What is Candidate Experience in Recruitment?

Candidate experience is one of the most researched topics in the HR world. Here’s an A to Z elaboration on “What is candidate experience?”.

If you think about it, it's quite a shift of perspective when you have to think about ‘candidate experience’ Pretty much like how the ‘customer experience’ is considered as a big metric in hospitality.

But, if you take a few minutes to ponder on the number of times you felt mistreated when applying for a job and even those moments when you may have sworn to not work for a particular company just because of the way they treated their applicants, the importance of candidate experience would start to weigh on you.

In fact, according to LinkedIn, before applying to a company, 71% of candidates. So, focusing on candidate experience could break the glass ceiling if you are facing issues related to hires.

Candidate Experience: What is it?

The definition of candidate experience is the impression a job seeker has of an employer based on their interactions with that employer during the whole hiring process. This covers all points of interaction during the hiring process, such as job searching, application review, interviewing, and onboarding.

In other words, any plan for improving the candidate experience requires assessing each and every moment at which a candidate interacts with a potential employer during the hiring process, as well as the candidate's perceptions of those interactions. This might range from something as straightforward as a phone call with the recruiter to more intricate ideas like the user experience on the firm website's careers page.

The hiring process starts long before a candidate ever submits an application. An IBM study found that before applying for a job, 48% of the most recent candidates questioned had previous encounters or relationships with the employing business. These encounters and ties included having friends or family who work there, being aware of the company's reputation and brand, being a customer, and having previously worked with the company.

Fortunately, as recruiting moves toward being more digital, HR directors now have the chance to use recruiting technology tools and solutions to create a standardized candidate experience. Let's examine the essential elements to comprehend how technology can affect the applicant experience.

A captivating candidate experience is now a necessity with very serious commercial repercussions, not just a choice. For instance, Virgin Media lost almost $6 million as a result of a bad applicant experience in a single year. A pleasant applicant experience, on the other side, can promote corporate expansion.

According to IBM, applicants who have a positive experience working for a firm are more likely to recommend the company to others, whereas negative candidate experiences damage your brand.The recruiting funnel is followed by the candidate's experience, and as automation increases, you have more opportunities to shape the candidate's experience.

The essential candidate experience revamps

1. Job Search: A candidate will likely learn about your company for the first time through social media, job postings, or the careers page on your website. Your candidates will appreciate it if your careers website is simple to find. A successful applicant experience journey begins with this.

2. Job Application: It's crucial to provide candidates with clear and simple directions while filling out job applications, in addition to making vacant opportunities easier to find. The job description and the application instructions are crucial for candidates that come to your website via job boards.

3. Communication: Lack of communication from the company when a candidate applies for a job is one of the most annoying things for applicants. Nearly a third of respondents said they would prefer more communication during the hiring process in a recent CareerBuilder survey on how companies may improve the candidate experience. Even if they are rejected during the first round of screening, candidates would welcome a straightforward SMS or email.

4. Feedback: Regular status updates will keep shortlisted candidates interested in your hiring process if they have been selected by the business. They might receive a call from the recruiter alerting them of the shortlist, or they might receive an automated message outlining the next steps. In either case, communication is essential throughout the hiring process.

5. Interview: Your best chance to learn more about your prospects and determine whether they'll be a suitable match for the position is during an interview. The candidate also has a chance to learn a little bit more about the company. A successful interview process is essential to persuading individuals to work for your company. You'll be able to make clear decisions and prevent confusion by using an organized interviewing procedure.

Candidates will become confused and the hiring process will take longer if interviews are repeated with different persons. Given that candidates are eager for feedback following the interview process, speed is crucial in this situation. Give them a heads-up about your interview procedure, whether it involves a video interview or an in-person interview, and let them know what to anticipate. Interviews are the stage that candidates use to

6. Analysis: Objectively assessing, looking into findings, and adjusting the applicant journey are crucial for optimizing recruiting efforts and enhancing the candidate experience. Although time-consuming, backend ATS (application tracking system) data analysis and candidate behavior data can be very helpful in optimizing the hiring funnel.

