Employer Branding

The Do’s and Don’ts of Candidate Experience

With most candidates being rejected in any given recruiting process, plenty of people will have things to say about your company – good, bad and sometimes ugly. One way to improve what is being said, is to focus on the candidate experience.

I’ve chatted with Kevin Grossman of the Talent Board to get some details. Have a listen below, keep reading for a transcript and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

What is the definition of candidate experience?

A lot of people have said a lot of things about candidate experience, also pretending that it’s important but not as important as it’s played out to be, but it really truly is though. So, from our perspective, candidate experience is about every single touch point, any touch point, any time throughout the recruiting process, which a lot of the time loops back on itself. Whether it’s on researching a job and “don’t apply” or “do apply,” “make it to interview” or “get disposition immediately,” it affects everything that we do. And our whole thing is that we’re all perpetual candidates all the time. So we don’t discriminate, at least from a mission and research perspective, the difference between an applicant and a candidate. We’re just all candidates, period.

What are the do’s and don’ts of candidate experience?

  • Referrals are bigger than they’ve ever been, not just for companies, which it’s always been an important part of the hiring process for recruiting teams big and small. But now, candidates are leaning on their networks even more than they’ve ever had before. In fact, that’s gone up about 14% from 2015. That’s a big jump for candidates. You know, we’ve been harping on each other for years now to build and leverage our networks. Well, candidates seem to be doing that more.
  • Communication feedback loops, this continues to trend this way every year and it’s not unique again this year. Companies that are investing more in better automated and human communications, because obviously early on in the process, there’s a lot more automated messages that go out, particularly when they’re dispositioned. But when there’s more thought process put into that strategy, when there’s more touching of candidates throughout.
  • Also not providing feedback, which I know varies what you can and want to say around the world, the United States is heavy on the compliance side, so you have to be careful what you tell candidates of why they’re not moving on. But just giving them something that’s, what I like to call, specifically ambiguous — which is always a big hit at our workshops — and then asking for feedback, that’s a big difference right there. Candidates that have an overall 5-star experience on a Likert scale of 1 to 5 — meaning pretty darn good overall — and most of whom again didn’t move on or get the job, they’re getting asked 30% of the time for feedback, which is really, really huge, except those on the other end of that, they have a 1-star report, overall candidate experience, 88% of them aren’t being asked for any feedback at all. Huge missed opportunity there.
  • The number-one pitfall is to not do anything. We do workshops and educational webinars and things all throughout the year, and one of the things I hear again and again is, you know, “Gosh, I can’t touch everybody. I can’t make everybody happy. You know, even we try to bring closer everybody, it’s hard to do.” Well, it is a big task, but as much as you can do it and as much as you would invest and being consistent about it, and making sure that expectation setting is clear and communication is clear. And even asking for feedback while you can, not just for new hires, it goes a long way with fairness with candidates. That’s really all we want. We’re gutted that we don’t get the job, but if you are clear with me and you treated me fairly and then you said, you know, “Sorry, we’re not going to pursue any further,” I get it. It’s the way it works and that’s what makes a difference.

How can we measure ROI on candidate experience?

Right now, after 6 years of doing this research globally, we can show that candidates that have an overall 5-star experience, most of them again didn’t get the job at the end of the day. But through our research, they, 64% of the time, are willing to increase the business relationship with that company that they applied to. Now, that means apply again, it means buy stuff if you’re a consumer-based business, and then it means refer, which is the big one.

So that’s a huge potential increase to the bottom line over time. And there are companies today — AT&T, many others — that especially are really working hard to try to quantify what that is, because it will vary from company to company and industry to industry, but you know, it could be into the millions of dollars. Like there’s an example with Virgin Media that it’s a pretty well-touted case study now that they actually did the quantification, and it was millions of dollars in lost revenue, consumer-based loss revenue, based on a poor candidate experience. These are companies that participate in our research are doing the same things today, and we’ll be able to have more of that research out there.

Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinWGrossman, download the North American Candidate Experience Awards Research Report now and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.