Candidate Experience – How It Can Affect Your Employer Brand

Whether it is Covid-19 or Brexit related, the job market in the UK has taken a hit in 2020, meaning that employers now have more potential candidates applying for their vacancies at the moment. In fact, CV Library’s ‘Job market report – Q3 2020’ reveals that although the number of applications per vacancy in the UK has dropped from the height of the pandemic earlier in the year, employers are still receiving 78.8% more applications than at the same stage in 2019.

What is Candidate Experience?

‘Candidate experience’ is, in essence, the perception that an applicant has of your business based on their interactions with you during the recruitment process from application through to onboarding.

With so many available candidates for your vacancy, it is easy to get complacent regarding your attitude towards the experience of each applicant throughout the recruitment process. Whether that be the lack of a polite rejection message after the initial application, a slow recruitment process with no communication during the long gaps between each stage or no feedback offered after an interview, each of these can contribute towards your reputation among future applicants.

Why Should You Consider Candidate Experience?

The teenage relationship break-up advice you were once given, that “there are plenty of fish in the sea”, should definitely not apply to your applicants, just because there are more of them than usual. It is worth bearing in mind the old Customer Service mantra (of which there are a few variations!) about customers telling more people about a bad experience than they do about a good one. The market will not always be as it is just now. Your attitude towards your applicants now, could definitely affect the quality of applicants you get when the candidate market is more competitive.   

What Can You Do to Improve Candidate Experience?

If you use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), you should be able to respond to each application quickly and easily. Unsuccessful candidates would rather know that they have been unsuccessful. Don’t take the easy option and have the line in your advert that says, “Only successful applicants will be contacted”. You can easily set up a message in your Outlook Autosignatures that you can send to the unsuccessful applicants. It might take you 30 minutes to reply to everyone – but think long term.

The interview process has changed in 2020 and you may only be interviewing remotely at the moment. However, if face-to-face interviews are still your preferred option, at least offering video interviews at the 1st stage shows your flexibility and will make the candidate feel that you went out of your way to help them. And it’s all about how you make them feel.

If there is going to be a delay to your interviews, tell your candidates. They don’t know who is on holiday or off ill. All they think is that they haven’t heard from you so you’ve maybe changed your mind. Delays are the 2nd biggest problem in the recruitment process. Silence is worse.

Again, feedback after interviews is important. Why were they unsuccessful? Can you be constructive? Even if someone has been ultimately unsuccessful, they can still come away with a positive experience if you take a bit of time to call them and let them know what they could do better next time.

The offer stage can also be a delicate part of the recruitment process. If you try to make a ‘low ball’ offer because the applicant is out of work and “should be grateful”, you’re either going to lose them at this point or, potentially worse, you’ll lose them as soon as they get a more competitive offer from elsewhere, once you have spent time and money getting them up to speed on your business practices.

Once your offer has been accepted, keep in touch. Not daily, as that would be a bit creepy. If there is a 4-week notice period, a call halfway through this to make sure that they are still OK with the agreed start date would be advisable. Definitely a quick call day or two before they are due to start to make sure they know their exact start time, where to report, who to ask for etc.

Ultimately you will make some people unhappy during the process assuming you receive more than 1 application per vacancy. However, that disappointment can be mitigated by spending a bit of time to at least deliver a positive experience. You don’t know when an unsuccessful candidate might be suited to another position within your business. Make sure they apply when you have the perfect role for them.