How to Create a Winning Candidate Experience
Jacqueline Salesman | Career Tips, Hiring Advice, Leadership, Recruiting Career Advice | April 20, 2023
When recruiting and hiring job candidates in today’s environment, it has become critically important for hiring companies to prioritize job seekers’ experiences with your organization. Creating a great candidate experience should be a top priority for all companies. It not only makes the recruitment process more efficient and successful, but it also builds a positive brand image by exposing a company culture of care and professionalism.
In this blog post, we’ll look at how to treat your job candidates right and create an experience in which people feel valued during the candidate journey, including those who are selected for a job and those who are not. Everyone matters, and this includes their first impressions and all impressions during the recruitment process.
From setting expectations to communication and feedback, we’ll explore how to ensure job candidates have a positive experience throughout the application and interview processes.
Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes
Recruiting and hiring processes are often seen by job seekers as a one-way street, with the job applicant doing all or most of the work. If you want to create a good candidate experience that leads to the best candidates and best hires for your organization – and that also leaves a favorable impression on candidates who you do not select – it’s essential to remember that the hiring process is an exchange of information. Make sure the recruiting process is a two-way street.
Executives, human resources professionals, and hiring managers are encouraged to think like a job candidate, even though you aren’t one. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they’re going through. How long has it been since they applied for the job or since the last interview? Are they getting any feedback? Are they being treated like they matter?
Statistics show that a positive candidate experience can have an enormous impact on the success of your recruiting efforts. It’s a fact that job candidates want to be kept in the loop throughout the hiring process. An IBM survey shows that 85% of job seekers listed consistent communication as the top driver of satisfaction with the recruitment experience.
Creating a great candidate experience isn’t just about being polite. It’s about ensuring that job applicants are engaged and informed throughout their time with your organization, regardless of the outcome. Doing this shows them that you respect their time and effort, and it goes a long way in creating a positive impression of your company, which may be shared by word of mouth, on social media, and on career sites like Glassdoor. Positive experiences matter!
Set clear expectations
To have a positive experience, job candidates need to know what to expect. While it’s important to share as many details as you can about the job description for the role they are applying for, it’s equally important to share how your interview and hiring process works. How many interviews will be conducted and with whom? How long will the process take before you make a job offer or select another candidate? What is the anticipated start date for the position? What’s involved in onboarding a new team member? If you aren’t sure about any of these answers, say so, and express that you will keep them informed.
Set expectations that are realistic and reasonable and make sure candidates know what to expect at every step in the candidate journey. This will help create an organized and efficient experience and avoid that one-way street feeling that so many candidates encounter in a job search.
Research has found that 75% of candidate experience surveys show that setting clear expectations is key to delivering a great candidate experience.
It can’t be stressed enough how essential it is to communicate frequently and promptly with job seekers throughout the recruitment process. Respond quickly to their emails, questions, and inquiries, even if you do not have new information to share. Again, creating multiple touchpoints to share information shows respect for their time, effort, and interest in joining your company.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
In the candidate experience, communication is key. Whether it’s to provide feedback on their application or a simple check-in during the recruitment process, candidates want to always feel they’re in the loop. They want to know their applications are being taken seriously, so make sure you get back to them as quickly as possible with any updates. The brief moments you invest in this professional courtesy will result in good impressions of your organization. Phone calls, emails, and private messaging on social media platforms like LinkedIn – there are many time-efficient ways to reach out.
Did you know that having excellent communication skills is one of the most sought-after traits for job seekers when interacting with a company about a job opening? Exercising these skills not only shows that you value your candidates’ time, but it also demonstrates professionalism as a company. After all, no one wants to work or interact with a company that falls short in communicating, and this applies to job seekers as well as customers.
So, remember to communicate clearly and often with your candidates to ensure you’re creating a positive candidate experience. Good communication goes a long way in helping you build trust and create a winning candidate experience.
When your interview process is completed for a job opening and you’re making final assessments, it’s time to open the communication spigot again. This is a crucial part of the candidate experience, too. No candidate likes to be left in the dark after interviewing for your job.
Reach out to each candidate and convey the status of the search. Let them know if they have been selected for the job or if someone else has been chosen instead. Even if the applicant hasn’t been selected, it’s so important to genuinely thank them for their time and offer some feedback. Maybe there are other opportunities that might be a better fit. Or maybe you have tips to help them improve their skills as a candidate for future roles. If so, share those.
It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with potential candidates if you don’t have another opening right now. Telling candidates that you’d like to keep the lines of communication open will establish a good relationship and increase the likelihood that they will apply when a new position becomes available.
By following up and staying in touch with candidates, you create a positive candidate experience and build strong relationships with those who are interested in joining your team, now or in the future.
More about feedback
Offering feedback to candidates is essential to creating a great candidate experience. It can be disheartening for a job seeker to go through the entire recruitment process without receiving any input – and this applies equally to those you select and those you pass by.
Here again, show respect and appreciation for their time. Whether you’re offering constructive criticism or highlighting a candidate’s strengths, sharing feedback allows candidates to make improvements, grow, and be better prepared for the future.
Feedback should be timely, honest, and specific. It should be tailored to the individual candidate’s performance in the interview process and provide clarity about why the candidate was or was not selected. Try to provide positive reinforcement, such as praising the candidate for their accomplishments and noting areas where they did well in the recruitment process.
The goal of giving feedback is to ensure that all candidates have a positive experience throughout the process. By offering honest, specific feedback, you can help create a successful candidate experience while also helping a qualified candidate become more confident and better prepared for their new role at your organization – or their next job opportunity.
Go above and beyond
Making a great candidate experience is all about going the extra mile, making job seekers feel welcome, valued, respected, and appreciated.
Take the time to thank them in earnest for their interest in joining your organization. Ask if they have any questions and take time to answer. There are many creative ways to show them how much you appreciate their effort in applying for the job, such as sending a personalized thank you note or offering a referral bonus.
Additionally, show that you are invested in their success by helping them prepare for interviews and making sure they have the resources they need. By doing this, you will show your job candidates that you care about their experience and that you’re committed to helping them reach their professional goals.
It’s time to get back to basics in our fast-paced world
Today’s hiring managers have their hands full and there’s only so much time in the day, but this is a critical part of the talent acquisition process to avoid poor candidate experiences and ensure positive ones. Practicing the golden rule cannot be overlooked if you want to succeed in creating winning experiences. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Take the time to ensure your candidates are treated with respect, that their expectations are managed, that they are kept in the loop during the application process, and that they receive meaningful feedback. All of this contributes to an excellent candidate experience.
Remember to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. This is what creates a winning candidate experience and strengthens a company’s brand on career sites, social media, and especially in the hiring market. When you go the extra mile to exceed candidate expectations, you not only create a positive impression on job seekers, but through your professional courtesy, you also build a reputation as an organization that values and respects people. This will help you attract potential job candidates for future job openings.
Find the right candidates fast. If you’re struggling to find exceptional candidates for a key position at your organization, Goodwin Recruiting is just a phone call or email away. We specialize in sourcing top talent for executive, senior-level, and manager roles across multiple industries and our talent pool grows every day. We would love to help you on your talent acquisition journey!
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