Candidate Experience Checklist – Optimize Your Hiring Process

Recruiters (and hiring managers), how often do you lose candidates because of a lengthy, mismanaged or unclear hiring process? The research tells an interesting story: 66 percent of candidates share their negative experiences across online platforms (Talent Board), 60 percent of applicants have quit a recruitment process due to its length and/or complexity (CareerBuilder), and 80 percent of job seekers say they wouldn't re-apply to a company that didn't notify them of their application status frequently and in a timely fashion (Workplace Trends).

To attract the best talent, the candidate experience is stepping further into the spotlight; not just for open roles but for companies seeking to proactively stock their talent pipelines. Numbers aside, candidates are customers and consumers. They play an integral role in the very makeup of your employment brand, consumer brand and recruitment process.

As a recruiter, you need to be client-centric in your outreach and engagement. However, your time and the time of your hiring managers is valuable. As such, you also need to focus on the most qualified and interested candidates. As you seek to unite the entire candidate experience, let the following serve as your blueprint:

1. Communicate Openly, Often
It’s the job of recruiters and hiring managers to make sure both parties fully understand the hiring process as well as typical interview-to-hire timelines. When a recruiter first meets with a hiring manager about a new position, it is important to spell out each step of the process that the candidates will undergo. You can then communicate upfront with candidates while accurately setting expectations. 

  • Do candidates need to complete the application before a phone interview?
  • Do they need to send work samples and references before an offer can be made?

Communication sounds simple and obvious, but it cannot be overstated. Let candidates know the above and other relevant factors to avoid last minute stresses, to make the best possible use of each party's time, and ensure all sides are prepared!

Gauging the interest and enthusiasm of candidates during your screen is important to keep in mind, as this will let you know how warm they are and if they will need encouragement during the process. During lengthy decision-making processes, WilsonHCG recruiters make the conscious effort to contact candidates approximately three times per week to ensure they know exactly where they stand. It’s important to put yourself in their shoes and understand that updates are always appreciated and crucial to maintaining candidate interest.

2. Inform Your Team
Although it’s critical to keep candidates updated, it’s equally as important to be transparent with your hiring team on how the candidates are feeling about the process. Let them know what kind of candidate feedback you've received. If you have passive candidates that are open to the opportunity, but not eager to keep in contact, this would be a great time to talk to your hiring manager and say: “XX is happy where he/she is, but really interested in learning more about the position. I’m afraid we may lose her interest if we don’t move forward with a next step. Could we go ahead and schedule the interview so that we don’t lose him/her?” 

Passive candidates are undoubtedly less enthusiastic about lengthy applications and a lack of transparency, whereas active candidates tend to be a bit more eager and timely in completing such tasks. This must factor into your communication and recruitment plan.

3. Accountability is Paramount
As a recruiter, it's your job to ensure that a position is filled within the decided timeline. To maintain this goal, it's key to hold hiring managers accountable for feedback. Establish a deadline for hiring manager feedback and communicate the importance of the candidate experience; this will remind and reaffirm to hiring managers the necessity for timely feedback.

WilsonHCG recruiters use hiring manager feedback to transparently explain to candidates why they may not have gotten the position. Avoid vague rejection emails and strive to provide candidates with tips on improving during their next hiring process; a positive candidate experience even when they aren’t offered a role goes a long way – especially as Glassdoor receives more than 50 million visitors each month. At WilsonHCG, we also rely on hiring manager feedback to hone recruitment searches; detailed and pinpointed feedback from both parties helps to eliminate wrong-fit candidates at the beginning of the search, saving all parties valuable time!

What are the best methods for relationship building and keeping your candidates engaged? Communication, clarity! Ask candidates which form of communication they prefer when it comes to remaining in contact. About three-quarters of US adults own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011. In fact, nearly half of the world’s population owns a smartphone. You might be surprised how many candidates prefer a text update as opposed to a call in the middle of the work day. The main point? Ask them!

It’s also important to set aside a day each week to catch up with in-play candidates. As busy as we all are, candidates will appreciate when you remember the dates/times they’re unavailable and receiving an unsolicited note regarding application status. This practice incites relationship building and personalized outreach which – despite the exceptional rise of front-end technologies taking on tactical, time-consuming recruitment processes – is what recruitment is all about.

An enduring “personal touch” can be challenging given the hundreds of directions each work day can take. However, as WilsonHCG’s 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands report shows, the candidate experience is integral to not only your ability to reach and engage talent, but the very state of your company’s business. Toward this end, keep the following checklist in mind when developing your candidate experience strategy:

  • I understand the entire interviewing and hiring process and have a feel for how long it will take; I'm able to provide the candidate with all pertinent details on the front end: _____

  • My communication is open and honest; I'm fully transparent: _____

  • I've evaluated the the candidate to gain a precise understanding of how often I need to touch base with them throughout the recruitment process: _____

  • I understand that relationship building is crucial; I touch base with my candidate at least once a week, more depending on their needs: _____

  • I check in regularly with and provide frequent updates to my hiring manager and team to ensure everyone is on the same page: _____

  • I personalize my outreach as much as possible, recognizing that candidates  more than ever before – are weeding out and dismissing canned, robotic outreach and responses: _____

     [REPORT] Uniting the Candidate and Employee Experience Journey
Candidate Experience

Briana Kelley

Briana currently serves as WilsonHCG Recruitment Consultant. Residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Go Eagles!), her passions include adventure and traveling. Briana graduated from the University of Tampa in May 2015, and has since grown from WilsonHCG Sourcing Assistant to Senior Talent Attraction Specialist and now into her current role.