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What is and How to Create a Fantastic Candidate Experience?

October 27, 2022

The recruitment space has progressively transformed in the past decade. We have seen numerous strategies, methods, trends and driving factors related to hiring shaping up the talent market to the way it is today. Employers are not the centre of recruitment anymore – the current landscape prioritizes candidate experience and it is expected to only grow in that direction. Especially with the difference in talent demand and supply widening continuously, it’s safe to say – delivering a great candidate experience has become a necessity.

Almost three-fourths of the entire workforce (73%) consists of passive talent - who are not looking for jobs actively but would be open to hearing about new opportunities. This leaves recruiters with a very tricky task - engaging passive candidates effectively. Right from sourcing candidates to recruitment, onboarding and post-hiring experience – everything is critical for your relationship with candidates regardless of the results for both parties.

With social media and popular professional platforms scaling up, the community of job seekers is closely connected now, which can be both good and bad for employers. Not to forget – recruitment processes for a large number of companies have always been questioned by the masses. Here’s where efforts to boost candidate experience arrive.

So what drives candidate experience? How is it relevant to different stages of your recruitment cycle? How do you ensure a prolific experience for all your candidates? We answer all of these and more in this blog and discuss actionable steps that you can take to create a stellar candidate experience.

What is Candidate Experience?

At its core, candidate experience refers to the way job seekers perceive and feel about an organization’s recruitment cycle including all the stages: outreach, sourcing, engaging, recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and post-hiring. 

Over 80% of candidates say interview experience can primarily drive their decision about joining a company or not. The huge impact of candidate experience is clearly evident. A positive candidate experience leaves talent with the feeling that the organization values its people and that their time has been treated with complete respect. Moreover, the basic factors related to recruitment like communication, transparency and clarity in decision making are the primary drivers of candidate experience. No matter if a candidate was hired or not – the question about how they feel after being involved in the recruitment process with you, needs to be taken care of.  

A major contributor to your candidate experience is how the non-hires find your recruitment process. That further also affects your employer brand. As the candidates share their experiences within their networks, the quality of talent your brand will attract is directly connected. 

How to Define a Good Candidate Experience?

Quality candidate experience involves all the touchpoints that a candidate interacts with while in the recruitment cycle and how the candidate feels after interacting. For instance, it can be something as small as a pleasant phone call with the hiring manager to ease the application form on the website. 

As we move forward to a completely digital landscape and scale up the utilization of technology and tools in recruiting, the room for continuously improving the candidate experience is always open. With the right blend of technology and quality candidate experience creation strategies, any organization can boost their hiring.

Why Delivering a Great Candidate Experience Vital for Recruitment Today?

From a high-level view, a positive candidate experience helps recruiters attract quality talent, significantly boosts the conversion rate, amplifies referrals, increases word of mouth for recruitment campaigns and enhances the employer brand. Around 68% of candidates think that an organization’s recruitment process tells how it treats its human resources. 

Here are the top four reasons why you should focus on delivering an efficient, positive experience in your recruitment cycle:

  • Strengthen Brand Reputation: The rapid growth of social media and digital platforms for candidates and existing employees to review their recruitment experiences helps you boost brand reach as well as reputation. As a result, more people in the workforce want to work with your company and you can source better talent.
  • Engage positively from the beginning: One of the most important parts of sourcing and recruiting top talent is to effectively engage them. A positive candidate experience ensures candidates are equally active in engagement interactions. Doing that helps in getting the best out of candidates’ potential in the assessment stages. 
  • Cuts down drop-off rate: If you have been in the recruitment space for quite some time, you would probably know that candidate drop-off and ghosting are two of the biggest problems recruiters are facing today. While a positive candidate experience is driven by efficient hiring processes – the drop-off rate going down is imperative.
  • Boosts conversions: As more candidates move through the recruitment process till the end, the conversion rate increases and fewer job roles are left open in your organization. Candidates consider positive recruitment experience to be in sync with a strong business and they feel highly confident about joining – hence minimal or no last-moment denials are observed.

