With an increase in the number of job seekers coming onto the market, you’re likely to receive more applications if you’re recruiting which can make it harder to ensure a positive candidate experience. But it’s really important that potential future employees are left with a good impression from their own candidate journey. It’s also key for protecting your employer brand as negative experiences can leave a poor impression: an impression which could end up being widely shared online with others.
The term ‘candidate experience’ refers to a candidate’s overall perception of your company’s recruiting processes which includes many different stages from talent attraction to pre-screening, shortlisting, interviewing and hiring. Every interaction a candidate has with your company during any of these stages has an impact so to deliver a good candidate experience, you must pay attention to every part of the recruitment process.
Improving the candidate experience
So how can you make sure the candidate experience is still a priority even if you’re handling a higher number of applications than usual? A streamlined and straightforward candidate journey will help to attract and retain better quality candidates with the knowledge and skills you’re looking for – so here are some ideas about you could improve it.
1. Write a clear job advert that showcases your company
Be clear from the outset about the role so candidates know whether they have the skills and experience needed. Challenge yourself (and/or the hiring manager) about the absolute essential requirements of the role when putting your job advert together. Do candidates really need a degree if they also have highly relevant experience for example?
And unless you absolutely cannot do so, include salary details or at least the salary range. Reflect carefully on all the positives about your organisation too, so you can make sure your advert is fully highlighting your employer brand.
By focusing on these points in the job advert, it will be much clearer and easier for the candidate to make an informed decision about whether to apply for your role. That’s far better from their perspective and you are less likely to be inundated with unsuitable applications - while also reducing the risk of missing out on an application from a candidate of interest.
2. Make it simple for candidates to apply for your vacancies
It’s tempting to want to ask candidates to submit as much information as possible from the outset to support your shortlisting decisions. But remember that most candidates will be looking for their next opportunity on their mobile phone. Application forms can play an important role in the recruitment process. But they don’t have to be the first step.
So make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply in a matter of a few clicks. It could be better to send the full application form to a handful of candidates who have been shortlisted for the role at a later stage in the process. And bear in mind that if an application form is too long or complicated, job seekers are less likely to fill it in.
If you have one, take another look at your careers page on your website too. Put yourself in the shoes of the job seeker - what will they think when visiting it? Is it representing your company in the way you want? Is it easy for a candidate to apply through your website, or will they need to jump through hoops before they can submit it?
3. Consider using recruitment software
Being able to efficiently review applications is crucial. Having them all landing in an inbox can be cumbersome and time-consuming especially if the volume of applications is on the higher side.
So it’s worth considering using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS will make it much simpler to quickly and efficiently filter CVs and respond to applicants, ultimately saving you time while also providing candidates with a much smoother experience.
4. Communicate regularly
This cannot be overstated. You must make sure you communicate clearly with your candidates throughout the entire process. This starts from the initial receipt of their application. Acknowledge it and thank them for the time they’ve spent sending it through to you.
Then keep the communication lines open throughout the process. This should be happening anyway for those candidates who you are screening, testing and inviting to interview. But don’t forget about the candidates who don’t make it through. Some employers can overlook the need to inform candidates that they’ve been unsuccessful, but it’s important to do it. It’s respectful to the individuals. And it’s a positive contributor to your employer brand – if unsuccessful candidates feel they’ve had a fair experience with you, it will create a better impression and might even encourage them to apply for another potentially more suitable role in your organisation in the future.
5. Pay attention to how your company comes across at interview stage
An interview is obviously your opportunity to find out more about a candidate and assess their fit with your vacancy. But it’s also an opportunity for the candidate to get a more accurate feel about whether they would want to work for your organisation.
So consider the impression you are making and think about how you can make this part of the process as comfortable as possible for the candidate to help them be at their best during the interview. How will they be greeted upon arrival? What will the environment be like where you are holding the interview? How are they going to feel after they have left? The more positive the impression, the more likely it is that your preferred candidate will accept your job offer.
And a final note - don’t be afraid to ask candidates about their experience of applying for a role at your organisation. Because their feedback will help you make improvements to the candidate journey on an ongoing basis.