The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has just published its annual summer survey, and the results suggested that businesses have a lot on their plate! One of the findings, for instance, was that leading UK employers are receiving an average of 85 applications per graduate level job. And it was also revealed that there’s been an increase in the number of candidates applying for such roles every year for five years, while the number of positions has dropped.
I’m sure you’ve seen the impact of this first hand. And, when faced with so many graduates for just one job, businesses are under great pressure to be able to pick out the best talent. However, there’s a real danger that, if employers feel overwhelmed by all the applications, individuals may not receive the level of service they expect or deserve. Consequently, HR professionals have a responsibility in ensuring that the candidate experience isn’t forgotten.
So what steps can be put in place to ensure that there’s a focus on the candidate throughout each stage of the recruitment process?
- Initial contact – It’s always daunting when CVs start flooding in, but it’s important that you view the situation from an individual’s point of view. Yes, it may seem easier to wait until the deadline is up and all CVs are in before the sifting process begins. However, candidates are likely to be applying for other roles during this time period, so early recognition of their CV is vital.
- Screening candidates – Online screening tools – such as Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) – are an effective method of assessing the suitability of a candidate as well as enhancing their view of a company. Here, individuals are presented with a range of scenarios alongside a choice of possible actions. Depending on how the SJT has been developed, a candidate can be asked to respond in different ways, such as by choosing the most appropriate action or rating the effectiveness of each response. The advantages here are that it’s a realistic method and can be made relevant to a particular job and, as they’re scored automatically it reduces processing time, which ultimately can enhance the candidate experience.
- Interview process – When you reach interview stage, this is an organisation’s opportunity to sell itself, just as much as it is the candidate’s. It’s your role to ensure that the interviewer is well prepared and has planned structured competency-based interview questions that will get the answers they’re looking for.
- The Assessment Centre – Alongside the interview, it can be valuable to use Assessment Centre exercises as part of the recruitment process. There are several benefits of this approach, for example, by using a number of assessors at this stage it can reduce the risk of bias. In addition, multiple exercises allow candidates to have more than one opportunity to highlight their skills. With ready-to-use, tailored and bespoke exercises readily available in the marketplace, this is another opportunity to provide a realistic job preview and positive experience of the employer brand.
- Feedback – Every individual should receive the same level of service, regardless of whether they’re right for the job or not. In light of this, it’s important that feedback is provided to all applicants so they’re left with a positive experience. After all, even though an individual doesn’t meet the criteria at the moment, it doesn’t mean they won’t be perfect for your organisation in the future. Keep in mind too that an individual will tell others if they’ve had a bad experience, and there’s no longer a clear separation between employer brand and the brand overall.
The results from the AGR survey show that there’s been a rise in the number of candidates applying for fewer positions, and this is probably only going to get worse. It’s your role to ensure that candidate experience doesn’t get forgotten so that, when you do find top talent, they choose to work for you and not for your competition.