In our previous blog post, we discussed how one of the biggest challenges that employers need to tackle today to improve their recruiting process is the challenge of developing a strong employer brand. Investing in the development of a strong employer brand results in higher quality job applicants, lower cost and time to hire, and decreased employee turnover. Having a strong employer brand, however, does not eliminate all of the other struggles that arise in the recruiting process. A key area that some employers are failing to address is the overall candidate experience.
The candidate experience is the candidate’s impressions and feelings about the company’s actual recruiting process. It is comprised of a number of phases which include the application process, the interview process, and the end result of either a rejection or a job offer. Each of these touchpoints has the potential to leave a positive or negative impression on the candidate, and negative impressions can create a lot of friction and ultimately pose a large challenge to employers in attracting and retaining quality talent.
There is plenty of potential for frustration during every candidate experience, but perhaps the most common pain point that job seekers express is poor communication from employers throughout the process. CareerBuilder reported that of all the phases of a job search, job seekers reported being most frustrated at the engagement phase- the phase that involves the actual job application, the interview process, and the consideration of job offers. The same report showed that there is a wide gap in how employers and job seekers view candidate experience- 78% of employers reported that they feel they do a good job of communicating throughout the process, whereas only 47% of candidates felt the same.
It is clear that employers need to step up their games when it comes to communicating throughout the candidate experience, and there are several ways to do this. The first step is being as clear as possible from the outset by writing good job descriptions- a Talent Board report found that job descriptions are the most important job-related content that candidates look for when they are looking for a new job. A good job description uses simple language and includes only must-have requirements.
Beyond the job description, the actual process of applying to a job should be as simple and as seamless as possible. Studies have shown that 60% of job seekers drop out in the middle of applying to a job online because the application is too lengthy or complex. This can be improved by ensuring that the application has clear instructions and that the process is short and mobile friendly, as more people than ever are applying to jobs on their phones. Every employer should take the time to confirm that the online job application process actually runs smoothly, but only a reported 1 in 3 employers have actually applied to one of their company’s jobs to see what the process is like.
The next phase of the candidate experience is typically the interview phase, and there is plenty of room for improvement in this area as well. The interview phase can be improved first and foremost by good communication. Employers should tell candidates what to expect at in-person interviews, including who they will be meeting with, and how long it is expected to take. Furthermore, employers should be well-prepared for the interview, as they need to impress the job seeker as well. Being well prepared involves having plenty of interview questions ready, blocking off a space for the interview, explaining the interview process to the candidate at the start, and leaving time for questions. Post-interview, it is a good idea to provide feedback to candidates, whether they receive an offer or not. According to LinkedIn, 94% of talent want to receive interview feedback but only 41% of talent has, and talent is 4x more likely to consider a company for a future opportunity when they receive constructive feedback.
The common thread in all these tactics for improving candidate experience is one that should be woven into each and every phase, and that is good communication. A good rule of thumb for employers is to communicate early and often.This means showing respect by thanking candidates at each step of the process.This also means being as transparent as possible about the hiring timeline, and letting candidates know as soon as possible if you are no longer considering them, or if you want to move into the next phase of the process with them. A reported 81% of job seekers say their experience would be greatly improved by the continuous communication of status updates from employers.
This post is part of a series on recruiting. Check out the other posts in the series:
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Tom DiSilva has been providing professional human resource services for over 30 years. As the CEO of Navigate PEO, he actively partners with organizations of all sizes in the Greater New England area and across the country to help their businesses grow. He has expertise in HR and Labor Management, offering guidance and support for key areas of business such as negotiations, operations management, employee coaching, and employee benefits design.