Candidate Experience: The Complete Guide for Recruiters & Hiring Managers

What's Candidate Experience

“Treat people who don’t get jobs as well as people who do.”

–Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

1. Unclear hiring timelines

Telling your candidates “We’ll be in touch soon” but not being clear on who will be in contact and when can leave them confused and frustrated. Instead, let candidates know when they can expect to hear back from you at each step of the hiring process. Inform candidates about how fast you’re hoping to fill the position, and if anything changes along the way.

2. Irregular communication

Irregular or lack of communication is one of the most common causes for candidate frustration. In fact, 81% of job seekers state that if employers would continuously communicate status updates to them, their overall experience would greatly improve.

Going weeks without contact then asking for an interview with a two-hour notice will only get your candidates’ blood boiling. You can dramatically improve a negative candidate experience by prioritizing communication.

3. Poor job descriptions

Have you ever posted a job ad for a junior role that required at least five years of industry experience?

Unless you’re hiring for a more senior or executive position, don’t expect impossible experience levels from your candidates. In fact, requiring specific education and experience might not even make sense. If you’re hiring a sales assistant for your retail store, for example, will a candidate’s university degree really tell you if they can sell electronics in a fast-paced environment?

Make sure your job ad has realistic expectations and is clearly targeted to your ideal candidates—you don’t want to deter qualified people from applying.

4. Inefficient processes

Poor communication and unclear hiring timelines are usually the result of inefficient hiring process. It’s easy for hiring managers and recruiters to get overwhelmed when they have no clear baseline for how hiring should work. If you’re collecting applications to different emails and systems, or if hiring responsibilities are unclear within your company, your candidate experience will suffer.

A good hiring process will set you up for repeatable recruitment success. There’s no use investing in employer branding if you don’t have a basic hiring process in place.

5. Long or complicated job application process

Imagine you’re applying for a job and you upload your resume, press next, and then you’re asked to manually type in your work experience, skills, and education—basically rewrite your entire resume.

After pulling out their hair in frustration, your candidates might simply close the tab and move on to another opportunity.

6. A bad interview experience

A terrible interview experience can quickly change a candidate’s mind about your company. Imagine the impression you’d get if you arrived for an interview but the recruiter simply didn’t show up because they forgot? Or if they arrived late with no explanation?

Asking the exact same questions in a phone or video interview as in a face-to-face interview can also give the impression that you’re unprepared and disorganized.

7. Poor onboarding

Failing to create a proper employee onboarding process may result in losing new hires in the first couple of months. If a new employee doesn’t get the basic info they need like where to park their car, or if they’re given outdated onboarding materials, they’ll get the impression your company is poorly organized. Failing to show that you’re invested in your new employee’s long-term success might also leave them questioning their decision and seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

Bad candidate experience

The job search

Create an inspiring career page

Your career page is the perfect place for you to showcase your company culture. If someone is checking this page, chances are they’re at least slightly interested in working for your company. You don’t want to make a bad impression and turn potential candidates away before they even get started.

Employee-created content and testimonials are a great way to show what your company is all about. Include a company culture video that introduces different roles—from leadership to front-line staff—and shows people’s typical workdays. By showcasing your company culture through video, you’ll get more high-intent applicants who are fully aware of how you operate and want to get on board.

Write a compelling & accurate job description

Your job ads should compel right-fit candidates to apply right away. Consider your target candidates’ career goals to get them excited about the role, and ensure you can keep the promises you make. Include a realistic job description and requirements—while you don’t want unfit candidates to apply, you also don’t want to intimidate entry-level candidates if they’d be right for the role.

Be where your ideal candidates are

To get your ideal candidates interested and interacting with your company, you need to be visible where they already are. If you’re hiring for entry-level roles and know people fresh out of college could be your best candidates, why not recruit on campus? Or if you’re looking for more senior, specialized professionals, consider joining industry-specific associations and attend their events to recruit people.

You also want to participate in the right conversations online—use relevant hashtags when sharing your job openings on social media, and be active in the right LinkedIn groups.

The application process

Set clear expectations by describing the process early on

Tell your candidates how the recruitment process will play out early on so they know what to expect. For example, give a heads up that you’ll be asking for recorded video responses, and that the next step will be an in-person interview. Or explain that there will be a second face-to-face interview with the team. Since poor communication is a top reason for candidate frustration, this is a key area to improve.

Ensure a hassle-free application process

Don’t make your candidates jump through hoops to apply for a role—make the process as seamless as possible. For example, many employers are asking candidates to simply fill out a Typeform.

