Earlier this year I was chatting about job hunting with a good friend of mine. They mentioned that during their recent job search experience, they’d had five leads, and had landed a new job from one of them. Happy ending right? While in the end it was happy, my friend’s experience with the four other leads had been somewhat shambolic. They attended four interviews. Only one company got back in touch, declining with minimal feedback. The other three never called back, which as you can imagine left a very sour taste! My friend was delighted with the end result and is pleased with their new job. At the same time, their impression of these other four companies has been permanently tainted.
This was yet another reminder for me of how important it is to have a recruitment process centred around treating people as just that, people. Especially now, while the labour market is tight. It’s important to remember that applying for a new job can be exhausting. We expect candidates to take the time to craft their CV, personalise every aspect of the cover letter and application, and then take time off work for interviews. It’s no small thing. Candidates need to be seen as humans with busy lives, stressors and hopes and dreams, and not just a potential resource. It’s disrespectful and at the end of the day, if you don’t treat ALL candidates well, including the ones you don’t hire, it will damage your brand.
Declining candidates is an art and one of the key pillars of a robust candidate experience strategy. If you do it well, it can actually build your brand in the labour market, creating appetite for candidates to reapply down the track, and speak well of your company – all helpful things for talent pooling and positive employer brand association.
The candidate experience
It boils down to how a candidate feels about your company once they experience your hiring process, successful or not. If you haven’t spent time thinking about this and crafting a good process, the chances are there are holes. Did you know that 75% of candidates never hear back from a company after sending their application in? Or that 60% of people never hear back after an interview? And then 22% will then go on to actively tell other people not to apply for positions in that company.
Getting the basics right is important, which includes responding to every single application. There is, however, a lot more that goes into creating a great candidate experience. Some best practices you could look into are:
Making sure you’re hiring to fill a real need
- Making sure you’re hiring to fill a real need
- Writing clear job descriptions
- Making it easy for candidates to apply to your jobs
- Follow-up early, and often
- Communicating with, and thanking candidates at each step
- Providing information about what to expect at interviews, video or in person
- Giving candidates your full attention during interviews
- Tell candidates if you’re no longer considering them, as soon as you can, with clear reasons
- Create a system for identifying those candidates that may be suitable for future openings, build a process around keeping track of them and build a talent pool
- Be open to receiving feedback as well as providing it
At the end of the day, your process may tick all the boxes, but if the communication, whether by email, phone or in person, is cold or sterile, lacking empathy and compassion, then it won’t enhance the candidate experience. One key thing you can do through the whole process is to be curious. If your process is founded on this, then I guarantee it will ensure a positive candidate experience.
Curiosity in the process looks like:
- Actively listening, and making candidates feel heard
- Paying attention to detail
- Pausing, and take time to reflect and to give good feedback
- Ensuring you don’t jump to conclusions at any stage of the process
- Declining candidates with compassion
How does your candidate experience compare? What would your unsuccessful candidates say about your business? If this is something you’d like to hear more about, I would love to chat.