Because the order of interviews depends on each person’s availability, be sure to highlight which one is the hiring manager.
Provide links to the interviewers’ bios and/or LinkedIn pages. Connecting candidates with these details makes it easy for them to get to know the interviewers and find common ground beforehand.
Specify the start and stop times for each interview. The hiring team may enjoy extended discussions, but you must be respectful of the candidate’s time. Showing the expected length of interviews throughout the day helps the candidate and the hiring team budget time accordingly. (Seeing all the interview times together is also an opportunity to see if the candidate needs any break times between interviews.)
Lay out the discussion topics for each interview. One might be a "getting to know you" chat, while another is a more intense conversation that tests the candidate's knowledge and skills. Either way, you should make the agenda clear so your potential hires can prepare accordingly.
4. Additional information and assistance
Outside of providing the what, where, who, and when of the interview, your invitation can contain additional information that helps the candidate shine.
Background. Provide links to any pages and resources that will help the candidate get a better feel for the organization, the group their role would support, your company culture and values, and more.
One-on-one vs. panel interviews. In case it’s not obvious from the list of interviewer names, be sure to specify when the candidate will be meeting with more than one interviewer at the same time.
Tests. Some roles require candidates to demonstrate their skills, such as analyzing a case study or conducting a coding exercise. Candidates should know about any tests ahead of time so they can be mentally prepared.
Supporting material. Let the candidates know any other materials they should bring to make the interview more productive, such as a portfolio, redlines, code samples, or other work examples.
If this is too much information to include in your invitation, try compiling it in an attachment. For example, Calendly uses a Candidate Interview Guide. This document shares details about the interview format, tips for a successful interview, an FAQ section, and links to company information.
Providing interview guides sets a person up for success. Candidates can tell that the company doesn’t want to see them fail, but wants to partner and advocate for them.
People Operations Manager
Above all, avoid “sneak attacks” — something unexpected that catches the candidate off-guard and makes them defensive. This creates a stressful (if not antagonistic) environment that undoes all your work creating a positive interview experience and drives away good candidates.
5. Contact information
Finally, you should include contact information of anyone that can help the candidate when they need it. Of course, your own details should already be in your email signature. But you should include contacts for other people supporting your team.
For example, there may be another recruiter or coordinator responsible for scheduling changes or who can help the candidate test their video setup before the interview. Speaking of which, it can also be helpful to list a tech support phone number that can help if the videoconference link won’t work when the interview begins.
What to avoid in an interview invitation email
While it’s helpful to know what makes an interview invitation more engaging, it’s equally helpful to know what can cause candidates to disengage with your interview process.
I’ve heard quite a few interview horror stories. Candidates don’t hear back from recruiters for days, or they are unclear about next steps or where they are in the process. The recruiting/interviewing process sets the tone for the company. It gives great insight into what to expect from an organization if you’re hired.
People Operations Manager
To avoid that pitfall, you should avoid a few things when inviting a job candidate to an interview.
Radio silence. One of the worst feelings for a job seeker is being left in the dark. If they have questions that go unanswered for days or weeks at a time, they’ll move on to another opportunity. You should be responsive and have regular touchpoints with candidates, especially if there’s a large gap between the invitation and actual interview. It’s a best practice to set reminders for these check-ins.
Avoiding relationships. A good interview process isn't transactional, and the interview invitation style and attitude should reflect that. It’s helpful to look at the invitation through the relationship-building approach of a customer service team member.
No personality. Email is not so much tone-deaf as tone-neutral, which can leave a lot open to interpretation. That’s not good when people can’t tell what’s serious or sarcastic more than half the time. Letting your personality shine through in your communications helps eliminate a candidate’s potential uncertainty about tone. Even when you’re in a hurry, take the time to write naturally and positively. Doing so sets up a good candidate experience and helps reinforce your brand.
Automate interview scheduling to improve your entire recruiting process
A major hurdle with interview requests is finalizing the schedule. Candidates aren’t always available for the proposed times in the interview details, so you should be accommodating to their schedule. Flexibility goes a long way in helping them feel more engaged with your interview process. If you need to reschedule, you can suggest a few available time options and ask the candidate which matches their availability, or you can ask them what times work and build the interviews around their schedule.
