As a young HR executive years ago, I sat through an interview between a CEO and a senior candidate. As an ice breaker, the candidate was asked about his hobby and he mentioned football. It turned out that both the CEO and candidate were die-hard Manchester United fans. The next 30 minutes went on to be a detailed review of Man U’s exploits and victories. The CEO thought that the candidate was brilliant and he got the job with little understanding of the CEO’s expectations and the role. It was never discussed that building large global teams was a key success factor of the role and the candidate had no experience of this. The association did not even last few months.
Well, the intention here is not to dwell on interviewing skills, so why do I bring up this story!
This is a classic example when interviewing turns into happy superficial interactions, and there arises a missed opportunity to share about the company, gauge the key expectations from the candidate and culture fit aspects. Such partings never leave a positive candidate experience for sure.
Cut to another occasion when I happened to interview a senior candidate for a position which due to internal restructuring went on hold. She was by far the best candidate for the said role, but we had to convey to her that the position was no longer available. Our interactions didn’t cease there with that one conversation. As industry peers, we bonded over coffee, similar challenges faced and met at networking events. She continued working in another organization and doing extremely well. During all these, we were in the lookout for a senior professional for a critical role and I just happened to mention this in one of our conversations. Immediately, she recommended a person from her current organization, who she insisted that I reach out to. So when I did, to my surprise, my friend had done half my work and the candidate was so impressed with what he had heard, that it led him to taking the offer and joining.
Any recruiter or hiring manager well understands how important giving a great candidate experience is, but there are still some who are missing the mark. One of the biggest complaints from candidates is not being treated like an individual, and a lack of care about them as a person. Sadly, some recruiters only care about filling vacancies as quickly as possible. But having a human approach to recruitment and fostering deeper connections with candidates can have a huge impact on the success of the hiring process, and in turn, help in building a strong culture and employer brand.
Believe it or not, giving individual applicants the attention needed to solidify the organization as an employer of choice is easier than one might think. An eight-to-five work schedule, with two weeks off a year, and a corner desk were once considered perks to a job, creating satisfaction and loyalty.
Today, especially with Millennials transforming the workplace, potential employees are searching for a greater sense of purpose and fulfilment, even during the job application process. In organizations, culture, leadership and processes are known to its employees but candidates or potential employees experience it from the various social media platforms and of course, first-hand during interviews when they truly come in contact with the organization’s culture. Therefore, all those connected to the hiring process become culture ambassadors and with every candidate interaction need to demonstrate the right organizational culture and leadership brand.
How to then ensure a positive candidate experience!!
Keeping it easy, simple & transparent: Job hunting and applying for jobs can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when there are layers of steps attached to the application process in addition to sharing the resume. No wonder then that research shows between job posting views and actual job applications there is a 90% drop. Also, what matters is when candidates are left in the dark, waiting to hear back about their application or interview. Even if they are not a good fit for a role, being notified of this, promptly goes a long way in creating a proactive employer brand image and making a candidate’s experience a positive one. More importantly, it shows that you respect them as a professional and value their time.
Being an advocate to help talented candidates shine: Ensuring accomplished candidates receive a platform to showcase their full potential is yet another key element. Even before meeting them, sharing information including: the role, hiring process, evaluation elements, insights into the business, company culture, what to expect (and not to), how to succeed. Helping candidates thus says out loud that the organization wants them to succeed rather than trying to catch them out there. Interviews are nerve-wracking enough, and when something crops up that’s unexpected or that a candidate hasn’t prepared for, it can prevent them from being able to show their true skills and suitability.
Unlearning to be able to Learn: Deploying candidate satisfaction surveys goes a long way in understanding what went well and what needs improvement and listen to some brilliant out of box ideas. Shying away from feedback doesn’t help, rather incorporating candidate feedback into the hiring process armed with a deeper understanding of their perception is a sure way to make them feel that their opinions are valued.
Remember, at the end of it being a great recruiter means stripping away the ego, looking past just ticking numbers on a tracker . View candidates as unique individuals with special forte and goals, who, like each one of us, desire to be happy and feel appreciated. In today’s connected world most perception finds its way into social media, where the brand is being measured by likes, reviews and ratings. At the heart of it all, it boils down to empathy. If each person involved in the hiring process from the receptionist, recruiter, hiring manager to our senior executives are able to engage with candidates on a deeper level and treat them with care and authenticity. I guarantee this will lead to candidates with great experience whether they get the job or not. And then there’s no stopping us from building a great employer brand and attracting top talent.