Candidate Experience in Different Stages of Recruitment Process

A candidate’s journey is driven by the recruitment funnel and at each stage of the process, the experience at different touchpoints needs to be tailored to the requirements of relevant touchpoints. Remember - the aim is to persuade candidates and push them down the recruitment funnel. Let’s find out the various stages of the recruitment process and discuss them in brief.

  1. Candidate Sourcing

The very first time a candidate interacts with the organization can be through social media, job boards, website careers page or through outbound sourcing campaigns. The ease of finding your open roles, the detailed job description and ideal candidate expectations will define the number of candidates applying to your open roles and will save them time and effort. This is the first stage of creating a promising candidate experience. 

  1. Application

Once a candidate finds you on any platform, the next activity in an ideal case is them filling out your application. This is a tricky part - your job application form should not be too long or complex for potential candidates to get easily overwhelmed with the application process. 60% of job seekers quit an application in case it’s too complicated. You don’t want to be another addition to the dropped-off organizations’ list. So ensure that your job application process both in the case of inbound and outbound talent sourcing is simplified. Add instructions in your website and job advertisement pages to further make it really easy for candidates.

  1. Engagement

Consistent communication is the most crucial factor of candidate experience and the engagement stage is the deciding phase of whether or not a candidate will look forward to participating actively in your recruiting. As a majority of recruiters miss out on timely communication about updates and some even don’t inform candidates, this is the biggest source of frustration for job seekers. 63% of candidates are dissatisfied with communication from most employers. It’s ironic how the most basic requirement stays unresolved when recruiters are busy finding new ways to engage and retain candidates in their pipeline. Recruiters need to maintain consistent and clear communication updating candidates about each phase of recruitment, guiding them, nurturing them and resolving their queries. The method of communication can either be automated or through call – the objective is to inform candidates as soon as the shortlisting results are out - regardless of the respondent’s outcome.

  1. Interview

While an interview is primarily aimed at knowing if a candidate is the right fit for your company or not, it’s also an opportunity for the candidate to deeply analyze if they would want to work with your organization. A positive candidate experience is the biggest action trigger for candidates and can easily persuade them to get convinced promptly. A pre-defined and organized interview process will ensure each candidate gets judged on the same parameters and recruitment is completely fair. On the other hand, multiple interview rounds around the same topic with the same interviewer leave candidates confused and adversely affect the candidate experience. 

Once the interview is done, feedback and results should be soon shared, and the candidates should be clearly conveyed what can they expect now.

  1. Onboarding

The qualified candidates move to onboard and it’s finally the time to fulfil all your promises done to hire them. From paperwork to focus on team interactions and easy instructions on onboarding are some of the primary onboarding stage expectations for acquired talent. Sticking to a simple plan will boost your onboarding candidate experience.

Top Challenges Faced in Delivering Effective Candidate Experience

A staggering 58% of job seekers declined a job offer over poor recruitment experience. Here are the top challenges faced in delivering prominent candidate experience. 

#1 Missing Awareness Around Candidate Experience

A large number of employers don’t even consider the impact of negative candidate experience on brand reputation. They are still recruiting with the traditional approach, and miss out on updating candidates, especially the unqualified ones. Although this is changing steadily with the proactive usage of social media and more reviews being published on job boards.

#2 Heavy Lifting by Recruiters

Modern recruiters have a lot on their plate at any given time. Sourcing candidates is a tricky job and with most organizations growing at a fast pace, the requirements are scaled up. Recruiters have a lot to do with numerous openings, and hence miss out on consistent and timely communication with candidates.

#3 Complex Recruitment Processes

A long and complicated recruitment cycle means recruiters take more time to screen, respond and finalize candidates to be hired. This makes things hectic even for candidates as they are interviewing in multiple companies at any given time – hence employers miss out on top talent due to the requirements and expectations not being supported by processes.

How to Improve Candidate Experience: Top 7 Strategies to Follow

We saw how important candidate experience is, and what are the major challenges faced by recruiters in the path of creating positive candidate experiences. Let’s now find out the top strategies for improving candidate experience with actionable steps that you can instantly follow.

