The increasing automated nature of corporate recruiting should improve the candidate experience. Still, as numerous commentators in the human resources space have noted, the process is not great and more work needs is required to make it better. There are many key players in the entire process, but most importantly, it is the hiring managers that drive everything as they ultimately make the hire. The essence of this fractured relationship between corporate recruiting and candidate experience is candidly summarised by a post by editor and consultant Deborah Branscum who remarks that “if hiring managers were doctors, half of the new patients would be dead in 18 months.” This is a stark assessment considering we are in a fiercely competitive labour market with companies fishing in the same talent pool as every other competitor. Here are some (not all) of the common ills of the candidate experience:
- Despite ATS’s, candidates are still falling through cracks, and it is taking longer to fill positions
- Despite the commonly held belief that candidates are flexible on location, they want to work somewhere that is within commuting distance of the office
- Assumptions are made regarding candidates salary expectations
- Candidates are passed between pillar and post by different hiring managers – and that is just at the CV review stage!
- Candidates are not correctly updated on their candidacy
- Candidates aren’t interviewed promptly
- Candidates don’t get the feedback they are looking for – responses are not constructive but general
- Candidate experience doesn’t rank highly on a hiring managers list and is increasingly misunderstood altogether
- The onboarding experience is falling by the wayside with an increasing number of candidates rejecting offers after they have accepted
- The automated nature of recruiting results mostly in communication with the candidate via email
- The employer brand is suffering
The reality is that as technology and trends have changed over time, behaviours have not. Recruiting is evolving, so should action and with that policies and procedures to reflect the changing nature of the labour market. To get it right, companies need to develop a service orientated mindset rather than being transactional. Hiring Managers and other key players need to become brand ambassadors for their company and become invested in improving candidate experience as they are invested in their day jobs.
Be the Hiring Manager that sets an example
The role of the Hiring Manager is central to getting the entire process to work correctly, so the following improvements should be put in place for Hiring Managers:
Holiday handover – When going on holiday, put a handover plan together updating the rest of the team on candidates, delegating responsibility for interviews and offer approvals. Don’t put things on hold when you go on holiday. Recruiting is essential business!
Don’t set false expectations – If a candidate is interviewed and you promised to get back to them with feedback within two weeks, do get back to them and don’t forget about them! Treat others as you would like to be treated. Failure to do so is a recipe for disaster, and you run the risk of bringing the employer brand into disrepute.
Interview feedback – When you do get back to the candidate with feedback, be constructive rather than general – give them the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether candidates are successful or not, candidates will value your insight as it might help them improve their interview performance next time they go for an interview, or might even help them address a weakness that was not apparent to them before. If they are the excellent candidate for future roles, welcome them to reapply, and keep in touch with them.
Work in partnership – Keep your recruitment department fully updated on candidates in the interview process, work with them on resourcing needs, and be fully aligned with them so they can go to the market to deliver the key marketing message(s) of why candidates should join your team.
Interview team – Have an interview tag team in place that can pick up the baton from you if you are going to be out of the office or tied up on a project. Delegate responsibility to them to continue the interview process in your absence, and have pre-agreed interview dates in the diary so that candidates are interviewed without delay.
Get everybody on the same page – Make sure resourcing needs are filtered down to all levels. Avoid scenarios where conflicts between workload and resourcing needs occur. If you have a hire to make, ask yourself – is there physical desk space available for them, which office will they be based in, what work will they be doing, do you need to hire in the first place? Addressing these questions will eliminate inefficiency and help to increase the speed of hire.
Time management – As Hiring Managers, you do have a day job. Still, you also have the responsibility to grow the team and contribute towards profitability so set aside ample time for reviewing candidate applications, providing feedback to the candidate, conducting interviews etc.
Improved processes and procedures
A periodic review of the effectiveness of current recruiting processes and procedures will help highlight any deficiencies but to create a recruiting model fit for purpose, and the following elements should be considered:
Return to traditional communication – To counter the behaviours triggered by ATS’s, less email more phone should be the order of the day. A personal touch goes a long way to improving the candidate experience.
Be social – An increasing number of candidates are on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Hence, a dedicated social media strategy is a must for companies if they want to engage with the talent pool properly and effectively deliver the EVP. The employer brand will be rendered irrelevant if there is a lack of social media presence.
Careers site – Have a dedicated career site candidates can visit to obtain information on the interview process – i.e. what is involved and how long it takes, the work the company does, interactive employee testimonials, FAQs. A careers site will also play an essential part in communicating the EVP to the external market.
Recruitment model – As companies grow, resource needs will increase too, so a fundamental discussion around the recruitment model should take place – is the recruitment model geared up for a growing business, is it set up for volume recruiting, are there enough recruiters, do processes need to change to reflect growth? Honest discussions on the recruitment model will help create an effective in – house team.
Despite improvements in technology and the rise of social media, companies still strive to create a positive candidate experience. Persistent issues exist which need to be addressed, but the focus needs to be on being proactive and hiring at a faster pace. Companies can’t operate at a reasonable speed but need to react faster on candidates as competition for candidates intensifies. At the Hiring Manager level, more management training should be put in place to help clearly define their roles, responsibilities and their understanding of the interview and selection process. A negative experience will turn off candidates, but a positive candidate experience will serve as a formidable recruiting sergeant.