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Evaluate Your Candidate Experience

by
Morgan Hoogvelt
Dec 22, 2011, 5:43 am ET

This week, I had the pleasure of receiving some feedback from two candidates who recently completed the hiring process, each with a different end result with our organization. As talent acquisition professionals, the majority of us strive to ensure that proper recruiting processes and procedures are in place, and at the same time we wonder if the candidate is truly having the experience we initially envisioned and created.

Granted, my organization is still far off from where we want and need to be from a talent acquisition standpoint; however, we are taking the proper steps to get there as an enterprise. One particular topic that has always been the focus of my recruiting career is the candidate experience. Some will argue that it includes an employment brand, a cutting-edge career site, high-performing HR technology, etc. I have always believed and will continue to believe that while those items are important, nothing can replace the importance of proper human interaction. This will truly set your company’s candidate experience apart from other companies out there in the marketplace.

Two case in points occurred this week: two individuals, two different positions. The first individual, who did not receive an offer, sent us an email thanking us for how we handled and treated him through the search process. Here is a snippet of the note that we received:

…I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve never worked with anyone in an HR capacity who took the time to inform, support, and strategize with a candidate the way that you guys did with me. It’s obvious that you all care about the candidate as much as the company you work for, and that’s very rare. I really appreciate all the time you took with me to help me try and succeed.

The second note came from a candidate who received an offer on a different position. Here is a snippet from that note:

…I can’t begin to tell you how great the experience I have just completed was. The entire candidate process from start to finish was great and in speaking with everyone involved, they all treated me with dignity and respect when I felt I was at the lowest point of my professional career. I tell you this not to sound self-indulging, but the truth is that I had other offers on the table, but I chose the opportunity with your company simply based on how well you all treated me. There was simply no question in my mind where I needed to be.

Although one candidate received an offer and the other did not, both completed the process with a positive view of the organization, our people culture, and how we treat prospective candidates. The point is that there is a good candidate experience and then there is an awesome candidate experience.

If you want an awesome candidate experience, here are some tips for you to incorporate into your current process. These points come from feedback I have received over the years from numerous candidates and individuals that I have had the pleasure to meet and work with:

  • Hire for skill set and fit — in these uncertain economic times, good people have lost their jobs. We recently hired two A+ candidates who were both unemployed for several months due to layoffs at their former companies. And while there is a lot of attention and focus on finding “passive candidates,” there is way too much focus on it. Bottom line: hire the most qualified individual for the position. What difference should it make if an individual is employed or not? Through a proper interview and selection process, you should be able to make a thorough and informed decision on whether the individual is right for your organization.
  • Do what you say — the classic line of the recruiter who has no guts or respect for others is “We’ll be in touch.” The fact is, no you won’t. Disposition each candidate who is rejected and/or properly communicate with them; return emails/phone calls, follow up, etc. Occasional individuals will slip through the cracks. But in the end, a no is better than nothing.
  • Know your candidate — if you have selected an individual for an interview, there is more to know about them than what is on paper. Ask about them, what makes them tick, their hobbies. Have an open, friendly and genuine conversation and get to know the person. You will be amazed at what giving an individual one minute of your time can do, especially to those who are down on their career luck.
  • Build a relationship — no one says you have to be best friends. Be friendly, approachable, and inviting. None of us know what the future holds and we have all heard the timeless story of good fortune coming around to those who help and give to others. Whether you believe in that or not, that is up to you. But I can tell you from personal experience, good things come to those who give back.
  • Provide return value — recruiters in general cannot help everyone directly — meaning we cannot help every single person we meet get a job for various reasons. But if you have the opportunity, and cannot help a candidate with direct value, provide the candidate with some type of indirect value. For example, you can provide resume advice, interview tips, career planning, referrals to other organizations who may be hiring, or you can simply provide an ear.
  • Treat others how you want to be treated — my wonderful mother taught me this tactic at an early age and it has never done me wrong. Place yourself in the shoes of those going through the applicant/hiring process and keep in mind that a career transition is one of the most stressful events one can go through in life. A little personal touch to your candidate experience can go a long way.

