Keep it Relevant: What Candidates Expect in the Application Process

Keep it Relevant: What Candidates Expect in the Application Process

by Lance Haun


For candidates, it’s everything. If you’re driving the talent strategy for your organization, you should know that candidates want and need context to make the best decisions for themselves and for you.

Sure, maybe the best folks have done deep research, maybe spent some time on Glassdoor, or read up on the latest company news. Most candidates fly in blind to your organization’s career site, though. They get there via a job board or a referral. They may have seen a tweet someone sent them.

And if you leave them in the dark about your recruiting process or make it unclear what they should expect, they won’t give you the benefit of the doubt and they’ll assume you’re one of those companies: the kind that never calls back. That leaves a bad taste in any candidate’s mouth.

The 2013 Candidate Experience Survey Report proves this out as well. Of those who had a great candidate experience, 80 percent had details of the next steps in the application process and 68 percent found it useful. As the candidate experience declined, so too does the proportion of people who were aware of those critical next step details.

That’s not good. So what should candidates expect from your organization?

1. Clear information about your company and the job

Nobody is asking you to do a six-figure video shoot to highlight your company and what you are about. It wouldn’t kill you to share some information about your company that isn’t just straight out of your boilerplate, though. When it comes to job descriptions, I get that you have to have certain information there. But, you could also take the time to give a more human description of what they’ll be doing day-to-day and what type of person has excelled in the job.

2. Straight-forward advice that will help them through the interview process

Should they wear a suit to the interview? How many people will they be talking to? How long will it take? Look, for people who don’t interview frequently, the interview is a nerve wracking experience. When you prep them for the day, not only will they perform better during the interview, it’s a better experience for them as well.  Regardless of whether they get the job, they’ll think that they were given the opportunity to succeed.

3. Prompt communication letting them know where they are in the process and how it will proceed

We get it. Recruiting is understaffed. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the hundreds of people who apply for your jobs are actually real people. Communicate as well as you can, making sure that the tools in your ATS work consistently. If your system doesn’t work — or if you don’t have a recruiting system — find a work around to communication until it can be resolved. Commit to a process where people will be notified of their status within a certain timeframe or by a certain date and stick to it.

BONUS: Honest feedback to candidates where applicable

Not everyone will be able to do this, but giving honest feedback to candidates — especially ones who have been through the interview — can make a big difference. For professional positions within close-knit industries this is even more essential. You may not be able to give feedback to everyone as to why they weren’t chosen for the position, but giving feedback to people who invested serious time and effort into interviewing with your organization is a smart move.

Giving candidates the right information at the right time not only help keep their expectations in check, it also helps pave the route to a more satisfactory candidate experience. That’s a win-win any organization should be able to appreciate.