A Conversation on Candidate Experience
Updated: Sep 16
Years ago I was interviewed about candidate experience, and my philosophy on how to deliver to candidates and hiring teams in a way that empowers everyone involved and influences not only getting them on board, but keeping them as well.
Q: Define “recruiting experience” from your point of view.
A: As a recruiter, I take ownership of facilitating the process from start to finish, and therefore I feel it is my responsibility to ensure a positive recruiting experience. As a recruiter, I am the face of my company, and work with all parties to ensure the right people go into the right jobs at the right time. To me, the recruiting experience assesses satisfaction from three perspectives – that of the candidates, the hiring teams, and yes, the recruiter. If one or more are dissatisfied, the process needs to be examined. Everyone needs to be on board and feel good about the hiring process.
Q: How can the recruiting experience negatively affect employee retention?
A: The hiring process is all about (or should be all about) giving both the candidate and the hiring team a realistic preview of not only the job, but the working relationship as well. If you’re not focusing on the right areas in your questions, not providing good service, you’ve already started off on the wrong foot. I’ve been in jobs myself where it’s been a complete 180 from how the position was represented in the interview because the hiring manager was too busy selling – it’s a disservice to everyone. In addition, employees who are part of hiring teams dealing with poor organization, lack of communication, and/or dysfunctional relationships? Well, they stop wanting to refer good people – and they start looking elsewhere. Why? Because hiring has to be an organization’s first priority. The people make the product who make the company – people always have to (genuinely) come first.
Q: How can it positively affect retention? A: A former mentor of mine used to say, “Our employees are our best recruiters”. Give them a great experience and they’ll have a greater trust in you as the employer because you were honest with them upfront about the job, the culture and the team, and because from day one they were justifiably excited. In addition, as you can imagine, happy employees refer more applicants (because they love it there), and “pay it forward” – giving an honest picture of the environment and the job, as you had for them.
Q: What do you feel are the top 3 success factors in a positive recruiting experience? A: Communication, Customer Service, and Content.
Communication – Great communication among all members of the hiring team – everyone’s got to be on the same page not only with what their roles are, but understanding themselves what the job is, what’s expected of them, and a shared belief in how their company takes care of candidates.
Customer Service – Great customer service to ALL applicants from start to finish (I say applicants to include those who do not make it to interview status), from giving them the information they need about the job, the team, and the company; to handling the logistics efficiently; to selling the company throughout the process; to making them feel not just welcome, but respected for their time investment.
Content – The interviews have to give a realistic portrayal of the job, ask questions that are not only relevant but help interviewers get a stronger picture of their potential to succeed, and involve the people they’ll be interacting with both on their team and in a cross-functional capacity.
Q: How have you constructed your business to ensure that candidates have a positive experience, and how does that reflect on your clients?
A: For me, I’ve been around long enough as a recruiter and human resources professional to know what does and doesn’t work in hiring the right people (rather than “filling requisitions”). My reputation is based on the candidate experience, and facilitating the hiring process from start to finish. When I first meet with a client, we discuss our philosophies around hiring, what we each believe the recruiting experience should look like, and – if that’s a fit – then talk about how I can make their lives easier and get them the people they need more effectively and efficiently by allowing me to guide the process and trusting my expertise and experience. I rely on them as the subject matter experts on the jobs we’re hiring for and the culture they’ve created, and they rely on me for my expertise when it comes to matching the right people with the jobs, where I find them, and how I partner with their team. I am always clear about expectations from the beginning when it comes to turnaround time, customer service, interviewing dynamics, and other aspects I think are important in hiring.