2012 is nearly upon us. What will be your professional resolution? I challenge all of us in this industry to take what we are currently doing from a candidate experience perspective and square it. You will see the long-term results in not only your recruiting operations but over the long run in goodwill, friendships, and networking.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Morgan. I had a similarly good experience with Microsoft some years ago. They flew me up to Redmond for a position and ultimately decided they should hire locally for the position. However, I’m now calling them “the Nice Empire” they treated me very pleasantly and efficiently.

    ISTM that your last point: “Treat others how you want to be treated” is the most important of all. And think: most companies aren’t even willing to spend $3.00/hr on virtual candidate care reps to make it happen…

    Happy Holidays,

    Keith

  2. Peter Macdonald

    Hi Morgan
    Your words are music to my ears. I have been preaching the same for years, and I particularly agree that our aim as recruiters is to find the best person for the job irrespective of whether they are employed or passive/non passive candidates. The venerable Kevin Wheeler detailed a reply letter in ERE that I adapted and have used for years, receiving a lot of positive feedback. It even uses words to the effect of treating candidates as I would wish to be treated myself.

    Have a Merry Xmas
    Peter

  3. Marty Jordan

    I teach for the Human Capital Institute and one of the teaching modules covers talent acquisition. The candidate experience is one of the topics we discuss in the module. Out of dozens of students, I’ve only had one say their company does a good job in this regard. It is usually the key “take away” from this module for the students. They all say they are going back to their organizations to address what they know is an abysmal candidate experience.

    I also know many individuals in the job search and most can share stories about how poorly they were treated during the process. Kudos Morgan to you and your recruiting team for doing things right!

  4. Keith Halperin

    @Morgan: How are your folks positively reinforced for doing the right thing (providing a professional if not pleasant hiring experience for all candidates)and/or negatively reinforced for doing the wrong thing/not doing the right thing? What resources are they provided with to help with candidate care? How much do the resources cost?

    Thanks,
    Keith

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  7. Morgan Hoogvelt

    Keith, Peter & Marty – thanks for the feedback and hope you each had a great holiday.

    @Keith – you raise an interesting question on how my people are either positively or negatively reinforced for doing the things they do. I will tell you, that perhaps I am lucky, but it starts with hiring the right people. As far as positive feedback, I have many resources at my disposal but it is personalized as to what motivates each person.

    I tend to do little or no negative reinforcement because I hire and work with the people whose personal mission is to provide world class recruiting and talent acquisition services. If not, one need not apply.

    As far as resources go – we do a lot with a little at the moment. In my experience, what else do we need other than a phone and/or email in order to communicate with people, treat them right and communicate more with them? Our biggest resource may be training. We train and work on educating hiring managers and pride ourselves in consulting and partnering with them rather than being order takers. It works very well for us.

    My personal belief is that like everything else in this country, there is too much of a reliance on technology to do our jobs for us. My recruiters are not over worked so they can take the time to communicate with candidates, hiring managers and business leaders.

    I always advise others to simplify things and stick to the basics, if you do that – you can never br wrong.

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  9. Keith Halperin

    @ Morgan: Thank you. You hit the nail right on the head:
    “My recruiters are not over worked”. ISTM that a large number of currently-employed recruiters ARE overworked. Do you have any ~figures on how much time/week your recruiters spend on candidate care?

    Happy Holidays,

    Keith

  10. Pedro Sousa

    Very good post Morgan!

    It seems that this issue is not an US exclusive.

    Best regards from Portugal,

    Pedro

  11. Morgan Hoogvelt

    @ Pedro, thanks for the feedback and have a great 2012!

    @Keith, no cap or limit on candidate care, for us its all about candidate care, feedback and response.

  12. Keith Halperin

    @Morgan: This is very good to hear! I commend you and your company.

    Keith

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    Thank you ,Excellent topic- Sorry to say that this topic is not on top of the list for most corporations, in fact it’s not even thought about.

    I recently had scheduled a phone interview with the “Director of Talent Acquisition” at Mediacom WW (NY), he never contacted me, one week later he surfaced and scheduled another phone interview time to contact him, I had to leave a message?? finally I got fed up and sent him an email regarding “negative candidate and branding” experience, needless to say he scheduled another phone meeting date and when he picked up the phone not only he had no clue who I was he immediately requested to change the time because he was very busy. How is this person allowed to represent a major company? Clearly the executives of this company are unaware of this unprofessional behavior, negative candidate experience and more important how it effects their reputation and ability to attract future talents.

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