Hiring: Tips for Improving the Candidate Experience

When recruiting prospective talent for open positions, it’s in your company’s best interest to establish an efficient and respectful vetting process that leaves a positive impression on the candidates regardless of whether you end up hiring them or not. Candidates remember their experiences and share it with others, both face-to-face and on social media. The impression you make defines your company’s reputation in the talent marketplace, so make it a good one.

Put yourself in a candidate’s shoes and let’s face it, applying for a new job is stressful, for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because much of the process is opaque and out of the candidate’s control. You can alleviate some of those stress points through increased transparency, which ultimately benefits both job seekers and your company.

Transparency means giving the candidate as much information as possible so they can judge for themself whether they are a good fit for the position. But, it also means managing their expectations and not leaving them in the dark at any step in the vetting process. Even if they don’t get the job, they will appreciate that your company gave them careful consideration and treated them with respect.

Following are best practices for enhancing the candidate experience.

Optimize Candidate-Company Touchpoints

Make all touchpoints with your company as informative, frictionless, and brand-reinforcing as possible, starting with your company’s career page. Not only should this page list any open positions along with necessary qualifications, selection criteria and guidelines for applying, it should provide a clear window into the company’s culture. Your company website should also include a page with information about your current team so prospective employees can gain perspective on their potential interviewers and co-workers.

All email communication should be helpful and informative—even auto-replies. For example, email signatures should include your company’s logo, website, and contact information.

Other ways to enhance candidate touchpoints:

  • Make the online application process as user-friendly as possible.
  • Keep candidates in the loop about how and when they should expect updates.
  • Create clear instructions for filling out paperwork and implement automated reminders to complete the application.
  • Consider creating a video to help explain multi-step applications required for specialized positions.

Establish a Good Relationship with Potential Employees

  • Manage candidates’ expectations by being as transparent as possible about the interview process up front. You could detail the process on your website—maybe even mapping it out graphically—if it’s likely to be the same for most candidates. Including an estimated timeline for decision-making, if possible, would be particularly helpful.
  • Establish a good relationship with high quality candidates, even if they’re not currently a great fit for your open position and don’t end up making it to the interview stage. You never know when the need for someone with their talents might arise.
  • When it comes time for the candidate to come in for an interview, assign a point person on site to be responsible for shepherding them through the process and answering any questions that might arise. This designated person can give them a tour, if appropriate, and offer them refreshments and snacks. It’s a good idea to give the candidate breaks throughout the day, between interviews, and make a quiet place available for them to return phone calls, if needed.
  • Review a candidate’s background thoroughly in advance of any interviews to develop a solid understanding of why they’re interested in the job and how they might fit in your organization. Share your insights with the hiring team so they can personalize their questions accordingly. If you are scheduling multiple interviews with different team members, it may make sense to assign different roles to each interviewer so they don’t cover the same ground. The candidate will appreciate that you made an effort to learn about them in advance. And, of course, the more you know about the candidate the better chance you will have of making a good hire.
  • Put a process in place for touching base with candidates when hiring decisions get bogged down, for whatever reason, so they’re not left in the dark, potentially losing patience, moving on to the next opportunity. If you know you will simply be too busy to initiate contact, ask the candidate to get in touch with you within a specified timeframe.

The Importance of Feedback

Inform rejected candidates via phone call, rather than email. Provide specific feedback from interviews, including the reason they didn’t get the job, beyond simply saying ‘it wasn’t a good fit’. Relaying constructive criticism may help the candidate, going forward.

While constructive feedback is helpful for prospective employees, it’s also helpful for you, so you can strive to continuously improve the candidate experience. Ask for feedback from candidates. This is most easily done via a survey sent to them afterwards.

Don’t Let the Good Ones Get Away

And, when you find that candidate everyone agrees is a star, do everything you can not to lose them. Beyond the offer letter, make an effort to let them know how much you want them, stressing the highlights of your company’s culture and brand. Ask the team leader or designated team members to reach out to them, reinforcing particular points of interest that may have arisen during their interviews. In addition, make them aware of any positive breaking company or department news.

Your company goes to great lengths to ensure customer and employee satisfaction because you understand its importance to your brand and company reputation. Why not make a similar effort with potential employees? When you create a stellar candidate experience, every potential job seeker becomes a brand ambassador.