Evaluate Your Candidate Experience

Dec 22, 2011

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.

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