Updated: Jun 22
Why is candidate experience such a mystery?
I am not attempting to answer this question but I am genuinely perturbed at hiring teams not being able to solve for candidate experience. Because it is as simple as ‘making a guest feel welcome and cared for when they visit your company’.
Take a cue from the airlines and hospitality industry on how they floor you when you visit their properties – Oberoi , Leela hotels, and Indigo, Singapore Airlines should be your benchmarks on #customerexperience and not your immediate competitors. They have become preferred choices for most of us by the way they treat us and ensure ‘our comfort comes first’ than their processes.
Don’t we all like it when we are treated on priority at their counters? When the process is fast, transparent and efficient? When we are duly informed of any changes in time to make amendments to our plans? When the communication loop is closed after every discussion? When there is always someone there to attend to your queries?
These are exactly the things that you should do for your candidate experience.
1. Segregate your experience for senior and junior career stages
Will a senior person not love it if the receptionists informs them ‘Sir/Mam we have been waiting for you’! Instead of making them sit in the office lobby, straight away ferries them to a Meeting Room that says ‘Welcome to ABC, Ms. Sharma’ with an attendant ready to take order for their preferred beverages alongwith a supply of company material to read or an ipad to browse latest offerings from your company while they wait for their interviewer. Make sure their expectations are captured and shared with the interviewers beforehand so that all of them can address their concerns during subsequent rounds. Intersperse a traditional interview with a turn-around interview and offer them an option to interview the interviewer! (Small surprises make a big difference). Make sure they meet the best leaders of your company who can enlist the opportunity at hand with concrete examples of the impact they can make at ABC. Instead of sharing the offer letter over email, invite them to the office for a final negotiation and discussion on perks, wellness benefits that your company offers. And closer to the date of joining send a gift hamper or company branded items for their families to celebrate their joining ABC. All this while a single recruiter manages their experience and hand-holds them from one interviewer to the other and also manages the logistics of travel and parking (very important but mostly ignored). Lo, behold! a boring interview process is transformed into a pleasurable exercise for all concerned!
2. Communication is key but closing the loop will unlock the experience
Many a time one notices that recruiters chase you till you are in the process of interviewing. They put on their best shoes and communicate effectively till you are disqualified! Very few recruiters don’t realize that the opportunity to influence #candidateexperience is the ‘maximum’ at the ‘disqualification stage’ because to get 1 good candidate you will reject atleast 3-6 candidates (sometimes even 10). So how you impact these 9 candidates will tilt the scales of ‘best interview ever’ and make for a shining opportunity for your #employerbrand, and not the one candidate you will eventually offer! It is very important to let the 9 candidates know they are disqualified or the process ends at this step as soon as possible. If you can offer ‘why’ nothing like it! Do remember to tell them that can reapply to your company after 3-6 months (or as per your company policy). Silence in this case is not golden but damaging to how you make people feel about your employer brand.
Even for the ‘qualified candidate’ most companies leave them unattended the moment the offer is rolled-out. They assume that the best package will ensure they join their company. This is not true in times of multiple offers and when most candidates are millennials. The recruiter should be available to address queries at ALL times. If need be make these candidates meet with business people or specialists or their team leads (during the notice period) who can show them how their career will take shape at ABC. Actively share latest news, PR buzz with these candidates or include them on your social networks. If they have their birthday’s during this time a cake and flowers for the family would make them feel valued (even before they join). I have witnessed enough cases where candidate chose us because the other companies’ recruiter chose not to respond to their queries. As recruiters, you have the power to make them feel either as ‘I am a candidate’ or “I am The Candidate”.
3. Continuous feedback and action
Having a candidate feedback survey will help you effectively monitor experience scores over time and they will also unearth glaring gaps in your candidate experience. It will tell you what in your recruiter interaction needs to be fixed and if interviewers are providing a consistent experience to both type of candidates – qualified and disqualified. You can also make experience scores a part of recruiter evaluation metrics to ensure it stays as a top priority for the hiring teams.
4. Candidate experience is the responsibility of everyone (and not just the recruiter)
The hiring process has many touchpoints. Therefore holding only the recruiter responsible is not correct. From your office services teams, parking lot attendants, IT teams, receptionists, guards, recruiters, interviewers – all of them play a role in how candidates view your employer brand and employment experience. Make everyone accountable for the experience and train them for it. How people are treated at office receptions, to how they are managed when they get lost in your office campus, to how long they have to wait for the interviewer, to what they were offered to eat if the selection process ran longer than 2 hours – these micro interactions will eventually define your position in the war of talent!
5. Brand every touch-point to set yourself apart
Get your communications team, agency of record, marketing teams to write interesting copy for mailers, teasers, mobile sms, badges for all possible candidate touch points. Ensure one common theme and tone of voice runs across all communications. Keep it closer to your value proposition. Take a cue from Indigo branding and redefine how candidates interact with your employer brand.
Imagine an office attendant whose T-shirt badge reads 'Serving Opportunities' and a receptionist whose placard reads 'Welcome to A New
Future' -- these minute interactions will surely leave a smile on your potential talent's faces and a lasting impact on your employer brand.
6. Show them the career journey and the destination
If you survey the candidates and ask them about what they look for in a job description - they will unanimously tell you 'What projects will I work on' and 'What is the future of this role in your company' is what I am keen to know. But if you evaluate your traditional JDs none of the sections cater to this need of the candidates. It is time you shun away old, boring and jaded Job Descriptions and move over to Job Advertorials! that give talent a view of how they will grow in a job and build a unique career at your company. Get them to think about their career differently, show them the learning and development opportunities, real people stories, possible career-paths they can take and a sneak peek into your award-winning culture to win them over! Enlist all the benefits people will get by working at your company, show them how wellness and well-being are integral to your employee experience. and that the actual offer is more than the money they will get-in-hand. Show them the possibilities of all that they can become and achieve at your company.
And if you are some of the first ones to focus on this aspect of talent acquisition then you also get to win the Best in Candidate Experience Award!