Application

7 Steps Employers Can Take To Improve The Candidate Experience

I don't think the interview is going well. (iStockphoto.com |  Nomadsoul1)

I don't think the interview is going well. (iStockphoto.com | Nomadsoul1)

 

Job hunting is unquestionably difficult. Applicants can compete with tens of thousands of other job seekers, and they're placed under intense scrutiny. There are several points during the interview and salary negotiation process for things to go off the rails.

The process isn't any easier from the employer's side either, I'm sorry to say. As recruiters,  hiring managers, and interviewers inherit elevated expectations and responsibilities, the candidate experience often receives less attention than it should.

Here's the thing – job seekers remember bad interviews experiences. This isn't to say that employers should go easy during an interview to coddle the candidate's feelings; interviewers need to challenge the applicant's ability to answer difficult questions in order to evaluate their technical prowess and emotional intelligence.

Unfortunately, there's drama when employers fail to effectively manage the process, which leads to animosity, confusion, and a lousy reputation as an employer. Some employers do an amazing job of managing the customer experience. Others, not so much.

Here are 7 steps employers can take to improve the candidate experience.

  1. View applicants as potential customers. Because they are. Each company has a brand for their products or services it works hard to protect. Just as job seekers need to mind their manners, so should anyone touching the employment process. A nasty candidate experience can poison the well for a company's employment brand, but it doesn't stop there. Why would a consumer want to spend their money with a company which treated them rudely? And dissatisfied customers tend to relay negative experiences. Don't believe me? Take a look at Glassdoor. Niceness counts.
     
  2. Focus on the candidate's basic needs. Give them a bottle of water. Offer a bathroom break. Have snack bars or fruit available. Interviews can take a long time, being sensitive to these types of things support their comfort and well-being.
     
  3. Invest time in applicant tracking and follow-up. This is a massive challenge for employers. Recruiters balance communications with vast numbers of job applicants, interviewees, hiring managers, and other stakeholders in the hiring process. This unwieldiness breeds the most frustrating aspect of the process – a lack of applicant feedback. Applicants often hear nothing after submitting a resume. They often hear nothing after interviewing. They often hear nothing after someone else is selected for the job. It's not malicious; it's usually due to a lack of staff and systems to support the process.
     
  4. Be more transparent about salary ranges. Companies are understandably sensitive about sharing specific salary data. Publishing everyone's salary can cause a lot of discord, and can reduce a company's negotiation leverage. There's no need to be specific, most employers enter the process with a predetermined range to recruit against, ultimately negotiating a specific figure within that range. Let's be more sensitive to everyone's time – many people wouldn't bother to apply to jobs below their salary range, but instead find themselves engaged in a protracted process where the salary range isn't articulated until late in the game. A bit more transparency could potentially improve the quality of the applicant pool by enabling those whose expectations exceed the range to self-exclude.
     
  5. Publish benefits information. Like salary data, many employers wait to share their benefits until late in the process. Perks can vary wildly between employers with major differences in health insurance cost, tuition reimbursement, vacation time, holidays, and other perks. Disclosing benefits information early can be great selling tool for employers, and better help applicants understand what receiving an offer would truly mean in terms of dollars, cents, and quality of life.
     
  6. Teach everyone involved in the process how to interview. Making an effective hiring decision is a learned skill, but many employers give their interviewers little foundation to work with other than a job description. Here's a dirty little secret – most interviewers are "winging it," and are trying their best to make an effective decision based upon a gut feeling using inadequate data points. Any employee who interviews on behalf of a company should be required to demonstrate mastery of behavioral, competency-based interviewing, as well as a clear understanding of what kind of questions and considerations are legal or illegal.
     
