While many in HR and recruiting have been advocating for the importance of the candidate experience for years, the impacts of a poor one have been recently hitting home for employers and hiring managers in significant ways. Creating a good candidate experience is part of any employer’s brand, and they compromise it at their peril. As 2022 starts off with the tightest labor market in memory and the Great Resignation (or Great Reset or any other names used for the massive labor market shift are called), the candidate experience is a differentiator, both for good and bad, that sets top employers apart.
We see the impacts of this daily at TalentReach, and help our clients step up their game to win the best talent. A key question to ask is how do people feel when they walk away from your hiring process? Do they feel great about you as a company, even if they didn’t score the position? There are many places to stand out along the way (again, both positively and negatively). Probably the most important one is communication. Has the candidate been communicated with, clearly and helpfullyl throughout the process? “Ghosting” is not any more popular in hiring than it is in dating. There is no reason for a recruiter or hiring manager to disappear after interactions. But there should also be timely follow-up, clear expectations set about interviews, advice on how to prepare, and communication about the people who will be interviewing the candidate. A good rule of thumb is that the more of the candidate’s time taken during the process, the more communication they are owed. If they spend several hours interviewing with multiple team members, or travel in person to an office for an interview, they deserve more than the form “thanks for coming” email generated by an ATS. If they are one of two final candidates who is ultimately not successful, a phone call is appropriate. A human voice taking the time to call and say, “Our team really liked you, but the other candidate had more experience in XYZ” or “Your interview went well, but we decided the role called for someone with more background in ABC,” is how to handle this. This gives the candidate a little closure and also leaves them with a positive impression of the company. If the candidate was good enough to make it this far, there may be another position better suited in the future and they will apply again.
One thing we see again and again: employer brand and reputation matter! It is a small world, whether in a geographic community or the online one. Word spreads of poor employers and bad experiences, whether it is at the coffee shop or on LinkedIn. Everyone wants employees that evangelize their experience at a place of employment, and that goes for candidates too. In a previous time, some employers had a limitless supply of candidates: those days are over.
Some other best practices we’ve seen:
- Showing simple appreciation, even for just applying. We’ve been impressed by emails that say “Thank you for applying. We realize you have many options and we thank you for taking the time to give us a look.”
- Sending detailed schedules for interviews. This includes listing who you’ll be interviewing with, what their job title is, and how they relate to the role you’re interviewing for.
- Making the application process as painless as possible. Don’t start things off on the wrong foot by having them upload resumes then also re-enter all the exact same information into a clunky ATS.
- Be inclusive and accommodating about interview schedules and candidate accommodations. One employer made national news when a candidate said they couldn’t make the interview because their childcare for their toddler fell through, and the employer responded by telling them to bring the toddler along. This kind of above-and-beyond accommodation speaks volumes about the culture of the employer and assuredly made it a top pick for that candidate.
- Training hiring managers or interviewers how to better communicate and interview. This is especially important when they need to be selling their employer, rather than just grilling the candidate. Interviewing candidates is a skill like any other, and it takes practice and training to be good at it. Hiring managers need to know how to screen candidates for their own positions, but also to be thinking about how they are representing the organization.
- Sending a candidate feedback survey. The best way to see if your hiring process is good is to ask the candidates directly. You don’t know what you don’t know, until you ask. This shows you care, and most importantly, you can fix what isn’t working.
We cannot stress enough how critical the candidate experience is right now. We have also seen what can absolutely torpedo the experience. One recent example: a top candidate was asked for salary requirements very early in the process. She clearly stated them, and then proceeded through a thorough and lengthy interview process, upon which she was made an offer with a salary significantly below her stated requirements. This was undoubtedly a waste of everyone’s time, and showed disrespect for the candidate. Why continue with a process that will not end in success? No doubt she left with a negative overall impression of that employer, and we do not doubt she will share her experience with others.
In short, 2022 is the year for employers to step it up as far as the candidate experience. The process that worked in 2018 isn’t going to cut it in 2022. Not sure how to proceed? Give us a call – we are here to help secure the best talent for your organization.