Why You Must Focus on the Candidate Experience: Lessons From Airbnb
“If you had 10 years left to live, would you take this job?”
Brian Chesky, founder and CEO of Airbnb, was physically present when the company’s first 300 hires were interviewed, and he made sure he asked this question of every one. The idea was to bring to his company people who believed in Airbnb’s mission, people who felt a role at Airbnb was more of a calling than a job — so much so that if they had limited time on earth, they’d want to spend that time at Airbnb.
While the question might strike some as weird, Chesky was extremely particular about the kind of people who joined the company, especially the first few hires, who would go on to form and be champions of the kind of culture he wanted to build at Airbnb.
It’s important to focus on organizational culture. As recruiters and HR folks, you can do your part in contributing to culture right from the start of the recruiting process by focusing on the candidate experience at your organization.
1. Create a Candidate-led Hiring Process: This is imperative, as the recruiting process is often the first time a potential employee gets introduced to your company. Work on creating a great candidate experience. Drawing pointers from Airbnb’s experience, talk to your existing employees about what they loved or hated about the current hiring process in your company; ask them how they wanted to ideally feel and how they felt in reality at each point in the hiring process.
Write down what you should be doing at each step of the hiring process. You can base these steps on how you want the candidate to feel while being evaluated by your company, in addition to input from the hiring team’s perspective.
This is basic: treat a candidate well and respect them for their time. However, doing this also has the added advantage of helping your company build a brand for itself in the marketplace. This is a great way to give candidates a glimpse into your organizational culture and get them excited to work for you. It helps attract candidates, especially passive ones, to your company.
2. Engage With Candidates Throughout the Recruiting Process and Beyond: Ensure all your communication with the candidates is warm and personal. Send personalized automated emails with the help of an applicant tracking system (ATS) at every stage of the hiring process. This not only helps streamline your communication with the candidates, but it also keeps them engaged and helps you build and manage meaningful relationships with the candidates. Airbnb shifted the responsibility of handing offer letters to candidates from the HR team to the recruiters.
It may take some extra time and effort, but effective candidate engagement will definitely add to a great candidate experience.
3. Reward Hiring Teams for Going the Extra Mile: Put a training process in place for the hiring team and ensure that it focuses on creating a great experience for candidates. Airbnb asks its employees to spruce up their LinkedIn profiles because candidates are likely to go looking for Airbnb employees online. Airbnb also instituted a weekly reward to recognize the best interviewer who went the extra mile for candidates.
4. Be Humane While Rejecting Candidates: When mapping out the entire candidate experience, ensure that you make the candidate feel valued and comfortable, especially if they are rejected. Airbnb sends rejection messages via mail and invites those candidates to a feedback call.
If a candidate has gone past a particular stage in the interview process, Airbnb gives them a coupon for the time they’ve spent with them. Airbnb’s recruiting team manages these prospects by building a talent pool to keep in touch with them. As a result, Airbnb now receives applications from previously rejected candidates and from the friends of former candidates.
Hopefully, these lessons from Airbnb will help you build an awesome candidate experience in your company. Do you have any pointers on how to build a great candidate experience based on your own experiences? We would love to hear from you! Reach out to our team; we’re as friendly a bunch of people as you can find!
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