3 Ways to Create an Ideal Candidate Experience

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Everyone has a favorite recruiting horror story. Mine is the one with the candidate who finishes their interview only to be abandoned in a windowless room.

Stick tight, someone will be right by to take you to your next interview, they were told –  but, alas, no one ever came. The candidate was eventually forced to sheepishly meander through the hallways until they could locate an HR rep and check out.

These recruiting horror stories may give us recruiters nightmares, but they also make candidates dream of how amazing the hiring experience could be. Furthermore, any nightmarish experience that a candidate endures during your hiring process will damage your employer brand. Mediocre experiences are rarely remembered or shared.

But ideal candidate experiences – the kind of experiences candidates dream about – will not only land you great a candidate, but they’ll also drive the candidate to bring ten of their friends in to apply for jobs, too.

A common mistake many recruiters make is assuming that any candidate who does not receive a job offer will automatically be critical of the hiring process and company culture – but that’s not true. Candidates can still have very positive experiences throughout the hiring process as long as they feel valued.

To create an ideal candidate experience for every job seeker who walks through your doors, consider weaving these three key elements into every step of your recruiting process, from the initial job application to employee onboarding:

1. Time-Sensitivity

Applying for a job is a vulnerable experience for candidates. They are putting themselves in front of you in the hopes that their accomplishments, intelligence, and personality will win your approval. The worst thing you can do in this situation is act like you are not paying attention.

The candidate should be engaged throughout the recruitment process – and that means you need to make the hiring process quick and efficient for both you and your candidates.

After your candidate fills out the initial application, they should not have to wait three weeks to find out whether or not you want to schedule an interview. Set regular deadlines for both you and the candidate, and make sure they are met. Keep the hiring process on track!

MagnoliaWhen your hiring process moves quickly, candidates know that you are really giving them a shot – not placing them on the back burner while you wait to see if a more talented candidate comes through the door. Companies like Chipotle and AppDynamics recently sped up their hiring processes to be more candidate-friendly, and they have seen tremendous improvements in candidate satisfaction as a result.

2. Transparency

For candidates, few things are worse than tossing your job application into a black hole and wondering what – if anything – will happen next.

All too often, recruiters default to the automated thank-you email, vaguely telling candidates that “someone” will be in touch shortly. Instead, recruiters should be giving their candidates hard deadlines. If you do that, you’ll establish confidence in your candidates. They’ll see that your hiring team knows what it’s doing. Rather than saying you’ll “follow up shortly,” be proactive. Say something like, “We will be in touch within three business days if you are a good fit for an interview.”

Keep applicants informed about where you are in the hiring process at all times. Mobile recruiting  tools and techniques offer great ways to personalize your updates to candidates at scale.

If you need to reject a candidate, remember that a generic form email will leave a poor impression, compared to a personalized, casual text message that asks the candidate if they might be interested in other positions. For example, billion-dollar startup Automattic refuses to tell applicants “No.  Instead, the company always tells candidates to try again and gives them feedback on how they can improve their performance in the interview process.

3. Ease (for the Candidates!)

If you ask candidates to submit a resume and cover letter, answer an eight-page questionnaire, and list five references just to be considered, you are asking them to do all the hard work. Chances are, many of them will bounce right off your careers page as a result.

Savvier employers are opting to let candidates apply for jobs by connecting their social media accounts, filling out mobile applications, or texting a keyword to a short code. 

Recruiters should also be doing the hard work when it comes to scheduling interviews. Use scheduling tools that allow candidates to select dates and time that work best for them, send text message reminders about the interview, and even provide directions via Google Maps, if possible.

FieldsPutting in the hard work will ensure your candidate experience is ideal, and that will pay huge dividends for your organization.

Let’s recap: When we dream, three things can happen:

  1. We can have a nightmare that haunts us forever afterward.
  2. We can dream about something boring, like doing the laundry or the dishes. We’ll forget about that dream immediately.
  3. We can dream about something wonderful – the kind of dream we tell our friends and families about as soon as we wake up.

How do you want your candidates and future employees to remember the hiring experience at your company: as a nightmare, a bore, or a dream?

By Birch Faber