Improvement Strategies for the Candidate Experience

The next important issue is: How can you improve this experience now that we've identified the essential elements of the candidate experience?

The following are the main tactics you may implement to enhance the candidate experience:

1. Applicant tracking systems

Often known as ATS, are essential for streamlining and accelerating your hiring process. The majority of ATS solutions provide career site integrations, making it simpler for candidates to submit applications for jobs via social media, job boards, or career web pages. The seamless mobile interface provided by an efficient ATS enables candidates to submit their applications via mobile devices.

2. Potential sources

Before even applying for a job, 75% of job seekers take the employer's reputation into account. Make sure your website, LinkedIn Career Page, and other employer branding tools are educational and current to put the information customers desire at their fingertips and encourage people to apply.

3. Pre-candidate experience

Since we're discussing RM applicants, many of them likely began as inactive job seekers who were drawn in by your excellent content and sharp, interesting social media presence. This indicates that there is a good probability they may contact you through a mobile device. In fact, 45% of all job seekers claim to use their mobile devices solely for job searching at least once every day. On the other hand, they might be seeing your brand for the first time on your career page, which, according to Hodes, is the case for 95% of job searchers. Because of this, it's a wonderful idea to figure out exactly what brought them to you. Then, based on the response, conduct a pulse check to see what exactly is working so well, what can benefit from some adjusting, and what you might think about removing from ongoing campaigns.

Use a brief poll to check the pulse of the organization, such as one given to new hires during onboarding, as this is the fastest and most accurate way to do so. Perhaps 5 questions will be plenty to learn what interested them, whether they were truly passive, whether elements of your content strategy spoke to them, and so on. Don't forget to include a query about potential missteps as well. That is how you pick up new information and direct your focus elsewhere.

4. Candidate drop-off

Whether you like it or not, candidate drop-off is a reality. According to Glassdoor, the average drop-off rate for applicants in the modern era is 80%. There may be two issues at play here. First, the application procedure may be overly complicated or lengthy, causing a person to just close the browser tab without completing it. Another possibility is that a candidate may have completed a comprehensive application yet been overlooked for several weeks. In any case, this reduces the number of candidates.

Bounce rates from your application sites, orphaned applications in your ATS, and keeping an eye out for any unfavorable reviews that mention the process being complicated are the numbers to look at. Your ATS in particular may prove to be a significant roadblock.According to Potentialpark, 48% of applicants give up because of difficult ATS-powered submissions (which might explain why applicants expect to spend about 40 minutes filling out an online application). Despite how serious this seems, there are fixes:
• Display a progress bar so candidates may know how much work is still left to do.

• As soon as you receive a finished application, give a precise deadline.

• Follow up to let applicants know where they are in a reasonable amount of time, like a week.

• If you come across an orphaned application, get in touch with the applicant to see what transpired.

5. Days-to-Acceptance

This "time-to-fill" statistic is a modification of the standard "time-to-fill" metric that accounts for the fact that many candidates will have contractual responsibilities, relocation concerns, or other potential delays that could result in increased T2F figures. Days-to-acceptance removes those factors from the calculation by focusing just on the amount of time between the posting of a job and the acceptance of an offer. This provides you with a more focused view of the touchpoints the candidate encountered as they moved through the funnel from potential candidate to new employee.

Communication issues are the main issues to look out for. Candidates frequently have to wait several days before even seeing an acknowledgment that their application has been accepted, and it could take weeks before they learn their status. This metric provides you with a snapshot of the funnel that includes all touchpoints and the duration between each one.

And the answer, RMA solutions, will probably seem familiar. You can make sure the candidate doesn't feel left out and that you get fast responses from them by using their chosen communication channel by automating acknowledgment emails, follow-ups, and even scheduling reminders.

6. Career Portal Visitor Stats

The majority of active job seekers place a high priority on a company's careers portal when evaluating their overall experience. How well is it achieving your objectives?

• Bounce rate: Indicates the proportion of visitors that arrive but don't apply.

• To determine whether people are giving up on the process, the total number of visitors can be compared to the application rates (see #2 above).

• You can learn about visitor device preferences; if your mobile site isn't up to par, you'll notice a higher bounce rate from that page. This is a crucial area to concentrate on as more and more people go to mobile as their primary device.

