candidate experience

The Candidate Experience. How to Bridge the Gap Between Employer Perception and Candidate Reality.

We are in the most competitive labor market in years. Qualified candidates with technical aptitude AND soft skills are in extreme demand. In the competition for top talent, it’s more important today than ever before for companies to put their best foot forward. To do so, companies need to provide a great candidate experience from the beginning of the hiring process.

The Candidate Experience is defined asthe perception of a job seeker about an employer, based on the interactions during the recruitment process”. This includes the job search, application process, interview process, and onboarding.

Let me share some perspective. In a recent study by CareerBuilder, 78% of employers feel like they provide a great candidate experience, yet only 47% of candidates agreed.  48% of applicants said the pre-employment experience affects how favorably they view a future employer. Finally, in a recent LinkedIn study, 83% of candidates said a negative interview experience impacts their perception of a position or company they once liked.

Consider these questions for your organization:

  • What do candidates experience when they go through the recruiting process with your organization?
  • How do they feel after their interview?
  • Do they know what to expect throughout the process?

Here are tips to bridge the gap between employer perception and candidate reality.

Research your employer brand.
Have you looked at the online reviews for your company recently? I would bet prospective candidates have looked.

  • Analyze the reviews on Glassdoor, Google, and Facebook. Do they align with your employer brand?
  • Respond to online reviews so prospective candidates know you care.
  • Be prepared to answer questions in the interview about negative comments or reviews.

Timely and transparent communication is the key to keeping top talent engaged.
CareerBuilder also found 47% of applicants said they never received any form of communication from the company they applied to, even after 60 days from their initial application. This is a huge opportunity for organizations to set themselves apart. 

  • Respond timely to candidates who appear to be a good match for the role they are filling.
  • Respond to candidate communication within 24 hours. Their time is as valuable as yours. If you don’t make them feel like you believe that, you’ll lose them to another company that does.

Create a positive interview experience.
A positive experience improves the odds that the best candidate accepts your offer over a competing offer.

  • Make sure candidates know the names and titles of everyone they meet, where they should go, and how long the interview will last. 
  • During the interview, ask thoughtful and meaningful questions that apply to the position, company, and culture. Check out sample interview questions here.
  • A LinkedIn survey found compensation, professional development, and a better work/life balance are the three biggest factors when candidates accept a position. Paint a picture of these three factors for the candidate.
  • Remember that the interview is as much for the candidate as it is for you. Allow time for them to ask questions and be as transparent as possible with your answers.
  • Wrap up the interview by explaining the next steps.  If you already know they are not a fit, tell them. If you know the next step is another interview, ask for their availability. It’s a way to end on a positive note and increase engagement for the next step of the process.
  • Make your best offer. Candidates don’t want to play games; and in today’s market, many receive multiple offers. Present a good faith offer that represents the candidate’s career goals and expectations. Don’t offer a salary lower than the candidate’s expectations with the hope they accept or counter. I recognize not all positions pay what a candidate needs. However, when the interview process is done well, disconnects around salary, benefits, flexibility, etc. are identified at the start of the process vs. the end. This saves you time and frustration in the hiring process – not to mention respect from candidates.

There is good news… It doesn’t cost any money to incorporate the action items listed above in your recruitment process. It takes time to identify your organization’s gaps, but when you do, you can make the changes necessary to win the best talent. 

We want to hear from you! What are other challenges employers face throughout the recruitment process that impact their ability to engage top talent?

Chris Walker

Chris Walker
Chris Walker is the Regional Manager of Aureus Group’s Finance and Accounting (AFA) division. As the Regional Manager for AFA, Chris leads a team of more than 10 professionals who provide staffing and recruiting solutions for all facets of accounting and finance. In addition to staffing and recruiting for accountants, auditors, financial analysts, tax professionals, controllers, CFOs, payroll, and human resource professionals, AFA also provides information on industry trends, salary and compensation, and assists clients with outplacement services.

Since starting with AFA in 2000, Chris has held many roles within the organization including account manager, team leader, sales manager and branch manager. She earned her Certified Personnel Consultant designation and is an active member of Central Iowa SHRM and the Iowa Society of CPAs.  

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