March 1, 2022
March 1, 2022

How to Improve Your Candidate Experience

Lewis Mc Cahill

In our recent 2022 Recruitment Trends guide, I asked Liam Morley, Head of Talent at Rasa, about the nature of the company-candidate relationship in hiring:

“Candidate Experience should be number one on every single talent team’s list. 

Collect as much data as you can about the Candidate Experience, and fix it, because every hiring experience is flawed.

You have to think about a low-ego candidate experience. However good you think your process is, there is something you can fix. Track everything, be supercritical, and above all, be honest.”

If a candidate isn’t feeling comfortable with the hiring process or is frustrated by it, there’s a high chance that you won’t hear from them again. This not only goes for their application, but for their peers as well. No amount of employer branding can fix a bad candidate experience. 

Think of your candidate experience like an advertisement for your job - it’s a sneak peek for candidates to see what working with you and your coworkers will be like, along with your culture and working style. 

Your candidate experience should portray every facet of your business values, showing the candidate exactly what you represent. 

What is Candidate Experience?

By this, we mean how applicants to your open positions feel after going through the candidate application process: did they feel rushed, or listened to? Were their questions answered? Was the process clear, or convoluted?

Your candidate experience doesn’t start with your outreach message or their application - it begins with the very foundation of your business. 

Your company values should be intrinsic to how you present your open positions and how applicants feel while going through the process. After all, these candidates will become your future coworkers. 

Of course, there are plenty of quick fixes to improving your candidate experience:          

  • Use an ATS
  • Reply to candidates on time and with clear answers
  • Present an honest job description with no alarms and no surprises 
  • Use empathy to understand the position and experience of your candidates

But if you’re a business owner or a recruiter, you know all of this. 

In this article, we want to take a deep dive into what truly makes a candidate experience special - how can you present your company ahead of the pack in onboarding new employees? 

1. Have an Indestructible Recruiting Process

I recently spoke with Michael Varley, our CEO, about the most important things to focus on in a hiring process. The key takeaway, other than our eight hiring action points, was to be smart with your resources. 

Hiring takes a long time and can seriously distract you and your employees from actually doing the job they’re being paid for. 

If you create a solid recruitment template with clear roles, responsibilities, and guidelines, you can save yourself weeks of hassle and considerable amounts of money. 

We’ve already written an in-depth guide on how to create a solid hiring process.

Additionally, we added another how-to on the best way to add an extra touch of quality to your recruitment structure. 

More than that, we can also give you the first steps to creating a solid hiring process with our kick-off meeting template.

If you know what you’re doing and what to expect, you have much more time to focus on the candidate and create a stellar experience.  

2. Treat Every New Candidate Like a Superstar

This doesn’t mean that everyone who applies to an open position at your company should be treated like royalty. 

Instead, it means that you should assume that every candidate has something to offer, and treat them accordingly. If you listen, really listen to your candidates, you will be able to better understand who they are personally and professionally. 

Of course, recruiters are always stretched for time, but taking an extra 30 seconds to add a personal touch to an email can significantly improve your candidate experience. 

Businesses often forget that the candidate can’t see every step of the process like you can. 

They may have a vague idea of the steps involved, but they can’t see the number of applicants, who’s ahead of them, the communication issues you might be having internally, and a range of other factors. 

Above all, don’t keep your candidate in the dark, and keep your promises. 

Give them a clear outline of the interview process, how things are going, and what they need to do to put themselves at the forefront of the competition. Not only will this improve your candidate experience, it will also show you all of your potential future employees in a far more comprehensive way. In our recent Recruitment Trends study, Isabel Strijland, our co-founder, gave this piece of advice: 

Hire conversationally - have meaningful conversations with people you hire, really get to know them. Take it slowly and make sure you all share the same vision and they bring a new perspective.”

3. Make Things Easy 

One of the worst things you can do as an employer is present a candidate with an exhaustive, complicated application process. The bounce rate on the first step alone will lead to a significant percentage of quality hires falling by the wayside. 

The argument for long and meticulous application processes has always been: 

“Committed candidates will always take the time to apply.”

This argument completely disregards the fact that you’re not the only belle at the ball. 

