Going through an organization's hiring process can be stressful for job candidates. While being anxious about being evaluated is a natural human feeling, some companies make the experience even more challenging by making the process too long, not respecting the candidate and their time, and not being transparent enough. Negative candidate experience isn't an issue that only concerns job candidates. As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
What is the candidate's experience?
A candidate's experience is the job applicant's thoughts and feelings as they go through an organization's hiring process. Some common steps a candidate encounters when applying for an open position are:
- noticing a job ad that may fit their profile
- assessing the job requirements
- researching the hiring organization
- completing the job application form
- receiving the interview invitation
- attending the job interview
- onboarding after getting the job
Why is creating a positive candidate experience important for employers?
Negative candidate experience is on the rise globally, affecting professionals and organizations. Some specific reasons why creating a positive candidate experience is good for employers are:
You can attract more candidates
Long and overcomplicated hiring procedures can make job applicants abandon a company's application process. Streamlining it without excluding any essential parts helps you increase your candidate intake, which boosts your chances of finding the right people for your job openings. Even seemingly minor steps, for example, optimizing your hiring website for mobile devices and making it easier for candidates to upload their resumes, can make a difference.
You can get an advantage over your competitors
Companies compete for top talent just as professionals compete for top jobs. If you're looking for an employee with a specific skill set, odds are that other companies competing in your market are also interested. You can gain an edge over your competitors by making it easier for candidates to apply to your open roles than it is to apply elsewhere. Even if it turns out that they're not right for the job, having a positive experience can motivate them to try again and tell others about your company.
You can improve your organization's employee retention rate
Starting off on the right foot with your employees can make it more likely that they will stay with you over the long term. Creating a positive candidate experience can show applicants that you respect them and their time, which may make them feel more connected to your organization's goals and values. This can lead to them doing a better job for you and not being tempted to seek employment elsewhere.
You can boost your company's brand and reputation
Online reviews not only help people pick vacation destinations and restaurants but also assist them in evaluating employers. Some job seekers write about their candidate experiences online, which can persuade others to pursue or avoid certain organizations. Being a company that values positive candidate experiences can enhance your reputation as an employer, which can increase the quality and quantity of your talent pool.
You can save your organization lots of money
Finally, creating a positive candidate experience can do wonders for your bottom line. Hiring people is expensive and time-consuming for any organization. Filling open roles quickly and effectively can help you save money and avoid dips in productivity due to a lack of personnel. Also, having loyal employees who align with your company's values can reduce costs even further because you probably won't need to replace them anytime soon.
"Negative candidate experience isn't an issue that only concerns job candidates. As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression."
How to improve your hiring process
Acknowledging that improving the candidate experience is essential for your company is only the first step. The second step is execution, meaning you have to find ways to make it easier and less stressful for people to apply to your job openings. These are some things you can do to create a positive candidate experience:
Ensure your job descriptions are clear and concise
A candidate's experience usually begins with them noticing a job ad that may fit their skills and preferences. Creating an appealing job description can persuade a professional to apply for the role. Also, writing an accurate description can increase the quality of your job applicants, ensuring each candidate understands the position and its requirements. Some things you can do to improve your job descriptions are:
- Make them easy to read. Structure your job descriptions in a way that presents the most important information first, making them easier for candidates to follow.
- Use simple words. There's no point in overcomplicating your job ads with complex language. Instead, aim to be as clear and to the point as you can be.
- Only list the necessary requirements. When listing the job requirements, many employers include every qualification and skill they wish a candidate to have. This can put off many qualified candidates, who may worry they don't have everything it takes to succeed in the role.
Make it easy for candidates to apply
Once a candidate has decided to apply to one of your open roles, make sure the application process is as simple and intuitive as possible. This usually starts by designing your website's careers section in a way that's easy to find. Once they're there, submitting their personal information and uploading any supporting files, such as resumes and portfolios, should only take a few minutes. You should also ensure you don't ask more than once for the same information. It's usually annoying for candidates to submit their resumes and fill out forms inserting the same information.
Maintain communication with candidates at all stages of the hiring process
It's common for job applicants to fill out a job application form and then be nervous for days and weeks waiting to receive feedback from the potential employer. Ensure you or your HR team keeps every applicant informed throughout the process. Let them know the steps and timeline and tell them what the outcome of their job application is, even if it's a negative one. If you invite some for interviews, explain the process and how they should prepare.
Contact the candidates you're no longer considering
Although it may be time-consuming when dealing with many candidates, it's usually important to contact the ones who didn't make the cut and let them know as soon as possible. Doing so helps to keep a positive tone and allows you to wish them well and let them know they're welcome to apply for similar roles in the future.
Create a system that tracks rejected candidates with potential
When assessing job candidates, you may find some aren't quite right for the current opening but have a skill set that may be useful for other roles in the future. Letting them know they may be considered for other jobs and creating a process that helps you fulfill that promise also leads to a positive candidate experience. It also shows candidates that you still value them as professionals, although they didn't get the job.
Creating a job application process that helps you find qualified candidates while creating a positive candidate experience is challenging but is often worth it. Although doing so may cost you time and resources, it has many potential advantages that make it a net positive for your organization.
Related reading: learn more on how to improve your hiring process:
Boost your applicant numbers by learning how to create engaging job postings.
Find out how to think outside the box and address the talent shortage by attracting "unretiring" older workers.
Want to improve the quality of your talent pool? Check out these 5 must-have practices for successful recruiting this year.