However, it’s much more effective to automate rescheduling and remove the back-and-forth entirely. Fortunately, tools like Calendly enable you to provide candidates with a calendar that shows when your interviewers are available. Candidates can then self-select the time that works best for them — no extra emails or calls needed. Automation not only saves time for the candidate, but also helps your recruiting team devote more time to finding good candidates.
Calendly is especially useful for automated pre-interview reminders to ensure the candidate stays engaged with the interview process. You can customize the reminders to revisit important interview details from the invitation, or provide new information if anything in the schedule has changed.
Use the reminders to ask clarifying questions or reinforce items from the phone screen interview questions, such as confirming whether the candidate prefers remote, in-person, or hybrid roles, or if the role is part-time or permanent. The questions can be a trigger for candidates that aren't the right fit to self-select out of the interview process, saving your team more time.
I am super impressed with recruiting automation. It’s incredibly structured and robust. Documentation is included at every step. Using Calendly to schedule interviews immediately provides you with the contact information of interviewers, which is so critical for follow-ups.
People Operations Manager
Job interview invitation email samples
Today’s job market places many demands on recruiting teams trying to meet their goals. With so much going on, it can be hard to find time for writing an interview invitation. (That’s probably why you’re here.) Email templates can be helpful for structuring your invitation and saving time, so long as you're aware the circumstances for each interview can vary. Having several email templates will help you use the perfect tone for your scheduling emails.
To help you get started, we’re sharing our own recruiting team’s interview invitation email templates. Feel free to use them as-is, or personalize them to suit your company’s tone and brand.
Keep your emails short and engaging by moving information like arrival logistics and candidate guides to an email attachment or linked webpage.
Email template 1: Video interview / phone interview invitation
We use this one the most. We typically use Zoom for videoconferencing. If you prefer Webex, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or GoToMeeting, simply replace that information with the details from your preferred video meeting platform. If there will be multiple interviews, be sure to include the links for each videoconference.
It looks like you're getting ready for an interview with us here at , so we wanted to send you some great resources to help you prepare. You are confirmed for a remote interview . Your interviews will be video interviews via Zoom. Your interview schedule is below.
The attached document will provide you with answers to frequently asked questions and our best interview tips. There is also an 'About Calendly' section and a 'How We Evaluate' section that is filled with curated content that will help you shine.
Your interviews will take place via Zoom. In terms of connecting to your interviews, at your interview start time you will simply click on the link provided below for the respective interview. Please download Zoom prior to your interviews and test your Zoom settings so you are prepared. Please click "Add to Calendar" to add the interview invites to your personal calendar and to access all of the necessary Zoom information for your interviews.
— Remote Interview Schedule
Date/Time: (note: include time zone)
Let me know if you have any questions and we look forward to meeting you!
Email template 2: In-person interview invitation
Many workplaces are transitioning back to an in-office environment. If you’re inviting candidates to interviews onsite, try using this template to share the interview day details. This example includes the topic each interview will discuss.
I hope your day is going well! You are confirmed for an onsite interview . Your interview schedule is listed below.
We are located at on the XXth floor of the . Parking and arrival logistics are attached to this email. When you arrive in our suite, check in on the iPad provided in the waiting area. Please try to arrive 5–10 minutes early for a tour of our office.
10:00 am–10:30 am: Cultural Interview with
10:30 am–11:00 am: Leadership Interview with
11:00 am–11:45 am: Teammate Interview with
11:45 am–12:15 pm: Hiring Manager Interview
Let me know if you have any questions and we look forward to meeting you!
Good interview requests bring great candidates
Don't overlook the power of a well-crafted interview invitation email. The tone you set and the information you include in your scheduling email can make all the difference — not only in whether or not a potential candidate accepts your interview request, but also in how well they prepare for the interview questions.
Remember to maintain a friendly, approachable tone in your communication, be flexible with your scheduling arrangements, and include all relevant information. This will help you make a good impression on potential new hires, making them more likely to accept your interview request and eventually accept a job offer.
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