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12 Tips to Improve Your Candidate Experience

Candidates are the new customers. Treat them well, and they’ll pay you back in raving reviews. Treat them badly, and they’ll make sure to let the whole world know via every social media they can lay their hands on.

A poor recruitment process will not only have a negative impact on your recruiting efforts but on the company’s sales performance as well. An excellent applicant experience, on the other hand, can turn even a rejected candidate into a brand ambassador. 

Today we’ll give you 12 tips to get your candidate experience on point.      

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1. Mobile matters

Mobile recruiting is one of the big trends in HR and with good reason – a vast majority of people uses mobile devices to look for new job opportunities. Too many organisations still underestimate the importance of a perfectly optimised mobile recruitment strategy though. Here’s what to focus on:

  • Adapt your job descriptions
    Keep it short and simple, explain clearly why someone should apply, and include an obvious call to action. Bear in mind that mobile users often leave a page if they have to read a lot of text.
  • Optimize for mobile
    Optimize your content for a small screen and make sure the pages load quickly, those are probably two of the most important things to keep in mind. Mobile users don’t like to wait for anything, it’s your job to ensure they don’t have to.
  •  Simplicity is key
    Your mobile application process needs to be convenient and efficient. Eliminate steps such as overly long questionnaires and offer the smoothest possible way of uploading documents. It’s important that applicants receive a confirmation once they’ve sent out their application to you.

2. Build a community

Some people might really like your company, but not necessarily want to apply right away. Maybe because they’re happy where they are, or because they simply don’t see a vacancy they find interesting at the moment. Offer them an alternative.

Create a community for these potential candidates to ‘follow’ you. You can do this by setting up a talent pool or by simply starting a group on Facebook for example. As long as it allows you to stay in touch with your followers so that you can keep them up to date on the latest company news and job openings.

3. Consider the full experience

We’ve mentioned it before, the candidate experience starts from the very first moment an applicant encounters your company. Often this will be via your company website or a job posting.

Think carefully about the image you want your website to represent – most probably in line with your company culture – and provide an easy to find careers page. Check that your website is user-friendly and simple to navigate through. You only get one shot at a first impression!

4. Show your timeline

This one is in line with our previous point. Candidates want to know where they stand, every step of the way. They don’t know if they’re going to get the job at the end of the process and that’s enough uncertainty as it is.

Be clear about your schedule. Tell applicants when they can expect a reply and how long the entire recruitment cycle will take. With this, you can never start too soon, or overdo it. Think for instance of including your timeline in the application form. Provide information about the closing date for applications, how and when the interviews take place, when you’ll be making offers to successful candidates and how long they have to accept your offer. Here you can find a good example. On top of that you can map out your process on the wall of the interview room.

5. Be considerate

If people take the time to send you their application, you should take the time to answer them. In the very first stage of your application process you can still get away with sending rejected candidates an automated email via the ATS you have in place.

As soon as you have invited applicants to your office for an in-person interview though, a simple rejection email is no longer an option. People have travelled to come and see you, they might even have taken the day off if they’re currently working elsewhere. In other words: they deserve a phone call from a living human being telling them they didn’t get the job and giving them the reasons why.

6. Offer feedback

This one can be divided in several categories: your feedback to the candidate, the applicant’s feedback on your recruitment process and the type of feedback you provide.

  • Your feedback
    The most important thing to remember here is to give feedback and in a timely matter. Let a candidate know what went well and what didn’t. If you can, try to include some tangible advice on what things they should improve for future interviews. If you worry you might forget to send feedback, there is good software available that can take care of this.
  • The candidate’s feedback
    Feedback from applicants that went through your recruitment cycle is essential because it allows you to keep improving your process. Rather than asking them at the end of the hiring circle, try to get some feedback from the candidates after each round; it’s when everything is still fresh in their memories, and because they’re still in the running for the job they’re more inclined to give you their feedback. For example: After they’ve sent out the application form, ask the applicants what they thought about the length of the form, the ease with which documents were uploaded, etc.
  • Type of feedback
    Be honest, that’s how simple it is. If someone didn’t get the job don’t tell them something like “You did well, but the job just isn’t right for you”. Instead, if you had concerns about their ability to work accurately, or their laid-back attitude, let the candidates know.

7. Add a personal touch

Where you can, you want to add a personal feel to your recruitment process. No one wants to be a number, or in this case, ‘another anonymous applicant’. A simple thing that makes a considerable difference is sending personalised emails using the candidate’s first name. Interacting with the people that are part of your community – like the talent pool we mentioned earlier – via social media is another good way of being more personal.

The same thing goes for the interview; know the candidate you’re interviewing and make sure your colleagues do too. Be familiar with an applicant’s background and interests so you can share relevant personal experiences.

8. The more the merrier

Get as many employees involved in the recruitment process as possible. Why? Because it’s a way of showing candidates they’re special. Have the different team members reach out to a candidate who’s in the final stages of the hiring cycle, or organise an informal event where candidates can mingle with their potential new colleagues. Here you can find another good example of how to show applicants you care.

9 Stay in Touch

Give candidates plenty of updates throughout the entire process so that they know what’s going on. After each round, send them an email in which you thank them for their time and tell them when you’ll be in touch again. If you worry you’ll forget, you can give the applicants your phone number so they can call you for an update instead.

It’s particularly important you tell the people that applied for the job but didn’t get it that the position got filled. Even if the applicants didn’t get through the very first selection round, they were just as interested in the role as the person that ended up getting the job. Therefore you send everyone an (automated) email to give them closure.

10. Candidates are customers

At the end of the day, every applicant you interact with can also be a customer. Bear this in mind during your recruitment process and treat applicants as customers, because even when they’re not candidates anymore, they can still be your customers (and brand ambassadors).

Now, what exactly does this mean? It means you have to look at it as customer service. For example: Whenever an applicant calls your company during the hiring process, you want to make sure that whoever picks up the phone has the necessary expertise to answer any kind of question the candidate might have.

On the day of the interview, treat your candidates well. Have someone waiting for them at the entrance of the office, ask them regularly if they want something to drink and perhaps even offer them a tour of the office. If they have to wait for a while because things don’t go entirely as planned, give them an iPad with information about their interviewers, for example via the respective LinkedIn pages.

11. Keep improving

Your recruitment process is never finished. Use the feedback you get from your applicants to improve your process. Ask employees that joined the company recently – let’s say over the past 6 months – about their experiences too. Do you regularly get complaints about certain aspects of your online user experience? Do something about it. Are new employees telling you they don’t think the company website reflects your culture very well? Rethink the professional image your website reflects.

12. Application length

A common source of frustration for candidates is the length of the application form and the lack of efficiency. If you ask people to upload certain documents – resume’s and cover letters for example – then don’t require them to enter that exact same information further down the form again. We’ve already mentioned the importance of a speedy document uploading feature earlier, so it speaks for itself that you make sure this is in order.

If for some reason you can’t avoid a lengthy application, use a short how-to video rather than a written explanation of the process. Show applicants the easiest way to get through the necessary documentation and tell them how long it will take to fill everything out.

The hiring process is a two-way street. If you don’t treat applicants as valuable additions to your company, they’ll simply go to another employer who does. Have a good look at your current recruitment process and ask yourself where things can be improved. Our 12 tips to improve your candidate experience should help you get on your way.

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Neelie Verlinden is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Digital HR Tech. She’s an experienced digital HR & HR Tech writer, speaker, and entrepreneur with an international background. She has written countless articles on all things HR technology.

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