Heading into a hiring spree for the new year? Last year, the Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report found that if a prospective hire has a negative candidate experience, they’re increasingly willing to sever their relationship with that employer. This year? That report’s packed with good information to map to better strategies right now. With 61 million members of Gen Z beginning to join the workforce, companies need to bear it in mind. These digital natives have high expectations for work/life balance, inclusivity, technology and who they want to work for. And first impressions count.
We know that a great candidate experience can pay off in long-term dividends, leading to a better employee experience, better engagement, and a stronger chance your new hires will be willing to rep you as an employer to their peers. But the most important result is that it leads to an applicant staying with the process through to the final interview, and then if it leads to a hire, they — and you — feel great about the move. To optimize the outcome, focus on these five simple pillars:
5 steps in building candidate experience in 2021
Quality communication and feedback are key factors in improving candidate experience. According to the Talent Board report, candidates who were able to ask a chatbot questions consistently rated their candidate experience higher than those who weren’t. Additionally, candidates who communicated with a chatbot were 80% more likely to increase their relationship with the employer, and candidates who received mobile text notifications during the research process rated their candidate experience 50% higher than those who did not.
But: no matter what generation, candidates prefer hearing from a live human within the first few steps of their application process. Despite multiple rounds of emails or preliminary video interviews, candidates may get frustrated if there’s no sense of a person on the other end, particularly Gen Z. This generation wants to believe in your company’s mission and find the work meaningful, starting with personal interactions — that’s how they know the prospective employer values them as an individual.
Reject with Tact
When it comes to rejection, candidates still want to hear the bad news straight from the horse’s mouth — and not from a robot’s. Positive candidate experience ratings jump upwards of 28% when an applicant receives a phone call rather than an automated email rejection. It will also go a long way towards keeping the candidate in your talent pool for future openings. Rejections should be considered and considerate: especially with a young candidate, make sure the criteria and the reasoning is clear, and leave the door open.
Employers who ask candidates for their feedback on the hiring process increases that candidate’s positive feeling about the organization. According to the Talent Board report, when candidates are asked for screening or interview feedback, there’s a 148% increase in their willingness to increase their relationship with the organization. That simple act of asking for (and listening to) feedback has the potential to create exceptional employee loyalty in advance.
Consistently treating candidates well breeds trust and trust is foundational for a true, human sense of engagement. Make sure your message and your process are consistent end to end. If there’s any doubt, map out all the touchpoints your organization has with a candidate. Create a checklist to address how you can treat candidates better, from branding to technology. Is the branding inclusive? Are you offering an application process that offers self-service and is self-populating? Also: make sure your job listings and your job information are consistent everywhere, whether on your career page or job boards. Candidates should feel good about your organization no matter what kind of interaction they’re having.
We’ve got more sophisticated hiring tools than ever. But here’s a modern irony: it’s imperative that we go back to the basics in terms of how we use them. Respect candidates’ time, energy, and attention spans. Consider their need to feel like they’re valued, like their questions will be heard and answered, and that there are people — not just algorithms and bots — genuinely interested in who they are. Provide plenty of information about the process as well as the position; and about the organization’s values and culture as well as the next forms they need to fill out. Think person, not just process. And no matter the outcome, remain gracious. Might seem old-fashioned, but it’s back in style.
About the author
Meghan Biro founded TalentCulture in 2008 to lead a conversation about the future of work with her peers in HR and leadership. These days, she is consistently included in lists of top online influencers and writes about HR tech and talent management at Forbes.com, SHRM.org and a variety of other media outlets.