Every company has to use a hiring process to find, recruit, hire, and onboard employees.
The recruiting process has many steps and can often be complex. It may even vary from company to company- depending on its size, needs, and protocols.
But generally, companies begin by drafting a job description for the role they are trying to fill. Then they go about posting the position for people to see on online hiring platforms or on social media. They will check the references for the resumes they deem suitable for the ones they have received. They will then invite candidates for interviews and ultimately hire the best talent fit for their brand. Finally, they will onboard and induct the new employees into the company.
But there are always two sides to a story. And in this case, apart from the company’s, there is also the candidate’s side of the story.
In recent years, the candidate’s experience in the whole recruitment process has been rapidly gaining importance.
Let’s see what candidate experience is and why it is so important.
Why is candidate experience a big deal?
Candidate experience means how a candidate feels about the company from the moment they learn about its vacancy till the time they have gone through its hiring process.
The candidates’ feelings, good or bad, will influence their decision to apply to or even accept a job offer that a company makes to them.
Research shows that 68% of candidates think how a company treats them during the hiring process reflects how it will treat them as employees.
Most candidates will have something to say about a company with which they interviewed.
A good candidate experience will give candidates a positive feeling about the company. If candidates have had an excellent experience, it might make them eager to share their experiences and feelings with others, which will help to build the company’s employer brand and reputation.
A bad candidate experience (if a company is lucky) will make its brand fall into disrepute with only the candidate, and (if not so lucky), they will spread their negativity about the company to others, which can be especially disastrous in the age of social media.
Nearly 60% of job seekers say they have had a poor candidate experience, and a whopping 72% of them have shared their negative experience on an online employer review site.
That is just the way it is– and it is the primary reason why every company should aim for a great candidate experience.
But wait! There’s more.
Positive Effects of a Good Candidate Experience
There are many more benefits to providing a good candidate experience
1. The company gains better talent
It is only natural that good talent is more likely to choose to work for and be more committed to a company that treats its employees well.
2. It helps put less toll on company resources
A quick and efficient application process is not just beneficial for candidates, but it also makes sense for the business as it saves the company both time and money.
3. It improves employer branding
Having a strong brand always helps, and it is no different when it comes to an employer brand. A company with positive perceptions will attract more as well as better quality candidates.
4. It helps increase the job acceptance rate
It is only natural that if a candidate has good experience with a company, they are more likely to want to work for that company and are therefore more likely to accept a job offer.
5. It helps get more referrals and shorten the hiring cycle
Candidates who have had a good experience are also more likely to give positive referrals on job sites and social media, which can be exceptionally useful in the long run.
Therefore, a positive hiring experience is crucial, from creating a positive employer brand to successfully hiring the best talent.
Gauging the Candidate Experience
If candidates are relentlessly applying for jobs, being interviewed, and then not hearing back from HR again, it is bound to get to them at some point. They will feel like they have wasted hours of their time and energy for nothing in return.
Let’s face it- this constitutes a bad experience.
A company could have the most exciting and innovative recruitment ads, but if their actual candidate experience is poor, they will still find it extremely difficult to attract top-quality candidates.
Thus, it always helps to understand things from a candidate’s perspective as well. This enables a company to determine what they are doing correctly and in what aspects they could improve.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways is asking the candidates themselves what they thought about the hiring process.
Yes! A candidate experience survey.
Benefits of a Candidate Experience Survey
A candidate survey is the first step to revamping the hiring process. Here’s how it helps:
1. To get feedback about the hiring process
An anonymous survey is the best way to know what the candidate honestly thought about the company and the whole hiring experience.
2. To identify specific areas for improvement
Since the hiring process is complex and involves many steps, understanding from a candidate what went wrong during the process can help a company improve in the areas they need to.
Combining this survey data with recruitment metrics can give companies an even clearer and more accurate idea of their hiring process.
Steps to Improve Your Candidate Experience
After analysing the existing hiring process and studying the survey data, here’s what a company can do to improve the candidate experience:
1. Avoid poor job descriptions
a. Reasonable demands
Everyone, at some point, has seen job listings that ask for a ridiculously varied skill set. Such job ads require an insane work experience, demand unreal workloads, and round it off with an unimpressive compensation package. These ads are a sure shot way to turn off candidates who don’t think they can live up to these “high” standards.
Hence, companies should ensure that their job postings have realistic expectations, a clear, concise list of requirements, describe the job adequately, and are targeted at the ideal candidate – otherwise they could deter even qualified people from applying.
b. Simple language
Interestingly, 72% of hiring managers believe that they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36% of candidates agree.
There is, obviously, a mismatch in opinions.
