Improving the Candidate Experience: Put Yourself in Their Shoes!

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I have recently successfully completed a rather tricky HR assignment for a client which proved to be much more difficult and lengthy than usual. The client had already approached a number of recruitment agencies before contacting FJR in the latter stages.

The major problem was the client’s high expectation of what could be achieved with a low salary budget. Despite advice from all the recruitment partners, the business was convinced that the market was awash with eager candidates with lower salary expectations. As a result the decision makers within the business interviewed a considerable number of candidates and were largely disappointed about their depth of experience.

As the process dragged on, the interviewers were increasingly frustrated and became cold and disengaged with any candidates they did not feel they were the right fit in the first 10 minutes. The candidates themselves were turned off by the experience and felt they had been treated with a lack of respect. By the time the company finally found their ideal candidate a high degree of negativity towards the client had developed in the market and amongst those in the candidate’s network, making it a much harder job to encourage top talent to take the job.

Whilst the company filled the role, in the end, it was not without some damage to their employer brand and caused unnecessary challenges along the way.

Although recruiting has slowed for many over recent times, creating a positive candidate experience and protecting your employer brand is in fact now more important than ever.

Failure to implement an engaging and professional talent attraction strategy can lead to negative perceptions of your business which can carry over to the time when the economy does turn around and the recruitment market becomes much more competitive. Not only that, the advent of blogs, social marketing and social networks means that it has never been easier for candidates to spread the word, good or bad, about the experience. That is why you should do your best to provide a positive experience for ALL candidates interested in your company, not just the ones whose CV land in the “Yes” pile.

As you look at your company from the candidate’s perspective make sure that you are able to answer certain questions:

• Why would I want to work here?

• What is different about your company vs what I’m doing now?

• What is the culture like and how is it unique?

• What is the commitment to work/life balance, diversity and the community?

• Who works here?

• What will my day look like at work?

Remember that in successful recruiting you are selling your company just as much as the candidate is selling him/herself, and that includes everyone in your business that impacts the candidate journey including your receptionist. If talented candidates are interviewing with your business, it’s likely they are interviewing with your competitors. It’s your job to enhance their experience during the interviewing process and sell them on your company. Every employee in your business can positively (or negatively) affect a candidate’s decision to join your team. This is equally true for the recruitment consultants you engage because they are an extension of your team.

For the candidate, the key to a positive experience during the recruiting process is communication. You must make sure there is continuous communication to let the candidate know where they are in the process. The single biggest complaint from candidates is lack of communication from businesses and recruitment consultancies about their application for a role.

At FJR we encourage clients to develop a formal recruitment communication program with candidate touch points at various intervals throughout the recruiting process – from receipt of application all the way through the onboarding process. Ideally the candidate should be aware of this process and timings should be adhered to even if it is to communicate an unexpected delay. If you say that you are going to contact a candidate on a particular day make sure you do it. If you are working with a recruitment partner, make sure they are in the loop’ so they can manage expectation on your behalf. If timelines are dragging and decisions have not yet been made, that is understandable, but no information share, makes both you and your recruitment partner look uninterested and lacking empathy with a candidate who is keen to move the process along.

Ensure that your consultant partner is well informed, especially if the process is likely to run across a number of weeks, due to diary availability of managers. As the ‘matchmaker’ consultants have a unique position in the communication process and can assist the client in maintaining a positive contact with the candidates.

Above all speak to the client by phone whenever possible rather than using e-mail or text message, making this effort pays dividends and will separate you from the competition.

Finally communication is especially important once the offer is made and accepted. Many people call this the “dead zone” – the time between receiving an offer and actually coming on board – because they never hear from anyone! It is also the time where doubts will creep in, so a check-in and a welcome on board card/drink etc. will certainly alleviate some “have I done the right thing” thoughts.

Getting all the above points right and choosing the right recruitment partner, as an extension to your own business and recruitment team, can make all the difference in securing top talent for your vacancies and ensuring they become champions of your employer brand on the future.

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