It can be tricky to discuss the intersection of “candidate experience” and “automation” together. Why? Well, automation can definitely make the candidate experience process more efficient -- more on that in a second -- but the efficiency is felt by the company, i.e. those who are hiring for roles. Candidates, in general, don’t necessarily want more processes automated -- they want more communication from humans. So, the relationship is a bit asymmetrical: companies and organizations like the idea of injecting automation into their candidate experience, but it’s not always what candidates want more of. Is there a way to streamline the process for the company, and take advantage of tech advances, without giving up a winning candidate experience? Let's dive in.
What areas of the hiring process make the most sense to automate?
This is a question for the organization/company side of the conversation. What can hiring managers do to make their lives easier? Here are some of the most logical buckets for automation:
- Sourcing and screening: This takes up a huge amount of time if done manually, and it cuts into time where the talent acquisition team could be more strategic, or out networking and building relationships locally with potential future candidates. You’ve seen the stats about how recruiters look at a resume for roughly six seconds. It’s hard to glean much in six seconds, but automated programs can get a relatively-detailed look at 500+ candidates in mere minutes. From a sheer time perspective, this makes sense to automate this step as much as possible.
- Candidate interviews: Again, the scheduling and rescheduling of interviews takes up a lot of time for recruiters. This can be done automatically; many of us have automated calendar links these days, even if we’re not in recruiting. There are as so many tools out there to help with scheduling. If this is a big time waster for your hiring team, turn to one of those tools rather than trying to balance a bunch of competing schedules and priorities. This can be especially true when hiring for more senior roles that involved coordination across multiple stakeholders and interviewers.
- Communication: Alright now this is where it starts to get tricky. Candidates would probably prefer to hear from a bot/automated program as opposed to hearing nothing, because the “candidate black hole” -- apply and hear nothing -- is a major concern. But do candidates love bots? Not necessarily. As with a lot of automation discussions, the issue here is scale. It would be impossible for recruiters to individually respond, and then go back-and-forth with 300+ candidates on their status. It needs to be an automated process to free up time. But you need to make sure the process is designed respectfully and any automated bot can answer core FAQs -- so that candidates feel like they’re in the loop and being treated properly.
- Onboarding: You cannot automate the aspects of onboarding where a new hire learns about the company and the culture, no. Those need to be human-to-human. But lots of the forms that someone needs to sign before commencing a new job? Those can be put into a checklist, sent out prior to start date, and that process can be all pre-planned. Even some of the learning can be automated by building online onboarding modules that explores different aspects of a role or breaks down more complicated policies or procedures within the company.
What do candidates want from a hiring process?
We all want to know what candidates want. Broadly speaking, these are the items that come up in most of the research over the past decade:
- Clear communication/status updates
- Fair compensation, discussed early in process
- Opportunities for growth in the role
- A good team/culture
Doesn't sound like too much to ask, right?
Reconciling “automate for scale” with what candidates want
Thankfully, there are some platforms that focus on automated candidate experience, including Paradox, Ideal, PeopleScout, and more. Look into some of those options, as they’re establishing expertise at this intersection of “what candidates want” and “how companies need to automate to spend their time more effectively.”
One of the most important elements of this discussion for an organization is one question: “What will you do with the time you save automating?” For example, if you automate candidate sourcing and candidate follow-up, great. But that means you need to find value-add activities to do with the time you saved. Your talent acquisition team should be working on a three-year strategy, or going to local events and building relationships with passive, future candidates. They should be working on job descriptions and the value proposition of working with you. If you automate and still end up doing a bunch of task work, that is not valuable and may be costing you the good opinion of your candidate. But if automating allows you to be more forward-thinking and strategic, that can be incredibly valuable.
Automation done well can save everyone time
The key takeaway here is that companies will continue to pursue automation one way or another. It’s a train that cannot be stopped. And in truth, there are many pieces of a company's hiring process or talent acquisition strategy that can benefit from technology. The trick comes in striking the balance between in-person and automated touch-points so that candidate's don't feel like they were hired by a robot rather than a recruiter. Job seekers take the time to invest in the interview process and (hopefully!) behave respectfully in terms of their hiring manager's time. A recruiter, in the same vein, needs to return that respect by valuing the candidate as a person, not a number. Great candidate experience can't happen by only relying on technology and tricks to make work easier. But if you automate the parts of hiring that are tedious or time consuming, that frees you up to handle the human elements of your recruiting process with more care. And when candidates feel like they are treated well, it makes them far more likely to say yes when you extend that great new offer.