5 Ways to Significantly Improve Candidate Experience

April 25, 2016

Written by: Julia Hatton

By now, everyone has heard about how important it is to create a positive candidate experience.  So why are so many companies still not doing it?

Perhaps we don’t know where to begin.  Let’s be honest, it can be overwhelming when you consider everything involved.  But it doesn’t have to be difficult and the payoff is worth it. Start by walking through your current process from the candidate’s perspective.  Then use these five actionable tips to improve it.

  1. Treat candidates like valued customers. This is the most important principle and it carries over into all the remaining tips. 

Promote your company and positions while being courteous, helpful, and treating candidates with respect.  Satisfied customers are also great word-of-mouth advertisements.  Just as you market your products or services to potential customers, you need to “sell” careers to potential employees. Let them know what it is like to work for your company, how you stand out from others, and what benefits and opportunities are available.

Also make sure you provide a consistent experience for candidates, no matter which positions they apply to.  The look and feel of your company website, career site, job listings, communications, and processes, should be cohesive and reflect your company culture.  Please don’t say you offer a fun, relaxed work environment and then force candidates through a rigid, unfriendly application process.

  1. Provide meaningful job descriptions. Do your job ads bore, overwhelm, or excite?  We’ve all seen job descriptions that put you to sleep and those that scream work overload.  They include a laundry list of tasks and requirements with little insight to performing in that role.  Every job has its share of daily tasks and, while okay to include, focus more on key projects, challenges, and opportunities that will pique a candidate’s interest, not send them running for the hills.  

Candidates want day-in-the life examples and information about the team and work environment.  They want to know who they would interact with and how the role impacts the organization’s success.  They want to know about career paths, advancement opportunities, and, yes, I’ll say it, money.  At least enough to know if they are in the right ballpark.  Why waste everyone’s time if there is far too great a gap between an applicant’s expectations and your budgeted reality?

  1. Simplify your application. How easy is it for candidates to find and apply to your jobs?  Don’t make them click through a half dozen pages to find openings and don’t expect them to invest time filling out a lengthy form that they know may disappear into a black hole.

What information do you really need up front to weed out those that don’t meet requirements, or identify top candidates to move forward?  That’s essentially all you should ask for at this point.  If applying takes too long or requires information not readily available, candidates become frustrated and move on, or they may start with plans to finish later but many never do.  They will be far more patient and willing to provide additional details if and when they reach the next steps in the process.  Always keep tip #1 in mind.  You make it as simple as possible for customers to buy your products and know if they say they will “come back later,” they rarely do.  Don’t miss out on applicants because you let them leave the proverbial store.

  1. Share information and set expectations. Let candidates know what to expect.  How and when will they receive responses or updates?  What are the steps in your selection process?  What information or activities will be required at each step?  If selected for an interview, how long is the interview?   Who will be involved, and how are the interviews structured?  How quickly do you expect to fill the position?  Will you ask for candidate feedback?  What is your onboarding experience?  The more unknowns you can eliminate by proactively supplying information to candidates, the more comfortable, prepared, and engaged they will be.
  1. Provide timely communication. If a customer reached out to inquire about your products, you would certainly respond.  Even if you might not have what they need right now, you want to keep that door open for future opportunities.  Treat your candidates the same way.

There may be a position or business opportunity for them in the future and a little courtesy goes a long way.  If someone is not currently a good fit or if the position has been filled, cancelled, or is on hold, let candidates know.  They would rather hear they were not selected than hear nothing at all.  There are a variety of ways to provide feedback.  From allowing candidates to check their status online, to sending automated and personal messages, to picking up the phone…establish guidelines for providing feedback, set expectations (see #4), and follow through.

By embracing the first tip of treating candidates like valued customers, you’ll be well on your way.  As you progress through all five tips, you’ll discover even more opportunities to enhance the candidate experience and attract exciting new talent to your organization.

HRchitect is a full service consulting firm with extensive knowledge in the effective use of talent acquisition.  We can provide assistance on evaluation and selection of new technology, implementation of technology solutions, as well as how to optimize and get the full value of your implemented systems.

Julia Hatton

About Julia Hatton

As a Senior Consultant with HRchitect, Julia has helped companies achieve success on both domestic and global implementations of talent acquisition systems.  With over 16 years of experience in Human Resources and Operations, she loves helping clients leverage HR technology to optimize processes and create positive user experiences.