Improving the Candidate Experience

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Improving the Candidate Experience

The UK continues to suffer from a shortage of candidates, driven by factors such as subdued economic conditions, skills gaps resulting from the pandemic and fewer well-qualified candidates entering the market from Europe. On the flipside, rising living costs are prompting candidates to explore external opportunities offering higher salaries and benefits as well as a step-up in their career. With this in mind, your ideal candidate is also likely to be your competitor’s ideal candidate, so you need to secure them before they choose a different role.


Candidate experience can be summarised as how job seekers feel as they go through the recruitment process. It includes all stages of recruitment; advertising, application, selection, interviewing and then the offer and onboarding process. If candidates have a negative experience at any of these stages, it is likely to leave them with a bad impression of your business which can affect your ability to hire as well as the company’sreputation as an employer.  A positivecandidate experience is as much a marketing tool as a human resources tool. Aswell as enabling you to hire the best candidates, it also enhances employer branding and loyalty.


Here are some suggestions that might help to improve candidate experience;  


The application process

The first thing to consider is the candidate. If you lead with what the candidate wants at each stage rather than with traditional employer branding and 'sell' messages which focus on your organisation and its history, it sends the message that you are a people-focused business. With automated software such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), this isn’t always easy, but you can still take steps to make them less clinical and as human as possible.


Candidates often find application forms time consuming, impersonal and repetitive. One of the things they really dislike is uploading their CV to a portal, and then having to duplicate all the information into an application form. A good way to check your application form is to fill it out yourself from beginning to end, then think about where you can simplify the process.


·       Do you need to register or login to complete yourapplication form?

·       Are all the questions necessary, or is the information already on the CV?

·       Does the application form take less than 10 minutes to complete?

·       Can you complete the application form on a mobile device?

·       Is your application form jargon-free and easy to navigate?

Secondly, poor communication from employers is usually cited as the most frustrating partof the job searching process for candidates. Many candidates never hear anything back after applying, which can lead them to believe that their application hasn’t even been looked at by a human being. This is simple to address; even when rejecting candidates, a brief acknowledgement of the application and thanking them for the time they took to apply can make a big difference to their perception of your company. Failing to communicate means they are much less likely to reapply to your company in the future, which might be for a job that they would be perfect for.

Shortlisting and rejecting

When you have shortlisted a candidate, it’s particularly important to keep in touch with them throughout the process, and to set out clearly the anticipated timelines. Lack of communication risks losing candidates to another employer; candidates very rarely only apply for one role at a time. Things to think about:


·      Do you communicate with candidates at every stage of the process?

·      Do you personalise automatic emails wherever possible, particularly the        candidate's name and the role applied for?

·      Do you acknowledge allapplications and set out a timeline for the process?

·      Do you let candidates know if they have not been shortlisted?

·      Do you thank all interviewees for attending?

·      Do you send personalised feedback to unsuccessful interviewees?


The interview process

It’s worth taking sometime to prepare for interviews rather than ‘winging it’ to ensure that both you and the candidate get the best out of each other.


·       Do you consider what the applicant might be looking for before the         interview? This might include salary & benefits, working patterns and         flexibility, reporting and team structure, and potential opportunities for         progression.

·      Do you ensure the candidate has a full job description before the interview?

·      Do you spend time putting together tailored interview questions, avoiding        unnecessary ‘time-fillers’?

·      Do you use standardised scoring to keep the process as fair as possible?

·      Do you cut out any unnecessary stages by inviting other stakeholders to        each interview stage?

·       Do you follow up promptly with personalised feedback?


Making an offer

·       Nothing is more frustrating for a candidate than getting through all the         recruitment stages, only to have the employer change the job         requirements or terms at the offer stage.

·       Receiving an offer, but at a much lower salary than they were expecting, or         with additional responsibilities not previously mentioned, is likely to make a         candidate feel very awkward

·       Being offered a job at a lower salary than advertised is one of the most         common reasons for candidates to share negative experiences on social         media or review sites such as Glassdoor. Even if they do accept your offer,         they may feel under-valued or slightly cheated, and might consider leaving         as soon as a better offer comes along.

·       Making a lower offer might seem like a smart way to save money for the         business, but a good candidate probably won’t waste their time         negotiating with you when they have other options with your competitors!


Keeping things ontrack

One of the most common reasons why employers lose the candidate they want is that the process simply takes too long, especially when the market for top talent is tight. The candidate then either loses interest or accepts an offer elsewhere, so it’s worth looking at ways to reduce your time to hire.


·      Spend time getting your requirements right before you advertise to avoid        unnecessary delays in the recruitment process.

·      Ensure that all the relevant stakeholders are involved right from the start.

·      Keep the number of recruitment stages involved to a minimum.

·      Consider using tech such as ATS systems to save time, but not at the        expense of the candidate experience.

·      Prioritise your essential requirements so you can make an offer to an 85%        or 90% candidate, rather than waiting for the 100% candidate who may        never show up


You can of course also use a specialist recruiter such as Tarsh & Partners to handle shortlisting, communications and feedback on your behalf.