How to Create and Provide a Positive Candidate Experience

The world of hiring is more candidate-driven than ever before. Professionals in various industries at different levels of experience are in high demand, and that means they have more options when it comes to choosing an employer. The presence of options, coupled with the rising bargaining power of employees, has lifted candidate experience to the top of many organization’s list of talent acquisition and workforce management priorities.

Generally, the better the candidate experience, the more likely an organization is to attract the best talent. Top candidates demand compelling experiences during and after the hiring process. In this post, we outline ways organizations can improve their candidate experience to gain an advantage over the competition.

Why is Candidate Experience Important?

The candidate experience covers the entire recruitment process from before an application is submitted to onboarding, and everything in between. Poor experiences during the recruiting process can negatively impact an employer’s ability to hire talent. In fact, 27 percent of candidates who have a bad experience would “actively discourage others to apply.” What’s more, 77 percent of candidates are likely to share positive experiences with those in their network.

Today, candidates have more choices, making it harder for employers to differentiate themselves and establish how their values, company culture and employees represent a unique opportunity for top candidates. Through a positive candidate experience, organizations can gain the trust and loyalty of applicants who may become advocates for an organization and help bolster their employer brand. With a stronger employer brand, organizations can distinguish themselves as an employer of choice in their industry.

Candidate Experience Touchpoints

Every interaction with an organization, from job postings and career sites to speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager can positively or negatively impact the candidate’s perception of an organization. Candidates often decide whether or not to accept a job offer based on how they were treated throughout the hiring process.

Each touchpoint throughout the hiring process—from attraction and sourcing to onboarding—should be taken into consideration when optimizing your candidate experience. The following are tips on how to enhance your candidate experience.

Employer Branding

In today’s digital-obsessed world, most candidates use the internet to research an potential employer prior to applying for a job. Having a strong employer brand not only helps build a connection with a prospective hire, but it introduces them to who you are, what you do and why you are a great place to work.

There are many ways in which a company can work to optimize its employer brand. For example, organizations can ask current employees to leave reviews on Glassdoor or submit a quote about their experience to be used in recruiting materials. Social media savvy employees can also be encouraged to share company culture through news, photos and events.

Employer branding messages should be communicated across all platforms that are relevant to the organization’s business and recruitment efforts such as job boards, social media platforms and industry publications.

Make a Good First Impression

According to a CareerBuilder study, 57 percent of candidates conduct their preliminary research by visiting an organization’s website, making it clear that career pages and candidate-facing web pages need to be designed to capture an applicant’s interest.

An effective career site should make visitors feel welcome and give applicants the information they are looking for, such as details about employment opportunities, company culture and work environment.

Career sites should be both engaging and easy to understand. An excellent online experience can motivate candidates to apply and differentiate employers from competitors.

Respond to Candidates

CareerBuilder also reports that 47 percent of candidates never receive any form of communication from the organization they apply to, even past 60 days after applying. This leaves a huge opportunity for organizations to provide superior communication and recruitment marketing.

Every candidate deserves a response, even if they will not be given an interview. Whether the response is an automated email, a letter or a phone call, as long as it is prompt and tactful, applicants will not feel that they wasted their time.

Organizations who treat every candidate equally are more likely to have applicants reapply to the company or encourage family, friends and coworkers to apply.

Create Unique Experiences

An optimized application process should be tailored based on different criteria such as the role, location or technical experience required. For example, certain positions may require rigorous technical screening questions, while others might rely more on personality or cultural fit. Organizations can even display specific job postings in an applicant’s preferred language to make them feel more comfortable with the hiring process.

Employers can also build a way for applicants to showcase their personal interests and non-work-related activities throughout the application process. This allows candidates to display their personality in addition to just experience; organizations can also use this opportunity to learn about additional skills that may make a hire more desirable.

Improving the Application Process

Many qualified candidates are lost because organizations lack a streamlined and easy application process.

To improve the application process, organizations should ask the following questions:

  • What does the application process look like? Is it long? Is it tedious?
  • What happens after a candidate completes the application?
  • How will they know if they have been selected to move on through the hiring process?

Below, we outline some additional ways to improve the candidate experience through improving the application process.

Mobile-Friendly Applications

Job seekers today spend time on their smartphone doing everything from buying birthday gifts to scheduling doctor appointments. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 53 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds and 43 percent of all users have used a smartphone as part of a job search. Yet, many employers still offer an outdated or poorly designed mobile application experience.

Because so many candidates learn about job opportunities on their mobile devices, organizations need to create a mobile-friendly application experience. Candidates—in particular, high-demand candidates such as those working in technology and executives—may judge an organization by its technology and application processes. Being perceived as “outdated” could damage an organization’s employer brand.

At PeopleScout, we understand the importance of creating an optimized application experience across all devices, which is why we built Affinix to be mobile-first. Learn more about PeopleScout’s mobile-friendly recruiting solutions with AffinixTM.

Job Descriptions

A well-written job description can engage a candidate and convince them to apply for a position. However, there is a disconnect when it comes to job descriptions, with 72 percent of hiring managers stating that they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36 percent of applicants agree.

Organizations should perform a quality check on their job descriptions and ask the question, “Could these descriptions describe any company?” If they can, the descriptions probably rely on a list of generic skills and traits, which may deter top candidates from applying while inviting unqualified ones.

Instead, organizations should write job descriptions that highlight what a candidate would be expected to achieve during their first month, three months, six months and a year into the job. The improved clarity will provide candidates with a clear understanding of what they can expect if they are hired.

Shorten Applications

The length of a job application can have a major impact on candidate experience. A study conducted by Indeed found that 88.7 percent of potential applicants abandon the application process if there are 45 or more screener questions. What’s more,  43 percent of candidates spent more than 30 minutes completing an application, and 12 percent spent more than one hour.

A “Quick Apply” feature that only collects the most pertinent information required to move a candidate forward in the process can help shorten job applications. Many ATSs have features that allow applicants to import their resume from other sites such as LinkedIn or auto-fill parts of the application to save time. By shortening the application time, organizations will have more candidates completing the process, adding to the applicant pool and increasing the chances of finding the right hire.

Provide a Positive Interview Experience

A positive interview experience can present a positive image of a company, improving the odds of the best candidate accepting a job offer.

During the interview, one of the most effective ways to get good responses is by using behavioral interviewing techniques. Behavioral interviewing is the concept that past experience is a good indicator of future performance. Questions that begin with “Tell me about a time,” or “Describe a moment when,” are usually behavioral in nature. It allows the candidate to share an experience from their past.

Ultimately, a well-defined interview process will give everyone the comfort to ask and receive the best answers.

How RPO Providers can Help with Candidate Experience

From the initial recruiting email or phone call to onboarding, high-quality talent expects a high-quality candidate experience. An RPO provider who makes smart use of technology and recruiting strategies can help deliver high-quality experiences that make candidates feel important. An RPO partner’s recruiting teams spend hours cultivating relationships with candidates. The rapport they build with candidates helps establish relationships that over time lead to making quality hires and recruiting success.

Organizations who partner with PeopleScout can build a world-class, global candidate experience that features personalized messaging, social recruitment, retargeting and programmatic prospecting as well as data-driven decision making.

Post by Eric Dyson