Every step they take from applying to a job at your organization, to accepting a job offer and showing up on their first day of employment is an opportunity to make or break the candidate hiring experience. Do it well and you’re well on your way to building a strong, engaging, and long-term relationship with your new hire. Do it poorly, and you’ll not only waste the significant investment of time and money that you’ve made during the hiring process, but you’ll also likely create negative word-of-mouth that could hurt your ability to attract candidates in the future.
Clearly having a solid candidate hiring experience is important.
The Importance of a Positive Hiring Experience
Recruiting.com makes a case for the importance of the candidate hiring experience, saying that providing one will help companies attract more applicants, better compete for top talent, improve their quality of hires, and increase brand awareness.
Unfortunately, all too often too little time is spent seriously—and strategically—considering the candidate hiring experience. Here we offer some tips for building a better experience from pre-hire to post-hire.
The application process is the first step in the candidate experience. A user-friendly process encourages more applications and sets the tone for a candidate-centric experience. SHRM cites a survey from CareerBuilder indicating that 60% of candidates will stop an application mid-way through if the process is too long or unwieldy.
To avoid this, employers should consider the following:
- Keep the application process short and simple. When candidates are presented with an application process or form that is too long, too confusing, or too difficult to complete, they’re likely to give up before you ever get the chance to review their credentials.
- Use clear and concise language. That old saw “keep it short and simple” (KISS) certainly applies during the hiring process. You want to make it as easy as possible for candidates to move through the process, clearly understanding every step along the way.
- Make sure the application is mobile-friendly. According to Pew Research, 50% of smartphone job seekers have used their smartphones to fill out an online job application. Even more would likely want to do so if the process was mobile-friendly.
- Provide a progress bar to show candidates how far they are in the process. When thinking of the candidate experience, it’s important to take steps to make the process seamless and positive. Helping candidates understand where they are and how much more effort they’ll need to put in to submit an application can help.
The pre-hire stage is where employers are at risk of never even having an opportunity to consider a potential applicant. That’s a risk that no employer wants to take. Ensure that the pre-hire stage is easy to understand and easy to navigate.
The interview stage is where employers get to know the candidates better—and where candidates get to know them. Creating an exceptional interview process is a critical step in starting the employer/employee relationship on a positive note—and increasing the odds that you’ll be able to land a great candidate.
Consider that it’s highly likely that the people you’re interviewing are also considering other potential employers. The longer it takes, the greater the risk of them accepting an offer from another organization. According to Glassdoor, the average interview process 22.9 days in the U.S. Especially for top candidates that may be too long.
Throughout the interview stage candidates are evaluating your organization and everyone they encounter. They’re using the experience as a means of determining whether or not they’d like to come on board.
To boost the odds that they will, in addition to taking steps to shorten the process as much as possible, employers should focus on:
- Clearly communicate the process. Fully 83% of candidates say it would greatly improve the overall experience if employers could set expectations by providing a clear timeline of what they should expect and how long each stage will take.
- Cultivate friendly and conversational interactions. Work to create a relaxed environment for the interview. This shouldn’t be an interrogation, but a conversation. Remember, you want to convey to candidates why you’d be a great place to work, not scare them away by being cold, demanding, or dismissive. Help candidates feel more comfortable and you’ll be more likely to get a better assessment of their skills and experience.
- Follow up! A shocking 53% of candidates say they don’t receive any feedback after the initial screening and interview stage. Commit to follow up with candidates to ensure they know where they’re at in the process—even if you decide that you’re not going to move them forward. Keep in mind that candidates, especially rejected or ignored candidates are likely to share their experiences with others.
When you take steps to create an interview process designed to delight candidates, you’ll stand apart from other organizations they may be considering.
According to a LinkedIn survey, 94% of job seekers want to receive interview feedback, but only 41% have received interview feedback before. Providing constructive feedback is essential for a positive experience and aids candidates’ growth by highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. It also helps to support a strong employer brand. You never know when the candidate that wasn’t quite the right fit this time, might be a top contender when another opportunity emerges. Failure to nurture the relationship of all candidates can erode your future talent pool.
Selection and Offer Stage
By the time an employer is ready to extend an offer to an applicant, a lot of time, effort, and angst has gone into the process. This is where the rubber meets the road.
This is also the point in the process where some important due diligence must be done. Before extending an offer, it’s important to conduct a pre-employment background check with a reputable provider to ensure there are no aspects of the candidate’s background that might represent a risk to your company, your customers, or your other employees.
Here, again, efficiency and clear communication are important to ensure that this final step can be taken with the candidate experience top of mind.
While most background checks take around three days, delays can happen due to incomplete forms, inaccurate applicant information, court closures, slow response times from previous employers and schools, and more. Provide clear and easy to understand information about the process, stay in close contact with the candidate and keep them up to date on the process at every step of the way.
Post-Hire and Onboarding Stage
As with any major decision, once a candidate has accepted a job offer they may begin to question whether they’ve made the right decision. Your post-hire and onboarding process is an opportunity for you to assure them that they have!
In addition, a great experience during post-hire and onboarding can help pave the way for a long relationship.
The onboarding and post-hire stage is the point that employers welcome new employees. SHRM reports that 69% of employers stick with a company for three years. Unfortunately, according to Gallup, only 12% of employees feel their new employer did a good job here. To provide a better experience:
- Start the onboarding process immediately after an offer has been accepted. Reach out to the candidate to express your excitement about their decision to join your company, send them or provide links to additional background information and resources.
- Consider sending new hires a “welcome package” with more information about the company along with some company-branded “gifts”—a coffee mug, mouse-pad, sweatshirt, or other token of recognition and support.
- Be clear about what candidates should expect during the onboarding process. Provide them with a detailed schedule of what they will be doing, when, and who they will be meeting with.
- Ask for new hire feedback during and after the onboarding process and take it to heart. Work to continually improve the process so that you stand out.
A competitive hiring landscape demands a positive candidate hiring experience. In truth, though, every candidate deserves a great experience and so do you. Doing this well will pave the way for your new hire’s future success—and establish your company as a great place to work. The better job you do, the better and more qualified candidates you’ll attract in the future.