4 Top Companies on Building a Great Candidate Experience

The interview experience is part of your employer brand as much as the employee experience. And while only a fraction of interviewed candidates will receive an offer, they may become customers, vendors, partners or even future employees in another role or location.

Not only that, interviewees may share their interview experience through word of mouth, on social media, or in a Glassdoor interview review. There’s no doubt about it: great interview experiences attract informed candidates – those who are more likely to become your future employees. In fact, informed candidates who research jobs and companies on Glassdoor are 2 times more likely to be hired than candidates from other sources.(1)

But how exactly do you build a great candidate experience? We spoke with those in the know at Dignity Health, Salesforce, SSM and Booz Allen Hamilton to find out how they see candidates through the entire interview process, from first touch and screening to follow-ups and selection. Here’s what they had to say…

1. Dignity Health. Kristie Griffin, Director of Talent Acquisition:

Prepare the candidate.
“We work hard to prepare the candidate. We over communicate in a sense. We want to make sure that they understand the company and the process. We tell them to take a close look at our mission and our core values.”

Focus on values as much as skills.
“Dignity Health designated human kindness as a core competency, a characteristic that is as carefully assessed as any other vital ability or talent. We want to know if they share our core values. It’s just as important as their skills and abilities. It is what Dignity Health is about.”

Standardize values evaluation.
“Dignity Health has developed a standardized method for measuring the kindness of individuals. The 80 individuals on the talent acquisition team have been trained to ask questions designed to reveal the interviewees’ essential character, and then probe beyond the surface to ascertain their degree of human kindness, compassion and empathy.”

Put the candidate at ease.
“In addition to making sure interviewees have water and time to take a breather, talent acquisition members are encouraged to say something to the candidate if they see they’re nervous rather than ignoring how that person might be feeling. A few words can make a difference in their composure.”

2. Salesforce. Ana Recio, Senior Vice President, Global Recruiting:

Look for a values match.
“Ohana means family, and that is foundational to our values. We ask for examples of
teamwork, collaboration, what do they do when things didn’t go their way or when
they weren’t successful. We will probe for examples of their Ohana spirit in terms
related to their volunteering or their views on equality. Trust is big for us — not just
trust in the integrity of relationship, but trust in terms of our product and security.
We’ll ask some probing questions around that, and of course innovation.”

Ask interviewers to share their personal journey.
“We often ask our hiring managers as well as our interviewers to not necessarily
speak so much about the assessment — you should focus on that, but to also speak
about their personal journeys. Why Salesforce has been impactful to them and their
careers — what milestones they [achieved] and what they have learned through an
anecdotal kind of perspective.”

Engage candidates in real conversation.
“We’re really into storytelling. We want individuals to tell us their career journey
and what is motivating them. We really try to engage and form a conversation versus
more of an assessment.”

Give close attention to referrals.
“As a team, we also acknowledge every single referral and we either screen those
referrals or send them a note to let them know that we’re not moving forward,
and offer some coaching or advice as to why. We also let the referrer know what
is occurring with their candidate so that they don’t have that awkward meeting at
the carwash on Saturday or at the Little League game where they might run into
somebody and not necessarily have the status.”

3. SSM Health. Terri Haake, Talent Specialist and Becki Feldmann, System Leader, Talent Management Systems and Technology:

Let candidates know where they stand.
“SSM is working hard to make sure that candidates always know where they stand in the process. Candidates can log in to the website anytime and see the status of their application. We do try to communicate rejections quickly once we get an offer on the table. We have a team dedicated to rejection letters and trying to provide a little more information to candidates as to why they weren’t selected to the extent we can.”  – Terri Haake

Create a guide for interviewers.
“We recently implemented a new interview program, ‘Hire for Fit’ that includes a guide for both managers and peers who participate in interviews to help create an exceptional candidate experience. The guide includes steps to prepare for the interview, how to handle the interview, and also what to do after the interview. The tool is designed to help identify and select top talent for SSM Health — highlighting those candidates who demonstrate a cultural fit with our Mission and Values.”  – Becki Feldmann

Use behavioral questions for values fit.
“We ask behavior-based interview questions that specifically support each of our 5 Values of Respect, Compassion, Excellence, Stewardship and Community. We also ask the candidate how they see themselves contributing at SSM Health in relation to our Mission and Values.”  – Becki Feldmann

Use interview templates to ensure fair candidate evaluations.
“We use a standard interview template in every interview, and interviewers understand that any additional questions asked must adhere to job-specific responsibilities and must be asked of all applicants for that role. This template supports our value of Respect and our commitment to candidates to provide a fair, consistent and equitable hiring practice for all.”  – Becki Feldmann

4. Booz Allen Hamilton. Alexa Montgomery, Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant and
Danielle Blum, Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant:

Create a high-touch experience for candidates.
“We believe in a ‘high-touch’ recruiting experience, where recruiters communicate consistently by phone, text or email the status of an individual’s candidacy at each stage of the process. Regardless of outcome, recruiters follow up with each candidate by phone to provide feedback. Those not selected are typically socialized amongst the recruiting team and hiring managers for alternative opportunities as well.”

Prep hiring managers and interview teams.
“All hiring managers and employees are equipped with an interview guidebook that features standard information about the firm, official talking points for addressing the firm’s history and culture along with hiring best practices and techniques. Additionally, recruiters work closely with their hiring managers and interview teams to provide background on candidates, outline the interview formats/focus, and generally guide managers/interviewers with best practices for interviewing.”

Tailor your conversations to the candidate’s interests.
“Recruiters work to highlight the many aspects of Booz Allen that make us one of the best places to work, whether that is doing meaningful work that has an impact globally or focusing on things like work/life balance, the diversity of our workforce, or our comprehensive benefits package. Each candidate is different and we tailor our conversations towards what we offer as an industry leader in the areas that matter most to them.”

An attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the candidate experience set the winners of our 2017 Best Places to Interview apart. These companies get that the interview process isn’t just about hiring to fill open positions – it’s an opportunity to put their best foot forward, ask discerning questions that surface the right candidate for the role, and showcase their culture from day one. A great interview process prepares candidates to succeed, keeps them in the loop throughout, and makes a positive impression on them as they leave, regardless of being made an offer or not. The result? A competitive advantage that can help you better attract and hire talent.

Want to learn more about what makes an interview experience great so you can attract and hire top talent? Download Glassdoor’s Secrets of Best Places to Interview eBook.

(1) Based on app-to-hire ratios in a 2015 study of 30 million applications from a leading third-party recruitment agency