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I’d like to think we all know this but it’s worth repeating: The candidate experience is important. A poor candidate experience could:
- Keep candidates from saying “yes” to a job offer.
- Hurt the organization’s employment brand (if the candidate shares their experience with others).
- Impact the company financially. There’s a famous case study from Virgin Media that illustrates this point.
So, to make the company’s candidate experience the best it can be, it only makes sense to audit it. But before we do, let’s have a quick refresher on what the candidate experience is. It’s everything the candidate experiences from first contact with the organization to the final decision to hire / not hire. That means it’s more than just the interview process. It includes the organization’s recruiting technology. The work environment. The frequency and clarity of communications. Even the recruiting partners you use.
How to Audit Your Company’s Candidate Experience
Since the candidate experience involves more than just the recruiter, hiring manager, and the interview, the entire experience needs to be reviewed. Here are five steps for auditing the candidate experience.
STEP 1: Document your current candidate experience.
One way to document the experience is to bring together your key stakeholders, give them a pile of sticky notes, and ask them to write all the steps in the process. Then organize them in a logical sequence. This allows everyone to view the entire process and see what the candidate is experiencing.
This is a great activity, even if you don’t do any of the remaining steps. Because there are lots of people in the organization who do not realize what’s involved in the candidate experience. For example, if the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) isn’t mobile responsive and candidates aren’t applying because the site isn’t user friendly.
STEP 2: Reach consensus on what the organization’s candidate experience should be.
When the organization sees their current process documented, it’s possible they might identify duplicate steps that can be consolidated. This might reduce time to fill and decrease the number of times a candidate says “no” because they already accepted another offer.
The organization might also want to consider changing the order of certain activities. For example, it might make sense to conduct a cognitive aptitude assessment earlier in the hiring process so an interviewer can possibly ask some related follow-up questions.
There could also be people who should be included and are not as well as people who are in the process and maybe don’t need to be – or at least not at the same level. For instance, a vice president who is currently in the early interview stages might be better just meeting the final candidate.
STEP 3: Conduct a traditional gap analysis.
We’ve talked before about how to conduct a gap analysis before. This is where we compare what the organization wants the process to look like and what’s currently happening. Typically, the results will show several areas where there’s a perfect match between what’s currently taking place and what the organization wants to take place. Don’t discount getting this level of verification. It’s good to know where the efforts align.
That being said, there will also be some areas where what’s happening and what the company wants aren’t in alignment. This is not a signal that the recruiting process is a disaster. As we’ve seen, the business world changes. Which means employer and employee expectations change. This needs to be factored into the candidate experience. Which is why the audit is a valuable activity.
STEP 4: Create SMART plans for gaps the organization wants to address.
To deal with the gaps, it makes sense to have action plans. And regular readers of HR Bartender know I’m a fan of SMART plans. But before you start creating a SMART plan, prioritize the gaps. The organization might not be able to address all the gaps at the same time. It could be because the budget won’t allow or there’s not enough time. It’s also possible that there are gaps that must be addressed first before other gaps can be addressed. Regardless, prioritize the list and then create SMART plans.
A SMART plan can serve as a roadmap for goal achievement and allows the candidate experience team to stay focused on their goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, actionable, responsible, and time-bound.
- What’s the specific goal we’re trying to accomplish?
- What’s the measurable result that will tell us we’ve achieved the goal?
- What are the list of actionable steps that will help us accomplish the goal?
- Who will be responsible for each step?
- What is the time frame for getting each step done?
STEP 5: Regularly monitor and evaluate progress.
As the organization is working their SMART plans, they will want to monitor their progress. It’s possible the plan could need some tweaking. If the effort is going well, maybe the organization will want to add some of the other goals on the list. And when we talk about the effort going well, we might want to start surveying candidates and new hires about their experience.
You could mention to candidates during interviews that the company sends anonymous surveys to candidates to ask for feedback. Additionally, the organization can survey new hires about their experience during orientation. Some of the questions you might want to ask could include:
- How long did it take you to complete your application?
- How long did it take for a recruiter to respond to your application?
- How long did you wait for the interview?
And if you want to keep it really simple, just ask one question: Based on your candidate experience, how likely is it that you would recommend us as an employer to your friends and family? (also known as net promoter score)
The Candidate Experience Allows the Company to Stand Out (in a Good Way!)
Ultimately, the goal of auditing the candidate experience is to make sure that neither the candidate nor the company is surprised by what happened. And that both the candidate and the company can focus on building a positive professional relationship. Even if the candidate doesn’t become an employee, they do have the ability to recommend and refer customers and candidates in the future.
If you’re looking for some ideas on how to improve your candidate experience, I hope you’ll join me and the Accurate team for a webinar on “Humanizing the Candidate Experience: 5 Activities to Improve the Process”. It’s scheduled for Wednesday, November 15 at 11a Pacific / 2p Eastern. And if you’re already booked that day, sign up so you can listen to the recording.
The labor market continues to be competitive. Organizations cannot have a terrible candidate experience and expect people to want to work for them. A positive candidate experience is the gateway to a positive employee experience.65