How has your hiring process changed over the past five years? Has your organization, in response to the candidate driven job market, placed a greater emphasis on providing a courteous, easy application process for interested professionals? Has your organization, in order to create a pipeline of ready and willing passive candidates, followed up with every person who applies regardless of their status in the consideration process? In this blog, we will examine how the quality of a candidate’s application experience influences their perception of the company that they applied to. Forming positive relationships with the candidates who show interest in your organization can both improve your reputation with job seekers and fill your talent pipeline with willing candidates for future hiring. The only catch is that some of today’s most common screening practices are causing candidates to have negative application experiences.
There have been significant changes to the candidate search since the early 2000′s. Where paper resumes and spread sheets once ruled, more advanced recruiting tools such as applicant tracking systems have proven themselves to be more effective for sourcing and evaluating candidates. Similarly, many of the hiring conventions that companies have followed for years or even decades are being questioned, tested and, often, dismantled by hard facts. One practice that has emerged as essential in recent years is providing all candidates with a respectful, consistent interviewing and hiring process.
In today’s candidate driven market, companies must see the application process as two-sided. Candidates are just as capable of rejecting your organization as you are of rejecting them, and, if you don’t present them with a compelling reason to choose to work for your organization over another, well, you might lose great talent to your competition.
A Bad Candidate Experience is Terrible for Everyone
First off, the application process has always favored employers. While this is perfectly natural, forming strong connections with interested candidates requires you to understand their side of the equation. For one thing, candidates are expected to be flexible during the application process and may have to go to great lengths to clear their schedules and prepare for the interview with your company. It can be a lot of extra, especially if the candidate is already employed. If a candidate felt that he or she did well during the end of the screening process and was flexible enough to meet the scheduling requests, then he or she can become confused and frustrated by a lack of follow-up. According to a recent study from CareerBuilder, 75% of applicants never heard back from the companies that they expressed interest in.
While this has sort have been par for the course, candidates are starting to develop negative opinions about the companies that they don’t hear back from. If you were a candidate who got further than just submitting a resume, if you actually met several company representatives over the course of several interviews, wouldn’t you like to know the company’s decision one way or the other? If, during the interview, the interviewer said something like”I am very impressed with your credentials” or another confidence-inspiring tidbit to a skilled candidate, it can send a mixed message when there is no follow up.
When this all-too-common scenario plays out, the candidate may feel that it was a mistake to invest his or her time in applying orpossibile future employment in that organization is improbable. But what if it the opportunity wasn’t closed forever? What if this candidate was the preferred second choicefor the job and the only reason that he or she wasn’t hired was because of a budgeting issue? Instead of serving as a referral or even a candidate for consideration in the future, an applicant who is left hanging is much more likely to form a negative opinion of the company and this can contribute to poor company ratings and publicity.
Besides the potential for a disgruntled applicant to vent about his or her experience on Yelp or GlassDoor, pr0viding a lackluster candidate experience can turn into potential lost business and a reduced ability to appeal to candidates in the future. According to the same CareerBuilder survey, here’s how candidates are defining a bad application experience:
- Employer never bothered letting the candidate know of the decision after the interview – 60 %
- Found out during the interview that the job didn’t match what was written in the job ad – 43 %
- Company representative didn’t express a positive work environment – 34 %
- Company representative didn’t seem to be knowledgeable – 30 %
- Employer never acknowledged receiving the candidate’s application – 29 %
But it doesn’t stop there. According to the survey, here’s how candidates respond to having a negative application experience:
- Never seek employment at the company again – 42%
- Tell others not to work at that company – 22%
- Tell others not to purchase products or services from the company – 9%
Do you think your organization has ever come across this way in an interview? Here’s another one: has your company been guilty of the #1 most frustrating thing to applicants, which is failing to follow up? While some people might argue that “it’s always been this way,” a company’s ability to recruit talented employees is becoming more and more dependent on the quality of the application experience that they provide.
In today’s talent-strapped job market, your company’s ability to form lasting relationships with professionals will play a part in meeting your talent demands. Apart from increasing the likelihood that your top candidates will accept a job offer, a respectful application process also improves relations with rejected applicants, making them more willing to refer your company to friends or consent to be contacted for future job opportunities. Whenever you meet someone in the screening process who could be a great fit for your firm, make sure that you aren’t losing out on the opportunity to form a connection with him or her. The candidate search can be expensive and time consuming, making it in every company’s best interest to make the most of every interested candidate that it encounters. Though you can only hire one of them at the end of the day, being friendly and courteous to all applicants can set your organization apart from the competition.
According to the same Careerbuilder survey, candidates who have a positive application process would:
- Consider seeking employment with the company again in the future – 56%
- Tell others to seek employment with the company – 37%
- Be more likely to purchase products or services from the company – 23%
Everyone dislikes being kept in the dark, so shed some light on your application process! If you don’t take the candidate experience into account, you are much more likely to have a screening process that is hurting candidate’s impression of your company. In order to ensure that your company meets its talent demands now and in the future, place a greater emphasis on providing a courteous, transparent hiring process for all applicants.
For more tips on how your organization can improve the candidate experience, watch Accolo’s webinar replay, Becoming a Candidate’s Dream: Best Practices for Establishing an Winning FY15 Hiring Strategy.