Candidate Experience

How to Identify Gaps in Your Candidate Experience

Feb 16, 2022 - Tiffany Monhollon

Candidate experience is an integral part of your employer brand. The way you interact with candidates, the ease of the application process, and the transparency and timeliness of communication all contribute to how prospective employees view your company and how likely they will be to accept a job offer. But - how long has it been since you took a close look at your organization’s candidate experience from a holistic, external perspective

It’s no secret that we are in a candidate’s job market. So, now’s the time to take a closer look at your organization’s candidate experience - so you can quickly address any issues that may be keeping talent out of reach.

 Why candidate experience starts long before the application.

In order to identify gaps in your candidate experience, step into a candidate’s shoes and try walking through the candidate journey yourself, using the following roadmap:

Review Your Careers Webpage

In addition to hiring events like career fairs and info sessions, your careers webpage may be one of the first places that candidates go to learn more about your company. You’ll want to make sure that your careers webpage provides the information they are looking for, which might include a list of open positions, employee testimonials, a list of benefits, highlights of company culture and what it’s like to work there, and what to expect during the job application process. After double checking that you have these basics, think of some of the main questions that recruiters receive from job candidates, and find ways to answer them on your website.

One way you can ensure that candidates can easily access commonly asked questions is to use a tool like an FAQ bot that automates getting them to the information they’re looking for quickly. And, you can boost engagement on your careers site with a chat tool that connects candidates to recruiters.

Learn more: How to Engage & Convert Quality Candidates with QuickChat

Ensure that Each Job Description Is Clear

Job descriptions can also go a long way toward improving inclusivity. For example, research shows that women are less likely than men to apply for a job unless they have 100% of the requirements listed. To combat this phenomenon and diversify your talent pool, condense your job description to include the most essential qualifications for the position, while also clearly laying out the responsibilities for the person who will take on the role. And make sure to use inclusive language! To further encourage candidates to apply for a position, consider mentioning a few perks and benefits that your company offers.

Time How Long It Takes to Fill Out the Initial Application

So let’s assume that a candidate has looked at your careers webpage and found a job that interests them. The next step would be applying to the job. To see what the candidate journey looks like at this stage, have one of your recruiters set a timer and then fill out the job application. How long does it take? Are there any steps that can be removed, such as asking for an uploaded resume but not an additional page of manually filling in employment history? Or can any information be collected at a later stage of the hiring process (such as references)?

Another metric to review when identifying gaps in your candidate experience at the application stage is the application completion rate vs. application abandonment rate. If you can pinpoint when candidates are dropping off in the job application, you may be able to refine the application to remove that pain point.

Get the Guide: Shorten Your Application & Other Top TA Priorities for 2022

Determine the Amount of Time It Takes to Receive a Response After Submitting an Application

After submitting an application, the waiting game for candidates begins. This is a key area to focus on, as a lag time in follow up can drastically increase ghosting and candidate drop-off, especially in today’s market, where candidates have lots of options and aren’t likely to stick around if you’ve got a “black hole” in your process. If your follow up systems and processes are still set up for a pre-Great Resignation candidate experience (meaning no or slow application response), this is a huge gap to resolve quickly.

How long does it take a job applicant to receive a message from the company? Is there an auto-confirmation acknowledging that an application has been submitted, and if so, what does that message contain? Ideally, any automated message sent after a job application is submitted would address the candidate by name in the salutation and provide some information about next steps in order to set expectations. And in order to minimize candidate ghosting in the waiting period, it’s also important to provide a timeline for next steps (which should be realistic, but as soon as possible - whatever you commit to, make sure your team is sticking to that promise).

Aside from the auto-response, how long does it take an actual recruiter to reach out and schedule a phone screening? Is the timing consistent with what may have been shared in the auto-message? And is there a way for candidates to manually check how their application is progressing? Some applicant tracking systems may allow for candidates to see their “application status” on the candidate portal. The more transparency and personalization in communication, the better the candidate experience.

How Does Your Candidate Experience Score? Take the Quiz

Review the Steps in the Interview Stage

Recruiters should provide as much information as possible about the interview process upfront. For example: if the full process involves a phone screen, two rounds of interviews, and a take-home project, the candidate should be aware of that during their initial conversation with a recruiter. When possible, it would also be best to provide an estimate of how long the process would take (perhaps three weeks for the example above).

As with the job application stage, you may find that candidates are beginning to withdraw from the process after a certain point. If so, consider if your interviews are taking too long so that other employers are snatching up talent first, or if there are too many interviews in your process that candidates start to feel fatigued. Since currently employed job candidates may need to request paid time off for interviews or travel to an office in order to interview, it’s important to make the interview stage as seamless as possible. Take a good look at your standard timelines for the interview stage, and see what you can shorten, consolidate, or remove. Candidates in today’s market are moving fast, so you need to be empowered with a succinct timeline and a process that enables you to keep them in your workflow. Consider scheduling all interviews on the same day so that the candidate can meet everyone at once, or providing flexibility so that some interviews can be conducted over the phone or over video chat.

It’s time to get lean in your timeline for the interview stage, and that probably means having conversations with hiring managers to let them know that the market is hot, and everything you can do to have a precise, succinct timeline will help you better capture the top talent in the market, before your competitors do.

Figure Out How Easy (or Hard!) It Is to Get in Touch With a Recruiter With Questions

Candidates are likely to have questions as they go through the process. So how easy is it to connect with a recruiter? For candidates who have reached the interview stage, it is likely that they will have started working with a specific recruiter and can ask that person questions over the phone or via email. In this case, recruiters should be responsive and able to answer questions.

For candidates who have either not applied yet or who have applied but not received an invitation to interview yet, is there a contact provided on the careers webpage for any questions? The answer might be to have specific recruiters’ contact information publicly available, have a general questions email address for candidates, or add a chatbot to the careers website so that candidates can ask their question and then hear back from a live recruiter during business hours. Regardless of the approach, candidates should have some way to ask questions at any stage of the application process.

Ensure that Your Offers Are Timely & Competitive

Suppose a candidate has made it through every stage of the application process, and your company would like to extend an offer. After concluding the final interview, how long does it take your team to make the decision to extend an offer? And is the offer in line with the candidates’ expectations? Waiting too long to extend an offer could mean that the candidate accepts another position in the meantime. Similarly, extending an offer that does not match the candidate’s salary requirements will reduce their likelihood of accepting the offer (note: it helps to clarify the position’s salary range with the candidate earlier in the application process so you can both decide if you wish to proceed). Reference your hire acceptance rates across multiple departments to see if there are any discrepancies, and research salaries for your location and industry to make sure your offers are competitive.

In a piping hot talent market, spotting alignment issues in this area so you can have strategic conversations with leaders and hiring managers to stay ahead of potential problems is key.

Ask for Candidate Feedback

In addition to walking through the application process yourself, encourage recent candidates and new employees to provide feedback on their experience! You can send out a survey, or ask for feedback over email or over the phone at the conclusion of the process. Keep an eye on your Glassdoor profile too, since there’s an entire section where candidates can share their experiences about the application and interview process.

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