From the job seeker’s perspective, going through the recruitment process can be stressful and even cause anxiety. It’s, therefore, in the company’s best interest to do their utmost to create a good atmosphere for all potential new employees.

That overall experience is what we refer to as candidate experience. To put it in more detail, it’s the impression a job seeker gets at any stage of recruitment – starting from the moment they see your job posting, through the application process, potential interviews, and onboarding. 

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Unfortunately, only as few as 32% of candidates stated that their most recent job search experience was very good. In other words, the remaining 68% of dissatisfied candidates might be a potential threat to your employer branding, regardless of whether they get hired or not.

Candidate experience affects your business

Most of us would like to think that once we say our goodbyes to someone, likely never to see them again, it’s the moment they no longer have any impact on our lives. In reality, however, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Whether personal or professional, every interaction we have may (and likely will) affect our reputation somehow. As far as your business is concerned, it’s up to you whether the outcome of that interaction will be positive or negative.

Every candidate that comes across your company will potentially add to how your employer branding is perceived. Paradoxically, it might be those that you end up not hiring that have the most influence on the number and quality of talents you’ll employ in the future.

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As many as 37% of job seekers who had an unpleasant candidate experience confessed to leaving a negative review online. It’s a somewhat concerning number when we realise that 55% of people won’t even pursue a job at companies with negative online reviews. As a consequence, your employer branding is going to deter many valuable talents from willing to become a part of your team – something no business can afford. 

One ought to note, too, that people are more likely to write negative reviews, to begin with. It’s simply because we usually feel more strongly affected by negative experiences than positive ones. We all expect to be treated very well, so we may not even notice if it happens.

However, if someone mistreats us, the contrast becomes staggering. And it’s then that we feel a need to express our discontent. Whether it’s by word of mouth or fingers, the opinions about your brand can leave permanent stains on your employer brand.

Although unfair, this means that all your efforts to offer your candidates a positive experience may not result in good reviews after every recruitment. But you can do many things to avoid getting any unfavourable ones. 

How? Let us look into that.

1. What you should do to assure a positive candidate experience

Luckily, it’s never too late to work on improving the experience you provide your applicants with. Different companies may have various aspects to work on – and it’s up to your team to closely investigate what may be affecting the experience your candidates receive.

There are, however, several issues that are mentioned by discontent job seekers more than others. Use them as a guideline to begin your work on providing the best candidate experience.

A) Communicate on all stages

Communication is undeniably one of the most critical aspects of our lives. Take a moment and think about what happens when we fail to express information accurately. Or at all, for that matter. 

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Surprisingly, it’s still not uncommon for recruiters to completely ignore the importance of keeping their candidates in the loop. Career Builder reports that 47% of applicants never get any form of communication from the companies they apply to, even past 60 days after having applied. In other words, they are left in the limbo of uncertainty even for months. They don’t know if they were rejected, are still being considered, or maybe even wonder whether the application was received at all. 

As the results of a Software Advice survey show, more communication ranked as the #1 improvement suggested by 34% of the respondents, so it’s definitely worth looking into.

Always inform them – even if it’s a no

It’s not a pleasant task to inform applicants that they were rejected, but it’s even worse to leave them hanging without any feedback. They took their time to answer your job posting, so it should be a solid rule of courtesy to thank them for that time and let them focus their energy on continuing their search. 

If you can take your time and respond personally to each rejected candidate – that’s amazing. But if you don’t, you can craft an automatic response and believe me that they’ll appreciate it much more than radio silence. 

Ask for feedback, too

As it is with communication, it should be working both ways. As much as candidates need to get feedback, consider using the opportunity to ask for feedback yourself

Sometimes it’s hard to improve something if we don’t know what we’re doing wrong. Implementing candidate surveys can help you out, though. Craft a set of questions you’d like to ask about the recruitment process and the overall experience. 

By offering constant and transparent communication, you send an important signal to your candidates – that you value their time and that they chose to consider working for you. Assuring a proper information flow helps you maintain a professional and friendly approach that will surely keep your reputation high. 

B) Improve the application process

As the metaphor goes: “time is money”, and for a good reason. We live in a fast-paced world, and we like to know that the time and energy we put into something is worth it. Sending out job applications, usually way more than one, is not something most people do for fun, and that’s why it shouldn’t be more complex and time-consuming than necessary.

