There are a number of challenges facing organisations in creating and delivering a superior candidate experience and HR needs to take a lead role in addressing these challenges, according to an expert in the area.
Creating a superior candidate experience starts from the top of an organisation and needs to be sustained through putting in enough time, effort, training and consistency in order to deliver for both candidates and the business, said Dr Matthew Neale, chief psychology officer for Revelian.
“Most organisations don’t fare very well in doing this,” said Dr Neale, who explained that the most common issue in providing a great candidate experience is not communicating effectively with candidates.
“Candidates want to know right from the beginning what is going to be involved in the recruitment and selection process, how long it will take, what sort of things they need to do and when they need to do them,” said Dr Neale.
“Some organisations are quite poor at anything other than acknowledging receipt of the application, so effective communication is a key gap in terms of managing and improving the candidate experience.”
Lack of communication is possibly the most common complaint from candidates, who want clear and timely information about the process and their progress, according to Revelian’s new eBook, Enhancing the Candidate Experience for Better Business Results.
It cited a study from Phenom People which found that only 2 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are communicating the status of a candidate’s application throughout the entire duration of the hiring process.
“The problem exists in all stages of the candidate journey, from learning more about a company to accepting a job or not being considered any further,” the eBook said.
“It can have serious repercussions for your organisation, from having top candidates drop out to wasting recruitment team time as they answer questions that could have been proactively addressed in communications to the candidate.”
Pros (and cons) of candidate engagement
Dr Neale observed that another common issue for organisations is making sure that candidates who are unsuccessful in their application feel like they have had adequate opportunity to make their case for employment.
“Candidates need to feel like their case has been heard and their skills and capabilities recognised”
“Candidates need to feel like their case has been heard and their skills and capabilities recognised,” said Dr Neale.
“This goes back to the organisation and its ability to provide a feeling of respect for candidates as part of the selection process, recognising and acknowledging that candidates put a lot of time and effort into the process.”
A related issue for candidates is that questions asked or processes in the application are fair or actually relevant to the job they are applying for.
“If questions are not clearly linked to the job, or application forms or assessments can’t be linked back to the job, this can have quite a negative impact as well,” he added.
The eBook cited a flagship study of Virgin Media, which found they were losing approximately 7500 customers per year: people who had applied for jobs with them and were unhappy about their experience, including how they were rejected.
Once they improved their application process, they began to claw back some of the estimated £4.4 million ($8.1 million) per year they were losing due to poor candidate experiences.
Steps for improvement
There are a number of steps organisations can take to improve the candidate experience, according to Dr Neale – the first of which is having the right guidelines and systems in place for recruiters and hiring managers to communicate effectively.
“Most applications are conducted online these days, and there are some relatively easy ways to communicate with candidates through messaging services, e-mail and other processes, so deploying the right kind of systems and providing the right kind of training around effective communication with candidates is critical,” he said.
Part of this process can be automated as well, with organisations increasingly using chatbots to provide basic information to candidates about the recruitment process and the status of their application.
“Communication doesn’t always need to come from a human,” said Dr Neale, “so there are a lot of organisations which are starting to invest in this kind of technology to improve the quality of communication.”
“Make that entry point into your assessment process as short, simple and brief as possible, with just enough information to commence a conversation”
Another important consideration for HR is to think about candidates as customers and as people who they want to develop a positive relationship with.
The eBook cited an IBM WorkTrends survey, which found that people who had a good candidate experience had a stronger desire to become a customer of the recruiting organisation than those who had a poor experience.
And while 31 per cent didn’t want to become a customer despite being satisfied with the process, this increased to 60 per cent when people were dissatisfied with their treatment.
Furthermore, Dr Neale said it is important to ensure the right questions are asked and all the steps in the hiring process are necessary.
“Are you asking the right questions and avoiding time-wasting material? Are you getting the most out of the candidate and providing an experience that reflects well on your organisation?” asked Dr Neale, who explained that The eBook are one engaging way that can help assess candidates’ abilities around problem-solving, working effectively with data, good communication as well as understanding emotions.
He explained that game-based assessments provide short, effective and reliable tests which are interesting, engaging and more enjoyable to complete.
Another important step for HR is to get feedback from candidates on the recruitment process, in order to understand areas for improvement and what can be done to provide a better experience for future candidates.
The eBook pointed to a study by Future Workplace, which found that 78 per cent of jobseekers said they’d never been asked for feedback on their experience, and only 25 per cent of employers said they regularly asked for feedback.
Candidate experience advice for HR
As HR is front and centre of the candidate management process, Dr Neale suggested that a starting point for HR is to look very carefully at what is on their application form.
“When people design an application form, they think that every possible bit of information they might need to employ this person should be on there,” said Dr Neale.
“It’s worth looking very carefully at your process and whether you are doing something that is new, interesting and different, which help candidates think positive things about the organisation”
“Sometimes this list is quite extensive, with documents to upload, full details of all the different names a candidate might have held and so on – but you actually need very little information to get that communication going.”
“My key advice would be to make that entry point into your assessment process as short, simple and brief as possible, with just enough information to commence a conversation.”
It is a good idea to think about how the organisation is differentiating itself from others, and whether it is providing a typical application/resume/interview/reference check process – or an experience which provides a genuine sense of interest and engagement from candidates, he added.
“So, it’s worth looking very carefully at your process and whether you are doing something that is new, interesting and different, which help candidates think positive things about the organisation,” said Dr Neale.
6 quick wins for creating a better candidate experience
The eBook said there are a few things HR can do to quickly improve the way their organisation interacts with candidates through six quick wins:
1. Start collecting candidate feedback: Begin their collecting feedback easily by setting up a simple survey and including the link in all of the comms you send to your candidates.
- Add a bot to your careers site: Adding a bot that answers FAQs can free up their time and reduce candidate frustration by offering them timely and accurate responses to their questions.
- Record some employee testimonials: They don’t have to be a top-quality production; in fact, more candid, less polished videos have an authentic edge.
- Give candidates a timeline: As a first step, ensure that all applicants have a timeline of your recruitment process, so they know what to expect and when the important dates are.
- Send rejections, offer closure: While it might be more appropriate to phone candidates who have made it to the interview stage, an email to candidates who haven’t progressed that far is a quick win that closes the loop for candidates and demonstrates that you appreciate their time and effort in applying.
- Find some champions: If your senior leaders understand the (extensive) business implications of improving the candidate experience, they’ll be more likely to embrace projects that improve it and likely to promote it across the organisation.
For more information on how to create a great candidate experience and specific steps HR can take to improve talent attraction, selection and acquisition strategies and outcomes, Revelian’s Enhancing the Candidate Experience for Better Business Results is available for download here.