What is Candidate Experience and Why it’s Important
January 26, 2022
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It’s no secret, the job market is hot so it’s more vital now than ever to invest in the candidate hiring process, and in return, employers can reap long-term benefits.
There’s something to be said about happy employees and positive business outcomes. When employees are motivated and happy with their job and work environment, they will perform and produce great results. In fact, one study found that employees who said they were happy at work performed 13 percent better than their peers.
Factors that influence employee happiness range from workplace transparency, career growth, learning opportunities, and culture.
While creating a strong culture is key to maintaining good morale and retaining top talent, it doesn’t start on day one. The employee experience really begins from the moment the interview process begins. That’s why focusing on the candidate’s experience is substantial.
What is candidate experience and why is it important?
The overall candidate experience has a significant impact on how prospective employees perceive the organization. It includes all stages of hiring from applying for a job through the onboarding process–and beyond.
The first impression of your company happens with the candidate experience
First impressions are essential, and the first impression of your organization happens when a candidate starts the interview process with you. Applicants who have a negative experience can cost your company big bucks! Individuals who’ve had positive experiences (even ones you decided to part ways with) will share their impression of your company through word of mouth.
Regardless of good or bad impressions, word travels fast in the industry. If the applicant has a good experience, they’ll most likely chat to friends about it, follow the company, and/or apply later down the road for a new opportunity. If the experience is not so great, they may share it with others. In fact, 65 percent of candidates say a poor interview experience makes them lose interest in the opportunity altogether.
What does a great candidate experience look like?
A few candidate experience best practices to keep in mind for a good first impression:
- Simplify your application process on your website. More steps mean more frustration and confusion which can lead to abandoned applications. And, don’t forget to make the application mobile-friendly. About 90 percent of job seekers use their phones when hunting for a new opportunity.
- Invest in your employer branding. One of the first things candidates tend to research before applying for a role is how good your company is as an employer. Roughly 81 percent of job seekers explore a company online, according to LinkedIn. Some websites where individuals begin their research are Glassdoor and LinkedIn.
- Communication is key. With virtual interviews taking over the in-person process, communication about meeting times, follow-ups, and even feedback is essential. In fact, 85 percent of candidates surveyed by IBM say consistent communication is one of the top-decision makers during the recruitment experience. Setting expectations about what they can expect leaves them with a positive impression.
- Emphasize inclusion and celebrate diversity. A team is only effective if everyone feels included, and different perspectives are welcomed. It’s important to recognize that everyone has special talents and experiences. An inclusive, authentic interview process allows diversity to thrive and lets the candidate see the culture of the company in action. According to a recent McKinsey report, it shares that the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.
Taking the first call with the applicant
Candidates today have a wide range of career opportunities to choose from, especially now that more and more companies are venturing into remote-work life. The old way of interviewing has changed. It’s no longer just the employer interviewing the candidate, the candidate now interviews the company to see if this is where they want to invest their career.
So, because the playing field has changed, it’s more important than ever to make sure the candidate has an excellent interview experience. Whether the candidate ends up landing the job or not, leaving a lasting impression is important because you never know where paths will cross down the road.
The initial call must start with complete transparency. Being honest with the candidate about what the company is looking for, how the interview process works, and allowing them to communicate what’s important for them in their next role makes them feel valued and shares a glimpse into how the overall company values their employees.
“When interviewing with WorkRamp, what made that experience unique was the painless process. It was flexible with scheduling interviews, from the first interview to the last interview. It was a very quick process and it was as low stress as interviewing can really be stressful.” – Andrew Barnhart, Software Engineer at WorkRamp.
Setting yourself apart from the competition
As the interview process continues, it’s essential to check in with the prospective employee to see how they feel about the individuals they met, answer any questions they may have, and share more company values to help them make a sound decision for their career path. This is what can help you stand out from the other opportunities the candidate has on their plate.
Another advantage to your recruiting approach is to discuss the company’s commitment to your employees’ professional development. According to a Gallup study, 59 percent of millennials say they want to continuously learn and develop, and this is one major factor when considering new opportunities. So if you want to reach the largest segment of workers during the recruiting process, it makes sense to focus on what matters most to them.
