How not to suck at candidate experience

A friend of mine recently entered the job market after not having looked for a job in 5 years. She had reached out to me for some advice and we got to talking about her experiences thus far. While I know that “candidate experience” is a big term these days in the world of Talent Acquisition, I am sad to report that based on my friend’s and other recent accounts I have heard of, not many of us are listening. Where do I begin? How about with a 5 page online application form? (insert nails on a chalkboard noise here). Even better- going in for an interview only to not hear anything back for two weeks and counting – not even a “no thanks”? Simply unacceptable. This one account I heard though really sealed the deal: one of my friends sat through an interview with a hiring manager who kept checking his phone and during the “conversation” actually said to the candidate “I’m sorry – I wasn’t listening”?!

And we wonder why candidates reject our offers or don’t even apply at all.

There has been a whole sub-industry in Talent Acquisition sprouting up from the need for a better candidate experience. While there are a lot of cool new technologies and tools addressing this from the tech side of things – I really don’t think it is that complicated. It just takes education of the hiring teams, compassion, time and respect. And guess what? Those don’t cost anything. I don’t care how big or small your organization is – without these factors you will always suck at candidate experience – cool shiny new tools or not. So what can you teach your hiring teams to do? Start with these basic tenants:

– Establish rapport with the candidate – make the candidate feel comfortable
– Be on time – being late is really disrespectful.
– Be present (no phones, tablets, etc.) – goes without saying but there – I just said it.
– Give them a tour! – Guess what? Candidates can’t assess your culture by sitting in the same conference room for 5 hours. True story.
– Build culture of candidate experience – offer water, coffee, etc. – this should be on all your employees. Whether waiting in the lobby or in the process itself, this is always good form.
– Be positive and polite – needed to be said
– Be respectful – no explanation needed
– Have a sense of urgency – value their time and understand fast decisions (good or bad) result in pleased candidates
– Don’t make candidates come in for several rounds of in person interviews – there are only so many “Dr. appointments” someone can have before it gets ridiculous. Value your candidate’s time.
– Regardless of candidate fit, the candidate should always leave thinking your organization was respectful and kind

A good idea is to actually start surveying your candidates after they engage in your process. What you think is working fine might not be the case – or if everything is groovy there are always still areas to improve.

Outside of decisions around family, there is no more emotional decision in someone’s life than their career. If you understand that basic concept, you will then be able to understand why the interview process and the candidate’s experience in it is so critical. I can hear it already – the “we are all busy” routine. But here’s the rub: if you are too busy to make treating candidates with respect and dignity a priority, then you will never be able to hire someone to do the job to make you less busy in the first place. Chicken and egg type stuff there.

*Drops mic*

Posted on November 17, 2014 in candidate experience, Recruiting, talent acquisition

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