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A Human Approach to Hiring: How to Improve Candidate Experience

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What is Candidate Experience?

As the name suggests, candidate experience refers to each job seeker's experience with your brand throughout the application and hiring process. If you asked candidates to rate your company's candidate experience, the results would indicate how they feel about your company based on your hiring processes.

Candidates' feelings heavily influence whether or not they proceed with their application or accept your job offer—which means your company's candidate experience directly impacts the future of your workforce. A great candidate experience can improve the quality of your new hires by 70%. A subpar one can leave you with fewer qualified candidates in the pipeline and a negative online reputation.

In today's job market, highly skilled employees are in high demand, and they're often in contact with several potential employers simultaneously. The ones that take weeks to respond or make their candidates jump through hoops won't attract top-quality talent.

Five Ways to Improve Candidate Experience

Here are several ways your team can improve candidate experience and make the application process frictionless from the first touch to the final job offer.

1. Write clear, compelling job descriptions.

A well-written job description is the first step toward hiring the right talent. Your company's job postings should give candidates a good idea of what they can expect from the job itself and your organization.

Remember, the goal of a job description is to attract candidates to an open role, not to brag about your organization or show off your creative writing skills. Candidates may read dozens of postings in a single sitting, so clarity and scannability go a long way. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and sweet. Lead with the information that job seekers value most—like compensation, requirements, and benefits—and sprinkle culture conversations and "about us" content further down the page. Shorter job descriptions (300 words or less) convince candidates to apply 8.4% more often than the average 600-800 word post.
  • Use clear language. Every industry has unique buzzwords and phrases, but you don't have to work them all into your job descriptions. Avoid clichés and overused jargon and make sure qualifications are easy to understand. For example, "writes all email marketing content" is much easier to read than "collaborates with a team of creative geniuses to deliver impactful messages right to our customers' inboxes."
  • Separate must-haves and nice-to-haves. A job description with a laundry list of requirements can intimidate candidates and stop them from applying. As you put together each job post, list your non-negotiable requirements and nice-to-haves in separate lists. These designations make it easy for candidates to skim the page and see if they're a good fit while also giving you the option to surface your new hire 'wish lists' early on in the application process.

2. Reduce your time to hire.

Today's job market is all about efficiency. Gone are the days when applicants faced days or even weeks of radio silence after inquiring about an opportunity. Instead, employers are speeding up the recruitment cycle wherever possible to avoid keeping candidates waiting. The more time you take to get back to a candidate, the more competitive offers they'll see from other employers.

If someone applied to one of your job posts, they likely applied to several other openings around the same time, and they're more likely to accept offers that come through sooner rather than later. What's more, 60% of candidates have backed out of an application due to the length or complexity of the employer's hiring process.

Set internal guidelines about how and when to follow up with candidates at each step in the hiring process. Even if there are inevitable delays, you can improve candidate experience by reducing your time to hire as much as possible. Candidates want an efficient hiring process and a potential employer that provides timely updates along the way, so be sure you keep in touch and pass along updates as soon as you have them.

3. Tell candidates what to expect throughout the process.

Nearly 90% of job seekers say clear expectations from employers would improve candidate experience. Knowing what to expect can ease candidates' anxiety, nervousness, and confusion. It can also help recruiters and job seekers stay on track throughout the hiring process. However, it's critical to look at the value of expectation settings for both parties, not just the people applying to come work for you.

Set expectations with candidates about your company's role in the hiring process by answering questions like:

  • What are all the steps of the application process? How long will each one take?
  • What do they need to include in their application?
  • How many rounds of interviews or assessments will they complete?
  • When should they expect to hear back from your team after the final interview?

Laying out the details upfront will keep your team and your applicants accountable and bring transparency to a task that can be pretty intimidating. Avoid feeding candidates small details over time or waiting to complete each step in the process before you tell them about the next one.

This approach gives both parties realistic expectations and helps you stick to your target hiring timeline. Plus, it offers candidates the opportunity to ask questions or get clarification on certain parts of the hiring process so they can put their best foot forward during interviews and other important milestones.

4. Follow up early and often.

Timely communication is one of the most critical elements of the hiring process and one of the most challenging things for employers to get right. An influx of applications is a positive sign for your organization but one that can leave you and your recruiting team overwhelmed or behind on essential follow-up tasks.

It's tempting to give yourself an extended buffer between interviews or save all of your unread emails for one day of the week. However, these delayed follow-ups negatively affect candidates and your hiring efforts as a whole. Fifty-two percent of candidates say lack of response from employers is their biggest frustration in the hiring process, which means employers with slow response times will miss out on some of their top choice candidates.

Here are several best practices that can help standardize your teams' follow-up efforts:

  • Don't put off your rejection emails. No one likes being the bearer of bad news, but getting back to applicants on time, no matter the news, will show candidates that you value their time. Prompt updates also empower them to make their next career move as soon as possible, whether that means coming in for an interview or moving on to their next opportunity.
  • Streamline interview scheduling. If your organization follows a multi-phase interview process, schedule as many interviews as possible simultaneously. This strategy will help you keep your hiring time low and provide candidates with helpful details about where and when each meeting will occur.
  • Respond to candidate thank you notes. During the interview phase, you'll likely receive thank you or follow-up emails from candidates after phone, Zoom, or in-person interviews. Acknowledging and responding to these sentiments makes candidates feel appreciated and demonstrates that your organization is well-organized and genuinely cares about its job applicants.

5. Give and ask for feedback.

Feedback is an invaluable asset at any stage in someone's career journey, but it's especially beneficial in the hiring process.

Some hiring professionals might be reluctant to reach out after a rocky interview, but 94% of candidates want to receive interview feedback from potential employers. Each time you provide a candidate with feedback—whether positive or negative—you're allowing them to reshape their approach to the job hunt, grow their soft skills, or boost their confidence for future opportunities.

Commit to providing feedback for every candidate, even those you don't hire. A simple email recap can go a long way to boost candidates' morale before the next steps or guide them on where and how to improve their resume, interview skills, or professionalism.

Remember that hiring new talent is a two-way process. As you provide feedback to job seekers, don't forget to ask for some in return! Consider sending interviewees a short feedback survey after their interview concludes or directing them to an online portal where they can review and rate your entire hiring process once they complete it. The insights you uncover will help you improve candidate experience and increase the effectiveness of your current hiring tactics.

Improve Your Organization's Candidate Experience with CareerCircle

From developing your talent pipeline to revamping your application process, hiring new employees requires a lot from your team. The right staffing partner can help you balance time-sensitive hiring needs with your long-term talent development efforts, including experience improvements, proactive recruiting, and more.

At CareerCircle, we help employers develop end-to-end talent ecosystems and access new pipelines to overcome the traditional barriers their internal staffing teams often face. Our digital platform connects candidates to relevant career opportunities while expanding employers' talent pools and giving them more control over who and how they hire.

Ready to see how CareerCircle can help you transform your hiring process?

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