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How to Create a Memorable Candidate Experience for Applicants

June 18, 2020

job hunting

On-the-market jobseekers are on the lookout for their dream job, and you – as an employer – want to hire the best talent.

Technology paves the way and bridges the gap between you and your prospective hire. Automated systems led to online recruiting which in many ways revolutionized traditional practices. These systems simplified and systematised the hiring procedures, making the entire process recruiter-friendly, thereby enhancing recruiting experience.

Are you sure you’re on the right track to attract potential hires for the niche openings? How can you ensure you stay ahead of your competitors and grab the finest talent in the industry?

An important facet of recruiting that employers and their recruiting teams remain oblivious to is how the prospects and applicants perceive their recruitment practices. This introduces a new idea in the hiring arena: candidate experience.

Let’s explore and comprehend this concept in the upcoming sections, and how you could imbibe this component in your recruiting activities and offer a marvellous experience for jobseekers, leading to an elevation in your positioning as a preferred and prominent employer in the industry.

Candidate experience – an overview

Your recruiting teams are constantly bombarded with a huge number of open positions to fill in. As a result, they tend to be oriented toward meeting deadlines, adhering to turnaround time (TAT), and seeing their clock ticking each time they are engaged in a recruiting activity: calling up candidates, scheduling interviews, and so on.

In this process, you and the recruiting users often forget the fact that recruiting is a candidate-driven operation. Imagine that you post a job opening, yet nobody responds to it. The entire recruiting process would come to a standstill. While that’s just a what-if scenario, you need to be prepared to battle for the prime candidates for your job.

This leaves you with the question of how to ensure aspiring candidates approach your posting and participate in the recruiting process. You need to create a gratifying experience for prospective candidates throughout the recruitment cycle and even after.

Why is candidate experience important?

With the rising demand for niche skills, it’s imperative for the employers to ensure that candidates are offered the most encouraging and positive exposure during their job search. This encompasses all stages from finding a job online through onboarding. Candidates expect a personalized, convenient, transparent and courteous approach from their potential employers no matter what stage they’re in.

Bad candidate experience results from no updates from the employer after submitting the application. A five-page long application form could seem overwhelming, causing a candidate to balk. Unnecessary jargon or discrepancies in the job description could be a factor as well.

There are so many factors at play that you need to tread carefully. Job applicants expect a productive experience, and naturally begin with an optimistic outlook. Even if an applicant is unable to make it to next stages of the selection process, the way your company makes them feel throughout the process will determine whether they ever reapply in the future or recommend your company to others.

In short, a wonderful candidate experience could result in pouring of rich talent from far and wide. Even if they make it to the final stages, a staggering 49% of jobseekers said they would reject an offer based on poor candidate experience.

6 components of a winning candidate experience

Let’s go through a few components of how to create candidate experience that floors your applicants.

1. Your job posting and application process

Your website is a candidate’s first touchpoint with your company, meaning it’s the first step in providing excellent candidate experience. To ensure your website is engaging for candidates, let’s look at a few tips to help you create a better candidate experience.

Corporate website

Making your website SEO-friendly and accessible for all candidates should be your goal. Using the right keywords to target the right candidates and staying away from confusing jargon should be the route you take to ensure the job hunt is less stressful for candidates.

Your website needs to provide information about the work environment, company culture, growth opportunities, benefits, and anything that might appeal to interested parties. The career pages, specifically, should be tailored to the candidates’ needs by including information about requirements for the role, from education to professional skills.

Make sure your pages are easy to navigate with drop-down menus and search bars to help candidates through the process. And most importantly, make sure the content on your website is mobile-friendly as many jobseekers use their phones to apply to positions. Additionally, your team can use recruiting automation software to help work out the kinks of these processes.

Job descriptions

When jobseekers are looking on corporate career pages, they typically enter keywords to find job descriptions matching that criteria. These descriptions consist of titles, responsibilities, education and background requirements, and occasionally salary. A standard job posting has an ID number that can be tied to the employment type, title and vertical of the job, job posting date, a full description of expectations, possibly the name of the recruiter or a contact person, and other relevant information necessary for candidates.

From an applicant standpoint, the job descriptions drive the whole process from interest to “apply”. A crisp job description that accurately paints a picture of the job duties makes the process less ambiguous and helps viable candidates make the choice to apply. This is crucial for candidate experience because the experience begins at first touch, i.e. the job description itself.

Here are some tips for creating great job descriptions for your candidates:

  • Be concise and clear. The most vital aspect of effective job descriptions is that they are clear, expressed in simple language, and easy to understand. Keep them jargon-free and avoid ambiguity or anything not relevant to the job role. Use short sentences and present tense verbs.
  • Use bullet points. Job descriptions are easier to follow if presented as pointers rather than lengthy paragraphs.
  • Write in a structured format. Job descriptions written in a structured manner, segmenting and demarcating the different sections such as essential skills and education requirements attract the attention of jobseekers and encourage them to spend some time reading through them fully.
  • List the mandatory requirements. Ensure that all mandatory and relevant requirements, skills, and experience pertaining to the job role are covered in the job description so candidates are fully aware of their qualifications in relation to the job requirements.

Application process

Applications are an extremely significant component of the selection process at any level and in any business. The design of an application could play an integral role in improving candidate experience. For various reasons, several applicants drop off during the process, causing companies to lose valuable candidates.

It’s important to note that applications don’t come with a one-size-fits-all approach. The nature of the job, company, and candidates’ experience levels are all factors that affect the application process.

