April 14, 2020

In my 15 years of recruiting and working with candidates, one issue has remained persistent— many recruiters and companies are falling short when it comes to candidate experience. Right now, a lot of companies have instituted hiring freezes, so this is a good opportunity for recruiters to revisit old strategies and processes, including your candidate experience.

Research shows us that there is a clear disconnect between how talent leaders view their candidate experience versus the reality for applicants. According to a 2019 study done by Randstad: 77% of talent leaders rate their company’s candidate experience as either excellent or very good, while 84% of working professionals have had a bad candidate experience during a job search. Combine this with the high probability of candidates sharing their negative experiences on Glassdoor or similar sites, and the issue starts to be glaring. We also know that if you give candidates an excellent experience, they are highly likely to share that with their network as well.

Not hiring right now? It’s the perfect time to regroup and evaluate your #CandidateExperience. @ClearCompany has tips on how to improve your #InterviewProcess:

So, the question is what kind of story do we want our candidates to tell, and how can we improve our candidate experience? Below are some musings that I have found helpful during my career to help attract top talent:

Get the Messaging Right

If you want to win the battle for top talent, it starts with the first contact. Be real, be human, be creative, and make it personal. It’s the personal touch that will help separate you and your company from the competition.

As a Recruiter, I’m always trying to find something unique about each candidate or a common ground to create a connection. It sounds simple, but just by taking a genuine interest and adding human elements to your emails and conversations, you can break down barriers and set the ball rolling towards a positive candidate experience.

For example, I once titled an InMail on LinkedIn “You have an amazing beard.” Unorthodox? Maybe a little, but the candidate did have an amazing beard, and I absolutely got a response back. If you are impressed by something on someone’s resume or profile, tell them. Calling out specifics on someone’s LinkedIn profile will greatly increase your response rate, as will having an engaging and personalized subject line. Candidates are all unique, and they want their accomplishments to be recognized. They also want to form that personal connection to the company as much as you want them too. As Recruiters, we have an opportunity to be the first point of contact with candidates. Make it personal and you will see more success.

Now might be the perfect time to evaluate your initial candidate outreach. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Save time by creating email templates that contain standard information like company highlights or specifics of a role. The template can then be personalized to each individual.
  • Have an engaging and personalized subject line
  • Personalize your message and show empathy to the candidate’s journey
  • Avoid the approach of “I have a need.” Make the message about the candidate's resume, profile, and experience rather than filling your need.
  • Keep your message to 500 characters or less. It can increase response rate by as much as 30%.

Do the Right Thing: Part One

Follow up early and often, and be responsive. The single easiest way to impact candidate experience is simply by following up. Responding to candidates quickly and >consistently can have a significant impact on whether or not that candidate has a positive experience, and increases the chance they remain engaged during the process. Being responsive with your outreach, status updates, interview scheduling, and follow-up is crucial — as is making sure the candidate has a clear understanding of the hiring timeline and steps throughout the process. Delivering excellent customer service is a way to really separate yourself from the competition, because there are a lot of recruiters who simply don’t take the time to do it well. I want candidates to remember me for the experience that I gave them. And I take great satisfaction in hearing that I was helpful during the process.

Recruiter Tip: Get candidates to the phone screening step faster by using a calendar app.

ClearCompany started using Calendly in the 4th quarter last year, and it has been a game changer in how quickly we get phone screens set up. It’s enhanced our candidate experience as well. It’s a free app that provides a link you can embed in the emails and texts you send to candidates, giving them direct access to open time slots on your calendar. It’s a seamless process and takes back and forth emails out of the equation.

When candidates apply through our website or via LinkedIn, we reach out using email or text templates created in the ClearCompany platform that are embedded with the Calendly link. Combined with our system, I can send out dozens of interview requests in seconds, and candidates will start filling up my calendar. This is by no means a replacement for the ClearCompany interview toolkit, but for initial scheduling outreach, it’s been a great supplemental tool that might be worth a look.

