When it comes to hiring, every company has their own culture and way of doing things. Have you put thought into what your hiring process says about your company? These days, word travels fast. And even if you choose to not hire a candidate, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will say that their overall experience was poor. In fact, according to IBM, “Job applicants who do not receive a job offer are 80 percent more likely to apply again if they already had a positive impression of the hiring organization.” Not only that, but “People who are satisfied with their candidate experiences are 38 percent more likely to accept a job offer.”
So it’s safe to say that a positive candidate experience matters and the effects last much longer than the duration of a single candidate’s interview process.
When does the candidate experience begin?
The candidate experience starts before the application. According to IBM, “48% of candidates have a relationship with or have interacted with a company before applying to a job.” In fact, already having a positive impression of an organization greatly affected whether or not a candidate applied again after being rejected for a role (45% said they would apply again after being rejected). SO by putting an effort into your employer branding and candidate experience, you have the possibility to increase the quality of your hires as well as their longevity at your company.
It seems like it should go without saying, but the first time you read a candidates resume shouldn’t be as they’re sitting down in front of you. About 15 minutes before the interview, block out some time to print of the candidate’s resume and read through it. Make some notes of things to bring up or clarifying questions you’d like to ask alongside your usual interview script. Practice pronouncing the interviewee’s name. Take a minute to learn more about where they previously worked. Not only will these help your candidate feel more comfortable when they walk into your office, but you’ll be able to move past their basic information more quickly and learn about who they are as a person and the qualities they can bring to the job.
Ask relevant questions
While it may be interesting to ask questions like, “If you were a type of ice cream flavor, what would you be?” we’d like to recommend against it. There are far better ways to judge a candidate’s personality and soft or hard skills than asking ambiguous, oddball interview questions. Instead, try asking behavioral questions that discuss a time a candidate had to perform a task similar to one they’ll find on the job at your company. Ask them about a time when a challenge arose that they may likely face at your company.
A good interview process is a consistent one. Work with the hiring team and whose in the department you’re hiring for on a script of questions to ask every candidate. That way, you’ll be able to more consistently measure each candidate, even if they’re interviewed by different people. Even if it might be tempting to simply have an informal conversation in the place of a typical job interview, these types of interviews allow for bias and don’t result in a consistent picture of each candidate you interview. For example, simply because you had a great conversation with John and seemed to jive well, doesn’t mean that the other candidates are less qualified for the job. Understanding our own tendencies toward bias and developing a controlled and standardized method for interviewing will help your company avoid bias decisions when it comes to hiring. HBR suggests evaluating candidate answers this way: “It’s also best to compare candidate responses horizontally. That is, if you interview five candidates, compare each of their answers on question one, then each answer on question two, and so on… Comparative evaluations not only help us calibrate across candidates but also decrease the reflex to rely on stereotypes to guide our impressions.”
A clear process
Even if your timeline is subject to change, giving candidates an idea of what to expect and a loose timeline can be a great way to minimize the follow-up emails as well as give them the feeling that they’re in the know. If things go as planned, even if the candidate is not offered a position, they’ll still walk away understanding your process rather than exasperated by feeling “ghosted” by a company they were once excited about. If you do outline a clear hiring process, do your best to stick to it. If you have no choice than to deviate from your schedule, well, that brings us to our next point…
There’s nothing more frustrating to a candidate than feeling like an interview process went well, only to hear nothing but silence from a company for weeks. Although there are many reasons why a candidate might not have heard from you yet, letting them know they’re still in consideration or that a hiring manager is on vacation for the next week is a quick and easy way to keep candidates engaged and interested in the position. Having an understanding of what’s going on is better than thinking it’s simply time to move on. We recommend a weekly touchpoint with candidates that are in process with you to keep them warm and manage their expectations
Also read: How fast should your hiring process be?
How much information you choose to disclose to a candidate during the hiring process is up to you, but keeping a candidate more or less “in the loop” could go a long way in allowing them to feel informed and valued during the hiring process.
Another way to show transparency is simply through the job description. Be clear about who you’re looking for to fill the position and what traits or experience truly are required. It may be a good idea to also include aspects of the job that some may find challenging. You may just save yourself and several candidates time by allowing them to filter themselves out of a role if it’s not the right fit.
Let candidates know what to expect in the interview process
Every job interview is different and it can be hard for candidates to know how to prepare for each one. Giving a candidate’s an idea of the various aspects they can expect to walk through during an interview can help them to get a better understanding of the job, give them the chance to prepare, and give you a better picture of their personality when they’re more relaxed. Even giving candidates tips on what you’ll be looking for and what would make them a successful candidate can be a great way to help them feel like they’ve been set up for success
Whether or not a candidate was given an offer or moved on to the next stage of interviews, everyone likes to know what they did well and where they could improve. Standardizing your interview process will better allow you to compare candidates as well as give accurate feedback that holds true to a consistent standard. According to this study of 183,000 candidates done in 2016, “47 percent of candidates were waiting two to three months or more for a response from the company, post-application.”
Of course, some companies do have policies that restrict their employees from giving candidate feedback as there are legalities for what a hiring manager can and cannot say, so they choose to play it safe. If that’s the case, simply informing a candidate of your policy can leave a better impression than saying nothing.
Ask for feedback from recent hires
According to the same study mentioned above, “A total of 87 percent of candidates who reported a 1-star experience were never asked for feedback on the interview process, while 32 percent who had a 5-star experience were asked for varying levels of feedback, highlighting a key candidate experience differentiator.” Asking for feedback from candidates themselves, both who have received offers and those who have been rejected, can benefit your company 2-fold. First, you’ll be allowing your candidates to feel heard and validated. Second, you’ll be aware of any pain points during your interview process and able to improve on them in the future, creating an even better candidate experience.