In the HR world, the “candidate experience” refers to how applicants perceive their treatment during the hiring process. This encompasses everything from the first instant they become aware of the job (i.e. the job posting/description), to the end decision of hiring them or not, and every step in between.
Having as positive a candidate experience as possible is critical, as it increases the perceived fairness and overall quality of your hiring process, and to some extent, the company as a whole. A negative candidate experience can frustrate applicants, spurn attractive candidates, give your organization a poor reputation, or even increase the likelihood of legal action if a candidate felt they were treated unfairly. Even if someone didn’t get selected for the job they applied for, making sure they had as efficient, fair, and pleasant of an experience as possible can make a world of difference.
Let’s look at some ways that you can begin impacting your candidate’s experience in the hiring process:
1) Set Clear Expectations
The first impression your company is going to make on an applicant is the job posting, so it’s important that this initial aspect of your hiring process be as flawless as you can get it. A good job description should reflect the current tasks and responsibilities of the job, and have clear cut language around the requirements and/or qualifications needed to be considered.
For example, if the job requires a certain certification, but that isn’t made clear on the job posting, you’re wasting the time of any applicants who are interested in the job but don’t have the pre-requisite, which is frustrating for job-seekers. Making sure that the information contained within the job description is clear and easy to understand will help non-qualified applicants self-select out of the process, and attract those with the skills and experience you’re looking for.
2) Don’t Drag Out the Hiring Process
Your hiring process should be as streamlined as possible. Each step should serve a clear and important need, not only to make less work for you as the HR staff, but to make it as efficient for applicants as you can. Having unnecessary bottlenecks, repetitive activities, or steps that don’t add value to the overall selection process negatively affects everyone involved.
Automating the hiring process is a good way to shorten and simplify your hiring process. This allows candidates to advance themselves through the different steps and activities. Examples of this include moving directly from the application to an assessment, or being able to schedule their own interviews, etc. The less time a candidate has to wait to find out whether they’re continuing in the process or not, the better.
3) Practice Good Communication
One of the most frequent complaints heard from job-seekers is the abysmally low response rate in reference to positions they’ve applied for. Most of the time, applicants never hear back at all if they weren’t selected for the job in question, even if they follow up with the HR department staff. This is a huge source of frustration for applicants, as looking for a job is already stressful enough without having the added pressure of not even knowing where you stand in the hiring process.
Whether this trend comes from HR professionals not wanting to be the bearer of bad news, or they just don’t feel they have the time to respond to rejected applicants, it has a negative impact on the candidate experience. Making an effort to share information on their status with an applicant, even if it’s via an automatically generated script appearing if they fail a question on an online application or assessment, can help alleviate this.
Even before a decision is made about a given candidate, failing to communicate important details such as the steps involved in the hiring process, the projected timeline, etc. can turn off candidates as well. Establishing the activities to be included in the selection process, and knowing details such as when you’re planning on making a decision, what a good candidate looks like, and so on, and then making sure to share this knowledge with candidates will ensure their satisfaction and free your time up.
The candidate experience isn’t always something that’s at the forefront of an HR professional’s brain. However, making an effort to pay special attention to the candidate side of hiring will go a long way towards making the experience more pleasant for your candidates. Focusing on the candidate experience can help bring in quality hires and improve the overall reputation of your organization.