Improving the Candidate’s Experience

February 16th, 2012 | Hiring Resources | No Comments »

Chances are, you are already fully aware that an interview with a prospective employee is a two-way conversation, that you and your company are on the spot as much as the candidate is. It’s the innovative new “advice” to help make employers realize the importance of employer branding, of making a good and appealing impression on your candidates.

But typically, that advice, while valuable, is short sighted. It just doesn’t fulfill the big picture when it comes to hiring. Sure, the interview, especially if it’s the first of several, is an essential part of the hiring process, but it’s not the whole story. In fact, if you wait until the interview to focus on attracting the best candidates, you’ll be missing out on a world of opportunities to attract even better candidates in the days, weeks or months before the interview is even scheduled.

In the big picture, the full candidate experience begins the moment a candidate comes into contact with your company as a job seeker.

First Contact

Whether that first contact is by phone call or email or even via some social network, the response needs to be timely and considerate.

You probably know how frustrating it is in any situation when your email or call goes unnoticed or ignored, or is responded to in a curt or even rude manner.

Put yourself in the vulnerable position of a job seeker, and this predicament is even more aggravating. And most likely, it will be enough to turn a candidate off a company, even if the situation is a bad representation of how it would be to work there.

Ultimately, then, make sure you have a plan in place to respond to every candidate who approaches your company. Even a courteous auto-response to career-related emails is better than nothing.

Before the Interview

It’s unlikely that you’ll be the first person to greet a candidate when they come to your office for an interview. But all the people they meet beforehand are just as important in the candidate experience as you are.

If your best candidate is met by a receptionist who’s having a bad day, this can have a detrimental effect on the impression of your office’s work environment. On the other hand, a receptionist who’s friendly and happy gives the impression of a friendly and happy workplace.

In short, ensure everyone in the office is prepared for the candidate’s presence, even if they won’t be involved in the interview. You don’t want to create a bad image of your workplace on the off chance someone in the office is having a bad day.

The Big Interview

This is the part of the candidate experience most advice is focused on. It’s the advice that reminds you an interview is as much about a candidate finding out about you and your company as it is about you finding out about the candidate.

In which case, it’s important to show the candidate that you’re actively listening to their answers, and that your time with them is valuable rather than an inconvenience.

It’s also a good time to further explain the dynamic of your workplace, office culture, and work environment, as well as any attractive perks and benefits you offer.

Finally, take the time to thoroughly answer a candidate’s questions, rather than hurrying through them to finish up the interview. This will strengthen the impression you’ve been striving to make.
If possible, try to keep the interview process down to just the one interview. Conducting three or four interviews across a week or two runs the risk of creating the impression that you don’t value your candidate’s time. Plus, it gives them more time to explore opportunities with other companies, and you may just miss out on your best candidate.

Following Up

The follow up after an interview is the final component of the candidate experience.

Even if you’re not choosing a particular candidate, skipping this step altogether is inadvisable. A candidate who is neglected after an interview may choose to spread that news to a potentially large network of people, which could easily damage your company’s employer brand.

Similarly, feedback that is delayed by a week or more once again sends the message that you don’t value your candidate’s time. And, again, it gives them extra time to accept an offer other than your own. Follow up, whether it’s a job offer or a rejection, should be as timely and considerate as that first contact with your candidate.

Clearly, the overall candidate experience is longer and more complex than many people realize. But if you have firm control over every phase of the process, your candidates will respond better.