Do you consider the candidate experience to be part of the employee experience? If not, you should. The employee experience begins well before the employee gets her badge and goes through orientation. The employee experience lifecycle is a long one, running through similar stages as the customer experience lifecycle.
There are a lot of reasons that the candidate experience must be a great one, not the least of which is the impact on the customer experience and on the brand reputation, never mind the employee herself. The candidate experience may well be the first impression someone has with/of your brand. Get the relationship off to a great start – make the candidate experience a priority!
I recently downloaded Hired’s How to Create a More Engaging Candidate Experience eBook. In it, they outlined five ways to do just that. But before I dive into those, an interesting (in a disturbing sort of way) statistic from the eBook: 72% of candidates have shared a bad experience online or with someone directly, according to CareerArc. Talk about impact on your brand reputation! Oh, and tech candidates rate searching for a job as more stressful than a root canal!
Here’s what they outline as the five steps to creating a more-engaging candidate experience. These five are aimed at recruiters.
- Align your team. Meet with hiring managers and other business partners or stakeholders to identify what’s important to pursuing and hiring your ideal candidate(s). Create an employee value proposition, which is the offer the company is making to the candidate in return for their skills, loyalty, hard work, and advocacy. It sets your company apart from similar roles in other companies.
- Make it easy and personal. The Amazon Effect comes into play here. Candidates expect the same levels of ease and personalization in their job searches as they do when they’re shopping or using apps. Use data and AI to match candidates to the right position. Personalize your outreach; don’t leave everything to the hiring platform. Candidates want a personal touch, a human touch. They want real answers and responsiveness, not just automated messages. I cannot emphasize how important communication is to the candidate experience. It needs to be timely, relevant, personalized, and authentic. If you’ve brought a candidate in for five rounds of interviews, don’t ghost her, and don’t send her an automated message turning her down. The candidate deserves respect.
- Make your employer brand shine. A strong employer brand helps improve candidate engagement. It can set you apart. Tell your brand story, the brand’s history. Share what it’s like to work for your company. Feature employee profiles on your hiring page. Talk about the perks and the benefits. And talk about the culture. But don’t blow it. It’s important to maintain that brand, to live that brand. Don’t ruin it by making the candidate experience cumbersome.
- Be transparent upfront and throughout the interview process. Salary transparency is key. It can save time for everyone, and it sets the right expectations from the start. Provide visibility into the interview process. Set expectations about the entire process. Let them know who they’ll meet with, what the evaluation criteria are, and what “a day in the life” of working for your company is like. Provide feedback to candidates about their interviews; 94% of candidates want this, according to LinkedIn. You should also ask candidates for feedback about the process.
- Have a consistent process for interviewing and screening. Develop a structured and scalable way to test and evaluate candidates. Use it consistently across all candidates for a particular role or position. For example, I’ve seen companies who ask every candidate to read a case study and present an approach to solving the problem posed. Others ask for presentations, while others might ask candidates to complete a mini-project. Whatever you choose, use it consistently across all candidates for a role.
I believe that it’s important to understand candidates and the experience they are having in order to design a better experience going forward. I would apply the same tools to designing and delivering a great candidate experience as I do for employee or customer experiences:
- Listen: get feedback about the experience through surveys and other mechanisms, as well as from the breadcrumbs of data they leave behind as they interact and transact throughout the candidate experience.
- Characterize: do your research and develop candidate personas – different candidates have different needs, pain points, problems to solve, expectations, and more.
- Empathize: map the candidate experience – with candidates (or with new hires who have just been through the experience). Learn from them what’s going well and what isn’t.
Use what you learn to design a better candidate experience. It’s not a waste of time. First impressions are lasting impressions. Your employees will thank you for it.
You need to have a collaborative hiring process. –Steve Jobs