Do you ever get so caught up in trying to find the ‘right’ applicant that you forget to manage the candidate experience?

We’ve all heard the gripes of candidates who apply for job roles and never hear another peep from the hiring organisation, the stories where weeks go by before a candidate is chosen, and of course those lengthy online applications that are a drain on both your time and mental energy. It’s enough for a potential superstar to throw their arms in the air and proclaim that they never want to represent your company brand!

Understanding the critical importance branding and candidate experience has on your company’s ability to attract and retain top talent is vital to ensuring your candidate pool grows. Job seekers, whether they are successful or not in gaining a role with your organisation, will be become advocates or deterrents to others considering a position within your ranks. Much like returning a faulty appliance, if your endeavour for adequate compensation is met with resistance, you tend to vouch never to purchase that brand again. And you warn all others to follow suit! Yet if you receive a ‘no problems’ approach to resolving your dilemma, you will happily continue shopping at that outlet. Hence, if you treat a candidate poorly, they will smear your company name. If you deliver a great candidate experience, they will spruik your organisation as one worth investing a career in, even if they’re not awarded the role. To analyse your candidate experience, view the process from their side of the fence.

But how do you walk in your candidates shoes? Well, you need to consistently mystery shop your market presence of your advertised roles. Generally a candidate will first discover your open position through a referral, social media or job board. What will be their first impression? Hmm. Does your job ad include relevant information about your company, the job and the benefits? Can they access a detailed job description? Is the application process easy? Can they reach you if they have more questions about the role on offer? Finding the right candidate can actually result in alienating job applicants and shrink your selection pool if your application process is laborious and lacks key details. Ensure you focus on providing an integrated experience where candidates can engage simply and quickly access information, gain answers to their questions and progress effortlessly through the steps of the hiring process, to the onboarding experience.

Communication is key in the recruitment process. Respond to those applicants who are not successful in gaining an interview and avoid falling victim to being viewed as discourteous or potentially dysfunctional and lacking in organisational and leadership skills. Explain every step of the hiring process to applicants. Meet all your established deadlines, and if unforeseeable events gate crash your recruitment process, communicate the ramifications quickly, as remaining honest and transparent will portray a professional style of management. And that’s attractive to every candidate!

This considered approach continues through the interview process with interview procedure details relayed in advance (verbally and reiterated via email), warmly greet applicants upon arrival at the interview, demonstrating that their time during the interview was valued and appreciated, and provide prompt feedback shortly after the completion of all interviews. Feedback typically serves as a valuable resource for candidates, shaping their resumes and interview performance for future job roles if they are not successful.

The pool of applicants you attract will be market influencers for your brand. When a successful candidate experiences a positive recruitment process they will enter your organisation, hitting the ground running, full of motivation and commitment. Likewise when the process is poor, your top candidate may decline your job offer. Continuously strengthening your recruitment and selection process and nurturing your candidates every step of the way is likely to results in all applicants feeling respected and appreciated. And it is these applicants that will recommend your organisation to others. So whether you receive five or five hundred job applications, be mindful of the fact that you are not simply looking for a superstar recruit, you are also managing your business’ reputation and your future ability to attract top talent over the long term.

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