The battle for top talent is fierce for both companies and recruiters. An engaging and positive candidate experience can differentiate employers and recruiters from the crowd, helping them to attract, secure, and retain top-tier talent.
Candidate experience is ongoing and should be consistent throughout the whole life-cycle of any candidate, starting at the job vacancy and continuing right through to the exit interview and beyond. It’s important for recruiters to understand and acknowledge that the candidate is a key stakeholder in the hiring decision. If it boils down to a candidate choosing between two identical roles, their experience before, during, and after the interview is likely to play a part in their decision.
To help you strive towards providing a positive candidate experience, here are some of our top tips.
Changing jobs is a big event for any candidate, so it’s reasonable they expect to be well informed throughout the application process. It’s no surprise that poor communication is a key cause of a negative candidate experience. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. When you apply, you should be able to expect a reply that lets you know when a decision will be made on your application. Updating your candidate via email or text and setting realistic expectations throughout will help keep them informed about the next step forward, so they don’t feel the need to be chasing you for answers!
Create a screening process that allows you to spend time where it really matters. It’s imperative that you understand the role you’re recruiting for right at the start of the hiring process. This will shape everything you do going forward, from where you advertise, to who you interview, to how you determine which candidate is right for the role. Automating some of the screening process will help you identify the best candidates and will allow you to redistribute your time to the areas that make the most difference. For example, setting up an automated screening process whereby you ask applicants a series of questions, will help identify those that have the right skills and experience before you spend time manually screening the applicants yourself.
Interviews are a two-way process and it’s fairly easy for a candidate to spot if your prep has been a quick scan of their CV 20 minutes before the interview! Candidates deserve a well organised and well delivered interview. This is a big decision for both you and the candidate, so make sure you give it the time it deserves. Look back at any previous history you’ve had with a candidate including any recent conversations, so that you’re able to connect with them and quickly build rapport. It sounds obvious, but it’s essential that you spend time thinking about your interview questions beforehand and make sure you have a smooth process in place if you’re hosting a video interview. Interviews are a great opportunity to build profiles of your candidates and to gain real insight into the person behind the CV.
Whether you’re in-house or agency, it’s important that you support each candidate throughout the process, so they know exactly what’s expected of them. In the past there was a view that it was best to keep candidates in the dark, to test how they think on their feet. In our experience this doesn’t deliver an accurate picture of a candidate’s abilities. By informing your candidates about the structure of the interview, they’ll be better prepared, and more able to deliver their best on any task, presentation or psychometric test you put before them.
Cultural fit is important for both parties, but if your candidate hasn’t seen outside the interview room, it’s going to be pretty hard to tell whether they’ll fit in. If you’re able to, try to organise a ‘meet and greet’ with the people they might be working with. Give them a tour of the office and the spaces they’ll be working in. It’s important they get a realistic view of what it’s like to work in your company and the team they’ll belong to. This will give both you and them a better chance to see if the cultural fit is right. Admittedly, it takes a little more time, but the time you spend will be worth its weight in gold!
Be sure to keep your candidates updated throughout the process. Be clear about when you’ll make a decision, and let them know how you’ll contact them. Contact all candidates to let them know whether they have been successful. It’s unfair to leave candidates dangling and it doesn’t take long to inform them of your decision either way. Ideally, provide honest feedback to all of your candidates. For high volume roles this may be difficult, however for your top-tier candidates that narrowly missed out, providing honest feedback may stand you in good stead. What if your chosen candidate doesn’t work out? You may want to return to your shortlist and that feedback might help to deliver a better hire in the long run.
Candidate experience is an ongoing entity and it doesn’t just end once you’ve hired them. It’s important that you follow up with the candidate to ensure that everything is going smoothly. You don’t want your candidate to have buyer’s remorse and by being on hand, you’ll be able to smooth out any bumps along the way.
Is the on-boarding process going well? Do they have the support they need? If you’re an agency recruiter, this will foster a level of trust and loyalty that ensures they’ll come back to you in the future. On the other hand, if you’re an in-house recruiter this will help to build an ongoing relationship, allowing you to support their development along with their superiors and HR.