Make every hiring decision count with our 2023 Source of Hire Report. Download (for FREE) now!

March 14, 2018

The Hiring Manager’s Complete Guide to Creating a Stellar Candidate Experience

stellar candidate experience

Recruitment is a two-way journey.

You may be laser-focused on scoring your next dream hire, but remember, the process of meeting that person is an unofficial advertisement for your company.

Think about it. What’s the first thing every human being does after a job interview?

We tell our friends all about it.

Question is, what do you want them to say? 🤔

Not hearing back about a job posting, or having an interview with someone who’s constantly checking their mobile phone are just a couple classic examples of nightmare experiences for the job hunter.

But recruitment is changing. Companies are realizing that it’s not just who they hire, but how they hire that has an impact on their brand.

In fact, a survey of over 45,000 job applicants by the Talent Board, found that those who reported having a positive candidate experience were more likely to encourage other colleagues to apply. Not only that, they were also more likely to buy goods and services from the company they applied to, and were also more willing to share their glowing opinions with others. 😍

Nailing a positive experience for all your candidates — including the ones you don’t hire — just makes good business sense. Even if you think you already have a fantastic employer brand, don’t get too cozy on those laurels. The war for talent is officially back on, and your recruitment process must grow and evolve if you want to stay one step ahead of the competition.

But beyond the business benefits, creating a great experience for your applicants and candidates is just the right thing to do. When a person applies in the hope of working with your company, they’re laying their cards on your table, and no matter what stage a candidate reaches, they deserve acknowledgment and closure.

And it all begins with a recruitment process that’s fair and transparent.

So how do you provide a human-first candidate experience? Here are five simple tips:

#1 — Get organized

A study from Glassdoor of US workers conducted online by Harris Interactive found that 61% of respondents said that during the interview stage they discovered that the job they applied for didn’t match the job description. 😬

Talk about a massive waste of time and resources for both parties.

If a candidate is going to put themselves out there and have their skills judged, it’s vital that you reciprocate with a structured, carefully considered process. Don’t move the goal-posts at the eleventh hour.

Good planning is the cornerstone of creating a clear and positive candidate experience. Here are a few things to think about to help you in your recruitment planning:

  • Do a skills gap analysis
  • Write a clear, simple job description based on the job TODAY
  • Keep it jargon-free and avoid cliché wording like ‘guru’ or ‘team-building’.

(According to research — and common sense — overly complicated job descriptions alienate qualified candidates)

  • Simplify the application form. Provide clear instructions and make sure it’s mobile-friendly.

#2 — Stand in your candidates’ shoes

The best way to design a candidate-friendly recruitment experience is to put yourself in their place.

Elijah Elkins, the Global Talent Acquisition Manager for CloudFactory says great recruitment is all about empathy.

“One of the most helpful things for me has been to take a moment and put myself in the shoes of the candidate. How might I be feeling? How would I want to be treated? Better yet, think of someone you dearly love. How would you want them to be treated throughout the recruitment process? Empathy is key for relationship-building and people-oriented recruitment process.”

A stellar recruitment strategy considers the candidate experience at every step. You owe it to yourself, your employer brand and the human on the other side of the table to try to see things from their perspective.

And if you’re having trouble, why not get a little creative?

Reach out to a few job-seeking friends or family members to and listen to what they’re going through. You could even sit down with a colleague and role-play scenarios to help your whole team get a better understanding.

#3 — For the love of Pete, communicate!

This day and age, there’s just no excuse for poor communication.

A nationwide CareerBuilder survey found that 75% of workers who applied for a job never heard back from the employer. 😱

With all the endless ways you can automate your communication with candidates (yes, even in a personalized way!), it’s kind of insane that the numbers are still this high.

Make the act of delivering a fast, courteous response to candidates a non-negotiable part of your recruitment process and you will instantly make them feel so much more valued.

And yes, when you say you will be in touch in a few days, you actually have to make sure you are back in touch in a few days — even if that’s just to say, “Hey, we’re still looking into this. Sorry for the delay!”

You don’t have to give every person a job, but you do owe each and every applicant a reply.

Here are a few ways to close the communication loop in your recruitment process:

  • Outline the hiring plan in the application at the outset and keep to deadlines.
  • If there is a change in the timeline, tell candidates as soon as possible.
  • Acknowledge the candidate at each stage. Send thank you emails.
  • Create a FAQ page on your recruitment page.
  • Contact unsuccessful candidates immediately.
  • If you want the candidate to prepare an assignment, call them and talk them through what you want.
  • Tell the candidate about the interview process. For instance, who will be on the panel, how long the interview will be, will there be a timed test, what computer equipment will be available, and don’t forget directions to the office.
  • Design relevant and clearly phrased interview questions — role play to practice these.
  • Really prepare for the interview. Make sure you have read each applicant’s paperwork and you are familiar with their skills and background. During the interview give your best attention — if you are interviewing in person, NEVER check your phone for messages.
  • Set up an automated communication action to reply instantly through your recruitment management system

#4 — Involve your employees

Don’t keep your own employees in the dark. 😎

They usually know better than anyone else what the team is lacking when it comes to recruitment needs. But involving your employees isn’t just about identifying the gaps in your process, either.

If you’re looking for a cultural fit, your current employees are your best bet for an insightful opinion.

More importantly, prospective candidates trust current employees. 💯

Your employees are your built-in brand ambassadors. They’re in a unique position to attract new talent by simply offering an authentic voice about what it’s really like to work for you.

Make use of this awesome resource.

Leading companies are getting serious about their employer brand to attract awesome talent and make the entire candidate experience WAY more relevant.

For instance, consider creating an employee blog or making a short video about a regular (but awesome) day in the office. Employee-led content is far more interesting to candidates than a two-page list of job responsibilities.

Need an example? Check out Marvin Li, an engineering manager at LinkedIn, who used a head camera to film an entire day of work. Condensed to less than 3 minutes, it gives you a great picture of what the company culture really looks like. 👍

#5 — Bravely pursue candidate feedback

If you want your candidates to have a stellar experience, you need to keep evolving.

Don’t let your approach get stale. 🤢

The best way to stay ahead of the game is to proactively collect feedback from candidates and employees. And don’t just ask the successful candidates, either — ask the ones you didn’t hire, too.

Here are a few questions to use in your candidate survey:

  • What did we do that worked well?
  • Where could we improve?
  • What was your impression of our company?
  • If we offered you a job in the future, would you accept it?
  • How would you rate the experience?
  • Did you feel valued and respected? If not, why?

Recruitment is at the 💖 of every organization.

A candidate that goes through a transparent and well-planned recruitment process is far more likely to hit the ground running when they start.

And for those who didn’t get hired, a good candidate experience means no hard feelings. They’re still happy to recommend you, use your products and services, and steer new talent in your direction.

Don’t forget about them. Just like a great recruitment process should always be growing, great people evolve, too. Someone who wasn’t the best fit on one occasion, could end up being a high-pot lifesaver in the future.