Why the Candidate Recruitment Experience Matters
As anyone who has been unemployed will know, searching for a new job can be a tedious affair. The whole process, from job applications through to interview, seems designed to test one’s patience. It’s almost as if some employers don’t consider the candidate experience to be important.
There’s a sense that if a candidate wants the job, they’ll be willing to put up with pretty much anything to get it. Indeed, long-winded application forms and intermittent communication could be seen as the first giant test of one’s desire to get the job.
But this attitude fails to grasp the reality of modern work. Job seekers are now like customers – they approach new opportunities with the mindset of a consumer. They form opinions about an employer based on their interactions with them, and they expect a certain level of sophistication from job applications. Clunky, old-fashioned processes suggest a clunky, old-fashioned employer – and who wants to work somewhere like that?
Here’s what the typical application process looks like from the candidate’s perspective.
This is where it all begins. For many candidates, this will be their first interaction with your brand – and first impressions count.
While some job portals allow one-click CV applications, many organisations still insist on lengthy application forms that ask the candidate to manually input the same information that’s on their CV. While there may be valid reasons for this, it shows a complete disregard for the applicants’ time. In a world where we can transfer money, book flights and buy goods at the click of a button, why is applying for a job so arduous?
Unsurprisingly, many people are put off at this stage. According to Hay’s What Workers Want Report 2018, almost three quarters of candidates (73%) abandon job applications that take more than 15 minutes. So if your application process involves a lengthy form, chances are you’re missing out on top talent.
In addition to lengthy application forms, candidates are often asked to write a tailored cover letter, which could take another half an hour to get right. This would be acceptable if cover letters actually added real value, but in most cases, candidates approach them thinking “what do they want me to say?” The result is that every candidate sounds like the perfect fit.
Unless you are applying for a job as a writer, and the recruiter needs an example of your writing to verify your suitability for the position, is it really necessary to ask people to write a cover letter? Besides, do you even have time to read them?
According to a report into recruiter behaviour by TheLadders, recruiters spend on average six seconds looking at a CV before deciding whether to proceed or not, suggesting that cover letters are indeed a waste of time for everyone.
Once the application is complete, it’s time to play the waiting game. Candidates can wait weeks or even months before they hear anything back from the employer – if they hear anything it all. After all that effort, it often feels like the application disappears into a black hole.
In a world where instant communication has never been easier, why is the interaction between companies and candidates so bad? Would you treat potential customers like that? Many people have their hopes and dreams riding on that application, and having shown a strong desire to work for your company, the least they deserve is to be acknowledged.
For those that make the grade, it’s on to the interview stage. This is the first face-to-face meeting with the candidate, so another chance to make a great first impression – or not.
The old-fashioned approach to interviews can seem more like an interrogation than a conversation. The candidate is put on the spot and asked the same set of hackneyed questions as in every interview, like “what are your weaknesses?” or “why are you the best person for the job?”
These questions seem designed to catch the candidate out rather than to get to know them, and treat the interview like a verbal obstacle course that the candidate must get around in one piece. Unless the position they are applying for involves answering rapid-fire questions under high pressure, why do we approach interviews this way?
So how can we improve the candidate experience?
If employers are serious about attracting top talent, they need to bring the application process into the 21st Century. This means treating candidates like customers, and ensuring that the whole process is slick and hassle-free.
Many of the logistical issues associated with the candidate experience stem from the past, when humans alone were required to facilitate the process. Given the large volume of applications – sometimes hundreds for a single position – it simply wasn’t possible to reply to everyone. Those that did get a response often did so after several weeks or months, due to the lengthy process of sorting and filtering applicants into a shortlist.
But this needn’t be a problem today. We now have the perfect technology for managing countless interactions in a friendly, timely and personal manner – the chatbot.
Chatbots turn once clunky and impersonal processes into something slick, hassle-free and ‘human’. This makes them the perfect tool for recruitment campaigns, where they can deal with high volumes of applications, and ensure that everyone stays in the loop at all stages of the process.
From collecting basic information to keeping everyone in the loop, chatbots guide applicants through the entire process, ensuring that nobody is kept in the dark. From the employer’s side, they allow the company to respond to large volumes of applications. They can even be used to shortlist the best candidates, based on experience, skills or qualifications. And once the best have been selected for interview, the chatbot can arrange an interview time that suits both parties.
Rethink the employer-candidate dynamic
Part of treating candidates like customers is acknowledging the power that they now have. Recruitment is no longer a one-way selection process; instead, both the employer and the candidate are trying to find the best fit from a number of options. As such, you need to remember that you are also under the spotlight.
Try to approach the interview stage with this in mind. Rather than being a one-sided interrogation, an interview should be a two-way conversation between equal parties, both of whom are interested in entering into a partnership that will be mutually beneficial. This is a chance for both parties to get to know each other, and to see if their aims and ideas align.
Treat the candidate like an adult with something to offer, and be prepared to answer as many questions as you ask. Remember that everyone is different; the more you try to fit candidates into a particular mould, the less likely you are to understand their unique talents.
So have a think about the applicant process at your organisation. Is it overly complicated, or is it smooth and hassle-free? Are you stuck in the past, or are you making the most of technology? Do your interviews represent an interrogation or a conversation between adults? If you don’t get this right, chances are you’ll put off more people than you attract.