Here are some best practices for driving positive candidate experience during the application process: 

  • Make sure the application instructions are clear and it is obvious who the ‘right’ candidates are.
  • Keep the length medium or shorter to keep interested parties engaged, and make sure the form is easy to fill out.
  • Allow candidates to apply from a mobile device if they so wish.
  • Send a confirmation email to give a sense of confidence that the application was received.

2. Communication with the candidate

Organizations use various sources to recruit candidates: job boards, social media, applicant pools, and more. All businesses have a corporate website with a careers page where the open jobs are posted. Jobseekers access these websites, upload resumes, and create profiles, which are often screened by applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Applicant tracking systems play a pivotal role in candidate and application management. Most businesses use one or the other ATS to manage their applicants. ATSes usually supports the functionality of sending out email notifications when a candidate’s resume or application is received. Recruiters must review the resumes or profiles and ensure the incumbents are informed of the status within appropriate timelines.

A few best practices to assure a promising candidate experience in this regard are:

  • Ensuring a well-drafted email triggers to the candidates once they submit their profile
  • The e-mail notification should outline the next stages of recruiting process, highlighting the minimum timelines
  • Have the full name, official contact number and e-mail address of the concerned recruiting user, managing the vacancy

3. Status updates

Having applied to their dream job, candidates look to hear next steps from the employer. As a part of the recruiting team, your primary responsibility is to keep the candidates informed about further processes in the recruiting cycle to ensure they sustain a rewarding experience. Organizations that communicate with candidates through emails only need to send status updates to keep candidates in the loop.

Larger companies implement ATSes, meaning candidates have the ability to login to the career site any time and view their status in the application process. This assures them that their application is still under review. Additionally, online software also offers the option of sending out email notifications to applicants at certain action points.

Here are some simple ways to enhance candidate experience:

  • Ensure the templates are designed and worded appropriately, indicating job title, candidate name, and other information
  • Include an active contact such as a recruiter with name, contact number, or email
  • Have an area where applicants can submit additional application materials for the job

Updating a candidate about where they stand in the application process can make a world of difference.

4. Interviewing

Interviews usually constitute one or more segments of the recruiting process. In fact, they often tend to be the deciding factor in applicant selection. Organizations incorporate various modes of interviews in their recruiting process depending on job role, level of experience, and skills required.

Interviews form a crucial phase in the process of applicant screening. They should be scheduled appropriately to avoid any last minute confusions or hassles. Using interview scheduling software can give recruiters and candidates options to select dates, times, and modalities for the interview. Once an interview is scheduled, an automated notice can go out to interviewers and interviewee.

The interview itself is likely going to be conducted by a number of people depending on the stage the candidate is in. Whether it’s a screening call or a final interview, it’s important that the candidate feels valued at every stage.

For instance, for a phone interview (or an initial screen), you’ll want to engage the candidate to see if their background even fits the role you’re hiring for. For virtual interviews, using the right software can be the difference maker between a positive or negative candidate experience.

Make sure candidates know how to enter your software and use it properly. Ensure both parties can see, hear, and easily communicate over the screen. Lastly, for face-to-face interviews (which is usually the final stage), make sure that the questions asked are from a highly decisive standpoint and conducted with extreme professionalism.

Some best tips for ensuring the interviewing process is great for candidates include:

  • Keep it simple, relaxed, and reduce all anxiety.
  • Ask relevant, open-ended questions to encourage conversation.
  • Be informed about the candidate’s background and history.
  • Have candid answers for the applicant’s questions to you.

5. Post-interview feedback

If the person isn’t selected for the job, let them know why. If they are selected, still give them feedback and things you’re hoping to see as you begin the onboarding process.

It’s human nature to hope for the best. Having said that, candidates eagerly await a phone call or email from you once their interview is done. This aspect, often ignored by recruiting organizations, could profoundly impact the candidate experience.

Whether you select a candidate or not, it’s common courtesy to follow-up to ensure they know what’s going on. If you are in the process of selecting them but never let them know, they could accept another offer during the time you were neglecting to contact them. Don’t lose good candidates because of bad communication.

Here are a few feedback tips to keep in mind:

  • Thank your candidates. Recruiters should make it a point to thank the candidates, even those rejected, for taking their time and effort and considering the opportunity.
  • Be empathetic and genuine. Imagine if you were in the candidate’s shoes. How would you want someone to communicate with you? Use that sentiment to treat candidates similarly.
  • Highlight their strengths. Focus on the positive qualities and strengths exhibited by the candidate during the interviews, and let them know what they did well.

6. Onboarding and training

Candidate experience isn’t over once you hire someone for the role. Onboarding and training is, in fact, one of the most important phases in the entire recruitment process.

Your new hire will have high expectations on their first day, so it’s your job to meet and exceed their expectations. Stay true to your promises back from the interview stage and own up to any discrepancies right away. Onboarding is your final step in the candidate experience. Make sure it’s a positive, memorable one.

Tips for successful onboarding:

  • Make sure to have the new recruits warmly welcomed on the first day of work
  • Give them a tour of the office and their department’s floor
  • Introduce them to their coworkers, supervisors, and team members
  • Ensure they have a designated workstation
  • Give them relevant informational documents
  • Help the new hires fill in their formal documents and forms
  • Arrange for one or more set of training or induction sessions
  • Take them out to lunch

Conclusion

In today’s world, where businesses face cut-throat competition, it becomes a necessity to have a super-skilled workforce. Regardless of the industry in which your business operates, the company size or the recruiting requirements you cater to, offering an awesome candidate experience is of utmost importance. 

Help your candidate experience shine by using recruiting automation software to streamline processes and make everything a breeze! 

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