Here, the issues are sites that are old, unreliable, or cumbersome and are not mobile-friendly or well-integrated with your ATS. All of these things can result in drop-off, ATS black hole victims, and people simply choosing not to deal with your antiquated mobile-unfriendly pages.

Once more, the solutions will be recognizable: make your portal mobile-friendly or even mobile-first. To avoid the black hole, make sure your ATS integration is configured correctly. Finally, think about implementing a distinct procedure for mobile applications. For instance, it can be advantageous to have the mobile procedure waive the requirement to attach a CV as most people don't keep one on their phones. Following that, you can include a link to upload that resume in an automated follow-up email.

7. Overall Candidate Satisfaction Ratings

To be honest, this does feel a little fleeting. However, it behooves you to put in the work if you're attempting to figure out how to resolve current candidate experience concerns or simply wanting to ensure your ratings stay high. Surveys are the finest and most reliable approach to gauge this. Establish and document your KPIs for this indicator before putting them into practice. If you have no concept what a "10" rating would entail, how can you possibly understand what a "6" rating means?

These metrics are meant to be used as a guide for you to base your actual KPIs and metric measurements on when taken as a whole. Since every business is different, everyone's perceptions of their experiences will vary.Every business is different, and each individual's perceptions of their experiences will depend on the environment and be influenced by their own internal metrics and objectives. The goal is to establish a baseline for comparison and assess what is quantifiable. Ideally, you'll be able to make sure that when your candidates and applications move through the candidate journey you've outlined, they have the kind of experience that makes them want to spread the word about you and even urge their friends to join the organization.

8. Importance of candidate experience

The candidate experience is extremely important as first-stage job searchers connect with your business since it directly affects their decision to apply to your business and, should they be chosen, to accept your job offer. However, some companies still fail to recognize the candidate experience's significant cascading effects.

Surprisingly, nine out of ten respondents who participated in the study for our Talent Trends 2021 research described unpleasant interview-stage experiences, and more than half of them said that these disappointments would ultimately influence their choice to accept a job offer.

When job hopefuls receive many offers, they frequently choose the company that made them feel welcome throughout the interview process rather than the offer with the highest salary.

Best practices for a positive candidate experience

We’ve discussed the importance of candidate experience and its time to implement a few practices to bring them to your doorstep.

1. Utilize appropriate technologies
The first step is to acquire the appropriate technology for candidate screening. Organizations should think about using an applicant tracking system to help process high amounts of resumes.

The applicant's experience during the hiring process includes all potential perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The applicant experience will be vastly improved by using the appropriate technology for applications, supporting people with disabilities, and controlling time and responses.

The following cutting-edge technology, for example, can enhance the hiring procedure:

  • AI-powered recruitment marketing: AI-powered automated recruitment marketing will assist in identifying the most effective methods for connecting with top candidates, including social media platforms like LinkedIn. By connecting with candidates, conducting screenings, and keeping candidates informed of their progress, RPA bots can help businesses enhance the recruiting process. Find an RPA bot service that can carry out natural dialogues by scanning the market. Keep hiring managers informed so they may offer suggestions for the procedure and how the chatbot should react to queries.

  • Interview videos: Additionally, video interviews conducted using services like Teams, Zoom, or Skype might speed up the procedure. According to a Jobvite survey, the typical recruiter fills openings in less than 30 days. Accelerating the procedure.Online interviews are a terrific method to move the process forward more rapidly and keep in front of top candidates before they move on to other chances.

2. Make messages more specific
Particularly when an email opens with "Dear candidate," candidates do not connect with generic content. Personalizing emails with recipients' names, job titles, and referrals' names can be very effective. To establish a rapport, start customizing emails right away. Using a template may keep recruiters organized and ensure that the proper information, such as the stage of the hiring process, is filled out.

Follow-up emails can be automated by recruiters to increase response rates and keep in touch with candidates.

3. Ensure it's simple to apply.
Candidates should find it simple to complete each step of the application procedure or it will discourage them. Instead of asking applicants to upload their resumes and complete application forms, just ask them to choose one. Additionally, if candidates can't finish the application in one sitting, let them store their progress.

