managing the candidate experience

Pt 3 of Building a Talent Pipeline For a Fast Recovery in a Post Pandemic World

Managing The Candidate Experience

A positive candidate experience is characterised particularly by a feeling of appreciation and respect that should come across to the candidates. This feeling can be generated in all phases of the candidate experience.

Attraction phase

The first phase is about the initial contact between the company and the candidate. That can mean an elaborate recruiting campaign, a positive discussion at a job fair, or the recommendation of a friend. This experience should generate so much attraction that the candidate takes the time to gather some initial information about the employer, who they for the most part still do not know that much about.

Information phase

Normally, the second phase leads the candidate to the company website, usually to the career page. There, they should find a professionally prepared job description, which will ideally appear to match their abilities and expectations. Also, the company’s overall presentation should confirm the positive impression of that first contact through its professionalism, consistency, and attractiveness. This blog post from True Layer, a financial apps platform company, is a great example of how to build trust through transparency during the recruitment process.

Application phase

At this point, a greater investment of time will be required. To the extent that the first two phases went successfully, the candidate is now ready to write an application and complete the company’s formal application requirements. Online forms should be prepared clearly, uploading documents should work without any problems, and the confirmation email should sound friendly and inviting. The candidate should feel validated that they have found the right company. Login forms that are tedious to fill out and pages that take longer than 5 seconds to load are things that deter applicants. User-friendly digital solutions are definitely appreciated.

Selection phase

This phase includes scheduling a meeting, the applicant’s welcome at the company, the structure of the interview process, and all follow-up communication. Here, the candidate first comes in contact with people who represent the company culture. Through their previous experiences from a distance, they have ideally developed a positive impression that will now be compared to real experiences. Under no circumstances should there be any discrepancy.

Onboarding phase

The welcoming culture that attracted the candidate in the first place must not abruptly end once they are hired. After all, it was an important decision criterion. A successful application should be seamlessly followed by a smooth onboarding process, which can ease the candidate’s entry into the company’s everyday life. If that is not done, the new hire can quickly develop the impression that the friendly contact in the application phase was only a recruiting tool, and not the way things at the company are normally.

Retention phase

The candidate experience only evolves into the employee experience once the new hire no longer feels like a stranger, but instead as an integral part of the company. Up to this point, there is an increased danger of losing a new employee early due to insufficient integration. Companies should therefore develop structures to examine whether the onboarding phase runs successfully with all new hires


What Scares Off Candidates?


Not all employers realise that they need to make their application process as pleasant and affirming as possible for their applicants. The online portal Karrierebibel did a survey that asked applicants which aspects they found to be most stressful during the application process.

The clear number one was the feedback culture following the application. A rejection that was not transparent, or receiving no answer at all annoyed respondents the most. Complicated application portals and unpleasant questions during interviews were also extremely unpopular. Companies should take this kind of feedback seriously and review their processes accordingly.

Today, it is not enough to court only the best qualified candidates. Rejected candidates can quickly become negative multipliers. A negative candidate experience can in itself damage the employer brand – through posts in forums or word of mouth. By implication, it also means that a satisfied applicant – whether successful or not – frequently has a positive application experience to share. According to the 2013 Candidate Experience Report, 81 per cent of all applicants tell their friends about positive experiences from their application process.


What Attracts Candidates?


A positive candidate experience is characterised particularly by a feeling of appreciation and respect that should come across to the candidates. This feeling can be generated in all phases of the candidate experience: a well thought out campaign with a clear statement; a well-designed career page and a straightforward application portal that quickly takes the applicant to where they want to go; no waiting on the day of the selection process; fast, individual, and meaningful feedback, independent of rejection or acceptance. In all of these aspects, the feeling resonates that the company appreciates the applicant’s initiative and takes them seriously.

One can absolutely go so far as to draw a comparison with customer service: In this case it is not the customer, but the applicant who is king. How can a company set itself apart? Showing a feeling of appreciation for the candidate is the basis for a positive candidate experience. It is certainly possible for companies to leave a lasting impression with relatively little effort, however. The 2016 Candidate Experience Report lists which moments left a particularly good impression on applicants during the application phase. These included aspects like further information on what comes next, a thank-you email after receiving the application, or the option to apply online with a social media profile. Information on the estimated duration of the application was also positively received.

Companies should take the opportunity to make the application process pleasant and easy for their candidates. This sort of commitment pays dividends on several levels. It attracts talented candidates to the company, and a relaxed candidate shows their true self much more readily and has a higher probability of recommending the company, regardless of how the application process turns out.

Next Week: Initiatives for Employee Retention 

Missed Pt 2? Click here

With thanks to Personio.