In a tight labour market where there is a shortage of candidates, employers need to review and upgrade all aspects of their hiring process to attract the best talent and remain competitive. The quality of the candidate experience will determine whether they accept a job offer and, regardless of the outcome, how they talk to their friends and others about your organisation, reinforcing a positive employer brand. However, a poor candidate experience will lead to negative perceptions and discourage candidates from choosing to apply for work with your organisation. It can even result in disillusioned candidates avoiding your products and services in future. 

As well as getting the basics right like respecting candidates, ensuring a fair process, and thanking them for their time and effort, below are three ways employers can ensure the candidate experience is positive, personalised, and professional.

Focus on candidates’ unique talents, motivations, and values

Too many companies still hire primarily based on candidates’ education, experience, and skills, filtering out candidates who don’t fit with the current job and competency profile. This approach is typically based on legacy beliefs and assumptions about what constitutes good performance in the role rather than any hard, verifiable performance data. Yet it amplifies biases and undermines opportunities to attract and retain cognitively and demographically diverse candidates. It also makes the recruitment process feel like a mechanical, box ticking exercise, rather than a real attempt to get to know candidates.

Instead, replace stilted and impersonal competency-based interview methods with more insightful and enjoyable talent-based approaches to understand who the candidate really is and to uncover their unique talents, motivations, and values.

Don’t depend on automation alone for screening

Too many organisations rely too heavily on automated processes to run initial talent screening. This can cause excellent candidates to be missed but is also a source of major frustration for candidates. Wholly automated processes dehumanise the process and leave candidates feeling devalued, disempowered, and disgruntled.

The accuracy and fairness of AI-enabled recruitment processes is also highly questionable at this point in time, so an over-reliance on this technology can significantly undermine hiring outcomes. Used properly, AI and other advanced technologies can enhance the candidate experience and hiring outcomes, however, it is important that human touchpoints are included at every key stage of the application and selection process.  

Provide opportunities for unsuccessful candidates to learn

One of the biggest gripes that many unsuccessful candidates have is that they never get any feedback after participating in a rigorous selection process. It is impractical to provide personalised in-depth feedback to every applicant but it makes good business sense to offer feedback to candidates who reached the final interview stages, as they have invested a lot of time, effort and emotion. This activity can be outsourced and organizations can be creative in helping unsuccessful candidates learn from the process such as offering short group-based debrief and/or career sessions. This modest investment in unsuccessful candidates is likely to generate sizeable returns to the organizations in terms of its brand, reputation, and future talent pipeline.  

Finally, it is important to continuously track and obtain feedback from candidates at every stage of the process so you can find out what they like and what can be improved. Keep surveys to-the-point and straightforward to increase the response rate and ensure you are collecting high quality and useful data.

Candidates’ experiences and choices are shaped by how employers treat them. Always take care to ensure they are treated as individuals, with respect, professionalism, and consideration, just as you would treat your customers.