After the "We've received your application" email, include a timeline for the initial response.

Additionally, recruiters must guarantee that all applicants can access the application process. In order to accommodate users, websites and applications should contain alternate text, closed caption movies, and content presented in a variety of ways. For people with disabilities, assistive technologies can simplify the application process.

4. Offer suggestions and solicit them
Giving feedback, whether it's favorable or negative, is crucial. According to a LinkedIn Talent Solutions survey, only 41% of job seekers have gotten feedback from their interviews, despite the fact that 94% of them desire it. The applicant can learn how to develop the necessary skills for the next interview or feel good about their engagement.

Reaching out after the interview will enhance the candidate's experience. In order to improve recruitment for future candidates, recruiters should send candidates a satisfaction survey to identify areas for improvement and what the business does well. By requesting comments, a business communicates that it is receptive to ideas, which can enhance its reputation.

5. Close the recruitment loop
Don't forget to let the other candidates know the outcome after selecting a candidate. If candidates don't get a response in any way, the company's reputation may suffer. Continual communication can maintain candidate interest. For instance, Foot Locker enhanced its automation and talent management tools to enhance the candidate experience. Notifying applicants who will not advance to the next stage of the interview process is equally vital, though.

Disgruntled workers might write unfavorable comments on websites like Glassdoor, Yelp, Vault, and Indeed that prospective employers will see. Even if someone isn't the right match for the job at hand, they can be a fantastic possibility for a different opening down the road. Inform them of this

6. Involve staff members
In order to promote honest and open communication, employers should include interviewers other than the hiring manager. Think about setting up interview opportunities for candidates with present workers. Answering any queries might be done in person or over a messaging service like Slack or Teams. The candidate can obtain a sense of the culture of the company by speaking with other employees.

To aid them in attracting new talent, take into account a program for ambassadors for dedicated employees. Included in this is a referral scheme with rewards, such as bonuses. Engage workers by encouraging them to post about their experiences on social media and by proactively looking for employee reviews on job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor.

7. Make a positive impression
Even if just one candidate is selected for a position, businesses can still provide excellent candidate experiences to those who were unsuccessful.

Give those who weren't chosen feedback, such as that they required more training or experience with a particular tool. It can enhance the candidate experience, but few companies take the effort to offer this feedback.

Find out what the issue is and fix it if there are bad reviews. To identify weak areas and seek suggestions on how to improve them, get in touch with previous employees. Candidates are able to tell when anything is false, so be open and provide an honest rapport by providing strategies for dealing with any shortcomings.

Close the gap between the onboarding and acceptance processes It's time to fill the gap between the final interview and the onboarding process once a candidate has been chosen in order to make the hire feel like a member of the team. The candidate might change their minds or get more job offers during this period. According to coaching firm BetterUp, if an employee feels like they belong, they are 50% less likely to leave. Once the offer has been accepted, begin this connection.

To keep people interested, stay in touch and offer updates. Send the first-day checklist. Before they begin, keep them interested by distributing corporate products or hosting online team interactions.

Managers and coworkers may also be contacted by businesses. Before the first day, companies may ask supervisors and coworkers to identify themselves. To express their excitement for the new employee's start day, they can offer greetings through email, video, or card.

8. Onboard with ease
A component of the candidate experience is still onboarding. Before the visitor arrives, businesses should make all required arrangements. Hold a meeting with the entire team to go over the new hire's first-day procedures and to talk about how to make the new hire feel welcome.

Before the employee ever reports for work, effective onboarding begins. Online software can handle administrative tasks like benefits administration, training, and other paperwork, giving the hiring manager or recruiter more time to handle the more intimate aspects of onboarding like executive introductions, office tours, and team introductions.

According to a Digitate survey, employees who had a bad onboarding experience were twice as likely to hunt for new employment. Preboarding and onboarding programs that are carefully thought out can have a big impact on an employee's decision to stay. According to a BambooHR survey, about a third of employees leave their jobs within the first six months of employment, thus it's important to develop a productive program to make the employee feel appreciated and welcomed right away.