Employers are in a difficult spot. Candidates currently have the advantage in the job market, especially those with in-demand skills and knowledge. What can employers do to improve recruitment efforts?
It’s all about the candidate experience.
Making the candidate experience a positive one isn’t about the obligatory office tour and free coffee. There is a lot of planning and strategy that goes into creating a great candidate experience. The entire process starts long before a candidate ever applies for a job opening. The interview offers an opportunity to learn more about the candidate while giving the candidate a brief glimpse of what they can expect as your future employee. If this is done well and consistent with your employer brand, it makes things easier for the candidate to decide when the job offer arrives.
By understanding the elements of a positive candidate experience, any employer can improve the outcome of recruitment efforts. This effort can attract better candidates and improve the reputation of the company over time. Let’s dive into the corporate experience and its role in the interviewing process. We’ll also talk about ways to improve things within your own recruitment process.
How important is the interview to the candidate experience?
Outside of the application and screening phase of recruitment, the interview is the critical point in making candidate experiences better. Not sure how important the experience is to candidates? According to a Deloitte Consulting LLC. report, what candidates encounter while they are interviewing matters. The study advised 83% of talent said a negative interview experience changed their mind about a role or company they formerly liked. Likewise, 87% said a positive interviewing experience could cause them to stop doubting a company they once felt negatively about.
Consider that Millennials have become the largest generation of people in the job market, surpassing even the Baby Boomers and Gen X. Millennials are unique in that they prefer more personal interactions with recruiters and hiring managers. An article on EventBrite brought up an important study recently about how Millennials have created an “Experience Economy”, an ideal that stems from their value of experience over things.
In their poll, EventBrite found that three in four respondents agreed that this generation has an overwhelming fear of missing out on experiences of their choice. Known as FOMO, Millennials are adventurous and actively seek out new experiences they can share with their social networks and others. This is spilling over to the workplace with employees demanding a better recruitment experience.
Overall, no matter what demographic of candidate, a smart employer branding strategy starts with an outstanding candidate experience.
What are some easy, effective ways to improve candidate experience before, during, and after the interview?
Corporate marketing weighs heavily on the recruitment process. The candidate experience starts with the brand your company puts forth. This is usually in the formats of the corporate website, the job advertisements, career portal, and social media accounts. If it’s all branded well, the focus is on the positives about the organization and how well employees are treated. Testimonials are powerful as are images that show the corporate culture in a realistic light.
A way to streamline this “before” phase of recruitment is to develop a strong value proposition that highlights the unique nature of the business and why it’s a good place to start or build a career. A guide for the hiring process can also be explained to help walk candidates through the initial steps.
Once candidates have taken time to complete a simple application (because three in five job seekers abandon job applications due to issues like a long, tedious process), the work of creating the candidate experience begins. This can happen with a personal sounding response sent to each candidate within a few minutes of filling out the application, along with an invitation to join the company career network (a social media group). Have a video ready to thank the candidate for considering the company for their career.
Set up a pre-screening interview with the candidate promptly, no later than 72 hours after receipt of the application. Use this time to greet the candidate warmly, thank them again, and share a little more about the company and the job. Get the basics about their career goals, and find out what they would like to focus on in terms of future career goals. If there is a match, set up an in-person interview as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that some candidates do not do well with phone interviews, due to communication challenges or a dislike for talking on the phone. If you are not able to make a determination about the candidate or gain enough information, set the face-to-face interview. Candidates may perform better in person.
Send a confirmation of the interview date, time, and location via email. Make sure the candidate has a map of your campus, has a parking pass, and knows about any security check in requirements. The day before the interview, call and remind the candidate and answer any logistics questions the candidate may have. Express excitement about meeting the candidate and let them know they may be meeting with several people, so as to allow ample time.
When the interview day arrives, have the candidate’s name badge ready and alert the front desk of their arrival time. Meet the candidate in the lobby and ask them if they would like a water or need to use a comfort station. This can be a good time to take a relaxed tour of the office, stopping at a few critical areas and explaining what each department does. Introduce the candidate to a few employees in a natural way. Deliver the candidate to a clean and quiet interviewing room, complete with a corporate imprinted notebook and pen.
Get comfortable, offer a snack, and make some small talk before jumping into any interview questions. Start out by showing genuine interest in the candidate and learning more about his or her career background, achievements, and goals. Have a short fun story to share to break the ice with a nervous candidate. Good eye contact and a smile can help, but be aware of cultural aspects of communication. Take cues from the candidate.
At the conclusion of the interview, walk with the candidate to meet an available member of his or her potential team. This can be a good time to introduce the candidate and show a preview of the work atmosphere. If the candidate is a good fit, this should be evident in how the team members interact with the candidate and vice versa. Hold a brief meeting and allow natural dialogue between the candidate and the team members in attendance. Encourage the candidate to ask any questions freely.
When the interview has run its course, escort the candidate to the previous meeting area. Explain the next steps in the process (assessments, checking references, background checks, drug screen) and thank the candidate for taking time to come to the interview. Encourage the candidate to follow up by email in 5 business days for a status update. Check the candidate out at the security desk and make sure the candidate knows how to get back out to a main road to head home. Recommend a good place to get a meal if it’s near lunch or dinner hour.
Once the interview is over, respond to the candidate promptly with a decision. Send a letter of determination either way, but thank them and let them know how much their time and effort is appreciated. Creating a positive candidate experience develops goodwill with candidates and they are likely to share this with others.
Are you noting the personal touches that it takes to create a positive candidate experience? This is what is required to keep candidates excited about the company and the prospect of working there. It can help them hold out to work for your company over a competitor. It’s what they’ll think about, even if they don’t get the job.