Among the many buzzwords in the recruiting world, a phrase taking hold in the current tight labor market is the candidate experience. The candidate experience is the overall perception of a company’s recruiting and hiring process. Every interaction a candidate has with your company has the potential to positively or negatively affect their perception of your company and ultimately can influence a candidate’s decision to work for your company. 

Simplifying and communicating during the hiring process can have a significant impact on your success in attracting and hiring qualified candidates. Technology can be both a source of efficiency and frustration in the job search process. Applying for a job has never been easier and more difficult at the same time. The availability of jobs online and the ability to readily apply with a few clicks makes employers easily accessible to candidates. The resulting volume of qualified and unqualified applicants can frustrate the most well-intentioned employers, making it difficult to respond to and update candidates, but it does not diminish the importance. 

How can you help ensure a positive candidate experience?

Prepare job postings that are meaningful and specific.

Responsibilities and requirements should help candidates determine if they are qualified prior to applying. If descriptions are vague, candidates will become frustrated if they believe they are qualified but are not contacted. A job posting is also one of your first opportunities to promote your company – in a competitive job market you must “sell” throughout the process, and that can begin with the posting.

Provide an application process that is user-friendly and efficient.

Your desired applicant is likely employed and busy. A lengthy, cumbersome application process will not be viewed favorably by on-the-go job seekers. Candidates may draw inferences from your application process about what it would be like to work for your company.

Acknowledge and update applicants throughout the process.

Job posting sites and applicant tracking systems typically allow for automated replies to candidates. Each applicant should be acknowledged.  As you make decisions to move candidates forward in the process, notifying those not selected is just good business and a common courtesy. Candidates who may not fit your job or company have friends who might – not replying can result in negative feedback to a highly-qualified friend.

Be respectful of an applicant’s time during the interview process.

If a job seeker is confidentially applying to your position, missing several hours of work in the middle of the day can be difficult. Be respectful of their need for discretion, and provide multiple date and time options. Greet interviewees in a timely manner, and try to avoid lengthy delays in the on-site visit.

Give timely and honest updates.

Set expectations with candidates on a decision timeline and keep them updated. Delays sometimes arise, so provide an update when something changes. In a competitive hiring market, candidates may get away or lose interest when they don’t know where they stand in a search. When a decision is made, it is as important to communicate with the candidates interviewed but not selected. This is another opportunity to “sell” your company to a candidate that might be a better fit for your next job opening!