How you treat candidates during a typical hiring process can have long-ranging impacts on both your hiring success and your employer brand. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that candidates talk to others in their network. In the very connected digital world we’re all working in, what candidates say can help or hurt your next recruitment search. Especially right now, candidates are being very vocal about how companies have adapted to the pandemic and what sort of interview experience they’re able to offer. In order to stay on the right side of those kinds of conversations, it’s worth considering your own candidate experience approach and whether it can be updated to better support hiring in a remote environment.
How does poor candidate experience impact hiring?
Let’s start with why candidate experience still matters. At the start of the pandemic, candidate experience, and employer branding by association, took a back seat to more pressing talent management concerns like retention and future planning. But as we’ve stabilized into our new normal, businesses are once again trying to attract the best talent to them when they need to fill an open role. When a company has a better candidate experience, that’s easier to do because there’s more positive word of mouth and more buzz about your company being a good place to work. Negative candidate experience, on the other hand, can send qualified candidates running in the other direction. This can include their personal experiences interviewing with a company or online reviews left for other candidates on sites like Glassdoor.
The impact of those negative candidate conversations can compound over time to the point where your employer brand and recruitment marketing efforts might suffer from a lackluster reputation. Given how interconnected our world has become in the past few months, it’s easy for candidates to find insight into how companies have treated their staff in recent months and what working with a company might be like, especially for larger organizations that tend to have more chatter available online or on social media. Quality candidates will be turned off by those negative experiences and might look elsewhere for employment even if they’d be perfect for your team. This can lengthen the recruitment process by looking for candidates who aren’t naturally engaging with you, decrease the recruiting power of your employer brand, and increase your chances of hiring the wrong person because the right one gave your job posting a pass.
How can you improve your candidate experience?
If quality candidates aren’t coming to you on their own, then it’s time to look at your candidate experience approach and see if there are any areas for improvement. Right off the bat there are a few strategies to consider.
1) Change your job descriptions: There’s been a lot of talk about remote job descriptions and what message they’re actually sending to candidates. Job ads that use gender-charged language, for example, might be inadvertently sorting out strong potential hires just because of how they’re written. Try to make your job descriptions accessible and inclusive to any candidate and where possible, try to mention the company’s approach to culture or DE&I initiatives to paint a more complete picture of what working there might look like.
2) Look at your application process: A common pet peeve for candidates is when they’re asked to upload a resume only to be asked to retype everything again into the application itself. If your application process is too long or too hard to complete, you might be losing candidates before their application even reaches you. This is especially true for strong candidates who can afford to be picky. If they know they’ll have companies vying for them, they are less likely to waste their time with cumbersome applications.
3) Plan, plan, plan: It’s never a good idea to wing anything when it comes to hiring but it is especially true for candidate experience. Given we’re interviewing in a remote context these days, you really can’t afford to show up unprepared. Plan what someone’s experience “coming in” for an interview will look like before they even arrive. This might mean sending more welcome or communication messages leading up to the interview, including more information about culture or employee engagement during the interview, and following-up with all candidates after they’ve met the hiring manager.
4) Update your interview approach: Odds are you’re probably not interviewing in the office yet. Video interviewing is a popular trend but it does mean you’ll need to adjust your interview strategy, and technology choices, for an online environment. Consider the questions you’ll use during an interview, the length of your interview, how many participants need to be included, and how candidate information will be shared. Everything should be planned and streamlined so your candidate doesn’t face barriers like misaligned schedules or technology conflicts. You might also want to prep your hiring manager or recruiters beforehand on video interview best practices to make sure everyone is on the same page and providing a consistent experience.
5) Don’t stop communicating: The candidate black hole is still alive and well in 2021 and there’s very little excuse for it anymore. With everyone working remotely and living off email and text, you can’t really say you lost track of a candidate these days. It’s very quick and easy to send candidates periodic emails letting them know where they are in the process or whether they’re not moving forward. Technology and automation can even help streamline this task if you’re pressed for time. And keep in mind, how you reject unsuccessful candidates again ties back to your employer brand. So prioritize candidate communication and ensure no one drops out of your hiring funnel without some sort of positive touchpoint along the way.
How can you set your candidates up for success in a remote world?
Focusing more specifically on hiring in a remote context, here are some other tips to try:
- Get ahead of technology disruption by planning for the unexpected such as internet issues and interview interruptions
- Think about what candidates will see from their viewpoint so consider what you’re wearing, your lighting, and your background
- Share important points about culture and work-life with a candidate, preferably as a doc or email they can refer back to
- Make use of technology such as assessments or tests to bridge the divide and provide more actionable data to support better interviews
- Make a communication schedule and stick to it so that every candidate feels valued and remembered
- Create a list of strong but ultimately unsuccessful candidates to have on record next time you start a search
- Review your employer brand and make sure it’s up-to-date for a pandemic-driven world
Candidate experience should remain a priority
The recruiting process is changing as we become more comfortable with working and hiring remotely but a positive candidate experience never goes out of style. Job seekers want to know about companies before they work there and part of getting the right person to accept the right job offer is providing the insight and messaging needed to convince that candidate to stick around.
One piece of a successful recruitment search is considering how and where you advertise new positions from your career site to platforms like LinkedIn, along with what sort of language you’re using to write those gripping job descriptions. Another aspect to consider is your job application process itself and whether you’re unintentionally throwing barriers in front of your candidates. Then, of course, the interview plays a large role in providing a great candidate experience and you might want to bring up company culture or employee engagement wherever possible. This may seem like more work upfront for recruiters but when you’re able to find the best candidate for a role more quickly, everyone benefits. If you need to grow your team, remember candidate experience should still be a top talent management consideration even if you have to adjust your hiring process so you can provide it from a distance.