  7. Prioritize the interview over other work. Having a candidate wait unnecessarily past their appointed interview time can be rude. Having a candidate wait because you wanted to respond to an email, take a call, or stop by somebody's desk? It's time to reexamine your priorities. Then there's forgetting about the interview and leaving the candidate in a conference room with nothing to do... That's borderline sociopathic behavior. Don't be a sociopath. Respect the candidate's time as much as you respect your own. Even more so.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

Real Job Hunting and Interview Advice – From Real Recruiters

iStockphoto.com (Rawpixel)

iStockphoto.com (Rawpixel)

Nobody comes in contact with more job seekers on a day-to-day basis than recruiters. It doesn't matter if they work inside an employer's Human Resources department, or if they're employed by a staffing agency – they're going to meet, screen, and evaluate more candidates than anyone else on the planet.

I took an informal poll of HR leaders and professional recruiters. I asked them the following:

"What is the one piece of advice you would offer to job seekers as they apply to or interview for opportunities?"

Learn from their feedback! Here's their advice – raw and unfiltered (in no particular order):

ON APPLYING TO JOBS:

  • I would definitely advise job seekers to apply to a position for which they have the skills and experience required – that is the job they are are looking for, and not to apply just because of the company or level (of the position).
  • Way back when I was not a recruiter, I wish I had known to use a professional email address when applying. I had a nickname as an email address, and it was one of the reasons why I didn't get any call backs.
  • My advice would be to have good phone and email etiquette. Be excited, use spell check, do not be too informal, but show your personality and follow up quickly.
  • Research the company, the company’s products, and the industry.  I'm surprised sometimes how some people don’t bother to do so.
  • Persistence, persistence, persistence. Always follow up if possible, and network.
  • During the transition process, while applying for jobs, use free training resources to keep yourself abreast of the workforce.

ON INTERVIEWING:

  • Practice for the interview. Be able to answer questions and ask questions through your resume.
  • Have a mock interview done for you.
  • Candidates should bring a copy of their resume (even though I send it to the hiring manager, they like to see the candidate come prepared).
  • Dress professionally – a suit for men, and a dress, skirt, or pants for women.
  • Research your interviewer.
  • Research the company and division you are interviewing with, get familiar with what they do.
  • Come with questions to ask the interviewer about the role.
  • Always always be your authentic self. Otherwise you and the company risk being mismatched and therefore resulting in turnover.
  • Of course, research the company before the interview, so you’re able to speak to it.
  • Dress appropriately, there's nothing worse than being distracted from someone’s’ skills because of their presentation.
  • I would tell candidates to try to tailor their experience to the scope of the role they are applying for. I used to tell candidates if you are applying for a position that is more analytical it’s not necessarily helpful to go into great detail about the camp counselor role you held 5 years ago, unless your role as a counselor had some sort of statistical analysis responsibilities or something.
  • One thing I’ve noticed that shoots candidates in the foot is going in with a self-deprecating attitude. Starting off with, “I’ve never done X,” or “I don’t have experience in X,” always seems to leave the hiring leaders with the notion that because they may not have 1 or 2 skills, that they are not suitable for the role.
  • I would tell them to make sure they do some research about the company. It is a pet peeve of mine when I speak to an applicant and they have no idea what the company does.
  • Prepare for the interview. Research all about the position, the company, and the job description.
  • Be curious…. about everything.
  • My advice to candidates would be to be prepared for that interview!  Go back to basics and really prepare – you only get one chance to pass the gatekeeper!
  • Be excited about the opportunity for which you are interviewing. A passionate candidate who shows sincere ambition to want to work for the company and do a good job in the position rates far above a more qualified applicant who just knows how to say the right answers.
  • Candidates should remember that the interview is a two-way process. They should research the company and prepare questions in advance that will help them ascertain whether the company is a good cultural fit for them.
  • They should find their unique selling point. Everybody is 'organized, hardworking, motivated, creative, flexible' these days. Gets very boring!
  • Confidence. It is difficult to interview people who are nervous or second doubt themselves. If the applicant wants to answer only "yes or no" to the questions I ask, I can imagine how the communication with customers will go.
  • Be excited about the opportunity for which you are interviewing. A passionate candidate who shows sincere ambition to want to work for the company and do a good job in the position rates far above a more qualified application who just knows how to say the right answers.
  • Be confident. The interview goes both ways, you should also interview the organization to make sure it is the right fit for you.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.