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Why Hiring Managers Should Care About the Candidate Experience

“Candidate experience” is a simple concept that’s critical to the hiring process. It’s the idea that from the first time candidates make contact with your company until they’re either hired or you decide to go your separate ways, your behavior toward them demonstrates the type of employer you’d be. 

A place people want to work.

Such impressions matter. At a time when companies are competing fiercely to hire the best professionals, making candidates feel as if your organization is a place they want to work can be almost as important as the compensation package you offer. 

Candidates have options.

In today’s candidate-driven job market job seekers have a number of options to pursue, and they know it. How your company treats candidates tells them a lot about the kind of organization they’d be joining or avoiding.

Every interaction matters.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time they look at your career website or the third time they visit your office for an interview, you send a message every time you and the candidate interact. Did you acknowledge receipt of their resume? This makes an impression, and so does whether your hiring managers are prepared for interviews or if someone offers visitors coffee while they’re waiting. Even how you deliver bad news to an unsuccessful candidate is important to positioning yourself as an employer of choice. 

Stellar communication is essential.

Ask yourself this: What are you saying when a candidate telephones to follow up on an interview, but never has their message returned? What are you saying when you put a candidate through three rounds of interviews, then don’t acknowledge the email they send to check on the status of their application? The obvious message is that you don’t have much interest in them as a prospective employee. But, the greater feeling is your company doesn’t care very much about people.

Word travels.

That’s a dangerous message to send. Remember today’s candidates are connected. They share their experiences with their networks not only in one-on-one conversations but through their posts on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Glassdoor. Buzz about a cavalier attitude spreads quickly and far. The impression you give to one candidate has the potential to reach hundreds – or even thousands – more. 

When candidates have a good experience, even those you decline can become your fans. Not everybody is a good fit for every role, and job seekers recognize that. Treat them professionally from the start, and they’ll form a strong impression about your company they’ll share with others, not to mention an open mind should you approach them about an opportunity in the future.

Did we mention communication?

The key to all this is communication. Keep candidates informed about the progress of their application, and be prompt in returning their emails and phone calls. Be transparent about your process; let them know when you’re interviewing others, make sure they’re aware of next steps and take the time to inform them if you decide to proceed with someone else. Yes, effective communications takes a little time, but if you’ve invested that time it will set you far apart from other companies competing for these same people.

Candidate experience is everyone’s job.

Although your recruiting firm can help, no one can deliver your company’s message like the people who work there. From HR practitioners to hiring managers, from the receptionist to the team members a candidate might work with, everyone at the company should be aware how they greet job seekers, chat with them between interviews or show them around the office all contribute to making the candidate experience a positive one. 

When you engage with candidates in a positive way, you give your company a competitive advantage. Candidates see your team as a group they want to join, your mission as something they want to be a part of and your office as a place they want to be. It’s simple stuff. Keep the candidate uppermost in your mind throughout the process, and you’ll stand out from the many employers who neglect them.