4 Keys to a Winning Candidate Experience

Check out the below video & article from Kevin Grossman of Talent Board on 4 keys to a winning candidate experience.

By Kevin Grossman of Talent Board, written on August 24th, 2020

Every company wants to create a winning candidate experience—one that attracts the best people for the available jobs and the best possible reviews from all candidates. The question is – exactly what constitutes a winning experience?

According to our Talent Board CandE Benchmark Research, where we’ve analyzed more than 1 million candidate experiences over the past decade, the very best experiences share a number of characteristics including frequent communication, ease of application, and just the right amount of automation, among others. Our latest research also indicates that a winning experience meets candidates’ expectations in four key areas:

  1. Setting Expectations
  2. Accountability
  3. Fairness
  4. Feedback

Investing in these four areas of your candidate experience makes candidates feel they’ve been treated fairly and respectfully—even when they’ve been rejected. That’s more important than ever, as soaring unemployment may force you to turn away record numbers of job seekers in the months ahead.

  1. Setting Expectations

What candidates want: to be told what will occur during each phase of your recruiting process so they’re not left guessing.

From your candidates’ point of view, this is a matter of common courtesy and respect. Job searches are time-consuming and stressful. You only add to that stress when you fail to communicate the steps of your recruiting process and the associated timelines.

Ideally the basic milestones of your candidate journey should be outlined on your career site, and you should communicate next steps and timelines whenever candidates reach a new phase of their journey (screening, interviewing, offer, and onboarding). As our research reports have noted, accuracy is paramount in these communications—e.g., if your recruiters tell candidates they’ll be in touch two weeks after application but it actually takes four weeks, it undermines the quality of the entire experience. As a result, candidates will be much less willing to apply to your other jobs, refer colleagues and friends to you, or even buy your company’s products or services.

In short, setting expectations not only elevates the quality of your company’s candidate experience but it can also positively impact your bottom line.

  1. Accountability

What candidates want: to know that your recruiters and hiring managers will keep their promises.

For many candidates, nothing is worse than a recruiting process seemingly devoid of accountability—e.g., recruiters and hiring managers who fail to keep their promises and appointments. Candidates understand that your team is busy but it’s hard for them to remain patient when they feel their time and efforts aren’t being respected, especially during the later stages of the recruiting process. Even worse, when it feels like no one is accountable for this kind of poor treatment, candidates naturally assume it’s endemic to your company’s culture. Top talent won’t hesitate to bail on such a process, even in a tough job market.

  1. Fairness

What candidates want: to feel that your overall recruitment and assessment processes are fair and impartial.

The perceived fairness of your candidate experience could work for or against you like never before, given the nation’s current focus on systemic racism and other forms of bias. For instance, when we surveyed job seekers about the fairness of employers’ assessment process, it found their overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) was 33 in 2019 and 58 so far in 2020, which is amazing. We see this every year: the more “engagement activities” with candidates, the higher the level of perceived fairness, regardless of the assessment type.

It’s important to remember that most of the candidates surveyed were turned down after application. So again, it was the perceived fairness of their experience—not whether they got hired—that mattered most in their ratings.

  1. Feedback

What candidates want: to give their feedback and opinions about the various stages of your candidate journey.

Candidates appreciate your honest feedback about their backgrounds, interviewing skills, resumes, and the like. Equally important, they value the chance to give you their feedback on various aspects of your candidate experience. For example, our data shows that employers who asked for feedback about their application process saw a 72% increase in their ratings as “a great candidate experience.” Asking for feedback during the screening and interviewing stage generated a 148% increase in ratings—and in candidates’ willingness to increase their relationships with these companies. When feedback was both asked for and offered throughout the attract-recruit-hire process, it overwhelmingly increased the average candidate’s positive impression of the given organization.

The Candidate Experience Journey and CandE Winner Best Practices

We’ve been doing this candidate experience benchmark research for 0ver 9 years now and 2020 will be our 10th year (there’s still time to participate!). Again, after surveying over 1 million candidates from over 1,000 employers big and small across industries, we now understand better the best practices that drive a more positive candidate sentiment as well as a higher level of perceived fairness in the recruiting and hiring process.

Those companies year after year that win our coveted CandE Award work hard at improving all of the above areas and more. We’ve created a new infographic that conveys the candidate experience journey from pre-application to onboarding and all the CandE Winner best practices we identify each year (see below and you can download the PDF here). We’ll be sharing a lot more around this infographic in the months to come.

Again, if you’d like to know how your candidate experience stacks up against other employers, there’s still plenty of time to participate in our 2020 benchmark research, which you can do here.

Be safe and well.

—Kevin Grossman, President, Talent Board


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