Why you should Pay Attention to the Candidate Experience

In the world before social media, you advertised a position; tediously sorted through a pile of CV’s; staged an exhausting run of person to person interviews with candidates on the shortlist; and hopefully, picked one; never to hear from the rest again.
How times have changed. It’s not just social media that’s made the difference. ‘The War for Talent’, a term coined by McKinsey, has opened up a landscape where the candidates you might want, may not want you – yet. You have the chance to stay connected to them. How do you do that?
Twitter and Facebook posts, blogs in abundance, are littered with people’s accounts of being treated poorly by hiring companies. It’s too easy to dismiss this as ‘sour grapes’. The messages of discontent are out there and they are knocking employer brands. Because social media does tell the stories from both sides of the coin, there are also many accounts by people who have been treated respectfully, and even though they didn’t get hired, they are honest and gracious enough to give a thumbs-up to the company just because they had a worthwhile candidate experience. Could there be any approval of your employer brand more powerful than that?
Hiring is stressful for companies. There’s most likely an urgent role that needs to be filled. There’s a pressure to ‘get the best’ that is amplified by an anxiety that results from the many under-qualified submissions that miss the mark. Despite this stress, businesses today need to pay attention to the candidate experience. Candidates are far from pitiful job seekers that need you more than you need them. They are not CV’s you can dismiss after they’ve engaged in your recruitment process. They’re people with multi-voices, channels and communities. And, if they have applied for a job with you, they are now connected to you. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing – they can be useful to you, even if you don’t want to hire them. It’s all about how you choose to handle the candidate experience. Manage the process well and even those you don’t hire might well become your advocates.

So, what makes for a great candidate experience?

Make your hiring process transparent. Make sure the applicant knows what to expect at each stage. Include your time-lines so that candidates can manage their expectations.
Connect candidates and your employees. Don’t wait for them to do their desk-top research. They’re going to do it, and they are going to value what current and ex-employees have to say about your company. Play an active role and provide connections.
Respect the person. It’s a mistake to characterise job-seekers as needy and unworthy of your respect; or to assume an attitude that you are in the position of power because you are hiring. There’s a war for talent on the go that puts companies on the back foot, and candidates know this well. The best of them are going to make sure that they are hired by respectful businesses.
Tailor the interviewing process. Candidates are often required to go through long, strenuous interviewing processes. Interviewers should all be well-briefed and responsive to the candidate’s information. An effort should be made to avoid draining, repetitive questions. The rigours of the interviewing process should be taken into account.
Give candidates their say. In every screening or interviewing process, ask the candidate if there’s anything they would like to say. In responding to a barrage of interview questions, candidates often don’t get the chance to show their real value. Opening the interview forum to candidates allows them to pause, think and demonstrate this.
Get personal about rejection – If an unsuccessful candidate has interviewed with your company, perhaps they have even gone through multiple rounds of interviews; then get in touch with them over the phone to let them know they didn’t make it. Sending an email after they have made a considerable investment in time and energy makes most candidates feel that your company couldn’t care less about them.
Consider providing honest, constructive feedback – Many unsuccessful candidates appreciate knowing where they fell short. It helps them grow, change and improve their odds of being successful with another company.
Ask for feedback – You’ll gain valuable information about how well you’re doing at providing a respectful, positive candidate experience by asking for opinions of those who have been through your interviewing process.
Always give candidates closure promptly – Don’t leave them hanging on because you’re too busy to make those rejection calls. The sooner you let candidates know they weren’t successful, the quicker they can brush themselves off, refine their job search and move on to better things.