Making Connections: Where the Candidate Experience and Employee Evangelism Intersect

Developing a truly effective candidate experience is an iterative process, but what’s constant are the connections created, fostered, and grown throughout the hiring journey.

From how we engage and draw candidates to our open roles to providing a positive candidate and interview experience, we must consistently work toward building stronger connections and relationships with candidates.

The candidate experience sets off a continuous cycle, beginning with the possibility of finding a great fit for your open role. In the process, you can develop an employee advocate for your company who will, in turn, tell your company’s story and attract new talent to your organization. According to a recent Indeed survey, 63 percent of job seekers say hearing positive things from peers at a company during the application process helps them develop a positive connection with that company.

Creating a Connection

The enthusiasm current employees show for their job and a company’s mission or vision can create a feeling of belonging for job seekers. We know from experience that connecting a job candidate with an enthusiastic employee works wonders if the current employee’s passion for the corporate mission and their daily work shines through.

Our survey found that 65 percent of job seekers feel most connected to a company whose mission or vision resonates with their values and what they believe in. Authenticity is also important: 61 percent of job seekers say meeting authentic and genuine people during the interview process is important to developing a feeling of positive connection or camaraderie.

Your company’s reputation and the connections you make with candidates are built on trust. While it’s not always possible to create a personal connection for every candidate who applies for a role, there are ways to create authentic content featuring employees without a staged or rehearsed feel. There are also ways to conduct the interview process that result in deeper connections.

Scaling the Experience

How can you scale the candidate experience and turn employees into advocates and candidates into hires? Focus on three things:

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  • Attract and engage candidates with authentic employee stories
  • Enhance the recruiting experience for every candidate
  • Connect candidates with advocates and build strong relationships

Attract and engage candidates Beyond day-to-day expectations of the role, job seekers want to know about your company’s culture and how they can make an impact.

  1. Create video content — Engage candidates with authentic employee stories told through video interviews that showcase your employees’ true selves and authentic insights into what it’s like to work for your company. Focus on employees who love their job, the company, and the work they are doing. To draw them out, ask questions that foster engagement (why your company, what its mission means to them, what they would share with others about the candidate experience, etc.). Share questions ahead of time, take frequent breaks, and remember that there is authenticity in imperfection.
  2. Launch employee advocate programs — At Indeed, our Brand Ambassadors and Inside Indeed Influencers help engage employees, cultivate a fun work environment, and share their stories. Brand Ambassadors sponsor company-wide activities to build awareness and cultivate community, such as Family Day and Wellness Week, and promote local engagement through volunteer activities. Ambassadors and Influencers also capture key work community moments in photos, videos and social media posts.

Enhance the candidate experience — Build a positive relationship with each candidate, starting with the job description.

  1. Begin with a blank document rather than modifying an existing job description. This is the first step in building a connection with a candidate. Write in the second person — the “you perspective” — rather than referring to “the candidate.” This helps job seekers picture themselves in the role.
  2. Provide an overview of what to expect from the interview process. Include who they will meet with, what roles these people hold, how long they’ve been at Indeed, and topics that each interviewer would likely want to discuss.
  3. Find a balance between structured, skill-based interviews and less structured, empathy-driven conversations. Asking prepared questions helps you compare candidates based on job skills and reduce biases. If you ask questions in the same order, it is easier to compare each candidate’s relevant skills. To reduce pressure, keep some of the conversations less formal, so candidates can build a connection.
  4. Conduct interviewer training. At Indeed, we train everyone involved in the interview process, including hiring managers, team members, and peers within the company. The goal is to embrace diverse ways of thinking and to build an inclusive culture. Different interview styles can sometimes lead to unintentional comparison bias.
  5. Craft open-ended interview questions to identify critical, on-the-job behaviors. Structured interview questions should be skills-based, behavioral, and situational. For example, “Describe a time you had a challenging situation with a client and how you resolved it.” Questions like these help you stay consistent across all candidates, ensuring equal evaluation is given and bias avoided.

Connect candidates with advocates and build strong relationships. Connecting employees and candidates with similar backgrounds has a positive impact on candidate decisions.

  1. Help job seekers build connections within your company. Less structured conversations with employees who are not in the decision-making process can help candidates get the inside knowledge they seek about what it’s like to work for your company. At Indeed, we hold open house events for job seekers where people are encouraged to tour our offices, ask questions, and network with Indeedians as well as other job seekers.
  2. Consider including advocacy groups in the recruitment process. Asking questions about the company and its culture of other people who are not part of the interview process or hiring decision can help candidates decide. At Indeed, we are piloting a new initiative to introduce candidates to advocacy groups at the beginning of the hiring process.
  3. Build and develop ongoing relationships with job candidates. Keep in touch with job applicants after the process is over, whether or not they’ve been hired. About half of job seekers say this is an important step according to a recent Indeed study. Connect candidates with advocates within the company to maintain an ongoing dialogue. Even if you don’t hire someone the first time around, they may tell others about their experience interviewing at your company, or come back when another role opens up in the future.

Transforming the Talent Pipeline

Providing a positive candidate and employee experience is essential for employers who want to compete for — and retain — the best talent. Making a great hire is just a start. The powerful, human connections we make every day as talent professionals can be brought to bear in a meaningful way to transform a company’s talent pipeline. The result: Candidates become hires and hires become employee advocates.

Paul Wolfe is SVP of human resources at Indeed, the world’s No. 1 job site. He oversees all global human resource functions, including talent acquisition, employee retention, compensation, benefits, and employee development.

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