83 percent of talent say that a negative experience has changed their mind about a company or role they once liked, while 87 percent of talent say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a company or role they once doubted. Those two stats say it all - a candidate’s experience with your team can truly make or break their decision to join.
Candidate experience is difficult to master, in large part because as talent leader Michelle Hart says,“it's the collective result of all the interactions a candidate has with the employer brand during the recruitment, marketing, and hiring process.”
At our Talent Innovation Summit a few months ago, Michelle walked through an assortment of recruiting strategies that can enhance each of those interactions. Below, we recapped 7 of the unique tips she shared. To hear more from Michelle and other talent leaders, watch our new video on how to craft an exceptional candidate experience. Then, delve into her full Summit presentation at the bottom of this post!
1) Build a simple career page that displays your culture
According to Michelle, the candidate journey begins when your recruiting team drives awareness of your open opportunities. In this phase, your careers page can be the best platform to deliver important details to curious candidates. “Use it as a resource to share photos that symbolize your culture, and feature employee spotlights such ‘A Day in the Life of a Data Scientist’”, explains Michelle. Recruiters and HR managers can talk for hours about how special your team is, but candidates tend to listen more to employees who aren’t trying to hire them.
When you tell candidates how to apply for your open role on your careers page, write simple and clear directions. “We’ve all been in that situation where we’re like, ‘Wow this seems like a great role! Now, where is the apply button?’”, laughs Michelle. If candidates feel at all lost or exhausted by your instructions, you might lose them. Furthermore, if they don’t feel like you’re forthright with all information, they may get frustrated. When Michelle decided to transparently outline each step of the interview process - phone screen, onsite, challenge, offer extension - on her careers page, she got great candidate feedback.
2) Get the most out of social media platforms like Glassdoor and your employee blog
Both Glassdoor and your employee blog can be useful tools for driving a better candidate experience. When Michelle began trying to ramp up her former team’s number of Glassdoor reviews, she had an idea. The moment a candidate first signs their offer and joins is often their peak point of excitement. So why not encourage them to write Glassdoor reviews right then? Without telling them what to say, the recruiting team asked new hires to share what motivated them to join. Then, to incentivize more people to do it, they offered chair massages to the entire team if they could hit 50 reviews. They did.
To continue driving candidate awareness, Michelle doubled down on social media platforms like her team’s blog and Twitter. “In blog posts, employees can talk about something they’re really passionate about, be thought leaders, and explain why their work is innovative.” explains Michelle. It's important to communicate those benefits to them. To get more employee activity on Twitter, Michelle suggests a different strategy. Once you create a company hashtag - '#lifeatcompanyname', for example - incentivize your employees to post team photos or activities once again. Tell them that the employees with the most liked posts can win a travel voucher or restaurant gift card.
3) Kick off kickoff meetings with your hiring team
To deliver a top-notch candidate experience throughout the interview process, every single team member hast to put their best foot forward. “Candidates are interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing them,” stresses Michelle. “If there’s one thing you take away from this session, make it that.”
With that in mind, Michelle always makes sure to organize a kickoff meeting with the hiring manager, interviewers, and recruiters at the beginning of every new search. In this sync, everyone gets on the same page about what they “want” and “need” from their dream candidate, and then each person walks out of the session knowing their focus areas for questions. This way, interviewers prioritize the same general qualifications, but no candidate feels like they have to answer the same question again and again. This team sync is separate from the interviewer training, however. If any of your interviewers are going through a recruiting process for the first time, they need a separate training session wherein they learn best interviewing practices.
4) Give candidates detailed information about next steps
Before your candidate comes in for their first interview, send them an interview confirmation email with answers to all of their burning questions. Include details such as: who they will be meeting with and when, your contact information, and facts about the company. At Michelle’s former company, her team would even send bios of every interviewer the candidate was scheduled to meet with.
Then, consistently tell candidates what to expect in their next stage of the process. Let them know when they'll hear back from you, who they'll meet with in their next interview, for example. It can be difficult to wrangle everyone on your team, so get strategic in order to get their interview feedback faster. In the past, Michelle has gathered the whole team together to ask: “What response time is everyone in our organization able to commit to, based on our current bandwidth and resources?”. Then, they all set a 24 hour turnaround time for reading resumes and establishing next steps, and a 48 hour turnaround time for communicating next steps with candidates after their phone screen or onsite interview. “We were all candidates once. Keep in mind that any two minute delay in response time always feels like an hour to candidates,” concludes Michelle.
5) Get creative to show candidates your culture
Michelle suggests a few simple ways to display your company values to candidates. One easy idea to implement is the “culture book”. When your candidate is waiting in your lobby or has a break between interviews, give them a way to learn more fun facts about you and your coworkers. Inside, you can include pictures, recent company events, employee spotlights, and more.
Another idea that’s easy to incorporate is a short tour before their first on-site interview. Even if it’s only five or ten minutes, it can go a long way to show your candidate what a day-in-the-life on your team looks like. They can see where they’d sit if they joined, what the energy is like (whether it’s lively or focused), and they can even meet their potential teammates if there’s time.
6) Give them an offer they can’t refuse
For every single offer your team extends, Michelle recommends sending that candidate a customized video featuring every single interviewer from their process. In the video, the interviewers can share information like: the values that every employee cares about, the benefits the candidate can look forward to, and even activities they can't wait to do with the candidate (based on what they discussed throughout interviews). Overall, these videos can be hugely rewarding. When she implemented this on her former team, she remembers getting glowing feedback from candidates who ultimately accepted their offer.
Even if they didn’t accept, sending the video was still worth it. “They’re going to talk to everyone they know about the video; they’re going to say ‘Wow, this team did this for me and it was personalized with the people I met with’”, explains Michelle. No matter what, that candidate will likely spread positive awareness of your team’s brand after receiving the video, which could ultimately bring even more amazing talent to them.
Believe it or not, there are a lot more candidate experience ideas where those came from. Michelle is a gold mine for fresh ways to attract, engage, and excite candidates.