The Talent Scout Episode 61: Amplifying your Employer Brand with a positive Candidate Experience
5 minutes | Posted 25 May, 2021

Your Employer Brand can be a tricky thing to measure and manipulate. We know that to get a sense of how it’s performing you can measure your time to hire, cost per hire, number of internal referrals, Glassdoor and Indeed review ratings, or even something as simple as employee feedback when surveying your employees on their experiences within your workplace. Measuring and improving all of those varying factors is a big undertaking, but one area we know has a massive impact on your Employer Brand is your candidate experience. What is it like to engage with you as an employer before you’re even hired? How do candidates feel about you when they apply for a job, interview with you, and subsequently get either rejected or accepted by your organization as a new hire?

The candidate experience

A positive candidate experience is the best way of securing a positive employer brand. A positive candidate experience is one where candidates feel that the work and energy they’ve invested into your organization is being valued and respected regardless of the outcome. This can be a challenging thing to strive for. Most organizations have only a handful of recruiters that are interacting with hundreds of candidates to some degree each week. It’s a lot for a small team to manage but it can have a big impact. A positive candidate experience can encourage applicants to remain engaged with your organization and over time reduce your time to hire. On the flip side of this, a negative candidate experience is much easier to attain. A negative candidate experience is one where candidates are ghosted by you at some point in the recruitment process, disrespected in an interview, or left waiting a long time for a decision. In its worst instances, a negative candidate experience can cause a candidate to turn against you and encourage their friends and family to do the same. They may even feel strongly enough to refrain from ever engaging with you as a consumer again and also encourage their friends and family to follow suit.

Using technology to promote a positive candidate experience

One of the first steps you can make towards a positive candidate experience is using an applicant tracking system. The right recruitment technology empowers you to treat candidates, within your recruitment process, with the respect that they both crave and deserve. If you’re managing your recruitment out of an email inbox or an excel document then candidates are going to be missed and they are going to have a negative association with you and your organization.

Most applicant tracking systems come equipped with the functionality of automatic responses. Spend a bit of time crafting your automatic response and give your candidates the gratitude they deserve for taking the time to apply for your role. Equally, give an overview of the recruitment process and when they should next expect to hear from you. Finally, give them the means to reach out to you should they have any questions and encourage them to do so. Do all of this and you’re already well on your way to a positive candidate experience.

As your candidates move through your recruitment process it’s important to keep them engaged and let them know where they are in the process. Auto status’, like those used by Scout Recruit, can allow you to send automated emails to candidates based on a status you assign to them. This means you can keep candidates aware of where they are in your recruitment process with a simple click of a button. This will keep your candidates engaged in the overall process and help allay any anxiety that may develop within them should your recruitment process hit an obstacle and end up longer than expected.

The impact of interviewing

Interviewing is another important part of the recruitment process that can have a huge impact on how your candidates feel about your organization. If your hiring managers don’t have a HR or recruitment background then you should be training them on how to carry out an interview. At a minimum, regardless of first impressions, everyone that you have chosen to invite to interview should be asked the same questions. It doesn’t matter if within the first 5 minutes you realize someone is completely underqualified for the role in question, they’ve taken the time to prepare for the interview so you need to show them respect and listen. You might be surprised what you find, there’s every chance that this person before you could turn out to be the perfect fit for another role you currently have open.

Take a moment and think about the worst interview you’ve ever had for a role that you wanted. I bet a company name immediately came to mind, I know it does for me. You’ll never forget that company and you’ll likely never shake that negative association you have for it either. Don’t let that feeling be how your candidates feel about you.

Rejecting candidates and feedback

Rejecting candidates or giving them feedback is always going to be a balancing act when it comes to candidate experience. But while it can be a challenge to create a positive experience out of rejection it is relatively easy to make it a negative experience and undo all of the good work that you’ve done so far.

By far the worst thing that you can do is ghost candidates at any stage in your recruitment process. Rejecting a candidate is much more preferable from a candidate’s perspective than ignoring them. As a rule of thumb if you’ve not spoken to a candidate before it’s perfectly fine to reject them from your recruitment process with a quick email. If you have spoken to the candidate before, especially if you’ve interviewed them, then you should give the candidate a call to explain you’ll no longer be proceeding with them for the role. Yes, it’s scary, but it’s also the right thing to do.

In terms of feedback it’s always best to be honest and to the point. Hubspot are renowned for giving all candidates that they interview the option for 15 minutes of feedback afterwards should they be unsuccessful. This is an incredible way to promote a positive candidate experience though it’s not necessarily needed in all cases. Even a short phone call explaining to a candidate where they fell down in the interview process can be enough.

Closing thoughts

It can be easy to get bogged down into the details when thinking about candidate experience. It doesn’t really need to be that complicated. Think of a loved one, a close friend, a parent, and imagine them excitedly telling you about a role that they’d applied for. Then imagine them a week later telling you that they’d heard nothing after submitting their application or worse still, they’d gone to the interview and felt humiliated during their time there. This is what we should all be striving to avoid. When people apply for our roles they do so with excitement and enthusiasm. It’s important that we nurture this as recruiters so that our candidates continue to be huge fans of our organizations.

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