Six out of ten job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their complexity and length. Many people simply decide it’s not worth their precious time, whether it’s because of an excessive number of questions or a hard to navigate application form.

Optimise the process

Just like every chef should taste their food before sending it out, you should look at your application process as if you were the candidate. Is the website functional and easy to navigate? Are you asking only the necessary questions? Do you ask for relevant documents? 

There’s nothing that makes an applicant roll their eyes more than uploading their CV on page one, just to be asked about a detailed experience description on page two – and it’s not the reaction you want to cause.

Our parents would hand-deliver a printed resumé copy, we filled out an online form, and the next generation wants to manage job applications on their phones. 

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According to Pew Research Center, more than half of 18 to 29-year-olds (and 43% of all users, for that matter) use smartphones to do their job search. As we mentioned in our previous post, catering to the younger generation with mobile-friendly applications should be one of your strategies to implement in 2022.

Smaller screen sizes of mobile phones somewhat demand the application form to be simpler, as reading long paragraphs and having to scroll back and forth can get inconvenient. Let alone fill out those dreadful description boxes! It’s therefore essential to adapt it to those devices.

Simple, efficient, and transparent?

Although the idea of ‘application with one click’ seems far-fetched and unreasonable, it may be so just because you’re still using the classic CV & cover letter combo. But what if I told you that you could offer your applicants a simple, fair application process that gives you a true insight into one’s fit for the position?

Case-based screening may be precisely what your brand is looking for. A candidate receives a case tailored for the position, and all they need to do is upload the solution and provide their e-mail address. It doesn’t get easier than that.

The process is fair (as it’s anonymous and transparent), exciting (still not commonly used), gives candidates a taste of the actual job (better than any description ever will), and most importantly for you – allows you to check the essential skills.

A meta-analysis conducted by Schmidt & Hunter that we referred to in the past shows that case-based screening (along with the General Mental Ability Test) proved that the predictive validity of that type of screening scored 0.63 on a scale from zero to one.

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For comparison, a structured interview scored at 0.51. That means that by changing your application format from CVs to cases, you actually can test-drive the candidate before signing a contract.

Yes, solving a case is more time-consuming than sending the same resumé, but it’s much more fun! After seeing tens of application forms that look the same, having yours stand out may be what catches a job seeker’s attention. And that’s not the end of the advantages of this form of screening. Check out one of our blog posts to read more about them. 

Think long term to attract the talent

The world is changing, and it is becoming more challenging to find the right talent. One of the most significant downsides of allowing poor candidate experience is that it very well may make that challenge even more difficult. 

As mentioned in the introduction, more than half of job seekers admitted they wouldn’t apply for a job if the company had terrible reviews. How many potentially unique talents get lost in that process? The exact number is hard to measure, but what should matter to your business most is that even one lost talent is too many.

Providing a positive candidate experience helps your future reviews and helps make a great first impression on top talents who decide to join your team

A staggering 80-90% of job seekers state that their experience can change their minds about accepting the job. In times of talent shortage, it can be the difference between winning the best candidate over and seeing your competitors do so. 

Your future talent pool

Obviously, not every recruitment process ends with a hire. However, the type of experience you provide may shrink your talent pool in the future – or enlarge it. 67% of applicants claim they’d still re-apply at a company in the future if the candidate experience is positive.

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The experience you give your candidates during the application process is crucial when attracting top talents. At the end of the day, it’s often a determining factor for candidates to decide between several jobs and whether they want to stay in your talent pool.

We never know when the once not ‘good enough’ candidate may be precisely the one we’re searching for. Thus, you should bear in mind at all times that it’s crucial to make all applicants feel like they want to come back.

Improve your recruitment on all stages

It wouldn’t be too much of an overstatement to say that we live in times when information spreads faster than wildfire. People talk, people write, and most importantly – they don’t hold back expressing their opinions. 

It’s for that reason that you need to work in a way that builds and preserves your brand’s reputation on the market. It encourages people to join you, stay, and even come back – sometimes as a customer if not as an employee. 

Have a close look at your recruitment process in all its stages to identify where you can improve, and we hope that our overview of the most common issues will help you become a better brand. 

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