Candidate experience seems to be a topic that is being discussed more and more. This makes sense because the market for talent is getting increasingly competitive. As the competition increases, companies will have to step up their game if they want to effectively compete.
When I say “candidate experience”, I am talking about everything from applying through the entire life-cycle of the hiring process. Obviously not all candidates make it as far in the process, and most of the time only one will be selected. The candidate experience, however, applies to everyone who expresses interest in the job. There are several factors that play into whether a candidate has a positive or negative experience. Ease of process, communication, and timeliness are three of the most important factors. Of course there are several other factors, but these three are key.
1- Simplify the Hiring Process
Anything you can do to make the application and interview process easier will likely boost the candidate experience. Anyone who has been in the job search process knows how tedious and grueling it can be. You have to fill out extensive applications multiple times. Then you get to the interview process, which is often time consuming and burdensome.
If you have the resources, a good applicant tracking system can make it easier for the candidate. Many systems allow people to apply through LinkedIn or will parse out information from their resume. These things help to make the process less burdensome on the candidate.
Many companies like to do two or three rounds of interviews. This can be very hard on candidates, and is often redundant. Although making sure that you get the right candidate is important, you should look for ways to streamline the process. Many candidates, especially those who are currently working, have a hard time getting away for interviews. They may even need to take PTO in order to attend an interview. Companies should be considerate of each candidate’s time. Some practical ways to do this include:
Do phone or SKYPE interviews when possible (good option for initial interviews)
Do group/panel interviews rather than doing multiple single-person interviews (less time consuming and eliminates redundancy)
Be flexible with interview times (i.e., after working hours, during lunch, etc.)
2- Communicate with Candidates
Communication is key. Nobody likes to apply for a job and then hear nothing until they get "we're going in a different direction" email. There is a lot that goes into effectively communicating with candidates – professionalism, compassion, timeliness, appropriate candor, etc. Setting up auto-notifications for each step in the process is good, but there should be a lot of time, effort, and consideration put into crafting well-written messages. If you have actually interviewed a candidate, take the time to personally call them and provide feedback. This is especially important if you want to keep them engaged for potential opportunities in the future.
3- Make the Process a Priority
At times, companies will post a job and then it gets put on the back burner. Or, they are still having internal dialogue about what they want to do with the position, thus delaying the process. These things can cause candidates to become frustrated and lose interest. There is also a good possibility that top talent will find a different opportunity while you are delaying. Make sure that you are ready to make the process a priority once you post the job. Don’t leave candidates hanging for weeks and months. If for some reason there is a delay, communicate with your candidates in a timely manner and set appropriate expectations for the process.
Why is this important?
Creating a positive candidate experience is important for many reasons. Retaining your talent pool for future opportunities, creating the right first impression, and your employer reputation are among some of the most important.
As previously mentioned, you likely have many candidates for an open position, but at a given time you may only be hiring one. Creating a positive experience for every candidate can help you preserve a talent pool for future opportunities. Just because someone is not selected this time around does not mean that they would not be a good fit for your company in some other capacity, or at some other time. Making sure that these candidates have a good experience could lead to more talent being available for future opportunities.
The way a candidate is treated gives them a first impression about the company. It reflects very poorly on the company if they do not show that they genuinely value people – including candidates. You want to create a positive experience for candidates, which sets a good foundation for engagement as they begin employment with you, or as they consider whether they want to pursue future opportunities with your company. Creating a negative candidate experience can have an adverse impact on your reputation as an employer. Your reputation will likely proceed you – people talk.
What kind of candidate experience are you creating? This is an important question for companies to ask themselves. If it’s not very good, you can take some steps to make it more positive. Employee engagement begins during the hiring process. The candidate experience should not be overlooked as an unimportant issue. Just a few simple adjustments can help to improve the candidate experience, and help you with your long-term recruitment efforts.
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