Providing a world-class candidate experience is arguably one of the most important aspects of your recruitment process. That’s because a positive candidate experience gives you the upper hand in the fierce competition for qualified talent, while a poor candidate experience can turn great talent away and have a negative impact on your company’s reputation.
Having a good candidate experience also makes good business sense. According to a survey by CareerArc, 72% of job seekers who had a bad experience told others about it, either online or in-person. Further, 64% of job seekers (in the same study) said that a poor candidate experience would make them less likely to purchase goods and services from that employer.
It’s no wonder that candidate experience ranked as the number one top priority for many organizations, according to CandE’s Recruiting Focus 2021 report! So if you’re looking to level up here, we’re sharing six ways you can improve your candidate experience.
- Your recruitment partner should be a strategic advisor
According to Appcast, when a job application takes longer than five minutes to complete, companies see a 50-75% drop-off rate. Additionally, when an application has over 25 questions, companies see a 25-50% drop-off rate. A lengthy application process can make your organization look bureaucratic and outdated, which will turn many candidates away.
You can simplify your application process by eliminating unnecessary steps, like having to create an account, or by adding ease-of-use features like an “apply with your LinkedIn profile” button.
Action item: Test out your current application process. Audit what parts feel smooth and which ones feel frustrating. If you can, recruit a few team members from your organization to try this out too. Ask for feedback on how easy the process is, how long it took to complete, and if it was possible to apply from all devices. This will help you hone in on where you need to make improvements.
- Use inclusive language in your job postings
The words you use matter, particularly as you look to expand your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Your job postings are one of the first interactions a candidate has with your organization, so it’s important they’re worded in a way that doesn’t feel exclusive, uncomfortable, or discriminatory.
Look for gender-coded words that are potentially turning candidates away. A study by the University of Waterloo and Duke University found that job descriptions featuring words with masculine associations deterred women from applying to jobs, regardless of the specific role. Not sure how to identify what words feel gendered? There are several augmented writing tools you can invest in to help with these efforts.
Oftentimes these biases are unconscious, which can make them tricky to spot and address, so it’s important to be extra vigilant and intentional with every job posting. And don’t forget to regularly review your templates. Things change quickly these days, so wording that worked last year might not be appropriate today.
Action item: Audit your existing job descriptions. Without even realizing it, you might be using problematic language that contains biases. For example, saying “join our tribe!” may be perceived as offensive because this term used outside its literal meaning can be demeaning to the culture of many African and Indigenous groups.
- Increase your level of communications
Communication is the top contributor to a world-class candidate experience with 58% of respondents from Jobvite’s Job Seeker report. This might seem like an obvious one, but even after all this time there’s still nothing worse than the dreaded “black hole” experience, where employers ghost their candidates. Candidates hate to be left out in the dark, so make sure to communicate with your candidates regularly and on time.
This is why taking the time to develop a strong candidate communications plan is must-do today. From a hiring standpoint, it provides a strong competitive advantage for your company.
And remember that even sharing that there’s “no new information” is still a more positive experience for candidates than no communications at all. One trick we like to do is use a “touch base” email template that states that there’s been no decision made at this time. These touch base emails are also a great opportunity to share recruitment marketing content like employee story videos, blog posts, and the latest updates on your company’s projects, to further inform the candidate as they wait for more details.
Action item: A modern ATS or candidate relationship management (CRM) tool can come in really handy when it comes to candidate communications. Setting up automated emails for each stage of the candidate journey can help simplify your overall process and minimize the amount of time you spend drafting communications.
- Improve your interview process
Interviews are a critical part of your hiring process — for both you and your candidates. While you’re evaluating a candidate during an interview, they’re also evaluating you based on the quality of their experience. And if their interview experience leaves them with a bad taste in their mouth, they’ll move on. Research from LinkedIn has found that 83% of talent say an unimpressive interview experience can change a candidate’s mind about a role or company they once liked.
What can you focus on to improve your interview process? 50% of job seekers say interview schedule changes are the biggest cause of frustration in the recruitment process, according to Glassdoor. Having an effective scheduling tool that enables candidates to self-schedule their interviews is key so that you can avoid playing phone tag. Always follow up with a confirmation email to your interviewers and interviewees one to two days prior to make sure that everyone is aligned and ready to go.
Action item: Remember that interviews are a two-way street, they should feel like a conversation, not an interrogation. Make your candidates feel at ease by giving them an office tour (or a virtual tour until offices are safe to re-open), introducing them to potential future colleagues, and encouraging them to ask questions throughout.
- Make your offer process an experience
Once you’re ready to go to offer with a candidate, it’s important you find ways to set yourself apart since your candidate might be evaluating other offers too.
Unfortunately, this is a process that is often not done well. Offer packages are typically filled with “dull” legal documents like employment agreements, NDAs, and non-competes. And more often than not, recruiters send candidates an unbranded email with all the documents attached for signature. But, just because there’s “serious” work that needs to be done, doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun!
Action item: Make your offer package an experience. Alongside the requisite paperwork, send candidates a branded and visual digital handbook or personalized video that contains information about their compensation package, benefits, and your company culture. This helps them to envision working at your company so that they can properly evaluate whether this is really the right environment for them.
- Use data
While regularly iterating on your candidate experience is great, it’s equally as important to understand if your efforts are working so that you’re making the right changes over time. Leveraging candidate experience surveys is a great place to start.
Here are few types of candidate experience surveys worth including in your recruitment toolbelt:
- Pre-interview surveys — to get a sense of how candidates perceive your brand, website experience, and learn about the factors that made them apply.
- Post-interview surveys — to learn about your interview process experience. What’s working? What needs improvement?
- New hire surveys — to capture an idea of your end-to-end experience from those who made it through your entire process.
Action item: Pick a tool and start developing your surveys ASAP! This is another spot where having a comprehensive ATS comes in handy. Reach out to your account management team to learn if there are any surveys you can build and administer directly from your ATS. If not, there are a lot of great (and free!) survey tools out there like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms that you can leverage to collect feedback.
We hope these insights give you some inspiration and ideas that you can bring back to your organization to start building a strategy to improve your candidate experience today! And if you need extra support upgrading your hiring process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.
ML6 is a recruitment and talent advisory firm located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We provide customized solutions to support our clients throughout the employee lifecycle. We help our clients attract and retain talent by advising on people programs, processes, and best practice