The Key to Better Hires: A Better Candidate Experience

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I remember applying for jobs and going through the hiring process. I remember the applications and interviews and waiting to hear back. I remember that the whole thing sucked and I’d bet money that it sucked for you too.

Some say that it’s just how the process works, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, when the hiring process becomes candidate oriented where you’re not just thinking of what’s convenient for you and your company but instead what is best for the candidate, you’ll likely see that the quality of candidates improve. Just like with the rest of the world, when a company is hard to deal with, word gets out. In the same way that you take to Twitter to vent about your pizza delivery that took two hours and arrived with the wrong toppings, candidates text, call, chat and yes, sometimes tweet, about their horrible interview experience. Even more impactful, they post about their experiences on websites like Glassdoor, providing transparency into your HR department with just a few keystrokes. The truth is the stakes are high with each candidate you bring in.

Read below for four ways to make the candidate experience stress free for potential employees and successful for your organization.

Start from the Beginning

The candidate experience is initiated when a candidate reads your job posting, meets you at a career fair or otherwise finds out about an open position. From this moment on, all interactions (or lack thereof) shape your candidate’s view of the organization. Start the experience off right with a job description that accurately depicts the position and your company in an honest but positive light. If you exaggerate your organization to the candidate, they may be unsatisfied upon being hired and finding out the truth, but if you don’t highlight your company’s strengths, you’re selling it short. Find a balance between the two and you’ll attract the right people for the long term.

Timing is Everything

A major consideration for getting the best candidates available is time. With each passing day that it takes you to process an application, request an interview and make a final offer, other companies can recruit and the candidate can search out new job opportunities. Though you never want to rush a decision, time is of the essence if you’re aiming for the best. One of the roadblocks you may face in making offers in a timely manner is getting managers and others who must approve a new hire to make a decision.  Conveying that hiring new candidates is a time-sensitive matter is something that may have to start with you and spread through the organization, but when you make it a priority others are more likely to follow suit.

Better Interviews

Interviewing is a learned skill so we can’t expect managers to be able to conduct a successful interview without ever teaching them how. By equipping managers to ask the right questions and provide the right types of responses, we’re not only creating a smoother (read: less awkward) interview experience for the candidate but also are obtaining the right kind of information that managers need to make an educated decision and hire the right candidate for the job.

Follow Up

From start to finish, candidates spend a lot of time and money to pursue employment with your company. It would not be an exaggeration to say that a candidate could spend 10 or more hours and a couple hundred dollars to apply, print resumes, travel to the interview and purchase interview clothing. The least your company could do upon declining a candidate is to let them know. This applies not only to a candidate experience that extended past an initial interview but also to candidates whose applications were denied. It doesn’t have to be confrontational or awkward, but acknowledging a candidate’s effort goes a long way and keeps you from missing out of future opportunities.

One of the best candidate experiences I ever had was in my last year of college when I applied for an internship and was not chosen. It sounds funny to say, but it’s because I received a personal phone call from my interviewer letting me know that although he would have liked to hire me as well, there was a stronger candidate. It was tough to hear but I respected him for it and ironically, that experience led me to interviewing in another area with the same company, which I later found out he had highly recommended me for.

The candidate experience is all about putting your agenda aside and putting yourself in the their shoes. This will always yield the best candidates for your company, setting your organization up for success.

How do you make the candidate experience a positive one? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories: Talent Acquisition
Author:  Jessica Miller-Merrell

Author and workplace technology strategist. @blogging4jobs

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