Creating a great candidate experience used to be nice to have. In fact, when we all had multiple candidates clamoring for our open jobs, we could even expect them to put up with out of date candidate experiences, characterized by things like:
- Poorly designed, difficult to navigate career sites or pages
- Little to no communication from the hiring manager or recruiter
- Opaque salary and benefit information
- Misleading or unhelpful job advertisements
- Long wait times between hiring stages
- Automated emails that delivered little to no information
- Multiple interviews to move through the process
- Lowball offers
However, today’s candidates know they’re in high demand and with the technology available to them in their everyday lives, they expect a better experience when finding a job. Consider the fact that almost every other aspect of a candidate’s life has become easier than getting through the hiring process. Finding a house, obtaining financing and purchasing that house can now take as little as 30 days. Finding that special someone has become as simple as swiping right, and buying a car or planning a trip no longer requires special assistance. All these large aspects of a candidate’s life have become as painless as they’ve ever been, which is why building an end-to-end candidate experience has never been more important.Today’s candidates know they’re in high demand and won't deal with substandard hiring practices. @ClearCompany explains why building end-to-end #CandidateExperience has never been more important:
41% of applicants who have terrible candidate experiences will take their loyalty and money elsewhere. But of candidates with five-star experiences, 64% say they’ll definitely increase their relationship with the employer—even if they didn’t get the job.
How do I improve the candidate experience?
- Make your jobs easy to find everywhere on the internet.
- Make your career site easy to navigate and ensure it answers all the questions someone looking for a job would have.
- Tighten up your process to at least 2 weeks.
- Get everyone to look critically at the process before it starts.
- Customize your approach.
In the beginning…
The process of building an awesome candidate experience starts with an assessment. You need to know how jobseekers find you, what they see before they decide to apply and what that apply process looks like and feels like. Chances are you haven’t audited your application process in some time, so take the time to do so now. No true transformation can happen until you put yourself in your candidate’s shoes.
Some quick tips to make the auditing process more accurate:
- Put your browser in incognito mode and use your search engine to search for a position you know you have open. Can you easily find your opening? Is it your site you’re directed to or a third-party job board or aggregator? How many clicks until you reach your opening on your career site? Jot this down in your notes. If it’s more than 3-4 clicks, you may need to pare down your use of third-party boards and focus on making your career site and the jobs on it, more search-friendly.
- Once you’ve found the position, attempt to apply for it. If you’re serious about testing your process, you’ll build a resume or find one that’s perfect for the role. Then just start applying. Note how long it takes, whether or not the application times out, if information needs to be entered multiple times and any other hiccups or hurdles you encounter. If you get frustrated, don’t give up. It’s crucial to stay the course so you know what you are expecting from your future employees and for how long.
- While you’re doing this exercise consider whether an A Player would pursue a position with your company if they had to go through the process. If the answer is yes, great! You can proceed to the next portion of the audit. If the answer is no, try to figure out where the issue is. If you find your ATS is the problem, schedule a call with your vendor. If you think your career site is too difficult to navigate, discuss simple changes with your colleagues in the IT department. But don’t let the audit effort go to waste by ignoring any issues you uncover in the application process.
Waiting by the phone…
Now that you’ve applied to your own company, you’ll begin to get a taste of what your applicants go through. Yes, that’s correct. You get to wait by the phone (or the email inbox.)
What many companies neglect to take note of is that candidate experience is only half about candidate and recruiter interaction, the other, far more important half, is the time you are NOT interacting with the candidate, for instance:
- The time between their application submittal to when they receive a response.
- The time and difficulty it takes to schedule an interview.
- The lack of feedback they receive after an interview.
- The time it takes your team to make a decision.
These are just a few examples of the time a candidate spends thinking about your position, preparing for interviews, waiting by the phone and interviewing with other companies. 66% of job seekers said they will wait less than two weeks to hear back from an organization before moving on to another job opportunity.
Your audit continues with the waiting game. Here are some things to watch out for during this phase:
- How long until you receive a response from your resume and application submittal? Is it measured in hours, days, weeks? When you receive a response, note whether it appears automated, gives additional information or any other standout jobs. Even automated responses to application submissions should have a CTA (call to action) so the person knows what they should do next. Consider what you want people to do once they’ve finished their application. Do you want them to understand how long they’ll have to wait for a response? What the cadence and process of the interviews are? Whether they’ll appreciate the benefits your company supplies? All of these things can be answered or hinted at in the autoresponder or if you write applicants back personally.
