In today’s ultra-competitive market for the best talent, companies are looking to gain every possible edge to attract the best and brightest employees. With sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and LinkedIn, job seekers can gain unprecedented and unfiltered information on a prospective employer’s culture and reputation, allowing them to be more selective about where they want to work.
Companies have found many ways to stand out in the talent marketplace. One of the most effective, but often overlooked, ways to attract talent is to focus on improving the candidate experience.
What Is the Candidate Experience?
The candidate experience refers to every step in the “talent supply chain” that begins from the moment a job description is created and posted through to the hired employee’s first day on the job and beyond. It should be approached thoughtfully and respectfully to create positive interactions at every stage of the hiring process—not just for the select few who are eventually hired, but also for the many more who are not.
Research has shown that many companies underestimate the importance of the candidate experience when it comes to hiring quality talent. A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 82% of employers believe there is little or no negative impact to a company when a candidate has a bad experience during the hiring process. However, job candidates who have bad experiences are more likely to comment on it publicly, or even stop buying products or services from the company altogether.
If your company’s candidate experience could use polishing, consider these five tips to improve it:
1. Be transparent with your process. The number one source of frustration for candidates is that they have no idea what the hiring process is and where they stand in it at any given time. Therefore, the most important step a company can do to improve its candidate experience is to communicate status updates at major milestones – for example, when applications are received and reviewed. At BASF, we publish our hiring process on our careers page so candidates have an idea of what to expect and when.
2. Invest in knowledgeable recruiters. Your recruiters are pivotal to a successful hiring process. A well-informed, polished and enthusiastic recruiter who has spent time talking to hiring managers about the specific competencies and skills that would complement their teams will be better equipped to answer applicants’ questions. Consider entrenching your recruiters into your business lines to ensure cross communication and shared information between the work team and the talent team.
3. Orchestrate interview day. Consider every minute the candidate is at your office as an opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression. Make sure the interview room is presentable and use the space to extend your brand story by displaying company awards, products or branding. Assign roles to each interviewer—for instance, have one person focus on assessing technical skills while another evaluates cultural fit—and review questions with each one in advance. Debrief immediately, when the information is fresh.
4. Feedback, please. Candidates are eager to know how each step of the interview process is received, and what they can take away from the experience or apply in the future. This should be a two-way conversation, either face-to-face with an internal candidate or over the phone with an external one. Providing meaningful feedback is especially important if the candidate is not moving forward in the interview process. The feedback stage is also an opportunity to open up the conversation to other potential positions that might interest a candidate not selected initially. Building a pool of “silver medalist” talent gives companies a competitive advantage in filling future positions.
5. Make the right impression with the job offer. If your company typically funnels all candidate information through the recruiter, consider having the hiring manager make the initial offer before turning the call over to the recruiter to discuss the compensation package. This simple act shows the interest and enthusiasm of the team leader to invite the candidate to join his or her team.
Remember, a successful candidate experience improves the quality of your applicants and the value of your employer brand. Consider every interaction, from job posting to the first day, as an opportunity to reinforce your candidate’s excitement to join your team.
Palumbo is director of talent acquisition, university relations and manufacturing workforce development, at BASF.