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The Importance of Empathy for Great Candidate Experience

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When we gathered some leading voices of the UK talent industry to discuss what factors impact candidate experience, we were flooded with insights and inspiration. 

One of the key themes that ran throughout the evening, was the issue that too few businesses are putting candidates first in the recruitment process. So, what did our panelists advise we all do to improve the experience we offer and, in turn, the results we generate? 

Understand the impact of your recruitment experience  

“Your job is your noun”

This soundbite from Akbar Karenga really resonated with the whole room. His point was that your job becomes such a huge part of who you are, so making sure people are excited to tell others what they do and who they do it for is critical to building a great employer brand and improving retention.

Akbar also shared that candidates are four times more likely to offer a referral in their first month than their last month. So you really must instil that pride quickly, and the recruitment period is the first opportunity you will have to do so. 

The impact of a poor recruitment experience, which leads to poor hiring decisions, can also hit a business hard when you consider the cost of making a new hire. According to SmartRecruiters, this financial outlay can be two times the employee’s annual salary if they turn out to be a poor fit. 

And with studies revealing that up to 20% of all new hires will quit within their first 45 days in a new role, it becomes clear how important it is to avoid a lengthy process that could quickly turn into an expensive mistake. 

Candidate empathy: Put yourself in their shoes 

Our panelists were all empathetic towards candidates who have been left with a negative lasting impression and shared some of their own, bad experiences with attendees, including: 

  • A clear lack of attention and interest from interviewers during interviews (including one case of an interviewer clearly eating during a phone screening!) 
  • A change in the title and role applied for after being made an offer or even starting a new position 
  • A disconnect between the role presented by a recruiter and the reality of the position in the interview 

An important point that Ondrej Prochazka made resonates throughout each of these examples - when we’re dealing with lots of different candidates day-to-day, we tend to forget how crucial this time in their lives is. This is particularly true in today’s market, where many are relocating for work and changing their whole life in the process. 

We have to be conscious of the effort and investment required from both parties at each stage of the journey and ensure there’s not a major imbalance between the expectations of the company and the candidate. 

Take small steps to make big improvements 

Throughout the evening, our panelists offered their advice for making big improvements with relatively simple changes, providing a number of examples they’ve each seen adding value to recruitment processes for a variety of brands. 

Our top six takeaways included: 

1. Invest in communication 

Rebecca Causey raised the important point that all communication with a candidate, whether positive or negative, deserves equal consideration to ensure the lasting impression of your brand is positive.

2. Leverage insights and place value on recruitment data

You are gathering and adding data to your ATS at every stage of the recruitment process - make sure you use it to inform your decisions and help leaders to understand the value of the recruitment function. 

3. Prioritise ease and speed 

Modiara Kamps placed particular emphasis on the importance of making the period between an offer being made and the candidate joining the business, as fast and simple as possible, with logical steps to complete, are clear plan for their first day, and socialisation from colleagues across the business. 

4. Focus on first impressions 

Ensure the panel of interviewers that will meet your candidates are not only prepped and trained in how to conduct a fair and insightful interview but are also diverse and representative of the business. 

5. Be smarter with your job ads 

Several of the panelists had experienced a major uptick in applications after adding details of flexible or remote working opportunities to a job ad. Think about what today’s talent is looking for and, if you can offer it, don’t forget to promote it. 

6. Add some fun! 

Rebecca shared a great example from IBM, where new hires are asked to share a video of their first day. The best videos win prizes and can even be used across the companies social media accounts, giving new recruits an instant connection to the brand a reason to be proud of their new role. 

With the competition for talent continuing to grow as recruitment conditions become increasingly difficult, it’s never been more important to understand what matters to candidates and how you can incorporate that into your hiring process to create the best first impression. 

Take the time to reflect on the experience you currently offer candidates, ask for feedback and implement small, incremental changes to see gradual improvements that will have a significant, long-term impact on the success of your hiring and your business. 

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