What is candidate experience and how does it impact business?
Candidate experience is everything related to the journey of looking at a job posting, the application process as well as interviews, time-spent, responsiveness and developing an authentic relationship with the possible soon-to-be employee.
I am speaking to this from both sides: both as a recruiter and as a candidate.
Small businesses must compete for talent against larger companies that have more resources to offer attractive perks like higher salaries, pension (or 401K) matching or more paid time off programs such as paid parental leave. In some industries such as the tech and start-up world, technical talent is in extremely high demand – and being a top employer is one way to get the candidate to choose your company over another.
Fact #1: 32% of candidates reject job offers for another offer they have chosen over yours
Fact #2: 4 out of 5 candidates say their experience in the interview process is an indicator of how a company values its people (it’s most important asset!)
Fact #3: Nearly 60% of candidates said they had a bad experience (employer ghosting, anyone? 👻) and 72% say they shared their experience publicly on employer review sites like Glassdoor. The business world can be seen through a window.
So beyond public bad-mouthing and damage to an employer brand that future candidates could see and steer away from applying, what about the future? You never know who knows who – if they had a great experience they may still recommend a role to a friend. Or – maybe a role in the future is the perfect fit for this candidate – you can be sure that they will never reapply if they had a poor candidate experience the first time.
- Give the candidate options out of respect for their time. You are probably hiring across multiple time zones now, a self-scheduling app like Calendly gives the candidate power, you freedom from admin work and allows you to manage across time zones. Just don’t forget to call them.
- Again, plan the design of your interview process. At each stage what specific skill sets are you discussing? Are you sending out a project or code test (software) for a reason? Will someone review it? Are you paying the candidate for their time? The risk of having too cumbersome of a process is that top talent may not feel they need to spend their time on these tasks or give “free consulting work”. I’ve hear from employers before that they feel it “keeps those who are really interested in the job” – it also keeps those who are most desperate (not an indicator of quality).
- Train everyone in the hiring process. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of what makes a “great candidate” for the position. It also helps to raise awareness of how to speak with diverse candidates, avoid making decisions through bias and add candidate experience-friendly processes such as soliciting feedback and responding in a timely manner.
- Increase transparency with candidates. Now this one I know is making some People Professionals yell at their screen “legal liability!”. But I am here to tell you it’s possible. Set expectations clear from the beginning by sharing a recruitment process and expected timeline.
- Personalize interactions and emphasize the exciting prospect while respecting their time – “delight” the candidate and make them feel special. They could be your next best hire or refer one.
Do it right
Personally, I had an experience (as a candidate!) with a company that seemed really cool and advertised some awesome perks. I was impressed by the email exchange and that I was not selected for interview but that they are growing and keep an eye out for more opportunities. 🥰
Then – a few weeks later that happened, and I was scheduled for an interview! I was super excited and spent a lot of time on the weekend researching, preparing questions and ensuring I can demonstrate why I was a top pick.
The morning of I received a cancellation of the calendar invite for the interview. Nothing else. Surely, someone hit the cancel button in error?
I sent an email inquiring if the interview has been rescheduled?
Shortly after I received an email informing me that the interview is cancelled and they have secured someone else for the role – but to keep an eye out for future opportunities. 🤯
Well, needless to say I was disappointed. But wait – you filled the role? What if I was a better fit? Why would you not want to entertain all possibilities, and WHY tell me by cancelling last minute. Company written off my list for good.
Providing a great candidate experience is more than just words on a page or a template. Respect candidates time and recruiters need to have their customer-relationship hats on at all times. I’ve been at both ends of it – hundreds of candidates, not everyone can have a personalized experience. But we can do better!
Check out our Global People Resources list for helpful items including salary benchmarking and recruitment tips.
Bonus fact: Nearly 80% of Millennials look for culture fit with an employer, and then career growth opportunities.
You may ask how is investing time in people who are not “our people” (not employees) going to impact revenues? Shouldn’t I be focusing my limited time on people who are already working here? Well think about it. How did they become employees? Are you hiring top talent who go above and beyond, refer their friends and work together to achieve great things?
The process starts at the point of posting a job. The positive impact grows on itself where the success (and revenues) are accomplished as your company’s employees are a competitive advantage.
Okay now what you have all been waiting for (I know you love a good template). Bring out the templates! 🥳
Candidate Experience Templates
- A (nice) rejection email that maintains their dignity, respects their time and interest and keeps the relationship open for the future:
Subject: Regarding your application to the [JOB POSITION TITLE] Role at [COMPANY NAME]
Thank you for your interest in [COMPANY NAME] and for taking the time to apply for the
[JOB POSITION TITLE] role. We wanted to let you know that we received your
application and are truly happy that you are interested in us! We recognize that there are
numerous options available, and the fact that you are interested in working with us at [COMPANY NAME]
means a great deal.
After reviewing your application documents, it’s evident that you’ve gained a lot of valuable
experience so far in your career. Unfortunately, we have received candidates more aligned with
our immediate needs and will not be proceeding with your application further at this time.
We are happy to keep you on file for future opportunities at [COMPANY NAME] as we continue to grow and
expand. We also encourage you to explore our frequently updated open roles on our Careers
site. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if something else is of interest in the future.
Thank you again for your interest in working with us, and we wish you all the best with
your job search. 😊
The Talent Acquisition Team
Side note: it fascinates me every time how many people respond to automated rejection emails thanking me for informing them. They appreciate the consideration and time to inform when they invested their time in the company. Of course, it also comes along with a few more “colourful” responses, and an abundance of seeking feedback.
[Optional add-on: in our efforts to continue to create meaningful and positive experiences for our candidates, in 30 days we will send out a candidate experience email. We would be delighted to hear your insights and experience during the interview process.] Which brings me to…
2. A candidate experience survey that can be sent out 30 days after rejection. No really – do it! Of course they will be disappointed they didn’t get the job – but 30 days is long enough that an unsuccessful candidate to have cooled down and may provide valuable insight. Of course, you should get your ducks in a row to start seeing the results. Keep it short and sweet:
Dear [CANDIDATE FIRST NAME],
As I mentioned in my previous email we would love to hear your feedback on your experience as a candidate with [CANDIDATE NAME]. Please see the questions below:
- What was your experience as a candidate overall? [RATING SCALE] Why?
- Did the hiring team do a good job interviewing you in your experience? [RATING SCALE]
- Would you recommend our company to a friend? [YES NO]
- Would you apply again if another appropriate job came up? Can we keep your profile on file and reach out if a suitable job is available? [YES NO]
Of course turning this into a Google Form or similar would be easiest to track the data and gain insights. Use these insights to take action, don’t just let them live in a spreadsheet. Job not done yet. 😑
Of course, you could pilot the experience only with candidates who have gone through multiple stages of the process before not being successful, or tailor it to see how the application experience was.
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