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Don’t Let Poor Candidate Experience Damage Your Employer Brand

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Published Date: 26th February 2024

Are you noticing a big jump in applications for your open roles? If so, you’re not alone. We’re observing more candidates entering the job market, resulting in an increased administrative burden for anyone who needs to recruit for a role.

For some employers, the notion of having too many applicants might seem like a positive, but it can also be a serious pitfall. As your applicant numbers rise, the overall experience you provide to candidates interacting with your business can suffer, especially if you don’t have adequate recruitment processes and strategies in place. And that can have a serious knock-on effect on your employer brand.

We’re receiving a steady stream of feedback from candidates about their poor experiences of interacting with prospective employers. But it doesn't have to be this way – there are several practical approaches you can take to ensure candidates aren’t having a negative experience with your organisation.

Why Does Candidate Experience Matter?

The growth of job applications only tells part of the story. While we’re seeing more candidates enter the market, new job vacancies are also growing, with many employers hungry for new talent in a highly competitive market. It’s a dynamic environment, to say the least.

Interestingly the majority of employers say the candidate experience is extremely important to them. Yet in reality, less than 50% of candidates say employers treat them with the same respect as current employees or have had a poor experience during the recruitment process. This equates to a lot of potentially negative sentiment about employers, which often surfaces on platforms like Glassdoor and social media.

In a time when your customers or clients are increasingly likely to be your candidates, it’s important to consider the reputational harm that arises from providing a bad candidate experience. Numerous studies over the years have shown people are highly likely to tell others when they have a negative experience as a candidate with a company. Word gets around!

What Is a Positive Candidate Experience vs a Poor Candidate Experience?

The ‘candidate experience’ refers to how job applicants perceive and interact with your organisation. It is also how candidates feel about your organisation once they experience your hiring process, from their application, pre- and post-interview, all the way to the job offer or rejection. If I were to describe a positive candidate experience in a nutshell, it would be showing people respect.

Candidates want to be as prepared as possible for their job interview, so they’re seeking support and guidance from recruiters and hiring managers in the form of tips and advice about the role, and anything that can help them with interview preparation. Feedback is so important to candidates that more than half who receive it are more likely to increase their relationship with the company, as one survey has highlighted.

In practice, unfortunately, candidates are telling us they’re getting the exact opposite from employers. Job descriptions are often inadequate and candidates aren’t getting briefed on what to expect during the recruitment process or who will interview them. Even worse, they’re not receiving any feedback from hiring managers after sitting for job interviews or are being ghosted.

Improving Candidate Experience Starts with Process

Handling 200-300 applicants for a role is a big ask for a hiring manager who must juggle a complex recruitment process alongside their core duties.

Poor communication – no follow-ups, no updates on the status of an application, no closure – is the number one complaint of candidates who report a poor experience with a would-be employer. Tackling this issue is foundational to improving the candidate experience.

To reduce the amount of admin that comes with handling communications with candidates, I suggest looking for ways to automate as much of this process as possible. Many applicant tracking systems have features that create automatic confirmation and update emails to people who have applied for your open roles. An ATS can also allow you to automate the scheduling of candidate interviews – another effective way to keep hiring managers’ inboxes under control.

If you’re adding a disclaimer to your jobs stating that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted, don’t assume that lets you off the hook! In this day and age, candidates expect closure at the very least – after all, they went through all the steps of applying for the role. Simple update emails are better than nothing in this instance.

Here’s a few quick tips for improving candidate experience:

  • Write effective, clear and detailed job descriptions.

  • Make it easy for candidates to find information about your company, culture, history, and achievements.

  • Make your job application process mobile device-friendly.

  • Communicate clearly and often.

  • Set clear expectations for what happens next in the process – days can seem like weeks to candidates

  • Use a structured interview process – avoid having too many rounds of interviews and train your interviewers on what to ask candidates.

  • Be responsive - Candidates want feedback and to feel like you’re connecting with them.

  • Ask candidates for feedback on your interview process.

  • Don’t waste candidates’ time.

  • Be authentic.

Getting Help with Too Many Applicants

Improving candidate experience is a continuous process, one that every organisation benefits from. But even the most well-resourced organisations have limits in what they can do to provide an excellent candidate experience.

In the race to reduce costs, employers often get tempted to do away with recruitment outsourcing, only to call us in desperation and ask for our top candidates when faced with hundreds of applications appearing in their inboxes. This is a stark illustration of how difficult it is to equip hiring managers with the same know-how, tools and time to handle recruitment processes that recruitment agencies have.

It takes hours to review CVs, schedule interviews, and help candidates prepare for interviews. Managing the delicate process of making a job offer and helping onboard a new hire are also resource-intensive tasks that agencies have the expertise and resources to handle effectively.

Talk to Beyond Recruitment

Whatever your business requirements, partnering with a reputable New Zealand recruitment agency such as Beyond Recruitment will help you keep your hiring process efficient, responsive, empathetic, and most importantly – human.

If you need help with finding the right talent for your team, get in touch with me or the team at Beyond Recruitment. We’d love to help you achieve a positive hiring outcome while supporting your employer brand.

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