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Optimize the Candidate Experience: Act Fast, but Act Deliberately

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

Part 3 in our series: Secret Weapon in the War for Talent: Positive Candidate Experience

Each and every candidate who submits a résumé to your company comes away with an opinion based on his or her experience. When you realize that each candidate is a potential customer, business partner or future employee, it becomes clear that you should take steps to ensure everyone has a positive experience. In addition, CareerBuilder’s 2012 Applicant Experience Survey found that negative candidate experiences can have unfortunate consequences for your company.

At Decision Toolbox (DT) we think it’s pretty simple: every candidate is a person who deserves to be treated with respect. But whatever reason works for you, I’ve been sharing tips to optimize the candidate experience during each of the five phases of hiring: branded marketing 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 to onboarding.

Hiring Manager/Company Interviews: The Clock is Ticking

Once Candie Candidate passes muster with a Recruiter, she knows her résumé has moved along to the hiring manager (HM) and other decision-makers. Like most of us, being one step closer to the potential prize raises Candie’s anxiety — there’s a lot at stake. One of the best ways to ensure a positive experience, then, is to keep the process moving: make sure the HM reviews Candie’s résumé quickly and, if there is interest, reach out to Candie in a timely manner to schedule a face-to-face interview.

Some tips for optimizing candidate experience in the interview stage:

  • Make sure you aren’t interrupted during the interview, with people coming in and out your office. Send your phone to voicemail.
  • Give the candidate your full attention. Ignore email or instant message alerts. Don’t eat your lunch during the interview, unless you’re interviewing in a restaurant.
  • Respect the candidate’s schedule by holding no more than three rounds of interviews, and try to schedule all the interviews in one day. Most likely Candie’s using her PTO to attend these interviews, and she’s probably interviewing with other employers, too.
  • Be on time for the interview, and be prepared with good probing questions specific to Candie’s background. 

Professional bite: for good follow through on this stage, set timelines and stick to them. For example, ask the HM to review résumés within 48 hours, and schedule interviews within 96 hours (this is to your advantage, too, as good talent doesn’t last long on the market). Keep candidates warm with regular touches.

From Offer to Onboarding: Don’t Slow Down Now

Candie has passed all the interviews with flying colors, she seems like a great fit and you made her an offer. Time to relax? Not yet.

Candie will want to give reasonable notice, and during this period the new relationship is vulnerable. Her current employer may make a counter-offer, or Candie may have second thoughts. Don’t wait until her start date to refresh her enthusiasm. Invite her to an office party or event. If you have several people coming on board, have a party to introduce them all to your staff.

Onboarding is about more than just paperwork. It’s about pulling candidates into the fold. If Candie doesn’t feel welcome from the start, she may continue to look for another opportunity. On day one have everything in place: her business cards, email address, phone number.

Professional bite: good follow through on this stage, and on all stages, involves asking candidates — hired or not — for feedback. At DT we ask questions like:

  • Was your interview a positive experience?
  • Was your recruiter respectful and professional at all times?
  • Did your recruiter keep you informed of your status? 

From the beginning DT has brought a marketing approach to recruiting, and the CareerBuilder survey underscores our belief. It’s as important for candidates to have a positive experience with your company as it is for customers.

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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  • " This is the best search process I have seen in my 30 year career. It is a balance between excellent technology and a professional recruiter. (DT Recruiter) is not only a top notch search professional, but also sees the big picture on how candidates will fit in our organization. She is efficient, knowledgeable and extremely patient. "
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