The Importance of the Candidate Experience

How Did it Feel?
By Jane Kennelly, Director, Frog Recruitment

As many employers know, even through times of high unemployment it may still be difficult to find the right candidates. In this blog we look at one way to keep candidates engaged and interested throughout the recruitment process, and to keep from losing interest or dropping out part-way through. This can be achieved by carefully conceptualising and designing an effective candidate experience.

Employer branding, and marketing in general, is moving rapidly toward more integrated and customised customer experiences. By thinking about the candidate experience in a similar way as the customer experience, recruiters can design effective strategies to attract and retain distinctive talent. It starts by considering a wider range of touch points with their employer brand and moves to how to effectively deploy them.

A good way to frame the candidate experience is to view it as the journey candidates go through from first being aware of a vacancy at an organisation, to the conclusion of the induction process.  We include all candidate applications in this view, not just those who qualify through to interview stage.

Why consider building a candidate experience program?  

Especially in small markets like New Zealand, word of mouth can be a critical factor in attracting qualified candidates. As the word spreads about how an organisation looks after candidates, they can expect more qualified candidates applying via referrals.  Other key reasons to consider the candidate experience lies in keeping qualified candidates ‘warm’ during the recruitment process, and to create a higher rate of acceptance.

The first part in designing candidate experience programs is considering the attraction phase, or how to start building a dialogue with potential candidates. Simple rules of thumb apply here such as:

  • Ensuring that all communications are consistent, i.e. branding and key messages on your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, careers website, YouTube,  Pinterest, and job ads are using the same guidelines
  • The platform/s you are using are consistent with your audience demographics
  • The tone you are using is appropriate to your audience
  • All platforms up to date

Because marketing is evolving to create a dialogue with customers – ensure your attraction methods encourage social sharing and two-way communications in order to attract the most distinctive candidates.

The second part in the candidate experience is around the process of actually applying for a role.  Consider the following:

  • Is the design of the application form visually consistent with other employer branding?
  • Are the questions relevant?
  • Are the questions logically ordered?
  • Does the online form load in a timely manner?
  • Is the form easy to fill out and submit?
  • Is there a confirmation email after submitting the form? Is this consistent with branding guidelines?
  • Is there an explanation of what the next steps in the process are?
  • Are the expectations about communications set? E.g. who is the contact person and when is it reasonable to contact them?
  • How and when will the candidate be notified of their success?

One of the most common complaints we hear from candidates is the all too familiar scenario of applying for a role and never receiving any communications. This can be severely detrimental if this candidate shares this experience with others, or later passes up a role at an organisation because of a previous negative experience.  Our advice… simply make it easy to apply, set expectations about communications, automate your processes and create a range of response templates.

The third area of consideration for the candidate experience is the interview process. This is an opportunity to showcase your organisations professionalism, and to set the tone for the ongoing relationship with the candidate.

Top Tips:

  • Ensure that you are ready for the candidate with a prepared and structured interview format
  • Have all the relevant details with you.
  • First impressions count so make sure you, the reception area and interview room are presentable.
  • Ask yourself; “Can the interview showcase the company and opportunity authentically?”
  • Set expectations about on-going communications i.e.  When a decision will be reached, and how they will be notified.  [It’s a crying shame if a qualified candidate turns down a role because of poor first impressions or because they have no idea about the time involved in the interviewing process]

We’ve taken a general overview of the candidate experience process but we hope there is enough to consider how your organisation is communicating with candidates at different touch points.

We believe that setting expectations and creating consistency is crucial to keeping distinctive candidates engaged with your employer brand. As candidates are experiencing integrated and flowing marketing experiences from multiple other brands in their lives, why would it not follow that the same apply from an employer brand?

We have experienced time and time again, that a thoughtful, respectful, considered, engaged and prepared approach by employers (big or small) can create a competitive advantage when it comes to winning the confidence of potential new employees.  This is one sure way to compete in the war for distinctive talent.

If you have a comment to make about ‘The Importance of the Candidate Experience’, please do share them with us.

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