  1. Automate Your Candidate Engagement

The biggest challenge for recruiters is keeping up the consistency of engagement and informing candidates about recruitment updates. If you relate to this, it’s not your fault at all – with so many important tasks on your plate daily as a recruiter or hiring manager, candidate engagement is something that needs to be taken care of with the help of a candidate engagement automation tool. This allows not only improving candidate experience by consistent engagement but also scale your outbound sourcing approach and hiring the top talent. You don’t need to invest any time in reaching out or engaging with talent currently in your pipeline, just add candidates to engagement campaigns and you’re good to go. 

  1. Maintain Applicant Tracking System

Keeping track of your sourcing and engagement can be too overwhelming when done manually in Excel spreadsheets. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can be a game-changer in streamlining and scaling up your recruitment process quickly. You can integrate ATS with career sites, social media platforms, job boards and your website careers page. The idea is to have a complete overview of your candidate engagement status in one place. So that you stay error-free and never miss out on important updates/engagement with candidates. 

  1. Leverage Candidate Relationship Management Tools

For your inbound candidates or applicants to job posts, you can use CRM automation tools for consistent communication and query resolution if your candidates. Similar to a lead management system, a CRM integrates with your ATS allowing you to respond to applicants about further updates. You can also guide or nurture your candidates around the recruitment process, role expectations etc.

  1. Use Asynchronous Video Interview Tools

These tools recently became popular after remote hiring and remote work became a norm. Asynchronous video interview tools allow recruiters and candidates to save a lot of time by avoiding live calls (no doubt they still top the chart). Recruiters can share their organizational overview as well as conduct interviews with candidates who can further attempt the interview assessment asynchronously with their submissions. Not to forget –  these tools immensely help in scaling up recruitment as hiring managers and SMEs can share the same assessments with other candidates too. 

  1. Add Recruiting Chatbot

What if a candidate arrives at your website with doubts about an open role, and the support team isn’t available? What if hundreds of such candidates ask you doubts about job roles through emails, application forms or any other medium? The priority for job seekers is effective communication and it should be the same for talent hunters or employers. Modern candidates seek instant responses and they prefer dropping a text over discussing on call. The best way to cater to this is through a recruitment chatbot on your website. Not just because chatbots are almost everywhere – but they act as virtual assistants to candidates who are clueless at times. You can tailor your chatbot to answer FAQs about your company and even conduct a quick pre-screen assessment for candidates.

  1. Onboarding Strategies in Place

Even after you conduct interviews and candidates are shortlisted, your recruitment cycle doesn’t end there. Once selected, a candidate goes through background verification and feedback before finally getting onboarded. Without a sound onboarding strategy in place, it becomes difficult to accelerate the process and make it easy for candidates. Cloud-based HR onboarding tools help in error-free and quick AI-based verification of documents. Leveraging these types of tools will ensure you serve great candidate experience consistently.

  1. Induction Training 

Often organizations, especially startups skip induction engagements these days. While some might call it a very basic introduction to the company, these sessions play a crucial role in setting up their mindset as your company’s permanent employees. The much-needed initial momentum for productivity comes from the induction training. Every organization has different sets of rules, regulations, communication standards, and internal tech stack for collaborations – so the induction programmes cover generic introductions as well as departmental guidance for setting up the working standards.

Contrary to popular opinion, delivering quality candidate experience doesn’t necessarily need to be cost-heavy or require tons of effort. You just need to make some tweaks to your strategy and use some automation tools. Be consistent at it and you will be surprised to check the impact of positive candidate experience through recruitment metrics.

Level Up Your Candidate Experience with Engagement Automation

Among all the challenges faced by recruiters today, missing out on engagement with passive talent costs them the most. The competition for acquiring quality talent is already heated up like anything. If recruiters can focus only on one thing - it should be interacting with candidates face-to-face. But before that, the engagement needs to be taken care of at scale. And you don’t need to do it manually. Nurturebox helps you automate candidate sourcing and engagement so that you can scale up your recruitment campaigns. The platform makes seamless integration possible with your existing tech stack and ATS  – so that you don’t need to do the hard work of maintaining your talent pipeline and tracking engagement by yourself. Nurturebox’s Chrome extension ties up with your LinkedIn and allows you to engage candidates through email, Linkedin and WhatsApp. You can now focus on the human side of recruiting as Nurturebox solves the candidate experience equation for you.

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