After writing a top-notch job advertisement, many administrators and HR managers expect applications to come flowing in and to have their pick of choice candidates. But for many hiring managers, the reality is often disappointing and tedious. When all of the logical explanations for a lackluster round of hiring are exhausted, it might be worth it review the problem from the potential hire’s perspective. The candidate experience might be the one element missing from your ability to capture quality talent for your business.
What is the “candidate experience”?
It’s the process that potential employees go through when applying for a job at your company. It’s how they find the job application, how soon they’re contacted, who interviews them and in what context, and how quickly they’re followed up with. The candidate experience also includes the language used in the job ad, company reviews they might find online, and the tone of voice in all communications from the time they fill out an application to the actual interview and beyond.
Why is the candidate experience important?
It directly affects the quality of employees your company attracts. If you don’t respond to people in a timely manner, if they don’t feel valued when they come in for an interview, or if they never find your job posting in the first place, you’re less likely to hire the ideal person for the job. The company’s reputation starts with a good candidate experience and has a domino effect on interpersonal relations within the office. In this digital world, word spreads quickly within a hiring pool when a candidate has a bad interview experience, so it’s best to strictly maintain a culture of professionality and friendliness during all stages of contact.
In fact, one survey found that not only do a whopping 60 percent of people report not hearing from a company after they interview, but 42 percent of people with that experience also refuse to apply to future positions with that company, and 22 percent say they’d tell others not to apply to jobs at that company. Here are some signs that you need to review your candidate experience.
If your problem is a lack of applicants, you should review the ways you’re spreading the news. Are you posting it on several online job boards and company social media? Are you having employees repost it? Do you have an employee referral program?
If your company has bad reviews on popular sites like Glassdoor or Indeed, being more attentive to candidates, standardizing your hiring communications, and encouraging reviews from current employees could put you in a better position to attract better potential employees in the future.
Another sign that your candidate experience is lacking is that getting a lot of candidates that are clearly unqualified for the job. This could mean that your company has a bad reputation or that the job posting is reaching the wrong audience. Either way, carefully review the language in your advertisements. Is the description accurate? Is the role clearly defined with precise duties and responsibilities? Any vague an unclear language is a giant red flag to the skilled, experienced workers you are looking for.
This often happens when companies have outdated websites and information is hard to access. Workers who do their research before an interview can be quickly discouraged or put off by a lack of information on the company. No matter the job is, full-time or part-time, people want to know that the company they are working for is a legitimate, trustworthy business. Remember that employees their companies with very sensitive personal information and dedicate most of their energy to their role once hired. It’s up to the company to make it clear that it will be a good steward of the potential employee’s livelihood. This starts with having a clearly defined company mission, information on its services and goals, and a publicly available handbook.
It’s never a good sign when candidates have to follow up multiple times to see whether you’re still considering them. It reflects poorly on the company, as well as the individual manager who had contact with the person. It’s generally expected to respond within 2-3 weeks to a candidate with a message stating whether they are moving to the next round of the hiring process. Even if the number of applicants is too high to respond to each one individually, you can program a series of automated messages that make the company’s hiring process more transparent.
If you find the perfect candidate but can’t lock them down, it may be because the candidate experience left them uneasy. Assess each level of communication, from how quickly they were contacted after submitting an application, how many people they spoke with during interviews and how quickly they received follow-up information.
The best way to receive feedback on the candidate experience is to ask for it. Have automatic emails set up be sent to employees after they interview asking them to rate their experience. You can also give the survey to current employees.
Employee referral systems are a win-win because they introduce more candidates and make it easy for employees to refer contacts.
It’s critical that you respond to candidates in a timely manner and thank them at each step of the way. This should include immediate automatic emails when they submit applications, as well as personal ones when managers engage with them.
Even if you don’t hire a candidate, it’s a good idea to file away their information for future reference. It makes things easier when you have a fit for them, and reflects well on the company when you remember them and reach out in the future.
It’s critical that you give people all of the information they need to make informed decisions. When you give more information, you weed out candidates that aren’t quite right.