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The Candidate Experience and its Role in Successful Hiring

Date: 04 April 2018

Are you focused on the candidate experience?

What makes the perfect interview process? The right format? The right panel? The right questions? These are all important factors to consider, but none of them are as significant as the candidate experience.

So are companies giving the candidate experience the attention it deserves? Ask job seekers what they think and the answer would be a firm ‘no’. According to one survey, almost 60% of those questioned reported having had a poor candidate experience.1

A candidate-driven market

This is a pattern that is repeated time and time again, and it’s all down to the unemployment rate. In September this year, unemployment in the US was just 4.2%.2 This figure has been steadily falling since the country’s unemployment peaked at 10% after the recession.

As a result, there is a distinct talent shortage and employers are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill their roles. As employers try to compete in this candidate-driven market, the candidate experience is suffering.

Bad for the candidate, bad for business

The business consequences of delivering a bad customer experience are well-known. And bad candidate experiences can be just as detrimental.

Talent Board’s 2016 Candidate Experience Research Report highlights why businesses should provide an exceptional candidate experience. The report revealed that 64% of candidates who had a positive candidate experience would pursue a relationship with that company. However, 41% of candidates who’d had a negative experience would end their relationship with that company and look elsewhere.3

Virgin Media know only too well the impact of bad candidate experience. In 2014, an internal report revealed that many of the 123,000 rejected candidates were also customers. The candidate experience was so poor, more than 7,500 cancelled their accounts and switched providers, costing the company $5.4 million a year.4

Since then, Virgin Media has worked hard to create a candidate experience. So what can other companies learn from their experience?

One key consideration is social media. What do we do if we’ve had a bad customer experience? Take to social networks to vent some of our frustration. And candidates are no exception. Research shows that 72% of those candidates who’ve had a bad experience have shared that experience online.5 Suffice to say, if you don’t think candidates are reacting negatively to you online, you’re probably not looking hard enough.

A bad experience also means skilled candidates will avoid applying for a job in the future. According to Talent Board’s report, just 15% of candidates who issued a 1-star (the lowest) rating would consider reapplying to the same organization.

Just as worrying for businesses is that 22% of those who have a negative experience would tell others not to work at that company.6 When you consider that recruitment relies so heavily on referral networks, this barrier is one businesses would do well to avoid.

Boost candidate engagement

Employer reputation is vital when it comes to hiring. According to research conducted by LinkedIn, employers who fail to invest in their reputation could be paying up to $4,723 more for every new employee.7

Employers can improve the candidate journey by including positive elements at every touchpoint. Lian Shao lectures on human resources and organizational behavior at the University of Washington.

She explains: “Employers need to view job seekers as a key stakeholder group within their employer brand strategy, map out the entire candidate process and then work to systematically improve each area from brand awareness to recruitment to hiring and even onboarding.”

The lack of communication and feedback during and after the interview process is continually cited as a key frustration by candidates. According to research by recruitment news source ERE Media, companies that fail to return calls or offer feedback are two of the biggest candidate grievances.8

Ideally, the total length of time between receiving a resumé and making a hire would be no longer than three to four weeks. However, even if the process is going to take longer, the most important thing is knowing that timeline in advance, keeping the candidate informed, and managing their expectations.