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July 21, 2015

Why The Candidate Experience Matters

Now, more than ever, companies are having to compete for that ‘All Star’ candidate. The “purple squirrel” you’ve been chasing for what feels like forever. Much like the housing market in 2003, candidates are receiving multiple career offers, so what is going to set you apart from the rest? Sure, money could be one, but that is not the most important thing to potential employees anymore, it’s their experience with the company, as well as what they have seen/heard from current or former employees either through word-of-mouth or personal research on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.

What do companies need to do to ensure that they are creating a great candidate experience? It starts with the initial application process. Look at your internal system. Do you have a response set up so that the applicant knows that you’ve received their application and/or resume? Is it personalized or is it generic stating “don’t call us, we’ll call you?”  One of the biggest complaints we hear from applicants is the amount of time it takes to apply to a position (sometimes up to 30 minutes!) and then to get no response at all… thus leaving them to assume their resume went into the “black hole” resume portal. This can be very discouraging and in fact harmful to your company brand.

The next step is the telephone pre-screen with Human Resources. It is very important at the end of the call to let the candidate know the timeframe as to when they should expect to hear back, and make sure that you follow up as specified. Better yet ask them to follow up with you at a particular time and date; this is yet another way to assess their interest level, follow through, and attention to detail.

If the candidate has made it to the formal, in-person interview, make sure that they are provided with an itinerary of sorts including who they are meeting with, what to expect, dress code and any other information that they will need to bring with them. Make sure that there is someone there to welcome them when they arrive and offer them something to drink (water, soda, coffee, tea, etc…), after all this may be their first impression and experience with the company’s culture. Internally it is important to ensure that all of the interviewers have the candidates resume, possess a uniformed list of questions and at the end of the interview detailed next steps, as well as follow-up procedure. If the candidate is not selected, it is very important to call them rather than sending a letter or email to let them know within a reasonable time frame. No one likes waiting 3 weeks to hear back on an interview they were very much interested in. Again, make sure to personalize it by putting the “Human” back into Human Resources, as they may have taken time off of work to meet with you and the team.

Yay – you finally made it to the offer stage! It is crucial that the candidate does not feel as though they are being undervalued by an offer below market value. Discuss the benefits in detail and reiterate how excited the team is to have them on board. Some of the best companies even present a welcome gift, not only to the perspective employee, but to their spouse or significant other. If you get buy-in from them, the candidate is sure to follow!

Once the employee is onboarded, it is always nice to have the team or at the very least a team member take them out to lunch on the first day. A follow up meeting with HR and/or Management after the first couple of weeks on the job to check in on how their transition is coming is a great way to set the tone for how valued they are.

By following these simple steps, you will provide the best candidate experience to those that eventually turn into employees and who become the voice of the company. Those that are not selected are still left with a great first impression based on the experience you’ve provided. These concepts are not rocket science, but following the examples provided will create a workforce that enjoys what they do, brags about their great company and becomes your #1 cheerleader and company advocate, which in turn will attract those “purple squirrels” you’ve been chasing….

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