Talent Acquisition

The Surprising Key to an Excellent Candidate Experience

I had the opportunity to interview Claudia Nakasone, Manager, Employment & Recruitment at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). She shared three practical ways to make an excellent candidate experience, as well as an unexpected key to a great candidate experience. Learning these practices will enhance your hiring process and retention rate.

A California Candidate Experience

With 268 open positions right now, Claudia Nakasone’s got her hands full in Orange County, California filling positions for CHOC.

So how does she keep her pipeline moving? In one phrase, candidate experience—and she’s great at it.

If our phone interview was indicative of how Nakasone relates to candidates at CHOC in California, then I can verify that she’s great at managing candidate relationships.

CHOC started 2016 with 300 open positions, and in the first month Nakasone helped fill over 30 of those (10 percent). With 18 years recruiting experience, Nakasone’s got a great message to share about healthcare recruiting—especially with regard to candidate experience.

The Unexpected: Sharing the Good and the Bad

Recruiters need not share only the good experiences, says Nakasone; hiring managers, recruiters, or HR directors need to share the bad stories to candidates during the hiring process, too. This is especially true when filling positions with non-healthcare employees. That is, if someone doesn’t have a healthcare background, they need to know the negative outcomes.


Why make the candidate experience great?

Two major reasons justify spending time on crafting a consistently positive candidate experience.

1. Excellent candidate experience benefits the employee
As Nakasone mentioned above, the candidate experience is inherently good for the candidate for various reasons. They are more likely to take the position when it’s offered, for example. But one unrecognized benefit to creating a solid candidate experience: employer benefits. That’s not the unexpected key, though, just an unrecognized benefit.

2. Excellent candidate experience benefits the employer
If candidates have a good experience, then they’ll be more likely to give referrals after the hire, which is the type of pipeline planning that is vital to long-term growth as an organization.

Nakasone also said, “People remember you.”

She told me, further, that if they have a good candidate experience, you may not be able to hire them early in their career, but perhaps they will come back around later. That’s her experience with candidates—they had a good experience as a new graduate, for example, and now that they’ve moved to higher levels of responsibility within healthcare, they come back around looking for employment.

What else makes a solid candidate experience?

In addition to the advice to share negative outcomes, Nakasone offered three keys to a positive candidate experience that produces great results not only for candidates, but also for employers.

1. Respond quickly
“Make sure there’s follow through. Because sometimes you interview and people say, ‘I haven’t heard for weeks.’ Even a day or an hour can make a difference, especially if they’re out there actively seeking work.”

2. Connect candidates with the organization as much as possible
“The candidate experience is not just timing. Every connection with the organization needs to be positive. What I mean by that is candidate experience not only works for those who are hired, but also those who aren’t hired, because they are good ambassadors for the organization.”

3. Reflect your organization’s values and mission
“This one’s a little bit harder to explain. Along the way, I tell candidates a little bit about CHOC, what we do here, and what we do in the community.

“For example, we have a fundraising 5K CHOC walk every October at the Disneyland Resort. I believe last year we had 15,000 people participate. So what the community is able to help us with and how candidates can be part of that as well are important to share, as is what we do for our patients.”

A final word on candidate experience

“Don’t forget what it’s like to be the applicant and what it’s like to be on the other side. It’s like here in the hospital, we tell ourselves, Don’t forget what it’s like to be a patient, not to forget who the customer is. Who is the customer in all this? Sometimes it is the hiring manager, but it really is the applicants, those who come in contact with the organization.”

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

By Chad Harrington

Chad Harrington is the Content Director for Relode, the human-powered job posting with the affordability of a job posting and the precision of a headhunter, for whom he writes about hiring. Contact him through email: chad [at] relode [dot] com.