Letting employees share what they like
Candidates are looking to see what their day-to-day responsibilities will look like. Is it an intense day with high stress and little appreciation? Or, is it an environment that brings welcome challenges?
We already said it, happier employees perform better, meaning they are more engaged and productive. So, have the interviewers describe a typical day, what makes them happy at work, and the working environment. Key areas candidates look for:
- Are current employees happy?
- Is this a happy work environment?
- Is there a sense of community?
- Are the employees less stressed?
- Are individuals passionate about their respected field?
“Having happy employees means that more of them show up for work, and this, in turn, prevents the work culture from depreciating. When a person is passionate about what they are doing, they will do what they must do to learn and evolve the skillset. Hearing from employees helps make the decision that much easier.” – Fara Rosenzweig, Head of Content Marketing at WorkRamp.
Day one: the onboarding experience
Showing a candidate appreciation doesn’t stop once the offer is made! Showing ongoing gratitude speaks volumes and solidifies that they made the right choice.
Once an offer is accepted, the hiring manager should take the time to send a personalized welcome email. Other individuals who also interacted with the candidate during the hiring process should consider doing the same. This lets the person know they are valued, and gets them ready for day one.
And we all know the first day can be overwhelming. We’ve all been there. New names to remember, new faces, new processes, software, etc …
To avoid the chaotic first-day nuances, employers should invest in an effective onboarding process, meaning be organized and have a system in place. New hires must be able to learn quickly to be set up for success in their role. Having an effective onboarding process will help them navigate through the normal day-one woes.
“Onboarding when you start a new role is so important because that’s your introduction into the world of that company. It sets the standards for what to expect. When you’re onboarded the right way, you’re given the time to learn and understand and ask questions. You have the opportunity to meet with key players and really get comfortable. That way you’re always set up for success.” – Brittany Gleitsman, Head of Talent Acquisition at WorkRamp.
Retaining top talent
Learning and development is vital for both new hires and seasoned employees. In fact, this correlates with the employee’s happiness. More development means happier employees.
Jon Younger, the founder of the Agile Talent Collaborative, a non-profit research organization, writes in Harvard Business Review, “Training is going to have to be just as agile as the workforce—where speed, flexibility, and innovation are key. It means that more learning will happen in teams, and on platforms where training can be delivered any time, any place, at the user’s convenience.”
Organizations should offer ongoing learning opportunities to employees that can help them progress in their field. This is a must from day one and should continue throughout the employee’s career. People want to learn and expand for their own personal growth as well as career development. By investing in L&D, you’re making a commitment to your employees’ professional development.
A simple “thank you” is an effective way to show your appreciation. From the initial candidate interview call to week one on the job to years in the role, showing gratitude lets the employee know they are valued and their work does not go unnoticed. Performing this simple act will create a healthy, happy work environment, which will most likely be discussed in candidate calls … see the full circle?
“When I’m interviewing the most important thing for me is to find a company that really cares about work-life balance, employee health, mental health. If I’m gonna be working there for 3, 4, 5 or 10 years, it’s important that the company cares about me.”- Andrew Barnhart, Software Engineer at WorkRamp.
The big candidate experience takeaway
Investing in a positive candidate experience is essential if you want to secure top talent.
Continue to give back to employees so they can share with candidates the joy of working at your company. This in turn creates a culture of happiness and passionate individuals who are eager to continuously learn and evolve their skillsets.
“Creating a positive candidate experience is so important. It really sets the ground and the visibility that the candidate has into your company. And so it’s gonna be the first impression on both ends.” – Masha Abaturova, Client Outcomes Manager at WorkRamp.
Happy Candidate Experience Day 2022! Looking to make a change? WorkRamp is hiring! Become a WorkRamper.
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Fara RosenzweigHead of Content Marketing
Fara Rosenzweig is WorkRamp’s Head of Content Marketing and brings over 20 years of content and brand experience. Her love for storytelling has earned her an Emmy Award, and she’s been featured in many publications. When not wordsmithing or talking about learning and development, you’ll find her globe-trotting while logging miles for her next half marathon.
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