Lots of companies like to use popular jargon and phrases in their postings. For example, words like “passionate” and “team-player” are cliche and do not quite stand for anything, and they surely should not belong in job posts.
The most effective job postings use simple language and are straightforward.
c. Logical structure
Job descriptions should be structured carefully so that they are easy to read. An example could be:
- Job title
- Job description
- Candidate responsibilities
- Candidate requirements
- Benefits and salary.
Recruitment ads are easier to make sense of if they list the most crucial information first, have bullet points, are in the active voice, and comprise short sentences.
2. Avoid complicated or unnecessarily long job application processes
A good mantra for companies to follow is: keep it short, keep it simple, keep it easy.
Complicated processes for job applications that involve uploading resumes, portfolios etc., in addition to long e-forms asking for all sorts of details about candidates, are time-consuming and irritating to fill.
In fact, 60% of job seekers say they have quit an application before completing it because it was either lengthy or too complex.
A fuss-free and simple process is ideal- everyone likes things that are simplified and easy to use/accomplish.
A good dipstick for this is for HR to try out the application process themselves. By walking in the candidate’s shoes, companies can effectively judge if their approach needs an overhaul.
3. Give candidates a good interview experience
There is nothing worse than a bad interview experience.
Unfortunately, slip-ups can affect how a candidate feels about a company.
Disorganisation, unpunctuality, delay, and bad preparation can reflect poorly on an employer’s brand.
If a candidate had to wait endlessly in a meeting room, wondering when their interview was going to start and if it were going to happen at all, they would not be happy. In fact, they would tell people about it, and these days, most people have access to employer review sites. If negative opinions get out, they are difficult to recover from.
It, therefore, becomes crucial for companies to take care of their candidates and treat them well when they come down for an interview.
4. HR should avoid vague timelines regarding when they will revert to candidates
It is common for companies to promise candidates that they will get in touch with them soon but not call for weeks. Sometimes candidates never hear from HR again. This leaves candidates feeling cheated of their time and confused if they should wait for someone from the company to get in touch, or should they go ahead and explore other options.
The key here is for HR to give candidates specific timelines and try to adhere to those when getting back to them. If that’s not possible for some reason, it’s always best to convey it to the candidate honestly.
This helps avoid feelings of frustration among candidates.
It is also important and fair to inform candidates if they have been rejected. Sending a rejection letter is always better than radio silence. Candidates normally appreciate the gesture and can get on with other applications or offers at hand.
5. Avoid erratic communication
One of the most frustrating things that candidates face during the application or interview stage is erratic communication.
It is good etiquette for companies to start by letting candidates know when they have received their resumes, thank them for their interest in the job posting, and keep them informed about what will come next every step of the way.
80% of job seekers say they would not consider future job openings at a company that did not care to keep them updated regarding their application status. However, they would be 3.5 times more likely to re-apply to an organisation that kept them in the loop.
Also, not contacting candidates for weeks and then suddenly giving them short notice for an interview is disrespectful of their time and schedules. By being empathetic in their communication with candidates, companies can do wonders to improve their image.
6. Strengthen onboarding processes
It is crucial for companies to create good onboarding processes to retain new talent. There are many factors that contribute to a company’s ability to hire and retain top talent, but in today’s candidate-driven market, candidate experience is one of the top requirements.
If a new employee doesn’t get a company tour or on-the-job training, they will quickly get the impression that the company is poorly organised or just doesn’t care. If the company fails to show that they are invested in their new employees, the new recruits may question their decision to join and seek new opportunities elsewhere.
7. Rid the hiring process of inefficiencies
Poor communication and unclear hiring timelines highlight glaring inefficiencies in the hiring process.
It’s easy for hiring managers and recruiters to get overwhelmed, especially if they are running a big hiring drive. So, if a company has unclear hiring responsibilities, candidate experience is bound to suffer.
Companies cannot invest in employer branding if they don’t have a basic hiring process in place.
As we can see, candidate experience has never been more important. Today, with the ease of sharing reviews, candidate awareness and companies vying for the best talent, it has become an aspect of recruitment that cannot be ignored.
Although they hate to admit it, many companies leave candidates with poor experience, and it has a major impact on their hiring outcomes. It is, therefore, worthwhile for companies to evaluate their candidate experience to get an edge when it comes to hiring.
It is time to face the fact that candidates do decide what company they will work for based on their candidate experience. And hence it can make or break a company’s goal to have a strong workforce.
By tweaking their hiring processes and providing an excellent candidate experience, companies can change their approach, narrative and give candidates a reason to share the employer brand story with positivity and fervour.
And now, it’s your turn! What does your candidate experience say about you?
If you have any interesting thoughts regarding how to provide candidates with a good experience, leave us a comment or get in touch with us- we would love to hear from you!