Hire Smarter! How to Create and Define Your Candidate Experience

It’s a time of major college-aged employee turnover in many spots across the country. We know that this influx/outflow routine isn’t good, yet some businesses perennially fall victim to this trap. It’s out of their control. Or is it?

Several McDonald’s restaurants close to where I live are grappling with this change. Their entry doors are plastered with neon-colored flyers shouting, POSITIONS AVAILABLE! ALL SHIFTS! IMMEDIATE, ON SITE INTERVIEWS!!!! The golden arches signs that tower above the cars waiting in the drive-through lane advertise the same thing. It seems that McDonald’s can’t hire enough people, nor do it fast enough.

Is recruiting walk-ins directly off the street really the best way to sign on new employees? Or does it reek of desperation and leave potential candidates with a sour taste in their mouth?

Yes, we’re talking about working for a fast food company in, probably, a minimum wage position. But McDonald’s’ initial candidate experience (at least here in Fargo) can be used as a cautionary tale about setting the stage to acquire talent.

You need to, at the very least, think about creating a candidate experience. We’re not saying you need to commit to one right away, but even acknowledging

a)  You don’t have one

b)  You want one

c)   You’d like more information on how to establish one

is a start. This white paper from a group called NorthCoast 99 is an excellent resource for beginners. They define a candidate experience as this: “impressions and perceptions that are created by the experiences a job candidate has as she or he applies for, and is considered, for a job.”

A candidate’s experience begins with the first communication they read or hear about. Did your job advertisement have a spelling or grammar error? Did it use really inventive language and offer specific job requirements and details? Did they see a flyer on the entrance door? All of these ingredients begin influencing a candidate’s taste from the first exposure.

Other candidate experience influencers include recruiting information, all communications from the hiring company, personal interactions, the company’s portrayal in the media, social media stuff.

As I wrote before in this post, there is plenty of things that can turn potential hires off:

  • Insanely slow communication
  • Ridiculously long applications
  • Internet tests that turn out to be timed AFTER the candidate has logged in
  • Rude interviewers
  • Non-transparent hiring practices
  • Not notifying a candidate when they don’t get a position
  • Illegal interview questions

An interview training and software company called Take The Interview runs a supremely informative blog on candidate experience, among other hiring essentials. They say the best way to examine your existing candidate experience (if you have already attempted to define and/or standardize one OR you just want to know what it feels like to go through the hiring steps at your company) is to ‘shop’ your acquisition process.

If you haven’t already, try to formulate a standardized hiring plan. Here’s how you do it:

Start with the job posting. The more descriptive the better. We like this paragraph from a previous post on optimizing the hiring process: “More descriptive job definitions attract candidates who feel they fit those qualifications, and weed out candidates who don’t. Example: Someone who likes to work independently may not want to apply for a job that stresses lots of “teamwork” or “group projects.””

Take it to the people. More job seekers are actively searching online and through mobile devices for future positions. Make sure your open position advertisements are formatted correctly to look good on these job boards or on social media. And, seriously consider building an automatic application portal where clients can apply for a position from their phone or iDevice. If you can’t do this in-house, outsource it.

Examine your interview process. Is your HR team member or company representative really engaged in this part of the candidate experience? Do you have a set of routine questions to ask every candidate? Do you incorporate questions that showcase your workplace culture and seek to find out your candidate’s ideal work environment?There is usually lots of room for improvement in this arena so take your time.

Communication is a two-way street. As much as you expect your candidate to be on time, have paperwork filled out, look the part, use proper grammar, be a good speller, etc. etc., they are expecting the same thing of your hiring team. Be courteous. Be on time. Be informative. Be willing to readily answer questions. Just be professional about the whole thing. Because if the person doesn’t get the job and they had a horrible candidate experience, word will get out.

Every candidate experience should include a background check. You have an obligation to verify a candidate’s honesty and consistency and help keep your workplace safe for existing employees. Contact us when you’re ready!

Re-visit your hiring procedures fairly regularly. This will keep everyone on their toes and ensure you’re company is staying on trend with hiring culture.

Have we given you enough food for thought? Not sure where to even start? Check out this previous Active Care blog post that includes a handy guide with steps every candidate experience should have.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, Human Resources, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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