Does Candidate Experience Still Matter?

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Apr 10, 2020
This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.

Something unusual is going on when it comes to job searches. Last year, a survey showed that job-seekers were confident in their ability to find their dream job. The coronavirus has changed that, so why mention this now?

Because the findings also revealed that such confidence existed despite people’s beliefs that employers were still enforcing long, drawn-out interview processes and sticking to old ways of posting open roles.

This creates an interesting question: Could it be that the very practices that we believe create poor candidate experiences do not actually impact people’s confidence in finding jobs, let alone their dream jobs?

The coronavirus continues to top all headlines, and undoubtedly the general global uncertainty about what will happen next will heavily influence confidence levels in the future. For now, however, the dichotomy of overly complicated job-search and application processes juxtaposed with job-seeker confidence has me wondering what this paradox will look like in the coming weeks, months, and for the rest of the year. 

Are HR and TA Hurdles Actually OK?

Before attempting to answer this question, let’s look at what employees and job-seekers said was their least favorite part of the job-search process:

  • 41% said going through multiple interviews 
  • 33% said lengthy interviews
  • 32% said waiting for feedback after an interview and knowing where they stand in the interview process
  • 30% said filling out/submitting applications 
  • 29% said the length of the hiring process
  • 28% said writing or updating their resume

(Respondents were asked to “select all that apply,” which explains why the numbers add up to more than 100%.)

Meanwhile, 84% said they are confident in their ability to find a job.

The barriers in the job-search and application process are not curbing confidence levels or the willingness of employees and candidates to participate in those processes. So what is driving their complaints and frustrations? How is the coronavirus affecting this already complicated paradox? And what should we as TA leaders be doing about it?

The Talent Market and What We Need to Do Next

Candidates intrinsically understood the misalignment between open jobs and available people to fill them. Before the pandemic, the supply-and-demand gap had been permeating headlines for years. Those trends have since reversed in many industries, but the end result will still be much the same: If your application, interview, and/or onboarding process is unnecessarily complicated, you will run the risk of losing candidates who will jump at other opportunities. 

People need jobs right now, but if your process takes too long, they are likely to look somewhere else. Or, if they need a job immediately, they may suffer through your process only to continue looking after the fact. 

When we ask ourselves if the very practices that create a poor candidate experience actually impact people’s confidence in finding jobs, I’d say the answer is no. The confidence and frustration levels we measured tell us as much.

But if we were to ask if creating a poor candidate experience through drawn-out application, interviewing, and onboarding processes has downstream effects, the answer is yes. 

Regardless of your processes, you are still likely going to get applications, but only because job-seekers have resolved themselves to accept certain burdens as part of such processes. This, however, does not mean you will be attracting the people your organization actually needs, or those who will stay. Consequently, candidate experience, employee engagement, retention, company culture, and employer brand will all likely suffer. 

The market will swing, as it always does, and if you are being left flat-footed time and time again, it may be that you are making too many assumptions about what people are willing to tolerate to come work for you.

Even when your processes appear to be working, you still have to ask yourself: Are they really, or could you be getting false positives? Are there any downstream effects of a poor process that are ailing your organization? 

The time is now to take action. As organizations continue navigating the talent market today and begin planning for the future, plenty are taking proactive measures to get ahead of current and anticipated talent needs. Walmart, for instance, recently shortened its hiring process to as little as 24 hours. Others, like those in healthcare, have removed traditional offer approval processes for certain roles and are providing training, relaxing licensure requirements (when appropriate), and marketing to retired professionals to fill critical openings. 

If measures to improve and quicken your processes can be made at a time like now, they can be made at any time — and they should be. After all, who doesn’t want to improve time-to-fill, candidate and employee engagement, and their retention rates? 

This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.