Talent Acquisition

How to Create a Best-in-Class Candidate Experience

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The recruiting world is becoming more and more cutthroat. Gone are the days of forcing candidates to jump through hundreds of hoops to prove their commitment and desire to work for you. It has become a two-way conversation for the candidate and the company and both parties work to impress one another.

The war for talent is real, and if you truly want to bring the best and brightest into your organization, you have to work for it. That means you have to sell candidates on your organization and why they would want to work there. They need to know what they would be doing every day: who they would work with, what projects they would be given, how they could make an impact. Top talent demands a great experience in the hiring process, as well as the workplace.

Take an honest look at the candidate experience through their eyes and ask yourself if it is one that will separate you from the competition and make your organization desirable.

It starts with the job description. Get rid of the old boring HR mile-long bulleted list and just tell them what they are going to be doing every day and why they want to do it.  Short, simple, and to the point. This is your marketing message—get them to click ‘apply’.

Make the application simple. Candidates won’t spend hours filling out a tedious application and they don’t have to in today’s market. Boil down what you REALLY need to know up front and just ask for that. You can find out the rest when you have a conversation with them.

Know your audience. Understand the demographic and experience level of the person you are targeting and align the interview process accordingly. Consistency is important for each position, but think through what that is for each role and don’t be afraid to cater to your candidate.

Set proper expectations. Let candidates know how long the application will take, how long the interview will be, when they will hear back about the next step, and when a decision will be made. Nothing is worse than having them plan to come for a 30-minute interview and end up stuck there for four hours. Let them know what is expected of them from the very beginning.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. We live in a world of instantaneous feedback. Waiting days, weeks, even months to hear back about a job is not only painful, it is completely ineffective. You will lose top talent if you communicate this way.  Even if the answer is, “I don’t have an answer just yet,” communicate that until you have a better response.

Know what you are looking for before you start interviewing. Using the candidate’s time and the interview process as an exploratory exercise will not make your employment brand best-in-class. Create an experience where the candidate knows what they will be walking into, what is expected in the role, and how the role fits into the organization.

Be timely. Most people will lose interest in a hiring process that drags for months or even weeks. If you do the work ahead of time to define what you are looking for before starting the interview process and dedicate the energy and time to making the hire a priority, you should be able to evaluate your options and make a decision in a reasonable timeframe. For someone making a life change as important as a career move, timing really is everything.

Make it an honest conversation. Understand that the best hires are using the interview process to make a decision about whether the company aligns with them, while you are also determining if the skillset and experience of the person align for you. Provide them with honest information about who you are, what you value, and how you operate. Transparency is key, and providing it up front will ensure that everyone can make the best decision.

Ask for feedback. People will talk about their experience—good or bad. Survey your candidates (hired or not) on how their experience was and hold the recruiters and hiring managers accountable.

The way that you treat your candidates from the moment of their first interaction with your business will have a lasting impact on the way they view the company. This process can truly be a make-or-break situation. When your company’s goal is to hire the best and brightest, having those candidates interested in you and wanting to work for you gives your organization the competitive advantage you want in a difficult job market.

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