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6 Essential Elements for a Great Candidate Experience

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As hiring moves online, you’re facing the challenge of attracting top talent and showing how great your company is to work for - all from your home office.  A recent HR survey by Gartner revealed that 86% of organisations are conducting virtual interviews to hire candidates during COVID-19.

In an age where face to face chats, coffee conversations, and in-person meetings are no longer an option; you need to come up with effective ways of attracting top talent which is why a great remote candidate experience matters. 

Hiring in these times can be tricky; there’s no doubt about it. And it’s no secret at all that although employment levels may not be at their best, good quality candidates still have multiple offers on the table. A continuous improvement strategy for your candidate experience is necessary to attract top talent.

Two women at table with laptop and man in the background

What is Candidate Experience?

The overall experience of a candidate with a company they are interested in working for, it includes all stages of hiring from applying for a job right through to the onboarding process. The candidate experience has a significant impact on how they perceive the organisation. 

Positive vs negative candidate experience

Why does a positive candidate experience matter?

Candidates who’ve had a good experience (even the ones you rejected!) will share their impression about your company; word of mouth, good or bad travels fast in the industry. If your candidate has a great experience, they will talk about it to a few friends; they may even reapply if there is another opportunity; if it's an unpleasant experience, they may share it with the whole world. 65% of candidates say a bad interview experience makes them lose interest in the job.

Branded stat for bad interview experience
Source: LinkedIn

It’s essential not to overlook the value of a good candidate experience; it may give you a competitive edge in your hiring. Just as a company evaluates the suitability of a candidate, job seekers assess if the company is a good fit for them. 

How negative candidate experiences can destroy your business

Candidates who’ve had an unpleasant experience are likely to reject your job offer, never reapply to your organisation, and encourage others not to apply too. You not only lose out on candidates - it can even cost your company big bucks. A negative experience may cause a candidate to boycott your company products. A famous example is the case of Virgin Media. A hiring manager discovered how an unwelcoming receptionist and a disinterested interviewer caused a particular candidate (and many such candidates) to cancel their subscription with the company.  Further inquiry revealed that two-thirds of rejected candidates were “detractors,” meaning they likely wouldn’t recommend Virgin Media to others. The experience of neglecting the candidate journey cost them a shocking $5.4 million annually!

If you’re looking for ways of improving your candidate experience, we’ve rounded up some practical advice and pro tips:

1. Grow Your Employer Brand

Employer branding can have a massive impact on your hiring, especially during remote hiring. One of the first things candidates tend to research before applying for a role is on how good your company is as an employer. According to LinkedIn, 81% of job seekers use online content to research a company. Some of the touchpoints that form the first impression about your brand are your website, social accounts and job descriptions. We’ll give you pro tips on each of these. 

Create a careers page that stands out

A candidate applying for a job at your company will go through your website and careers section. 

  • You may want to make sure your employee value proposition (EVP)  is attractive and candidate friendly. 
  • It may be a good idea to do an internal survey to see what your current employees see as strengths and opportunities for growth in your organisation which you could highlight on your careers page. 
  • Employee testimonials and information showcasing you as a great place to work will encourage applications. 

Two people pointing at laptop

Revamp those job descriptions!

  • Make sure your job descriptions highlight some of the key employee value proposition categories -  rewards, work, organisation, people, and career growth. 
  • Ensure your diversity and inclusion (DEI) values are a part of the job description. A diverse workforce can bring more significant innovation to your business.
  • Do away with any extra jargon: While you'd want to make sure you’ve got all the details of the job, it would be good to remove any additional description and company history.

Post on social media 

Social accounts are advocates on how employee-friendly your organisation is. They show the vibe and culture of the company. Employees want to be recognised and celebrated, and social media is a great way to appreciate good work. 

  • Celebrate organisation, team and employee achievements on social media.
  • Team get-togethers and internal events are another great way to show how your work culture operates.

Consider creating a video

  • A video can be a powerful tool to entice candidates such as a quick clip on a day in the life of that job.

Research says that the candidate application rate increases by 34% when a video message is included in your job posting. 

Branded stat for bad interview experience

2. Simplify the Candidate Application Process

Research reveals that some candidates leave their application midway when the process is long and confusing. 

  • You want to make sure that the application process is smooth and not too lengthy.
  • Make the process mobile-friendly; 90% of job seekers look for their job via their phone.

3. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

When there is very little human interaction with your candidates, adopting a process which keeps your candidate informed on the progress of each recruitment stage is an excellent way of building a positive candidate experience.

  • An automated email confirming the submission of their application and its progress, to begin with, and subsequent progress update emails would be helpful.
  • Make sure your content is lively, and the tone is reflective of your culture. 
  • Make it clear to your candidates who the main point of contact is for any of their questions or concerns.
  • Be honest about the anticipated timeline - when you expect to have the next round, and when you plan to have the position closed.

In a survey conducted by IBM, 85% of job seekers surveyed listed consistent communication as the top driver of satisfaction with the recruitment experience.

Branded stat for positive interview experience
Source: IBM Survey

4. Provide Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates

  • Inform unsuccessful candidates if they have not made it to the next round. 
  • Sharing the logic behind their rejection with your candidates will help them see the fairness in your selection process.
  • If your candidate has made it to the next round, give feedback on what you liked about the candidate.

LinkedIn research shows that 94% of candidates want to receive feedback after an interview. There’s nothing worse for a candidate than being left in the dark about their application status. Candidates often share on LinkedIn on how they feel let down about recruiters ghosting them, and it often reflects poorly on the organisation.

5. Create a Positive Candidate Interview Experience

  • Before the interview, it would be helpful for a candidate if you shared the schedule and list of interviewers along with their titles. 
  • Interviews can be scary; candidates would appreciate any advice that could better prepare them, such as what to wear, where to take the interview and some of the questions they can be asked. 
  • After the interview, a follow-up email thanking them for their time keeps the human touch alive. 

According to a LinkedIn survey, 83% of talent say that a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, while 87% of talent say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted. Attention to details such as the ones mentioned would send a positive signal to the candidate about how serious you are about them and their time. 

Branded stat for consistent communication with recruitment
Source: LinkedIn

6. Engage in Online Reference Checking

If you’ve narrowed down on your interviewed candidates, it would be a good idea to do an online reference check. You can engage your pre-hires by inviting them to use your online reference checking platform and ask them to link you to their former colleagues, supervisors or peers. Online reference checking has a quick turn around and is crucial to your final decision-making process. It would be beneficial for you to do it on time, so you don't keep your hire waiting and lose them to another offer. 

Measure Your Candidate Experience

Once you’ve made changes to your hiring process, analysing your candidate experience regularly will help you make improvements. 

  • Implement a post-interview survey form; the survey can ask both closed-ended and open-ended questions.

Feedback from candidates will give you insights into their experience of what worked well and the areas for improvement.

Final Thoughts

Improving the candidate experience is essential if you want to secure top talent. You need to get out there and ensure every part of the candidate journey is well thought through. Making your employer brand more attractive through your careers page, social accounts and job descriptions; optimising the application process to be candidate friendly, communicating with candidates and providing feedback are crucial elements to good candidate experience. You'll want to regularly audit your strategy to ensure it's working the way you intended and add new ways to make it positive and appealing. The result would be top talent joining your organisation and becoming brand ambassadors to their peers.

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