9 Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience This Hiring Cycle

By Sean Gordon

When was the last time you had to look for a job? We know, this is a strange question to open with but this is something every hiring manager should take time to think about at least once a year. Whether it was two months ago or ten years, try to remember what it was like the last time you had to sit on the other side of the interview table. While obviously the last interview went well or you wouldn’t be here today, you probably still remember the many other applications that you didn’t take and interviews that didn’t end in a job. Now ask yourself, how many left a bad taste in your mouth? How many times did it feel like you were being given the run-around, subtly disrespected, asked pointless questions that had nothing to do with the work, or were dropped unceremoniously when the position was filled?

Hiring is Notoriously Imperfect

Let’s face it, the hiring world is not perfect. While there are some amazing hiring managers out there and no doubt you are always striving to be one of them, there are also a lot of entrenched HR managers who clearly don’t really care about the position, the candidates, or even the decisions. It’s also all too easy for hiring managers, especially those of the old-school before the talent crunch and remote contractor craze, to settle into feeling smug and superior when faced with anybody who does not currently have a job.

The New Hiring Paradigm

While this kind of “I have the jobs and you don’t” attitude may have been acceptable as recently as the 00’s, the job market has changed overwhelmingly in the last ten years. For example, did you know that the workforce is quickly approaching 50% freelancers? Employers are facing an unprecedented shortage of available skilled employees willing to work for someone other than themselves. This not only means that competition is vicious for who can hire who, it has also made things abundantly clear to current professionals looking to be hired that they finally have the negotiating power. Rather than the jobless practically begging for a job, these days companies are the ones jumping through hoops to earn the favor of the talent they so badly need in chairs and clocking hours.

In 2018, there is no doubt that the new focus of any hiring manager worth their salt is creating and maintaining a good relationship with each and every candidate, even if you don’t choose to hire them this cycle. The fact of the matter is that those you send on their way this time you may well need their services in a few years instead. So without further ado, let’s look at ten of the best ways to get an edge in the war for talent by treating every single candidate you interview like a valuable asset you may need to draw on now or sometime in the future.

1) Become a Brand Advocate

In the war for talent, by far one of the best things you can do for your company and your employer is to become an aware and active representative of your company. You are the first point of ‘behind the scenes’ contact for candidates as they discover what your company is like on the inside but don’t forget that many of the people you interview could very easily also be customers depending on your industry. Put your best foot forward and show candidates the best possible presentation of the company and how the business as a whole values their interest in joining the team. This tactic isn’t just good for the brand, it’s also vital for your future hiring efforts because candidate treated especially well or especially poorly are also likely to share that experience on job seeking sites which will guide whether or not other professionals feel your company could be a good fit for them.

2) Share Your Company Culture

If there is one thing you see over and over when looking into hiring advice and best practices to improve your skills, it’s talking about and screening for the company culture. Traditionally, the onus is put on the hiring manager to understand the company culture and find others who would fit well into it, but this isn’t just your decision to make Gen Zs and Millennials are both strongly influenced by workplace environment and company culture which means that this is both an enticing asset in your toolbox and a great way to help candidates self-screen. Make your company culture transparent to candidates and they will happily help you decide who is a good fit. You might even get some feedback on what is and is not tempting about your company culture.

3) Find Out What Motivates Your Candidates

Speaking of company culture, one of the things that matters most about finding a good fit is discovering what your candidates are actually motivated by. Almost no one is driven by a pure desire for money in the midst of the war for talent, many candidates are getting plenty of lucrative offers but are looking for a position that will be satisfying and motivating to them for years, not just whatever pays the best. By talking to your candidates and encouraging them to share what they hope to get from their careers and what motivates them to work hard and be part of a team, you can both determine who will fit in well to the motivational structure of your company and put yourself in a better position to entice highly desirable candidates to choose your position over any others that may have come up in their job search.

4) Score Candidates Numerically

The results are still out on whether using AIs and algorithms are better for choosing candidates than the natural human method. What has been discovered is a little computing does go a long way toward making sure that you keep your assessment of skills and personality separate. These are two very important aspects of choosing a new hire but they are not the same thing and should not be clumped together without care. While you trust yourself to know who’s a good personality hire, you can use a fair numeric scoring system to make it quick and easy to see who in the group are your best on-paper candidates to start with.

5) Avoid Freelance Recruiters

Most hiring managers have a few recruiters or recruitment services they like to work with and these can be a great source of candidates and professional communities to tap into. However, freelance recruiters and questionable recruitment agencies that come to you with stacks of resumes to sell are notorious for shady and underhanded tactics that aren’t good for the candidates or employers. If there is a tempting offer, be sure to do your due diligence to be sure you’re not accepting a resume from an unvetted scam artist. Common bad practices include fudging resumes to make them look better than they are (often without candidate knowledge), pseudo-blacklisting candidates so they can only get jobs through the recruiter, and submitting resumes without the permission or knowledge of the candidate. In genral, your best practice here is to simply avoid the freelancers unless they come with glowing references from other hiring and recruitment professionals you trust.

6) Always Check the References

Speaking of references, in 2012 it was found that over 50% of resumes contain false information. While best case scenarios include candidates slightly overstating their roles and duties or trying to hide gaps in their employment, it’s impossible to rule out the chance that seemingly perfect fit may not have the technical or experience credentials they claim to. Yes, it takes time and yes it’s usually not very interesting, but be sure to call or email both references for each candidate finalist that you are seriously considering. Of course, while we’re talking about references, also do a quick double-check and to the best of your ability ensure that the reference isn’t a relative, significant other, or friend posing as a previous boss. Watch out for emails from the same domain name, shared last names, and inconsistencies that suggest the reference in question doesn’t know what’s written on the resume.

7) Only Involve Invested Coworkers

You’ve probably heard the old phrase “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. In cooking, this refers to too many people adding spices until the broth is overspiced with an imbalanced flavor. However, the reason this phrase is used for all sorts of things is because the same principle applies, particularly when interviewing and choosing candidates. As the hiring manager, there is almost always someone else in the company who will be working more closely with the new hire than you will and are therefore invested in who they are and what they can do. However, having people who aren’t invested in the position be part of the decision making is almost always a bad idea.

8) Streamline Time to Hire

If there is one resounding complaint with even the friendliest hiring process, it’s the time it takes to get from submitting a resume to starting your first day or getting a clear decline. Time to hire isn’t just painful for companies with positions standing open, it’s also a longer period of time for job seekers to spend unemployed or waiting around in a job they’re considering leaving for your position. While you do need time to consider and sort candidates, the shorter you can make this process, the happier everyone will be.

9) Part as Friends with Unselected Candidates

The final tip we have today for treating your candidates right is to be careful about how you end communications with those you’re going to say no to. Remember that with such a small talent pool these are valuable professionals that you may want to hire later on if their availability and a suitable open position line up again in the future. To this end, give honest feedback, be genuinely considerate, and take the time to wish them well on their current job search. You can make a good name for yourself by doing this even for resumes that don’t make it to the interview process by offering your decline promptly with well wishes and constructive feedback on how to improve their resumes. This shows that even for those who are not among your first picks, you value their time and careers as working professionals in a shrinking workforce.

For more information on how to improve your candidate experience or to learn how video screening can help streamline the hiring process, contact us today!

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