Why Candidate Experience Matters and How to Do It Right

BY THE TALENTDASH TEAM | January 11, 2017

All too often companies and recruiters forget one vital thing about the hiring process; it’s not about them, it’s all about the candidate.

Finding the right person for a position and keeping them happy before they sign on the dotted line is hard enough these days. However, that’s no longer sufficient. Now you also need to ensure that unsuccessful applicants leave the hiring process with a modicum of satisfaction.

Wait, what?

Should companies and recruiters really care if unsuccessful applicants are unhappy about their experience?

Yes, they should. In fact, it’s crucial that they do and here’s why.

Brand reputation is everything
Did you know that in 2014 Virgin Media lost 7,500 customers as a direct result of poor candidate experience? Virgin’s Media Insights team made the discovery after cross referencing those candidates who were customers before their unsuccessful recruitment process and those that canceled less than a month after their missed opportunity. This translated to £4.4 million in lost revenue.

After working closely with HR Open Source, Virgin discovered that these candidates weren’t merely upset about rejection. What they found were candidates that felt unhappy with how the company treated them during the recruitment process.

According to a survey carried out by Vacancy Filler, as many as half of the candidates asked would boycott a company due to a bad recruitment experience and 67% would tell others about their bad experience.

As you can see, a bad experience for candidates in the hiring process can have serious repercussions for a company’s reputation and ultimately its bottom line. A good experience, on the other hand, will likely have the opposite effect. No prizes for guessing which one is preferable.

It bodes well for the future
Communication is the one thing (besides landing the job) that candidates want from a recruitment process. They want to know that you received their application, that they are in line for an interview, and that a decision is coming soon. They just want to be in the loop.

However, a lack of communication, even if their application is successful, starts them off on the wrong foot with the company. They may feel that they were the last resort or that the company simply didn’t care enough to keep them informed. Do you think this bad impression will affect their work? It’s quite possible.

On the other hand, a hiring experience that features clear and informative communication will leave a candidate feeling valued and respected. Will they work harder? It’s difficult to say for each individual, but a Westminster College survey found that 69% of workers would work harder if they felt appreciated. The chances are that a few emails just might help boost output later down the line.

You have more talent at your disposal
Even when you know that a candidate isn’t the right fit for this particular position, it’s plain human decency to let them know as early as possible and in the kindest possible way. This is the essence of a good, although unsuccessful, candidate experience but it’s not just about being sensitive to their feelings.

When more suitable opportunities present themselves further down the line, you want those candidates in your talent pool. So being kind even when rejecting applicants is not only decent but good business sense.

If you can somehow turn a rejection into an invitation to work together in the future then all the better. Simply offering feedback on their unsuccessful application can ensure that your relationship remains both positive and intact.

And remember that survey by Vacancy Filler that we mentioned earlier? It also states that candidates would tell their friends about positive experiences in the hiring process which in turn could lead to even more potential talent in your pool.

How to improve your candidates’ experience

Creating a candidate-centric hiring process is relatively straightforward if you just follow a few simple tips.

Simplify the application process 
Avoid asking for unnecessary details in the application phase. A candidate will wonder why you need their blood type and bedtime reading list at this point in time.

You should also ensure that the application process doesn’t take too long. Remember that your candidates are likely applying for many other positions, so be kind and try not to take up too much of their time.

Create accurate descriptions
Your job description should be 100% accurate and contain all the relevant details. Not being clear about the responsibilities of the position or expected targets can result in confusion and frustration later down the line. 

Requirements such as experience and qualifications are also crucial in order to prevent candidates mistakenly applying for positions they aren’t qualified for. If your new marketing manager needs to have a helicopter license, then it’s perhaps quite useful to mention it. Hey, it could happen.

Personalize your emails
No one likes to receive generic emails so don’t presume that your candidates will feel overjoyed at finding one in their inbox. First names and small talk work wonders on the subconscious mind. 

Of course, no recruiter can work without templates and when required they should be customized to have more of a personal feel to them.

Communicate often
As we mentioned earlier, great communication is the primary factor in creating a positive candidate experience. Stay in regular contact and aim to reply to any queries within as short a timescale as possible. 

Once you have a decision for a candidate, even if it’s a rejection, let them know immediately. They may not be too happy, but they will appreciate your promptness.

Use the phone
Forge a positive relationship by getting on the phone and talking to the candidate to inform them of the company’s decision. Of course, this won’t be possible for all candidates but for those that make it to a certain point in the process; it’s a small gesture that vastly improves the hiring experience.

Creating a candidate-centric hiring process is just one of the many ways that a recruiter can improve their results. However, it is by far one of the most important. It’s easily the one implementation that can have the most far-reaching and positive effects on candidates, recruiters, and the hiring company. So make it top of your to-do list for 2017 and spread some candidate-centric positivity.

You would need to have a list of candidates before you could create a good candidate experience.  now with TalentDash to find your ideal candidates. Did we mention there is a free preview of 8 candidates from your 1st search!

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