· Features

Improving candidate experience is a win-win

Eighty per cent of senior HR and procurement professionals do not regard the candidate experience as a priority in recruitment, according to recent research. But providing a positive candidate experience is a business necessity.

If you care about your organisation’s employer brand then you should care about the candidate experience. If someone applies to your company, they probably like and admire your brand. They may have been a customer or a strong advocate of your business for many years. So what message are you sending if you treat people badly when they apply for a job?

In recent research, cutting the cost of recruitment and reducing the time to hire were both seen as more important to HR and procurement professionals than the candidate experience. Every organisation wants to get the right candidates quickly and affordably. But the bigger picture here is that your recruitment process is inextricably linked to your brand.

You’ll reject more applicants than you hire, so if you don’t want rejected applicants to bad mouth your organisation – and with social media, they can tell a lot of people very quickly – it’s critical to give every applicant a positive brand experience, even if you’re not going to offer them a job. 

This doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be as simple as keeping them informed about the different stages of their application; giving them feedback from any assessments and interviews they’ve undertaken; being polite and considerate in your communications; being respectful and sympathetic if you have to turn them down and thanking them for their interest and their time. 

To really excel here, you can provide a job preview that gives potential applicants a look at what it’s like to work at your company. Introducing a realistic job preview can help increase the quality of candidates and reduce the number of applicants because it encourages people to really think about whether they want to work for you. If they’re not suited to the role or organisation, then they’re unlikely to succeed in their application, so it’s better for them to realise this at the outset, rather than finding out further down the line. 

Screening out inappropriate applicants early on in the process actually saves you money as it reduces the number of unsuitable candidates in the later and more expensive selection stages, such as interviews and assessment centres. To make this point to procurement, it’s important to talk their language, in terms of the cost and benefits. This can be presented in a business case that articulates the return on investment that’s generated from the candidate experience. 

It’s worth focusing your business case on the recruitment process in its entirety, rather than each stage in isolation. Any additional cost of assessments can be outweighed by improvements in process efficiency, a reduction in the number of interviews that need to be completed and the fact that better quality candidates will be coming through.

If you’re attracting better candidates, there’s more chance that you’ll hire someone who’ll perform well in the role and who’ll stay. In other words, you’ll avoid the costly mistake of hiring the wrong people. The real benefits of enhancing candidate care and creating a more effective recruitment process are therefore improved employee engagement and retention, a more harmonious work environment, reduced staff turnover, increased productivity and improvements to the bottom line. 

Spelling out these benefits in a business case enables you to create a ‘win-win’ situation for HR and procurement. You’ll end up providing a positive experience for every candidate, enhancing your employer brand, recruiting the right people and spending less overall.

Lucy Beaumont is solutions director at Talent Q