Talent Acquisition

Crafting a Great Candidate Experience: The Good, The Better and The Best

This article is written and sponsored by Breezy HR, an intuitive, flexible and affordable ATS that wants all of your candidates to have an amazing experience. How amazing? Let’s find out! Breezy – A Breath of Fresh HR.

In the interest of transparency, let’s get the candidate experience controversy out of the way right off the bat here: not every candidate is going to have the best candidate experience with your company.

How elitist of us! Go on, throw your tomatoes. But when you’re ready, consider the last time you shopped for bedsheets, or home improvement tools … big box stores often sell in these items in terms (or even aisles) of good, better and best. Sheets for the guest bed that’s most often the dog bed? Good is good enough. Painting the dining room, home to a thousand dinner parties? Only the best will do.

This post will outline nine ways to help move your company from a good, to a better, to the best job candidate experience you can give your applicants.

Two most important things to remember when using these nine good, better and best tips to improve your candidate experience:

  1. You’re not putting the candidates into these buckets! This is much more about what your company can reasonably invest in which candidate experiences.
  2. Every tip here yields improvement. Your organization may have a great candidate experience for some, but others need some attention before they even get to good. Luckily, working with with good, better and best isn’t a zero-sum game … in truth, all of your candidates win.

You’re going to need a frame of reference for these, so think back to the last few times you stayed at various hotels. Got it? Ok, here we go!

The Good Candidate Experience: Make it Efficient

Remember that time you’d been on the highway for six hours straight, and if you didn’t get some sleep (or the little ones out of the car), you were going to be risking bodily injury to those around you? The first well-lit hotel with vacancy, low rates, and a clean bathroom suited you just fine. You came, you slept, you had free coffee in the morning and you were perfectly pleased with the whole shebang.

That’s the good candidate experience. Nothing to write home about, but nothing bad to write about it either.

How to Get to a Good Candidate Experience

The best parts of that hotel stay? Efficiency, simplicity and cleanliness. When you’re trying to fill multiple positions in a short time period (and who isn’t?), these three will not only be your best friends, but they’ll also be your applicants’, as well.

  1. Make your job openings easy to find. In this case, your first step is a Career Page. Got one of those? Great! But is your Career Page optimized? Is it easy to find in your site navigation – the header, or the footer? Do you use a real call to action for it, like Work With Us, or something less noteworthy, like About Us? Some applicants need that bright sign on the side of the highway … put it up for them.
  2. Simplify your application. Just like not all hotels can’t afford to keep low rates, not all applications can afford simplification(looking at you, government jobs). But does any company really need applicants to type out their work history? Invest in an applicant tracking system that comes with a good resume parser (ahem, we can think of one!), and save everyone some headaches.
  3. Keep your process clean. If you’re going to be interviewing candidates two months, tell the applicant that. Don’t forget that they could be on pins an needles, waiting for a next-day call, and your opacity will mean one of two things: they’ll contact you all the time, which is a disruption to both of your schedules; or they’ll huff off a week after you ghost them. So close out non-interviews. Stay in contact with your real prospects weekly. Remove old job postings. If you’re running a tight recruiting ship, everyone leaves contented.

The Free Coffee? Go Mobile. According to Glassdoor, 45% of job seekers say they use their mobile device specifically to search for jobs at least once a day. Make the most of these mobile searchers by giving them a mobile-optimized application with:

  • One-click apply buttons;
  • Applications with seven fields or fewer (!); and
  • No resume requirement (!!). Ask for social media data or a link to more information, so candidates can get on your hiring radar in a snap (or a tap, as the case may be).

The Better Candidate Experience:

Next up on our hotel holiday? That business trip to a mid-sized city you didn’t know too well. You weren’t going to overspend on the company dime, but you still needed reliable access to certain amenities – zippy internet access, easy transport to your clients in the morning, and someplace for dinner nearby. You went with a brand-name hotel you read some reviews about earlier. Post check-in, you noticed that earned some points on the company card, and the concierge gave you some walkable restaurant choices. In the morning, you didn’t have time for the breakfast bar, but they had apples you could squeeze into your bag for your midday snack.

That’s the better candidate experience. You’ll absolutely go back the next time you’re in Mid-Sized City, and you might even seek out that brand in other locales.

How to Get to a Better Candidate Experience

This one’s all about the comfort level. The better candidate experience has all of the efficiency and cleanliness of the good one, but you’re doubling down on the amenities your company offers them along the way – usually for mid-tier roles and responsibilities.

