10 Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience

Recruitment is a two-way street–put your best foot forward to impress your top candidates!

Too often, companies forget that recruitment and hiring is a two-way street–companies interview the candidates, but candidates are interviewing them too, as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out. Up until 2016, A full 47% of candidates wouldn’t hear back from companies even two months after applying; and since candidates often have a wealth of options in today’s job market, it’s time for those companies to step up their recruitment game.

Smart employers are increasingly realizing the need to tune in to how candidates experience the hiring process. Your employer brand depends on your ability to provide a smooth review process with excellent communication from the moment a candidate first visits your website to the first day of work. If you need more convincing, consider these facts:

  • Candidates are increasingly sharing negative experiences through social media and online forums, so the talent you want to attract is likely to hear about them. Thirty-three percent of candidates who have a bad experience will share it on social media, according to a survey by Talent Board.
  • Applicants may be potential clients or customers, either now or in the future, as Forbes points out. Even if they’re not the best fit for your company, they’re potential leads.
  • The best candidates are probably considering multiple opportunities, so you need to make sure your company shines.

These 10 tips will help ensure candidates are satisfied with the process and impressed by your company every step of the way.

Optimize Your Website

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Nowadays, many candidates don’t even hop on a computer to review company information or submit their application. Instead, they do it all on their phone–often on their lunch break at their current job, says SHRM. Optimizing your website and application process for mobile use will help you reach a much broader audience and streamline the process for them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Simplify your application process so it’s possible to do it on a smartphone. Create a multi-step process if you think you’d need to ask for more detailed information later, says SHRM.
  • Add an automated chatbot to your website–often they can “think” intuitively in response to questions, providing surprisingly accurate information.
  • Send automated text messages to interested subscribers when a position opens up.

Read Entrepreneur’s article “How to Make the Mobile Job Application Experience Great for Candidates” for more insights on optimization.

Create a Standardized Info Packet

Instead of expecting candidates to do all the legwork of learning about the company on their own–which many companies do as a test of their motivation and competency–share this info with them. Create a standardized info packet that you give all candidates by email before the interview, so they can be prepared to ask better questions, and have a more in-depth conversation with you about the position. When designing your packet, do the following as well:

  • Explain what the company culture is like and how you support your employees in their growth.

  • Present data from employee surveys to illustrate their level of job satisfaction, as Inc. suggests.

  • Streamline your application process and spell it out for candidates in your info packet. Be brief but specific. They should never have to guess what will happen next.

Paint a Clear Picture

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According to the Talent Board survey, 57% of employers fail to paint a clear picture of what it would look like to work for the company on a daily basis. They aren’t giving candidates a strong grasp of what the job would involve. Here are a couple of ways you can do this:

  • During interviews, walk candidates through what the employee in the position you’re discussing will actually be doing throughout a typical day and week.
  • Share a workflow chart that includes brief profiles of team members the candidate would be working with.
  • Produce videos that illustrate what working in particular roles or departments is like, featuring current employees. “Video can create a competitive advantage,” says SHRM–it gives candidates a clearer window into your organization and shows that you go the extra mile to make sure people are satisfied.

Talk to your HR department about producing short videos to highlight your company’s culture and outline job roles. Read this SHRM article for more ideas on using videos in your recruitment.

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Humanize Your Communications

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Sure, you’ll need to automate some elements of your process. Perhaps you’ll have an initial automated reply when a candidate submits an application. However, try to humanize your communications with candidates whenever possible. Send a short follow-up email letting them know a human is reviewing their application and thanking them for submitting it.

Read this Glass Door article for examples of how real companies are using great communication throughout their hiring process.

Stay in Close Contact

According to IBM, sending timely responses is the number-one most important way to improve your hiring process. These days, candidates expect frequent communications throughout the entire hiring process. If they’re ever left in the dark, they’ll start wondering if you lost interest. Send a brief note explaining what stage the process is at, which will present you as professional and on-point.

  • Let candidates know the next step during every stage of the process, and when it will occur.
  • Write a list of all promises you make to candidates, including deadlines for fulfilling them, and keep it on your wall.
  • If you won’t be able to meet a deadline, send a brief note apologizing and stating when you’ll fulfill that task.

Read this IBM article to learn more about best practices in communicating with potential hires.

Enlist Brand Ambassadors

Make sure interviewers know the company inside and out. They need to be able to thoroughly discuss the position and answer broader questions about the organization. If outsourcing elements of recruiting, make sure you’re choosing people who are equipped to do that. Every person who communicates with candidates is acting as a brand ambassador for your company, Forbes points out. Make sure they’re up to the task.

If you’re the interviewer, read these articles for advice on preparing to talk with candidates:

Make Them Comfortable

Helping candidates feel relaxed during interviews will help them become more open and provide more thoughtful answers. Why hinder their ability to think on their feet by making them nervous? After getting to know them for a few minutes, ask detailed questions to assess how they would handle specific situations related to the role they’re applying for.

Use these tips to make candidates feel comfortable, says Harvard Business Review:

  • Tell the candidate the types of questions you’ll be asking in advance.
  • If you feel the candidate is a good fit after speaking to her at length, affirm that belief and tell her why.
  • Ditch questions that almost force candidates to lie, like “What’s your greatest weakness?”
  • Invite the candidate to ask you questions about the job and what working at your company is like.

Make Introductions

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Since candidates are also interviewing you, they should have the chance to meet core members of the team they’ll be working with if they’re hired. Candidates will appreciate having a stronger idea of whom they’d be working with, and you’ll get more input from staff about whether they’re a good fit. Make sure the candidate’s potential boss, as well as the boss’s boss, have the chance to participate in the interview process, says Harvard Business Review.  

During follow-up interviews, invite key staff members to meet candidates, and give them a chance to ask each other questions. Robert Half suggests doing the following:

  • Invite a couple of peers as well as supervisors to meet candidates, since they’ll be working together closely.
  • Ask subordinates to interview a prospective new leader, to evaluate how the candidate interacts with those she’d be managing.

Read this Robert Half article for more tips on when and how to introduce candidates to current staff.

Give a Welcome Present

When you make a new hire, send her a welcome basket, suggests Inc. It could include company swag, a restaurant gift certificate, soaps, chocolates–anything the typical recruit might enjoy. Include a personalized note saying why you’re excited to have her join your team.

Create a Culture of Mentoring

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If you don’t encourage employees to be supportive and welcoming toward one another, new hires will feel like outsiders for a long time. By making mentoring part of your organizational culture, you’ll create a network of support that will help new employees learn the ropes.

  • Hold spontaneous award parties for employees who have gone out of their way to mentor others.
  • When recognizing an employee’s accomplishments, thank his mentor as well.
  • Model strong mentoring skills: Be a coach rather than just a critic, and your employees will follow suit.

Read this Entrepreneur article for more advice on creating a culture of mentoring. Better yet, ask your whole team to read it and discuss it!

Giving out surveys will help you determine which areas you most need to improve in. Survey recent candidates to find out how they wish your recruitment process had been different. If they know you’re trying to improve, that might help alleviate any lingering negative feelings and confirm your company as the best place to be.

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