Candidate Experience: How to Get it Right

With the first ever CandEs UK Awards Ceremony having just been celebrated recently in February, the issue of candidate experience continues to be a hot topic of discussion across the industry.

The awards recognise companies that set high standards for how they treat candidates and is open to organisations that recruit in the British employment markets. Organisations were judged on their understanding of the realm of recruiting and the way in which candidates find and apply for jobs.

Three companies walked away with distinctions: Avanade, GE Capital and RMS.

Here are some interesting stats (from Recruitment Buzz) that also came to light from the awards:

  • 50% of candidates surveyed said they had a neutral overall experience that was neither negative nor positive. 39% said they had a positive experience.
  • 49% of candidates claimed some relationship with the company they applied to including nearly 1 in 5 being an existing customer and 12% had family and friends working there.
  • 73% of candidates surveyed would definitely tell their inner circle about a positive experience (62% would share a negative experience) and 28% would share a positive experience on Social Media (17% would share if it was negative.)
  • A number of candidates were frustrated by the “black hole”, with 30% citing receiving a “do not reply” automated response and 31% receiving no response at all.

For me, determining whether you are offering a good candidate experience or not comes down to understanding exactly what candidates expect. You need to be empathetic in these situations, think about it from a more human perspective and think about how you would like to be treated if you were the job seeker.

Too often I see daunting job application processes appear on job sites. It’s surprising to see that in 2013 we still aren’t collectively recognising that this is a far less than ideal first impression we are leaving on our poor candidates.  This is not even mentioning the possibility of  the damaging effects it could have on the website, recruiter or company reputation.

Our perfect candidates are constantly being deterred and put off by bad experiences with recruiters and line managers. Sure, not every candidate is right for the roles they apply for, but that’s not to say that they won’t be the perfect candidate for another role down the track – leave a bad impression on them, and you won’t see them coming back to your pool of talent any time soon.

With all that said, here are few basic fundamentals I believe will help increase your candidate experience:

Communication is Key

Feedback from candidates who have had negative experiences on various job boards show that one of the main issues is communication. Often candidates will feel that they are being ignored and will even question whether a job role actually exists, or if the recruiter is just posting a phony role to find talent.

We all know how busy recruiters are, and our job requires a lot of prioritising, but finding the time to keep each of your candidates updated and informed is only going to benefit you in the long run.

Yes this will mean that you have to be honest in your approach as well. Candidates will often tend to think that they are right for a role that you already know they aren’t. Approaching this discussion gracefully is key to ensuring they go away with nothing but a positive impression.

Always Give Feedback

The hiring manager has told you that a  candidate didn’t get the job, so that’s the end of that, right? Wrong.

Your candidate is part of your pool and if you thought they were going to be good for this role, then of course they are going to be good for roles you may have in the future.

Make sure you tell them why they didn’t get the job, what their weaknesses were and what that can do better or work towards for next time.

Again, this comes under the communication realm, thus only working in your favour.

Always Get Feedback on Candidate’s Experience

This is where two-way communication comes into play. You can learn just as much from your candidate as they can learn from you. Make sure you ask them how they felt about the experience, from start to finish, whether they got the job or not.

Sometimes you will have candidates become bitter about not getting the role, of course this is one of the worst things they can do from your perspective. But if you’re able to take a step back, accept that to some people, this is a natural reaction, then all you need to do is be completely upfront with them – tell them how this is reflecting on your impression of them. An open and honest relationship with your candidates is the only way that you will ever know what type of candidate or person they really are. Addressing the situation will also allow you to see if they hold the key attribute of being able to learn from mistakes.

Analyse Your Feedback Using Tools

So you are now doing everything you can to ensure that your candidates are getting the best experience possible. How do you actually know for sure that they are?

Consider using a research and analysis tool like Mystery Applicant. It’s “an innovative candidate research tool that analyses applicant feedback throughout the recruitment process”.

It works like many digital analytical tools out there today, taking large volumes of complicated data and turning it into meaningful and accessible information. Using a tool like this will help you take that information and turn it into a strategic action plan.

Churning and burning candidates is an unsustainable, short-term strategy. You must always treat your candidates with the same level of respect that you would treat your clients. For me, it’s not just business; it’s human decency, respect and pure common sense.

By Amanda Ashworth

Amanda Ashworth is an agency recruiter with a passion for social recruiting, who now focuses on marketing. She blogs about the changes within the recruitment industry and social media. Follow Amanda on Twitter @RecSocially.