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It’s Not Rocket Science: How to Improve Your Candidate Experience

By Kevin Grossman

A special thanks to recruiting expert Gerry Crispin, a co-founder of both Talent Board and CareerXroads, for delivering  an excellent webinar on behalf of Talent Board and SmartRecruiters titled, “Candidate Experience: What the Evidence is Telling Us,” on July 20.

Gerry’s insights are based on millions of data points from thousands of companies and candidates — data you can’t ignore.

As it turns out, 80 percent candidates who are willing to provide ratings about their experience can be attributed to five factors. As Gerry explains, reviewing this data allows you to “step outside the box” and see things with a whole different perspective, like having a new pair of glasses.

But while many HR professionals are willing to step outside the box, it’s what happens when they step back inside the box that really counts; how they’re applying what they’ve learned to improve.

After nearly seven years of Talent Board research, it’s clear that creating an excellent candidate experience gives you a competitive advantage because you spend less money and fill roles far more quickly than companies that deliver a poor experience. Not to mention the potential positive and negative impact on your brand and your business.

What’s the difference between excellent and poor? Candidates tell us. Unfortunately, many HR professionals simply don’t heed best practices represented by five simple questions on the most important attributes of the candidate experience.

1. Set expectations

When candidates are asked if there was anything they wished they knew before they applied or were interviewed, more than 50 percent replied that they wanted information on compensation.

As Gerry pointed out, not discussing compensation is like asking customers to visit a retail store with no price tags. Again and again candidates continue to remind us that salary and benefits are important, yet again and again, recruiters are uncomfortable discussing these issues.

2. Listen

Gerry presented a statistic based on asking 25,000 finalists whether they were invited to give feedback about their experience. Get this: 60 percent said “no.”

“That’s incredible because people who get that far in the process have an extraordinary amount to tell you about how you can make it better,” Gerry noted. He also mentioned a company that opens a chatroom for any candidate about one hour per day so candidates can ask questions and get a sense that the company is listening to those questions.

3. Be accountable

Do companies link candidate experience ratings with recruiter performance? When companies are asked whether they hold themselves and recruiters accountable for the candidate experience, Gerry’s data suggests an “amazing” correlation.

Those that have no formal review process or measure recruiter performance are ranked among the lowest-rated employers. Those in the top quartile have formal review processes in place and link recruiter performance to both monetary and non-monetary compensation.

4. Demonstrate fairness

Those candidates who feel that they are evaluated fairly are more likely to think favorably of their experience than those that feel otherwise.

Being treated “fairly” may be difficult to measure, but Gerry offered one best practice that can make an impact. Make the last question on any application, phone screen, or interview, “What didn’t we ask about your skills, knowledge, or experience that would improve your competitive position for this opportunity?”

After all, we know what we want to know, but candidates may want us to know something we don’t ask. Merely asking this question improves candidate experience scores.

5. Offer closure

Obviously, employers reject the vast majority of candidates, but how you communicate that information is essential to how a candidate rate their experience.

Gerry explained that many candidates receive no communication at all, but of those that do, 57 percent get the news in an email from a “do not reply” address. Obviously you can’t call every candidate, but treating candidates with courtesy improves candidate experience scores.

Not rocket science

Feeling a bit fidgety about some of your own practices watching the webinar or reading about it here? You’re probably not alone, but there’s good news. All of these practices are easily correctable and recruiting software platforms can help you stay on top of your candidate experience game.

As Gerry Crispin says, “it’s not rocket science.”

Thanks again, Gerry. That was an excellent presentation!