- Jot down the time between the autoresponder and if you receive an actual response. If you created a resume that’s a solid fit for the position, you should receive a call right away. If not, you need to realize you could be missing out on incredible candidates. If you receive a call/personal email within the week, you’re doing a good job. If the time goes beyond that, consider implementing “Feedback Fridays” or “Touchstone Tuesdays” so you can set aside some time to let candidates know one way or the other if they’re being considered for the position.
As the resident HR professional you can also look internally during this time. Has your carefully crafted resume bubbled up to the hiring manager? Does it make it through the ATS? What can you see on the back-end? Hopefully, you’ll be called in for an interview and then the gig is up. The remainder of your audit will have to be done from the inside.Surveying recent hires can provide clues into what needs to change about your #hiring and #interviewing process. Read more tips on how to create a stellar candidate experience from @ClearCompany:
Make the hard calls
Once you’ve realized how long it takes and what it’s like to go through the process, you can start to survey recent hires. If they’ve been at the company for longer than three months, ask them about their experience. Here are some questions to ask recent hires to get some anecdotal evidence for your candidate experience audit:
- Do you remember how you found our company? The specific job for which you applied?
- What did you love about the process? What did you hate about applying here?
- How long from when you started job hunting to when your first day here was?
- How many people did you speak with before getting a job here?
- On a scale of 1-10, how well were you treated during the interview and hiring process?
- What other and how many other companies did you apply to and interview with during your job hunt?
- Did you experience redundancies (e.g. multiple interviews about the same topics, multiple entries in the ATS after uploading a resume or profile) during the hiring and interview process?
- What would you change about the hiring process?
Once you have some anecdotal evidence to impact your ongoing quest for the best candidate experience ever, you can begin sorting through it to determine any trends or issues. From there you’ll be able to see what is clicking (and what isn’t) with your candidate experience.
Most of these answers will help you move past the search piece and start giving you clues into what needs to change about your hiring and interviewing piece. Perhaps your candidates feel there was bias or maybe you can eliminate an entire round of videos. Look for ways to tighten and streamline the process (hint: it will likely be with the people rather than the technology during this portion.)
Look for the less than obvious
Building a stellar end-to-end candidate experience begins with understanding, auditing and fixing your technology and processes but there are less obvious places to ensure your candidate experience is as pristine as possible. For instance, Sharlyn Lauby mentions in a recent SHRM piece the importance of employee testimonials and reviews in marketing the company since 75% of candidates conducting their own job hunt research across multiple channels before applying.
Organizations can include their employee values on their company website and career web pages. They can also add information about their values to the company pages on social sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. In addition, organizations can use employee testimonials as soundbites in job advertisements or compile them as a video to be housed on the company website or shown at job fairs.
Another frequent misstep? Forgetting that unless the hiring manager, the recruiter and everyone involved in the hiring process on the company side is on the same page, the process will suffer. Candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them, especially in a market where the number of open jobs and the number of people looking is essentially equal.
By organizing a meeting before the interview process (preferably even before the job is posted) your team can figure out wants and needs, whether requirements need to be changed based on the current talent pool or location, and each person can decide who is in charge of finding out what from the candidate. If Joe the hiring manager is focused on skills and assessment analysis, that can free up Ruth the recruiting admin to ask questions about the candidate’s work habit and history. And the candidate can get the most out of the interview without answering the same questions multiple times.
Customize your approach
Do you still send out the same form letter to everyone you hire? If so, you could be missing one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to impact your candidate experience. It’s called candidate experience, so why not make the offer and subsequent communications an ‘experience’? Some ideas:
- Record a video welcoming them to your company. Get their future team in on the fun!
- Send a card and have everyone sign it once they accept your offer.
- Call them.
- Invite them to lunch!
There are a thousand other ways to make your candidate experience amazing. You know which ones are right for your organization. And they take very little extra effort and budget!
To learn how ClearCompany can support building a world-class candidate experience, take a demo or book some time with our recruitment experts!
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent thousands of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.