By: Dawn Leckenby on March 11th, 2019

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The Top 4 Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience and Hire the Best

Talent Acquisition

With the unemployment rate at its lowest point in 50 years, it’s no secret employers are fighting over the best talent and constantly trying to find new ways to attract and retain that talent.

I see this competitive market every day as a Senior Recruiting Consultant, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an intentional focus on your talent strategy.

A strong and highly skilled employee base can give your firm an advantage over your competitors, generating more business and higher profits, which in turn feeds the economy (and your bank account).

This is why NOW more than ever before, the candidate experience is critical to your corporate brand and ability to hire key talent.

The Candidate Experience

People change the way they view your company depending on their recruiting experience. Let’s face it, technology and social media now play such a big role in the hiring process, a negative review, post or comment can have a huge impact on an organization’s ability to recruit.

Human Capital Institute reports 55 percent of job seekers avoid certain companies after reading negative reviews online.

And watch out if a negative post goes viral.

Once a negative review is out there, others with less than great experiences will jump on and add their two cents. Then, you will find yourself in reaction mode doing damage control which is much more difficult and unpredictable.

It’s better to plan up front and take a holistic approach- looking at the entire candidate experience from start to finish.

So, how do we create a positive candidate experience?

1) Make it Easy: Simplify the Application Process

If a candidate is presented with a lengthy application, they’re probably going to abandon midway through, especially if they’re distracted.

Who isn’t distracted?

In today’s tech-driven world, distractions are all around us...checking emails on your laptop, social media on your iPad, smartphone reminders, smartwatch alerts, and everyday life.

Wait, what was I talking about again?... (Just kidding).

Do your candidates a favor and simplify your application.

For instance, if it’s a skills-based job, insert a link to a short skills test which will allow the candidate to get immediate feedback if they are qualified for the position. 

Make the application easy to read, easy to fill out, easy to upload a resume and most of all - mobile friendly! Most candidates are job searching on mobile devices and not a computer. In fact, most candidates are doing everything on mobile devices so make your application mobile-friendly too.

The easier it is to apply, the wider and deeper your candidate pool will be.

2) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

It’s happened to all of us, you hit “Apply” and never hear back. An automated “Thank you for your application” email is pretty standard these days, but that’s where most communication stops.

Employers need to have their recruiting departments adequately staffed to evaluate and disposition their applicants. When an applicant is kept informed on their status and given a timeline, they develop a tighter bond and a deeper level of respect for the firm - even if the answer is “thanks, but no thanks”.

Communication becomes even more critical the deeper into the hiring process a candidate gets. If an applicant comes in for an interview, the recruiter can make or break the candidate experience.

Communication is key, starting with an explanation of logistics of time slots, the length they can expect to be interviewing, with whom and what their positions are and directions to the interview site. Just as important is communicating an overview of the company, in-depth description of the position, organizational structure and expectations.

3) Be Prepared for the Interview

The face-to-face interview is the opportunity for the employer to really shine and make a good impression.

Ideally, the candidate will be greeted, not left waiting too long and will be given a detailed description of who they are meeting and the schedule.

The interviewers are trained on “how to conduct” an interview within compliance guidelines and the candidate should leave the interview with a clear understanding of the company, the job, the structure of the team, growth opportunities and have a timeline when they will receive feedback.

The applicant shouldn’t feel like the interviewer is just working their way through a canned list of questions, but rather engaged in a productive and interesting conversation that leaves them excited and wanting to be part of the team.

Interviews are a two-way conversation and the employer is being evaluated right along with the candidate. A LinkedIn survey found 77% of candidates base their final decision on their interview experience.

It’s your opportunity to make a positive impression and impact your reputation in the industry!

4) Give and Get Feedback

You never want to put a candidate through the dreaded “black hole” after an interview where two weeks has gone by without a word. A candidate is not only emotionally disconnected, but they are left to wonder why they were even interviewed in the first place, if this is how they’re treated.

Timely and personal feedback is crucial to hiring success and building your brand. According to the  Talent Board North American Candidate Experience (CandE) Benchmark Research Report, “positive candidate ratings jump upwards of 28 percent when they receive a phone versus the automated email rejection.” I recommend giving the candidate a clear and objective reason for non-selection.

Don’t stop there though.

Provide the applicant with an opportunity to provide feedback on the candidate experience. These surveys can be really helpful in providing valuable insight into your process.

How can you improve your hiring process if you’re not sure what’s broken?

In today’s market, you can’t afford NOT to give your candidates a positive experience. Cost per hire and time to fill are just a few of the measurable metrics which will improve when steps are taken to ensure your applicants are treated well.

A simple and mobile-friendly application process, efficient and timely communication by friendly recruiters, a positive interview experience, and two directional feedback will go a long way in setting your firm up to attract and hire the best and the brightest.

The result: happy candidates become engaged employees in a growth-oriented organization.