12/30/2015 Molly Moseley

Recruiting resolution for 2016: Improve the candidate experience

As the job market continues to turn in favor of the applicant, employers need to be strategic in order to make a positive lasting impression. To attract top talent in 2016 and beyond, it’s more important than ever to offer a delightful candidate experience.

A clunky application system. A confusing interview process. Lackluster communication and no rejection letter. These are major faults of companies big and small across the country. Create a bad experience and the candidate may never apply again. Furthermore, you can bet applicants will talk to their friends about the experience, which means others may be deterred from applying.

Resolve to make 2016 the year you breathe new life into your company’s candidate experience so you can garner top talent and improve your reputation among professionals throughout the industry. This checklist offers the perfect way to get started.

1. Experience it for yourself
Most companies are unaware just how bad the candidate experience is. Start by putting yourself in the applicant’s shoes and go through the process. Yes, that means applying for your own jobs. Be prepared to have an eye-opening experience.

2. Simplify the application
If the application process is convoluted, consider a redesign. If the industry requires a detailed application due to regulatory reasons, consider adding a short video that clarifies application steps on the website.

3. Prioritize communication
Lack of communication is a top applicant complaint. It’s important to communicate with candidates throughout the entire process, not just if you want to move forward with an interview. Even a short email is helpful.

4. Clarify the process
Every company has a different hiring process and it can be helpful to candidates to clarify the steps from start to finish so they know what to expect. That could include a flow chart on the website’s careers page, an email after an application is received or a handout at the interview.

5. Support candidate preparation
Help ensure interviews are as productive as possible by sending out a standard communication package to candidates a few days prior. This could include company history, product profiles, hiring team bios, etc.

6. Convey the culture
Both you and the candidate want a good personality fit, so it is beneficial to add video, images and copy to your website in order to convey company culture. Some examples include employee bios and experiences, company awards and special outings, and, of course, a mission statement.

7. Combat brandjacking
Criminals are increasingly posting false job ads in order to obtain personal information from job seekers. This type of identity theft hurts the brand and puts candidates’ private info at risk. Pay attention to brandjacking and deal with it accordingly.

8. Facilitate the interview 
Streamline the interview process to leave candidates feeling elated. Have a specific person to greet and guide candidates to each meeting. For long interviews, plan breaks that include water, coffee and snacks. Always offer an office tour to help candidates better understand the job atmosphere.

9. Provide tactful rejections
While rejection sounds harsh, it provides much needed closure for candidates. Go one better by telling them how many people applied — it can be easier to deal with rejection when you know the competition was fierce. Then, add in appropriate next steps, such as asking rejected candidates to apply for future positions directly.

10. Get feedback
The candidate isn’t the only one who can benefit from feedback. You — the company — should want it, too. Solicit feedback on the candidate experience via phone or email, or do so in a survey sent to candidates post-interview. Use the results to analyze and improve processes.