Most of your quality candidates are going to already be employed - they’ll be filling out your application on their lunch break or their commute home. 

Secondly, you won’t be the only company they’re applying to. Any organised person will usually have a set quota of jobs to apply for per day or per week - if yours takes too long, they will jump ship and move on to the next employer. 

90% of candidates join a company because of the people, the culture, and the salary. These are all things they learn about during the interview process. 

Keep your application process succinct, smart, human, and personable. 

It also makes your job significantly easier. 

If you have a short screening process that includes a few simple questions and an attached CV, you’re going to get through candidates far faster than an in-depth analysis or aptitude test.

4. Reduce Bias in Your Candidate Experience

We’ve talked about unconscious bias in articles before, and it can be a massive disadvantage to your company. 

This tip strongly links to tip number 3 - the shorter your application process and the easier it is, the less chance you have of creating a biassed process. 

One of the biggest causes of this is skills tests and psychometric testing. 

These tests are almost always designed with a certain block of people in mind. 

For example, many companies may use psychometric testing in their applications, but this is an easy way of excluding a large swath of applicants. 

Psychometric testing has continually been shown to present bias, both consciously and unconsciously, and in general, are not a helpful recruitment tool.

Many of these tests are designed to be completed by people with a conventional education, particularly from a western approach. Anyone sitting outside of this parameter may have all the skills needed to perform a job but will be excluded due to not being used to this form of testing. 

I even experienced this myself. While filling out a job application with an American company, I was presented with a psychometric test. Designed in the US, it had an SAT exam format.

It was clearly designed so that anyone within the US education system would understand it quickly but, of course, being European, I struggled and ran out of time. 

I didn’t continue with the application process, because I don’t (and many don’t) want to work with a company that does not see clear biases like these. 

The easiest fix you can make to improve your candidate experience and to create a more diverse approach is by removing these tests and focusing on the human actually applying for the open position. 

Take the time to listen to their story - be conversational in your interviews and find out what really makes them tick. They may not have the experience needed, but they might just have the potential needed to get there. 

Hiring for potential is one of the biggest movements in recruitment right now. With such a shortage of candidates, you now need to look past people’s experiences and instead focus on their qualities. People can be retrained, upskilled, and introduced to courses - look at the qualities and aspirations of the actual person who is applying for the job and see how they fit your company and your goals.  

5. Hiring is a Two-Way Street

In the past, companies may have been able to pick and choose talent, creating an inhospitable, often intimidating hiring process in order to “grill” or “test” the candidate. 

Now, the tables have turned. With the current market, companies need to realise that they have to come down to the level of the candidate, or bring them up to a level playing field. 

After all, I’ve said it before, but every current candidate is a potential future coworker - treat them with the respect, candour, and openness you would a peer. 

Create a candidate experience that not only presents a clear picture of the available job, but also the values, qualities, and benefits of your company. 

Hiring processes are no longer about picking up one “worthy” candidate from the masses, it’s about finding a future collaborator who can help you and your business succeed. 

Treat your candidates with respect, and your candidate experience will improve immensely. 

Be Human

If there’s anything you should take away from this article, it’s that. Adding a human touch to your process, company, and candidate experience will do wonders for your application rate and success in hiring. 

In summary, here’s how to truly improve your candidate experience: 

  1. Have an indestructible recruitment experience
  2. Treat every candidate like a superstar
  3. Make things easy 
  4. Reduce Bias
  5. Remember that hiring is a two-way street

It’s all about taking things from an empathetic perspective. Take Blinkist, for example, one of our clients. If an applicant reaches a certain stage of the interview process but makes it no further, they offer them a free subscription to their service.

This isn’t just an excellent way of repaying a candidate for their time spent, it also promotes their product, shows their empathy, and creates a very clever marketing campaign. 

Want to learn more about how to create a stellar hiring process? You can find plenty of expert hiring advice in our playbooks, guides, and how-to’s on our website. 

Want to work with us? We're always on the lookout for new talent. You can find all our open roles on the careers page

Does your business need help with hiring? Our expert team of embedded recruiters can work with you to find you the right talent with a modern approach. You can learn more about our services here.

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