I went to a conference a few weeks ago where one of the questions asked by an experienced recruiter was “what’s your favorite interview question to catch candidates off-guard”. It seriously surprised me that in this day and age (where we’re constantly talking about creating a positive candidate experience and its impacts on employer brand), some still think that they have to make candidates sweat in order to be good recruiters.

On the other hand, we talk so much about candidate experience stats, apps, tools, etc. that we’re totally over-complicating things.

Delivering a positive candidate experience is simply not that hard!

Bold statement, I know. It really is simple though.

So why do so many companies fail at creating a positive candidate experience?

They don’t understand the very foundation that candidate experience is built on. You can’t possibly get started on creating a positive candidate experience when you don’t know where to start.

Positive candidate experience is just about putting yourself in the candidate’s shoes and being kind to them.

That’s it! How easy is that?

Candidates want three very simple things

We can break it down further and say that in order to be kind to your candidates, your candidate experience strategy should focus on three areas in particular:

1. Their application to be acknowledged

I talked a bit about the fact that creating a positive candidate experience begins on your career site.  It should be quick and easy to apply to your job posting. Applicants should get some sort of notification letting them know that you’ve received their resume. Even if it doesn’t take long for candidates to apply to your job, they’re still investing their time in doing so and deserve to have their interest acknowledged.

I know what you’re thinking… “I can’t spend my entire day getting back to 300 candidates who applied”.

The answer is to automate, automate, automate.

Most applicant tracking systems have an option to send an automated email to every applicant. Sadly, most companies don’t even use this tool. It’s shocking how many good recruitment tools go unused when they could not only improve the candidate experience but also make the recruitment far process more efficient.

Take a few minutes to figure out how to use this function in your ATS.

But, don’t just send the generic “thanks for your application” email that offers no value whatsoever. Because this an automated email, it’s even more important that your text has some personality. One of the best pieces of advice I got on engaging with your reader is to write the way you talk.

Phone Screen TemplateNeed an example of a great autoresponse candidate email? Here’s a really good ones.

This is also your chance to set expectations – include details of your recruitment process so that there are no surprises.

If they’re selected, should candidates expect a phone interview as the next step? While we’re on the topic of phone interviews, you’ll have to consider the candidate experience while you’re conducting the interview. Here’s a phone interview template you can download with clear guidelines on how to start and end the phone interview keeping candidate experience in mind.

2. Respect for their time

If your recruitment process includes three or four interviews and various assessments, you’re ruining your candidate experience. It should not take so many interviews to assess whether or not a candidate is right for the role and your company.

Again, put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. How fair is it to expect that they take three or four days off (if they’re working) to interview and another few hours to complete your assessments? All this, just to be declined in the end!

Shorten your recruitment process.

I’ve seen hiring teams bring candidates back several times and end up asking exact same questions at different interviews, which gives the impression that they’re disorganized, unable to communicate with each other and ultimately, wasting the candidate’s time.

Recruiters, coach your hiring managers so they’re able to conduct interviews efficiently and with the candidates’ experience in mind.  It is not difficult to assess candidates with fewer interviews (and fewer people involved), but you have to ask the right questions.

3. Closure (for candidate’s who were not selected for the role)

They may not like the news, but candidates appreciate the time you’ve taken to tell them when they haven’t been selected. Ghosting on a candidate who has invested their time to speak or meet with you and your hiring team is not acceptable!

The rules are simple:

  • Call the candidates you’ve interviewed
  • Email the ones who haven’t gone through the interview process

For the applicants who haven’t made it through the interview process, your decline email can be sent through most ATS. Again, please don’t use the standard rejection email that offers zero value to the candidate.

If you’re visual, like me, try this:

How to give candidate feedback and be a better recruiter

There are a few vendors who are trying to improve automation. Here’s an example from Rejobify:

A few other really easy positive candidate experience tips:

  1. Don’t let candidates go into the weekend without an update. Nobody likes wondering all weekend.
  2. Set expectations with candidates and meet those expectations.
  3. Prepare your candidates before the interview… yes, even corporate recruiter. You want your candidates to succeed and nobody can prepare them like a recruiter can.
  4. Make interviews conversational.

At the end of the day, if we really want to ensure every candidate has a positive experience going through our recruitment process, it’s just a simple as putting ourselves in their shoes.

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