How to help a candidate on their first day

Give candidates a good first day

If you’d like your relationship with candidates and employers to last, it’s vital the first day at work goes well. First impressions can be hard to budge, so doing some hand-holding for the candidate’s first day can help ensure it’s a success. Here’s what to do.

One week to go

Call the candidate up a week ahead of the start date and check how they’re feeling and how prepared they are. Remind them they’re the best pick for the job, wish them every success and let them know they can contact you for help in the first few days. Follow this up with an emailed checklist including:

  • Map of the office and directions. Be as specific as possible: turning up at the wrong location could make your candidate late on their first day.


  • Time of arrival. Sometimes new hires are asked to arrive half an hour later so the boss can get themselves sorted.


  • Who to inform of their arrival (organise this on their behalf)


  • Names and (if possible) photos of members of their immediate team and senior management. It’s hard to recover from the embarrassment of sharing the lift with the MD on the first morning and asking during a chat: and what do you do?


  • Recommend they browse the company handbook


You might also like to suggest they do the following:


Test drive the route

Bad traffic is absolutely no excuse for lateness on the first day. Encourage your candidate to do a test run of the route using the mode of transport they’ll use on the day, whether car, bike train or tube. Make allowances for rush hour conditions and always make sure they have a back-up plan in case the tube packs up or their tyres are flat.

Once they know how long it takes to get to work during rush hour, tack on an extra 10 minutes for good measure. It never hurts to be early on the first day.


Dress code

Every office has its own, often unwritten, code of conduct regarding dress. Your candidate may have been too focused on the interview to notice, or maybe it was a Friday and dress-down day, in which case they may have picked up the wrong cues.

If a candidate was dressed inappropriately when you interviewed them, then give them some frank advice now, they’ll thank you in the long term. Advise them that if in doubt, it’s good to err on the side of conservative; there will be time to relax once they’ve settled in.


Documents at the ready

Your candidate needs to have all the necessary bits of paperwork to help any formal registration go smoothly. This can range from taking in a driving license or passport to knowing they will be photographed for an ID pass on the first day. Some companies will have this information in place before joining, but others won’t, so it’s good if a candidate has everything to hand to avoid being flustered.

If it’s a new client then contact HR a week ahead of the start date to confirm exactly what is required so your candidate has plenty of time to prepare and source documents.


The big day

Some companies are very together on start days and have a timetable of events and meetings prepared for the newcomer. But if you know a candidate won’t have the luxury of this structure, then offer some tips about what they can expect based on your insider knowledge and research of the company.

If they’re new to the workplace, you could also include advice on how to listen and learn about their new environment. Colleagues will be more receptive to questions at this time, so encourage candidates to make the most of it. A notebook is also useful for discreetly jotting down useful stuff (especially names) and this will endear them to new colleagues.


Put in a call at lunchtime

A brief courtesy call to both client and candidate to check that everything has gone ok will be appreciated by both parties. This also means you can sort out any problems immediately if issues are already starting to arise.

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