Do the Right Thing: Part Two

Don’t neglect to follow up with candidates you are passing on, too. It should go without saying, but I constantly hear from candidates that they never got feedback after an interview, or that it

takes weeks on end to hear back at all — and if they do they get a canned email rejection. Candidates that take time to interview with your company deserve feedback. If you waited in line for an hour at a lab to get bloodwork done and you never got the results would you be annoyed? It’s no different with candidate interviews. They have taken time out of their schedules to interview with your company, and a little bit of follow up goes a long way. It’s my goal to get candidates feedback within 2-3 days of their interview, and I let them know right away if they are a pass. I do sometimes use an automated email, but have managed to make it extremely complimentary and appreciative of the candidate’s time and interest in ClearCompany. It’s actually pretty amazing how much gratitude candidates show by simply providing them with closure.

Recruiter Tip: Don’t use the term “hiring freeze” with candidates.

The term “hiring freeze” carries a negative connotation that can imply the company has financial issues, when that may not be the case — especially given the current situation. Instead, use messaging like: “We are temporarily pausing hiring efforts while we evaluate the current Coronavirus pandemic and the impact on our business. We sincerely appreciate your interest, and we fully anticipate hiring to begin again, but don’t have a clear timeline at this point. I would love to keep in touch and will let you know as soon as things start to open up again.”

#Recruiting the top talent requires a great #CandidateExperience. @ClearCompany has key tips from their recruiting pros to help improve your interview process:

Put Your Sales Hat On, and Sell Your Brand

Your energy and attitude will say a lot about you and your company. Recruiting may technically fall into the HR category, but it is very much a sales role. You are selling the position, selling the company, and selling yourself. Are you just going through the motions and getting through another screen, or are you trying to get the candidate genuinely excited about the opportunity?

I never assume every candidate wants to work for our company. I view it as my job to tell the company story and highlight our mission, core values, and the things that make us unique. I typically share my story, why I joined ClearCompany, and the things that I love about the culture and the product. It’s also really important to take an honest approach here as well — I never try to oversell a role into something it’s not. Yes, my job is to fill roles, but the last thing I want is an employee coming back to me 2 months later and telling me that the role is vastly different than I described.

The Process: Time Kills All Deals

It starts with the application process. And if your process is lengthy — or hard to navigate — it gives the candidate a negative connotation, before you even see their resume. From a candidate perspective, it’s a tough proposition to ask them for 15 to 45 minutes to fill out an application. Especially when they know they may never hear back. Asking for a lot of information up front is well intentioned, but it can lead to a negative candidate experience. Many candidates will simply choose not to do it.

I have found that the more barriers you put in front of candidates, the lower percentage you get through the process. Additionally, having an interview process that is overly lengthy can also negatively impact candidate experience and lead to candidates dropping out or taking other opportunities. Streamline your process to keep time-to-hire as short as possible.

The goal is to have a challenging but fair interview process that we can get through relatively quickly. For the majority of our positions, we have a recruiter do a phone screen, then the manager does a phone screen, an onsite interview, and a C-Level phone interview. I really strive to get candidates through that entire interview process in 2 weeks or less. When things go beyond that, I really see candidate engagement start to drop. If I’m scheduling an onsite for more than a week out, it never seems to end well. There are times when that’s not realistic based on scheduling, but the quicker you can get a candidate through the process, the better experience they will have. And the more success you will have in hiring.

Poor candidate experience is an issue that many employers face, and it can have a major impact on having successful hiring outcomes. If you find yourself with extra time given the current situation, candidate experience is worth evaluating so that you will have a better process when hiring ramps up. With a few simple changes and a little extra effort, you can begin to change the narrative at your company, and give candidates a great story that’s worth telling.

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Brian Smith
Brian Smith
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Brian is an accomplished Recruiter and Talent Acquisition Professional with more than 15 years of full lifecycle recruiting experience. ClearCompany’s mission is to help its clients achieve their own mission by hiring, retaining and engaging more top talent. Brian’s goal at ClearCompany is to help them identify their own A Players to support that mission. He strives to deliver an excellent candidate experience and thoroughly enjoys building relationships throughout the process. He takes great pride in seeing candidates become employees who love their new role and flourish at ClearCompany.

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