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3 Times When You Shouldn’t Prioritize the Candidate Experience

October 24, 2019

Candidate ExperienceDoes your organization live by the motto “our candidates are our customers”? If so, you’ve probably seen a push recently to create a highly positive experience for your job applicants at all levels of open positions. Treatment that used to be reserved for senior leadership candidates is now expected for anyone applying at most organizations – and for the most part, this kind of standardized and consistent approach to thoughtful design is a good thing. But we’ve been noticing a more reactive approach to this mindset lately, and while the candidate experience is important, there are certain times when it should not be your main concern:

  1. When it’s not affecting completion rates. When it comes to assessments, this is a common conversation that I have with clients. Perhaps their coworkers think the test is too long, or they heard that the new company down the street doesn’t even use assessments. While these concerns should always be investigated, most applicant tracking systems should be able to show you exactly how many candidates started an application and where/if they are falling out of the process. Before you make any major changes to your setup, check and see whether or not these concerns are reflected in actual candidate behavior. If your dropout rate is low, then you can infer that candidates are not particularly deterred by your selection process.

    Related: Why Is Everyone Talking About Candidate Experience?

  2. When your sample size is small or personal. Maybe your new head of HR thinks that all candidates hate interviews. Maybe your Vice President’s daughter just applied and complained to him that the process took too long. Or maybe your star applicant failed the basic application, and you’re wondering if you should eliminate that hurdle altogether. It’s not uncommon for one particularly visible applicant to fail or complain and throw the whole selection system into question. These conversations can be difficult, because there is typically a personal stake which can cloud objectivity. Before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, request feedback from a more representative sample. Collect reactions from all your applicants (not just the vocal ones) and weigh their feedback against the purpose of the process.

  3. When it compromises utility. Candidate experience is not a one-size-fits-all checklist. Some candidates will enjoy a chance to demonstrate their personality in an interview, others will drop out when there is any component beyond a resume required. Because of this, it is misguided to reactively reduce the selection process steps in an effort to appeal to all candidates just because some want a shorter experience. It’s always smart to check in with your process and ensure it is maximized for effectiveness and efficiency, but each piece should be giving you incremental information which improves the predictive ability of your overall process. If you reduce your process to appeal to your lowest common denominator, you may see more candidates throughout the process, but your hire quality will suffer for it.

Even if your candidates are not your customers, you undoubtedly want a pleasant experience for anyone going through your hiring process. This is an excellent mindset to have, but remember that the entire purpose of your hiring process is to find qualified new employees. With enough proactive planning and a clear set of directives, you can find the sweet spot between a positive candidate experience and a useful set of tools.

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Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. is a Project Consultant at PSI based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Her areas of expertise include testing, assessments, and project management. Jaclyn has contributed to the development, validation, and implementation of assessments with various clients. She has managed, analyzed, and presented data analyses for content and criterion validation studies.