From posting the job to offering it, here are six ways to provide a Grade A candidate experience.
Recent reports that the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to an eight-year low is good news. But let’s be honest: for those of us in the talent business, it makes our jobs tougher.
Previously, higher unemployment rates meant HR managers and recruiters enjoyed a larger, captive pool of candidates from which to choose. Employers could demand more from applicants, even encouraging gratis work as a carrot for possible future employment.
Now that the power rests with the potential employee, it is a good time for companies to reevaluate their general approaches to hiring to ensure they aren’t turning away, or turning off, the best candidates.
From posting the job to offering it, here are six ways to provide a Grade A candidate experience:
1. Enticing Online Presence
Before a job posting even goes live, make sure your company’s online presence is up-to-date and communicates your culture effectively. Job seekers can be far more discerning these days, and according to CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study, they will rely heavily on a company’s website and social media presence for that first impression. A poor experience online can make candidates wary.
Work with your web and social media managers to keep your online brand polished. Set Google Alerts to keep tabs on mentions of your company, looking in particular for negative feedback from former employees or customers. Responding to bad reviews when appropriate conveys an openness and transparency to both potential customers and potential employees.
2. Attractive Job Postings
Ordinary job descriptions might have sufficed a few years ago, but not today. Job postings are key to luring in top candidates, but that’s close to impossible with a bullet-point litany of job responsibilities. Today’s candidates are interested in the purpose of the company and how they might contribute toward that goal. You might consider ditching the traditional job description altogether, opting for a more performance-based one.
Good organizations have a positive culture that values people and helps them use creativity and learn new things. These traits should be prominent in all your job postings.
Younger job seekers are particularly eager to find organizations that offer effective mentorship and personal development opportunities — don’t forget to mention those.
3. Welcoming Interview Process
First, make the application process as simple as possible; forms that can be filled out later in the process should be. Before the interview, provide candidates with relevant information, research, or recent news about the company ahead of time as a way to further inform (and entice) them.
Also, be transparent about the process: Who will serve on the interview team, how long the interviews will take, whether a candidate should bring examples of their work. Don’t forget details like parking information or whether lunch will be provided.
Make sure anyone who is interviewing a candidate clearly understands which questions are off-limits. If the process will last all day, consider giving candidates a break by providing an office tour. This not only gives them a mental respite; it provides a deeper understanding of the organization’s culture.
4. Reasonable Skills Assessment
Many employers have gotten in the habit of asking job candidates to not only tell them what they can do, but show them as well. This kind of assessment can range from providing feedback on products to creating an entire web design project. Harvard Business Review called them “projeclications or applijects.”
Today’s job seekers are prepared to prove their skills, but have little tolerance for companies that might take advantage of their efforts. Never ask a candidate to work on an actual project (unless you plan to pay them). Use past projects or come up with hypothetical situations.
Consider the length of time the project will take — anything longer than an hour or two is unreasonable. You may wish to save these hypothetical projects for the job finalists, or in a situation where the hiring team is struggling to decide between two top candidates.
5. Respectful Background Checks
There is no question that organizations benefit from checking a candidate’s social media presence. Social media not only alerts an employer to red flags, but also to a candidate’s ability to network, provide thought leadership, and remain abreast of industry trends.
While some research shows that candidates resent having their social media checked, a great deal depends on the company’s approach. While job seekers should understand that what they post is far from private, companies would do well by telling candidates that social media checks could be made.
This list from the Society for Human Resource Management recommends that organizations conduct social media searches only for job finalists, and should provide an opportunity for candidates to respond to any concerning posts.
6. Exceptional Communication
Failing to follow up with candidates is a huge, but common, mistake, and, in the long term, it will damage a company’s reputation (remember online complaints in #1?). Hiring managers should maintain solid communication with every candidate during every phase of the process. Let people know as soon as they’re out of the running, and be transparent about next steps for finalists.
Employers tend to rely heavily on technology to communicate with candidates, but job seekers want the exact opposite. Go beyond simply providing an update via email – build rapport with candidates at the top of the heap. Most candidates welcome feedback after job interviews – it’s okay to give some constructive insights, as long as you don’t make any promises for future employment.
Providing a Good Candidate Experience Pays Off in the Long Run
It is important for organizations to remember that candidates who have the benefit of a respectful hiring experience will be more likely to apply again, and tell their friends to do the same. In a competitive hiring market, that’s good news.
[avatar user=”dboggs” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” /]David Boggs is practice leader of WK Advisors — a division of Witt/Kieffer offering mid-level and senior-level executive search consulting services. WK Advisors provides a high quality solution to recruiting administrative and clinical department directors and assistant vice presidents. David identifies leaders on behalf of hospitals, healthcare systems, academic medical centers, medical schools and managed care companies. He is based in Louisville, Kentucky.