One of my LinkedIn connections was recently contacted by a recruiter working for a top tier organization. It was an exciting opportunity: the job was challenging but with lots of responsibility and the ability to change and influence policy. The company was a leader in its field and was on the up.
But in the end, he didn’t take the job.
Why? Because of the terrible candidate experience.
The hiring process was long and disorganized; he was asked questions that didn’t make sense (why are you leaving your current company – I’m not, he answered, your recruiter reached out to me).
He was asked the same questions during each of the three interview stages, nobody explained what the job would involve on a day-to-date basis (and nobody seemed sure when he asked), the company had no short or long term vision, the interviewers seemed stressed and depressed, and nobody asked if he had any questions.
The candidate experience is crucial in hiring top talent that will stay and make a different in the long term. Here we explain how you can improve the candidate experience to attract and retain talent.
Treat your candidates as customers
Recruitment professionals could learn a lot from marketers, especially in the way they treat their customers. “But we don’t have customers in recruitment,” you might say.
Oh yes you do: your candidates are your customers, and you must treat them in the same way, with the same amount of respect you would anyone who is looking to buy your product or use your service.
To do this, be as open and honest during the process as you can, provide them with all the necessary information so they can make an informed decision, make sure you sell the position to the potential candidate, and see the whole process as a process to check if both parties are a good fit.
Streamline the hiring process (especially communication)
Don’t make your candidates jump through so many hoops during the hiring process that the top talent drops out long before the final hurdle. I once heard a story about a candidate who turned up for an interview only to be told to come back in 45 minutes when they were ready for her. Instead of inviting her in, they told her there was a cafe next door where she could wait (and they wouldn’t pay for her coffee). Unsurprisingly, she never came back.
Instead of making your candidates communicate with you over phone, email, text message, WhatsApp, carrier pigeon, etc, implement one method of communication, and set interview timings you can stick to.
Know why you’re hiring
If you’re not sure exactly what kind of role you’re trying to hire for then you’ll waste a lot of candidates’ time. Maybe you think you need a social media marketer, but you really want a writer/content marketer who can write social media posts.
To know why you’re hiring and what skills you need the candidate to have (as opposed to a laundry list of generic skills. Then write a clear, concise job description that matches this need, while brainstorming different job titles that will be meaningful to people in the field. For example, business development rep may not resonate with someone who is new to the sales industry.
Make the application process easy
So many companies–especially traditional ones–still require candidates to fill out lengthy application forms with generic questions that don’t really tell the hiring manager anything about the person who is applying.
Instead, you should make it clear up front exactly what is required during the application process. List the requirements on the first page of any process to show you respect the candidate’s time. You also need a mobile-friendly application form, and to give the candidate more innovative and interesting ways to apply if you’re to attract the top talent.
Once you’ve created the process, test it yourself several times to ensure that aren’t any glitches, and make sure that the technology behind it is reliable. You don’t want to anger candidates by losing almost an entire application process.
Keep talent engaged and informed
Maybe you find an amazing candidate, but they aren’t right for the role you’re hiring for right now. Instead of either trying to make them fit into a role that isn’t a good fit for their experience, keep their details on file, and keep them up-to-date with any potential new opportunities.
Equally, if you are in the middle of the recruitment process and you hit some roadblocks, let your candidates. Instead of radio silence for weeks on end, during which time your potential high flyers have found other opportunities, drop your candidates a message on the channel of their choice explaining the situation and giving them a timeframe for when things will start moving again. Many people run in the other direction when they encounter a poor recruitment experience because they think it’s indicative of the company culture, and the way that organization treats its employees. Don’t let your company fall victim to this by ensuring you always keep the channels of communication open, which also applies if they are trying to contact you.
Ensure you have robust technology in place
Many applicant tracking systems (ATS) are old and clunky and weren’t designed to deal with the changes in hiring that have taken place over the last few years. They aren’t able to effectively communicate with candidates, they don’t integrate social and mobile, they don’t track candidate communications properly, and they aren’t mobile friendly. To effectively recruit and retain talent, you need to find software that can replicate CRM system functionality, but for the recruitment industry.
Your people are your future, and they are your company’s most important asset. Make sure you get your hiring process right, or your business doesn’t stand much chance of succeeding.