More and more candidates are using their mobile phones to search for jobs, and would prefer to apply from their phones as well. Promoting a job opening as mobile friendly can increase the number of applicants by 11.6%, according to a Glassdoor study.

Use pre-recorded video interviews

Using pre-recorded video interviews benefits both recruiters and candidates during the application process. Candidates get a unique opportunity to express themselves, and they can record their video responses at a time and place that’s most convenient for them. Plus, they get a clearer impression of your company through your video questions and video introduction.

Video interviews also allow recruiters to only invite good-fit candidates to in-person interviews, which results in about 50% of time savings in your recruitment process. If you realize that a candidate isn’t the right fit for your company—whether professionally or culturally—there’s no need to waste anyone’s time moving forward.

Allow candidates to showcase their skills and personality

Most companies screen candidates by assessing their CVs, but not all candidates feel confident expressing their skills and abilities in written format. Plus, a CV can only tell you so much about a person’s attitude, motivation, and personality.

That’s why many companies are allowing candidates to showcase their skills and personality through pre-recorded video interviews. Candidates of all ages are satisfied with video interviews, and 84% recommend video interviews as a recruitment method, according to RecRight’s 2019 Candidate Survey.

80 percent of candidates say they would not consider other relevant positions at a company that didn’t notify them of their application status

CareerArc

The interview process

Aim to impress candidates

During an in-person interview, you’re trying to impress candidates as much as they’re trying to impress you. Give candidates your full attention, and treat them respectfully. Show candidates you respect their schedules by arriving on time for interviews and staying within the reserved time slot.

Ask purposeful questions, and allow candidates to ask you questions so they can learn more about the role and your company culture. Show candidates around your office afterwards to give them a sneak peak into your work environment.

Communicate your hiring timeline

Depending on the role you’re looking to fill, your recruitment process might be quite long. You can avoid frustrating your candidates, however, by properly communicating your timeline from the get go. If you already want to start meeting potential candidates but you know can’t hire anyone for at least two months, for example, just be honest about it.

Be prompt to respond about the next steps

Too often a candidate has no idea how the recruitment process is proceeding. While you might see one candidate as your first pick, they might have already dismissed your company because they hadn’t heard from you in weeks.

Show your candidates you value their time by proactively communicating with them. If you realize early on that a candidate isn’t the right fit, be honest rather than stringing them along. If anything changes within your company and you have to wait before hiring, explain the situation to the candidate.

Send personalized messages

Applying for jobs can often feel like a dehumanizing process for candidates. But by taking a more personal approach to communication, you can be the breath of fresh air they need.

Whether you’re reaching out to a passive candidate or giving feedback to someone you just interviewed, tailor your messages to each individual. Doing so can increase response rates and help you build trust with your candidates, which can also improve your employer brand. Sending personalized messages also helps you avoid burning bridges with any candidates.

Introduce the team

By having different team members record video interview questions, you can introduce candidates to their prospective teammates. In face-to-face interviews, candidates should also be able to ask team members questions that a hiring manager or recruiter might not be able to answer.

Involving different team members in the recruitment process also reduces the risk of making biased hiring decisions.

Give and receive feedback

94% of job seekers want interview feedback. Giving specific feedback in a timely manner is a simple way to show you care about a candidate's success and it leaves a positive impression of your company. In fact, candidates are more likely to consider your company for future opportunities if you give constructive feedback.

Feedback should go both ways, but 78% of job seekers report having never been asked for feedback on their candidate experience. Asking your candidates about their experience will give you the insights you need to improve. If a person ends up telling you about a particularly bad experience, listen without interrupting them or getting defensive, then follow up with a sincere apology and use their feedback to improve your candidates experience. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, always thank candidates for sharing their thoughts.

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”

–Frank A. Clark, American lawyer and politician

The onboarding process

Have a plan

If you don’t have a strategic onboarding plan, your new employees will notice. Share your onboarding plan—including a structured timeline—with new hires so they know what to expect in the coming weeks. Share an overview of your company story including your mission, values, and people to give candidates a clear sense of your culture.

Don’t overwhelm new employees

The first day at a new job can be a stressful experience. Don’t drown your new employee in new information and paperwork on their very first day. Instead, spread out information and training to ease new employees into their new role and give them time to digest everything.

Show how excited the company is to have them onboard by giving them a warm welcome. Simply inviting them to a team lunch on the first day can be a small gesture that makes a big impact.

Onboarding process

Wondering how candidates feel about video interviews? Check out our 2019 Candidate Survey.

