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Humanizing the Candidate Experience

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By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 2 in our series: Secret Weapon in the War for Talent: Positive Candidate Experience

I’ve been writing about how a positive candidate experience lays the groundwork for your company’s ongoing relationship with new talent and helps focus and reinforce company culture. And, according to a 2012 CareerBuilder study of the subject, a negative candidate experience actually can harm your company’s reputation. A single candidate can quickly communicate a bad opinion of your company across a wide social network in short order. There always will be people who try to make “whine” from sour grapes, but most social media users can recognize legitimate criticism.

In Part One I discussed the first of five stages in the candidate experience, branded marketing, and here in Part Two we’ll explore stages two and three: submitting the application and interacting with a recruiter. In Part Three I’ll cover interviews with the hiring manager as well as the period from offer to onboarding. Since follow through is essential to the success of each stage, I’ll include follow through tips.

Submitting the application: The person in the form

In a business environment that values automation and efficiency, it can be easy to forget that recruitment is a uniquely human activity. Even the word “talent” can narrow perceptions if we don’t keep in mind that talent exists as an integrated part of a whole human being. Your company’s talent includes professional knowledge, training and experience as well as values, personality traits and personal experiences.

The application submittal process has tremendous potential to dehumanize if not done carefully. As I suggested in Part One, walk a mile in the shoes of the candidate — in fact, take the time to actually apply for one of your open positions. If it feels too dehumanizing, try these:

  • Make it easy to find the application. Decision Toolbox’s (DT) online branded marketing piece, the Jobinfo Writeup, includes three links — at the top, right and bottom of the Writeup — to the information capture screens.
  • Make it easy to fill out. Set it up so that candidates can auto-populate basic information via their LinkedIn or Facebook account.
  • Make it easy to wait by eliminating the dark hole of wonder (see Part One). Set up  an automated email reply to the effect, “Thank your for your interest in our company . . . “ 

Professional bite: for good follow through on this stage, communicate, communicate, communicate. At DT we are committed to viewing each submission within 24 to 48 hours. Once a position closes, call or email all the candidates who got to the interview stage.

Interaction with the recruiter: First (human) contact

Still wearing the candidate’s shoes? Good. You’re about to talk with a recruiter . . . a real person, not an online form. Wouldn’t you prefer it if the recruiter:

  • Conveys enthusiasm about the position, the company and the opportunity?
  • Respects your time by NOT cancelling and rescheduling the interview two or three times?
  • Stays “in the moment,” paying attention to what you say without sounding distracted or rushed?
  • Probes with questions that make you think, that get at whether this truly is the right fit for you?
  • Maintains a high standard that lets you know that only the top candidates will move forward? 

Keep in mind that many candidates are talking with multiple recruiters, so they have a basis for comparing who is treating them well and who isn’t.

Professional bite: Follow through tips for interaction with the recruiter:

  • Keep viable candidates warm through ongoing communication. Instead of emailing the “I enjoyed talking with you” message, personalize it a bit by texting it. Of course, when you are certain candidates are NOT viable, let them know so they can move on.
  • Get feedback. For example, once a candidate accepts an offer, DT sends them a short survey including the question, “Was your recruiter professional and respectful at all times?” 

Part Three — interviewing with the hiring manager and others, and the period from offer to onboarding — is coming soon to a browser near you.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to “Humanizing the Candidate Experience”

  1. February 26, 2014 at 10:48 am, Secret Weapon in the War for Talent: Positive Candidate Experience | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] . . . I’m just getting warmed up but I’m already out of room! Keep an eye out for Parts Two and Three — more about the stages and more follow through […]


  2. March 03, 2014 at 4:12 pm, Optimize the Candidate Experience: Act Fast, but Act Deliberately | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] in Part One of this series, and submitting the application and interaction with the recruiter in Part Two. Here in Part Three we’ll look at hiring manager/company interviews and the period from offer […]


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