  1. Add interviewer bios (or video!) to your site. You know what candidates love about your About pages and employee profiles, even after they’ve applied? The chance to get to know their potential interviewers. Like knowing you’ll get to your clients on time in the AM, candidates like to know what they’re walking into. When they can see their future manager cuddling with his beagle and talking about his day in a brief bio, they feel more able to ask relevant questions when the face-to-face comes along.
  2. Add pertinent company information to your candidate emails. Offering a better candidate experience tends to coincide with wrangling a longer hiring process (though everyone wishes it didn’t). Keep your candidates interested and involved by not only sending check-ins, but also sending along bonus-point content like company updates or blog posts they may be able to reference during second and third interviews.
  3. Ask the question that makes them feel better. Like impeccable directions, this question can turn any new candidate into a pro:  “Is there anything you didn’t get a chance to talk about today that you think we should know?”

For every interview question that the applicant feels they stumbled on along the way, offer them this question at the end. It’s the opportunity they may need to walk out the door with confidence.

The Midday-Snack Apple: Give Negative Feedback. The vast majority of your applicants will be rejected, which means hundreds of people per year go through this with you. Give these hundreds a reason to appreciate your organization anyway. Offer honest, delicate feedback about why the candidate wasn’t suitable for the role, and how they could improve.

It’s a considerate way to give your rejected candidates something that will serve them well later on.

The Best Candidate Experience:

Last stop on our hotel trip through time! The annual family trip. You went all out – months of online review-scouring finally found you the higher-end hotel that would fit your whole family, including Scrappy the Great Dane. Once there, you enjoyed pre-booked reservations at a spa for you (and Scrappy!), the concierge scored tickets to that show you thought would be sold out at this late date, housekeeping folded your fresh bathroom towels into swans for the kids, and breakfast was made-to-order room service with free mimosas for Mom & Dad. A few days after your stay, they even sent you that souvenir Sno-Globe you left on your room’s dresser.

That’s the best candidate experience. You’ll be their brand ambassador for years, with your Facebook feed of pictures of the kids hugging Carla the Concierge and Scrappy’s painted toenails.

How to Get to the Best Candidate Experience:

This is for the company that plays the long game, for roles with a higher level of responsibility and/or a tighter talent market. These recruits can take months or years to close, but when they do? So worth it.

  1. Personalise to perfection. We’ve definitely moved past the “You’re Jordan, right?” phase. Here, strive to know everything there is to know about your candidate. Ask them plenty of open-ended questions during screening, and do your due sleuthing well before the interviews. Every interviewer should know the candidate’s aspirations, why they’ve chosen to interview, and maybe the sticking points that would be holding the recruit back. Ensure that questions are personal, relevant, interesting and unique to each team or manager by going over the full list before the candidate walks in the door (or loads up the video app).
  2. Overhaul Your Onsites. If you’re planning to keep a candidate most of the day, take these tips from companies like LinkedIn and Airbnb, who aim to make candidates feel spa-day relaxed:
    Provide them with a schedule of their day, complete with interviewer LinkedIn profiles and videos.

    • Text them their interview time and traffic conditions.
    • Give them a goodie bag (snacks, water?) to ease them through what will be a very long day.
    • Got a campus? Take a tour with them, so they can see what working with you is really like.
  3. Ask how it went. The best way to continue to improve your candidate experience is to continue to ask candidates how they feel about it. Automate a questionnaire to go out to your interviewees after they’ve completed the process, and revisit answers monthly.

The Sno-Globe: Send a custom thank card or gift bag. A little swag never hurt anyone! When you’re still unsure about a candidate, a branded mug with a note (“I noticed that you were drinking coffee the whole day!”) recognizes that they spent their valuable time with you. When you’re ready to welcome them to the team, a gift basket with their new name tag and a bottle of wine (“See you Monday!”) says you’re glad they’re coming aboard.

Bottom line: Awesome recruiters know that every candidate experience matters. The key is to consider the right improvements for the right situations, and then use your best judgement. You’re looking to make the most meaningful changes to your candidate experience for the resources you spend, and we hope we’ve helped you spot them!

Happy Trails!

This article is written and sponsored by Breezy HR, an intuitive, flexible and affordable ATS that wants all of your candidates to have an amazing experience. We’ll do our best to help you get to best a little faster! Breezy – A Breath of Fresh HR.

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