Hands up if you have had a terrible experience as a candidate for a job. I thought so. I recently heard from a friend that she had endured seven rounds of interviews for a role and then learned, on LinkedIn of all places, that someone else had landed the job.
Sure, employers used to get away with that crap when jobs were scarce and qualified people were abundant, but seven interviews and then radio silence was, and remains, a terrible experience, and one that we don’t get away with anymore. More than 60 percent of candidates will not do business with you as a customer, and about the same number will reject your job offer if they have a poor experience (BTW all of them will tell their friends). Yet our outdated hiring processes and mindsets persist.
Here are five things you can focus on to improve the candidate experience. You don’t have to do all of them but making some meaningful progress on a few will help build that recruitment marketing toolkit.
View recruitment as a branding event
Let’s stop looking at recruitment as a form of procurement and let’s view it instead as a brand transaction. The goal isn’t to get a bum in a seat for the lowest cost, but to find and engage the best bum at a reasonable cost and to get them in the door before someone else snags them. As long as we continue to look on it as a way to keep the bad people out, rather than a way to get the good people in, we will struggle with the Tyranny of Bethany.
Teach hiring managers how to hire
We also need to take a look at the skills of the people who interact with our candidates. I’m sure your recruiters are a professional and efficient lot. Not so your hiring managers. The reason my friend had seven interviews had nothing to do with an abundance of procurement-type diligence, but a lack of competence and confidence on the part of the decision maker, who used peer ratification as a substitute for skill and judgement. We need to stop asking our managers to make expensive hiring decisions without so much as a minute’s worth of training on how to interview, how to prepare for an interview, how to assess candidates, how to extract the information they need and so on. I would say most of them don’t know how to properly read a resume.
Speed it up
If it takes more than about five minutes to apply for a role with your company (on a mobile phone), then you are doing it wrong. More than half of candidates won’t even apply if it takes longer than 15 minutes, yet the average application asks more than 60 screening questions. Some companies are still insisting candidates set up a full profile on their terrible careers pages. I can’t imagine why nobody wants to spend an hour doing that. Our competition is not the company up the road; our competition is the Amazon user experience.
Help candidates find the exit
About 75 percent of the resumes submitted for most roles are from people who are nowhere close to qualified. The trick is knowing which 25 percent to pick out of the pile. So while we are making it easier for people to apply, we need also to make it easier for them not to apply. This means putting accurate information about the role out there to begin with (more on that next time). Instead of asking candidates 60 questions as the price of entry to your recruitment funnel, ask them one: Where can we reach you for more information? Then go ask them for more information. Send a quick set of questions to push them into the right part of the funnel (or out of the funnel completely). Marketing automation platforms, chatbots and AI are marvelous tools for this kind of work.
Show candidates where the car is
A lot of people think Uber disrupted taxis with technology. I think they disrupted by managing expectations. The thing we like about Uber is we can see exactly where the car is while we’re waiting and exactly where we are while we’re riding in it. Do you confirm the receipt of someone’s application? Do you tell them when it’s being looked at? Can you give them an idea of when someone will contact them? Do you let them know when they don’t make the cut? Do you give them updates on delays such as the hiring manager is on the road and won’t be interviewing for three weeks or the job’s been put on hold? Consumers (who are also sometimes candidates) expect to know where things stand, even if the news is not good. Let’s find ways to communicate in real time so that even if we don’t hire them, we have the right to stay in touch.