Candidate experience is a subjective topic often validated by the different candidates your organization attracts, interviews, hires and says “no” to throughout the year. The discussion around the positive and negative responses from your candidates, and the impacts these responses (especially negative ones) have on your organization, is a frequent “hot button” issue; one that is explored during conferences, internal talent acquisition team meetings and blog posts.
As VP of Client Solutions, Americas, here at WilsonHCG, I am throwing my hat into the discussion based on my recent, personal experiences as a candidate and the subsequent passion I’ve developed for truly exceptional candidate journeys.
In December of 2016, I became a candidate; for two and a half months I met with eight organizations and took part in more than 15 interviews. From these discussions and interviews, only three of the eight businesses provided what felt like a truly positive candidate experience. Of these three, two offered me roles and one ultimately passed – yet, regardless of offer or non-offer, each of these three left me feeling both appreciative and fulfilled regarding the experience, their processes and businesses as a whole.
Conversely, I doubt it will surprise you to hear that three of the companies who conducted phone interviews never called back; one organization offered an opportunity, verbally, and then never followed up or returned my phone calls; and another business invited me for in-person interviews but shared horribly inconsistent, clumsy information during the process about why the role was open, the vision for their business, and the long-term strategy around the opportunity. Ironically, each of these three businesses, who created negative experiences, all frequently share online information about how important “people” are to their overall missions, visions and values.
My call to action for organizations – regardless of size or sophistication – is an invitation to consider three candidate experience themes that I received during my time as a candidate. They’re simple and perhaps obvious, but done right… they’re powerful.
- Transparency. Each of the three organizations who provided positive experiences were direct and to the point about cultural fit (or lack thereof) as well as the areas of my background where they saw value. Each provided feedback about where they saw perceived gaps with my candidacy. This accountability and transparency comforted me in a unique, unprecedented way, and prepared me for other interviews during my search.
- Connectedness. The companies demonstrated a connectedness to each other and to their businesses. From phone screens by recruiters to the in-person meetings, to the final phone discussions with executives who shared their vision for my candidacy, each person demonstrated investment and inclusiveness (a connectedness) with respect to the process that excited me about their companies. It was clear they weren’t only selling, but likewise living their organization’s mission, vision and values.
- Frequent Feedback. The feedback was frequent (after each step of the process), and it was transparent. The frequency of feedback, despite processes often taking weeks or even months, was one of the differentiators between my positive experiences and frustrating experiences. The feedback frequency enabled me to build relationships with these companies and connect to their brands, regardless if I was offered a role. It made me interested in becoming part of their “talent communities” moving forward.
Creating an experience your candidates appreciate doesn’t have to be complicated or overly sophisticated to be effective. Show candidates you are listening, consistent in your messaging, connected and on the same page with the overall business, willing and accountable in sharing frequent feedback throughout the process, and transparent every step of the way – with a focus on these three principles, I wholeheartedly believe your recruitment process will ensure positive experiences.