Track relevant KPIs

While the best data comes from candidate feedback, here are a few recruitment metrics that correlate to candidate experience:

  • Recruiter response time: Track how long it takes for a candidate to hear back from you after they send an application. This will tell you if there’s room for improvement with communication.
  • Conversion rates on your career page: Find out how many people view your career page, then apply to a position. You can also track conversion rates for specific job ads.
  • Application drop-off: How many candidates start the application process but then leave at a certain point? Find out whether your application process is too complex and turning people away.
  • Offer acceptance rate: Monitor how many people accept your job offers to discover whether you’ve made a good impression during the recruitment process.
  • New employee satisfaction rate: Measure new employee satisfaction by collecting their feedback after 30 days and six months. This will give you valuable insights on your onboarding process.
  • Time to productivity: How long does it take for new employees to get up to speed and be fully productive? Some recruiters also define this metric as the time required for new hires to reach the job proficiency of an employee with two years of experience at the company.
  • Employee retention: Measure the retention rates of new hires, and consider voluntary and involuntary turnover rates. Voluntary turnover tells you new employees aren’t impressed with one or more aspects of your company, whereas involuntary turnover suggests you’ve hired unfit employees.

Monitor your company on employer review sites

Today’s job seekers are more informed than ever, often checking employer reviews before applying for a position. In fact, 55% of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative reviews. If you don’t take negative comments seriously and own up to your hiring mistakes, you risk losing out on high-quality candidates.

Monitor company mentions

Candidates might also talk about their experiences on social media platforms and online forums like Reddit. These personal insights give prospective candidates a transparent look into your company—so once again, you want to know what people are saying.

Ask new hires for feedback on the onboarding process

You’re not done trying to impress a candidate once you offer them a job. You want them to keep seeing your company in a positive light during their first days as a new employee. 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.

Ask new employees how they feel about the onboarding process to make valuable improvements. If you don’t, you risk setting new employees up for an early exit.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

–Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft

Salesforce

Not only is Salesforce ranked as one of the top companies to work for—it’s also known for its excellent candidate experience. First and foremost, Salesforce focuses on hiring people whose personal values align with their company. They created a standardized global process and hire based on competencies rather than strictly enterprise software experience.

Salesforce also focuses on mitigating unconscious bias by training interviewers, recruiters, and hiring managers, and using their assessment tool, Trailhead. Plus, Salesforce clearly outlines their hiring process on their website, along with plenty of resources for candidates.

Candidate experience example: Salesforce

Finnair

By using video interviews in the hiring process, Finnair gives candidates a realistic and transparent view of their company. They’ve become a more trustworthy recruiter, and also save time for both candidates and recruiters when high-volume recruiting. Video interviews allow Finnair’s candidates to better showcase their skills and personality, and they empower Finnair recruiters to make more informed decisions by getting a better view of candidates.

Candidate experience example: Finnair

McDonalds

McDonalds now accepts applications through voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant as part of an initiative called “Apply Thru.” They aim to give more young people ways to start entry-level careers by meeting potential candidates where they already are: on their mobile phones. Candidates can start the application process through the voice assistant, then answer a few questions out loud. Following their responses, they’ll get a link to complete their application online.

McDonalds also uses chatbots to automate administrative tasks and to be more attentive to candidates’ needs when high-volume hiring.

Candidate experience example: McDonalds

JYSK

JYSK is using video interviews on a global scale to speed up the recruitment process. Through video interviews, JYSK takes a personal approach to hiring and allows candidates to better express themselves. They have their real people presenting the interview questions, which gives candidates a glimpse at their prospective team.

By integrating RecRight with their ATS Smart Recruiters, JYSK is also able to allow candidates to apply through mobile. This was crucial to improve the candidate experience since 70% JYSK’s candidates accessed their job ads through mobile.

Candidate experience example: JYSK

Reaktor

Reaktor is recognized as a pioneer in recruitment processes and has won Great Place To Work Institute’s “Best Employer in Finland” award four years in a row (2008-2011).

One way they create a positive candidate experience is through relaxed, discussion-based interviews over coffee. They also use video interviews to screen candidates, and ensure the possible future team—not just the HR department—evaluates the candidates’ video replies.

Candidate experience example: Reaktor

Useful recruitment tools

Create a positive candidate experience with RecRight

Using video interviews in your recruitment process can improve candidates’ impressions of your brand. With RecRight’s video interview platform, you can put a face to your company, speed up your hiring process, and empower candidates to better express themselves.

Why not try it to see for yourself? Book a demo or start a free trial today!

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