BY SHARLYN LAUBY, written for HR Insights
As the labor market continues to become more competitive, companies are shifting their focus to the candidate experience. Organizations have always placed importance on their employment brand and what job seekers think about the business. However, it’s clear that today’s candidates have options, and companies need to step up their game.
Smart companies are doing critical self-evaluations of their recruiting processes to ensure that they offer the best candidate experience possible. In one self-evaluation method, companies consider the common complaints that job seekers have when it comes to the hiring process, then make sure those things won’t happen again within the organization.
1. Talking with candidates only when there’s an opening.
In today’s market, recruiters should always be looking for talent. The days of starting the recruiting process only when a job requisition is posted are long gone, and organizations now develop talent networks and talent communities to address their short-term and long-term staffing needs. Successful recruiters adopt candidate relationship management (CRM) strategies to consistently promote the company culture and communicate value to candidates.
Recruitment software (available from various third-party vendors) enables recruiters to search their systems and determine if they are building the talent pipelines they need, thus allowing them to constantly monitor and adjust their recruiting strategies. Winning the talent war requires diligence when it comes to candidate sourcing and engagement.
2. A lengthy online application process.
Organizations should regularly test their applicant tracking system (ATS) to make sure it’s user friendly. Such testing includes trying to apply via the company’s website portal, social media platforms, and mobile devices. Recruiters and hiring managers can view the process from the candidate perspective and ask some tough questions, which include “Do we have enough information about the candidate’s skills and experience?” and “Have we captured the right information about the candidate?” Recruiters don’t need to know everything about a candidate at this point; they just need to verify that they’ve collected enough information to make an informed decision about whether to proceed to an interview.
3. Withholding information about the interview process.
Recruiters should tell candidates what to expect. For example, I always told candidates scheduled for interviews on casual-attire day what to expect so they weren’t surprised—and let them know I wouldn’t hold it against them if they wanted to join in the fun and wear jeans that day.
I’ve worked for companies that often interviewed people four, five, or even six different times, so I explained to candidates that the company felt this process allowed them to connect with the organization. (This practice was effective, too: on the first day of work, a new employee knew people beyond his or her boss and the HR director.) Candidates appreciated the explanation and were therefore patient about the process.
4. Lack of information about the work and benefits.
Recruiters should make sure candidates completely understand the job responsibilities, pay, and benefits. During the interview process, many companies discuss the job description with candidates, but they should consider highlighting some of the unwritten job responsibilities as well. Giving the candidate an office tour and letting him or her know that every employee takes turns cleaning out the break room refrigerator, for example, can provide a more complete (and more accurate) picture of the job.
Although up-front discussions of pay and benefits are sometimes considered taboo during the interview, recruiters shouldn’t wait until the end of the process to have this conversation but should instead tell candidates early on about the company philosophy on starting pay, salary increases, and benefits. If a candidate is unable or unwilling to accept the compensation package, then everyone can part ways amicably before investing too much time and effort in the interview process.
5. No response.
Nothing frustrates candidates more than feeling that their applications have been sucked into a black hole, never to be seen again. Applicant-tracking systems have features that allow companies to keep candidates informed of their status, often via automated replies that don’t add extra work for the recruiting team. Companies can use templates to communicate with candidates or craft personalized replies that align with their employment brands.
The best way a company can tell candidates that it wants them to work for it is to show them. The way to show them that is to create a hiring process that’s effective, efficient, and respectful of everyone’s time.