Job candidates are getting impatient. In the 2018 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report, candidates said the top three reasons they withdrew from the recruiting process were their time was disrespected during interviews (37%), poor rapport with recruiters (32%, which is nearly three times larger than the number reporting the same frustration in 2017), and the process simply taking too long (29%).
The Talent Board’s data shines a light on numerous areas where companies are currently falling short, from a drawn-out application process to a lack of information around the interview. Based on these insights, here are seven strategies for making your process a point of pride and productivity.
1. Start off on the right foot by making it easy for candidates to find all the information they value most
According to the Talent Board’s report, the vast majority of candidates (70.5%) conduct their own research into your company before applying. That makes the preapplication stage the perfect opportunity to set a positive tone for the entire hiring process. And one of the best and easiest ways to do this is by providing more of the information candidates want to see.
The No. 1 piece of marketing content that candidates want is a list of your core values, with 44% saying they find this valuable. Just below that are employee testimonials and information about your company culture (both 37%).
Highlighting your employee value proposition (EVP) can be especially resonant at this stage too. One in three candidates (33%) is looking for answers about why people want to work at your company, so don’t leave them guessing.
Most candidates (60%) are looking for this information on your career site, but 31% also research your LinkedIn Company Page, so be sure to include lots of relevant details on both.
2. Reduce frustration and abandoned applications by making the application process quick and easy
A frustrating application process can be the death of the candidate experience. While the report shows 48% of candidates who gave the application process a five-star rating said the application process was “very easy,” only 9% of the candidates who chose a one-star rating said the process was “very easy.”
Time is definitely a factor as well. Only 36.6% of candidates said it took them less than 15 minutes to apply, but these candidates were more likely to rate the application process highly, with 42.7% of all five-star ratings resulting from an application of 15 minutes or less. Ease of application is not universal: A full third of applicants reported the process taking longer than 30 minutes.
To make the application process a more positive and seamless experience, start by removing unnecessary extra steps — like asking the candidate to upload their resume then manually fill out their job history.
It’s also a good idea to apply for a job at your own company from time to time, just to get a clear idea of what candidates are going through. This can help you immediately identify areas that are tedious or complicated. Make sure you’re providing clear instructions at every step and only asking for info that’s essential to the decision-making process — the rest you can find out later.
3. Provide candidates a fair opportunity to showcase their skills
Unsurprisingly, a big factor influencing the candidate experience is the perception of fairness. But knowing how to increase the feeling of fairness is tricky — after all, candidates don’t see everything you do behind the scenes to create an objective, unbiased process.
That said, a big differentiator for candidates is feeling they had a real opportunity to present their knowledge, experience, and skills. Roughly three-quarters (73.8%) of all candidates who gave the screening and interview process a five-star rating said they were extremely satisfied with their ability to do that. On the other hand, 53% of the candidates who rated this part of the process with one star said they were extremely dissatisfied.
Building skills tests and predictive assessments into the screening and interview process can help. This shows candidates that you’re truly committed to seeing what they have to offer, increasing the perception of fairness — while also providing you with deeper insights into their abilities.
4. Send an agenda and the names of interviewers beforehand
You will score points with your candidates when you keep them informed about what their interview process will look like. Of candidates who gave their experience a five-star rating, 48.3% received interviewer names and background information before they spoke, 31.6% were given a detailed agenda, and 22.5% were escorted between interviews. When you pay attention to those kinds of details, you signal to the candidate that you take both them and their time seriously.
When recruiters don’t communicate a lot about interviews, candidates are less prepared to succeed and may also perceive a lack of planning or care going into a critical part of the hiring process. Nearly a third (31%) said they received no preparation before the interview — and failing to receive useful information was correlated with a lower candidate experience rating overall.
Before the interview, provide as much relevant information as possible, including a detailed agenda and the names of the interviewers with their roles and titles. This is useful even if the interview is taking place over the phone or via a video call, helping to streamline introductions.
For on-site interviews, offering a tour of the location can help candidates feel at ease and build a stronger connection to the company. And if they’re interviewing in multiple parts of the building, have someone escort them to each meeting so they feel well taken care of.
5. Keep candidates posted about next steps and, if possible, provide them with timely feedback
Receiving feedback is hugely important for candidates: 52% who were given job-related feedback by the end of the day they interviewed said they were more likely to increase their relationship with the company.
If you are able to provide feedback, you’ll give the candidate experience an immediate boost. Talk to candidates about both their strengths and areas for improvement, and offer actionable advice about what they could do differently.
Your company may not be comfortable with giving feedback, and that’s OK too. You can still improve the candidate experience after the interview by letting candidates know what the next steps will look like.
About half (47.2%) of respondents said that HR or recruiting professionals told them what would happen next, and another 20.6% said the hiring manager explained it to them. (Pro tip: hearing it from the hiring manager can be even more impactful.)
But roughly one in 10 candidates (9%) said they received no additional information, follow-up, or next steps after the interview — so companies can make an easy and significant improvement immediately.
6. Make a phone call to let candidates know you’re hiring someone else
Rejecting candidates is the best part of the job, said no talent professional ever. Rejection is tough for both parties, and it can be tempting to let an automated email do the heavy lifting for you, especially when you have a lot of candidates to inform. And while a personalized email leads to a better candidate experience (average 3.0 rating) than an automated one (2.5), a phone call is clearly the best practice (3.3).
But currently only 7% of candidates receive the news this way, compared to 63% who get an automated email and 21% who get a personal email. So reject candidates the right way, over the phone, and leave them feeling better despite the bad news.
7. Smooth the transition from candidate to employee by calling a new hire before their first day
For the candidates you do extend an offer to, you still have an opportunity to improve their overall experience — by staying in touch between the time they accept the offer and the time they start the job.
About half (46%) of new hires said they received calls from their hiring manager prior to their start date — and 49% of candidates who rated their new hire experience five stars said they received a call like this.
Get the hiring manager to check in, letting the new hire know what to expect on their first day and offering to field any questions. This is a quick, simple, and effective way to make the onboarding process go smoother, while also wrapping up the candidate experience on a positive, upbeat note.
When it comes to the candidate experience, small gestures can have a big impact
Providing a stellar candidate experience isn’t just a recruiting issue — it’s a business imperative.
When you’re dealing with a high volume of candidates, it can seem like a tall order to create a personalized yet streamlined experience for everyone. But candidates don’t expect you to bend over backward for them. They just want to know that you respect their time, that they’re being treated fairly, and that they’re more than a number to you.
Focus on building clear and consistent lines of communication and keeping candidates up to date at every step. Small improvements add up, making the candidate’s life (and yours) a lot easier.