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Foolproof Tips for a Positive Candidate Experience

Tim Gunn, Managing Director – Dallas, TX

In information technology’s war for talent, a great candidate experience is not just nice to have, it’s a must have.  A positive candidate experience is critical to the success of your organization’s brand in the marketplace. It dictates how a candidate remembers your organization, and determines their actions once the interview process is complete. According to a candidate survey conducted by The Talent Board, 61 percent of candidates would actively encourage colleagues to apply to an organization if they had a positive experience and 27 percent of those with a negative experience would actively discourage colleagues from applying.

Beyond brand awareness and reputation in the marketplace, a few additional benefits of a positive candidate experience include:

  • Your organization’s ability to attract a higher quantity of candidates
  • Additional referrals from the candidates you do business with
  • The quality of hires increases
  • The organization’s cost-to-hire reduces
  • The organization’s time-to-fill improves

As you assess your organization’s candidate experience, it’s best to evaluate each stage of the candidate’s life cycle with your organization and ensure that the organization addresses the key factors outlined in each phase below.

The Resourcing & Recruiting Stage

Today’s candidates have multiple opportunities available to them in their job search. The goal of the hiring manager or recruiter is to find out what the candidate’s key motivator is for making their decision. When making your initial contact with candidates, make sure your first call is not solely focused on discussing the open position, but spend time to get to know the candidate. You should first uncover what their key motivators and goals are. For example, if you are hiring for a data analyst position, ask the candidate where they ultimately want their career to lead them. Then, determine which one of the factors you’ve discussed is the key motivator in their decision. What the candidate tells you may or may not fit what you are hiring for, but it’s important that you understand the candidate’s perspective and aspirations when approaching them with your data analyst opportunity.

Once you determine the key motivator, ask yourself if you can generate true interest for the data analyst position based on what you now know. Ideally, think about how you can position your company and create a positive recruiting experience to generate desire for the candidate.

The Interviewing Stage

When you begin the interviewing stage of the hiring process, take time to educate and prepare your candidates for the interview. Provide the candidate with resources about the company and the person they will be interviewing with, guide them to the company website and the hiring manger’s LinkedIn page. Confirm that your organization communicates and sets expectations regarding the length of the hiring process so there is no ambiguity for the candidate.

Mostly importantly, provide communication and feedback through every stage of the interview process. Let the candidate know the manager’s feedback and walk them through next steps. Don’t forget to gauge the candidate’s interest during this stage to understand how they feel about the open data analyst position.

Ultimately, bad candidate experiences stem from a lack of information. For many organizations, if they determine a candidate is not a fit, they cut off communication and the candidate never hears back from them. The communication breakdown is the number one frustration for candidates.

The Decision Stage

If you’ve made the hiring decision, your goal is to generate as much excitement as possible about the data analyst position and the organization. Make all interactions between your organization and the candidate positive and provide complete details. Ask yourself, does the candidate have all the information they need to make a decision on their end? Keep the open communication going from the offer through the start date. You don’t want a candidate to be excited about accepting the position, but then not hear from your organization for the entire two weeks prior to their start date.

The candidate experience also carries over into the onboarding process. With the digital age we are in, simplify the onboarding process as much as possible. Your goal is to keep your new data analyst excited about coming on board. Keep the communication channels alive during their first several weeks as they start to become an advocate for your organization.

If you make the decision to reject, it is equally critical to provide feedback. Strive to always give the candidate useful feedback that they can use to better their chances in their next opportunity. You never know! The candidate you reject could be involved with the organization in the future and may become a customer later down the road so it’s best to make the process as smooth as possible.

Final Thoughts

A great candidate experience is an extension of the culture of your company. To ensure that the candidate experience is reflective of your culture, don’t let the experience live solely in the human resources or talent acquisition department. Aim to have employees involved in the process so the candidate is excited about the team they will be potentially working with as a data analyst.