Recruiters' Challenges to Deliver Great Candidate Experience

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These days, recruiting is getting increasingly complex and challenging. The job market is more saturated than ever, making it harder to grab candidates’ attention. At Starred, we believe that providing a good Candidate Experience is key to differentiate yourself from the competition as you’re probably fishing in the same talent pool. Let’s explore which challenges you’ll encounter in your endeavors to deliver an excellent Candidate Experience. We have identified these three challenges recruiters might face on a structural basis:

  • Bad Candidate Experience damages employer branding.
  • A competitive job market where talent is scarce.
  • A need for evidence-based improvements.

We would also like to address how you can approach them efficiently. Sophie Kraanen, Starred’s Customer Success Manager, has delivered a thorough and insightful session on this topic during the Lever Ascend event. Here, you can read a summary.

Recruiters' challenge 1: Causation between Candidate Experience and employer branding.

The most common challenge that recruiters encounter in delivering a great Candidate Experience is its connection to the brand reputation. In this evidence-based era, your daily job involves managing recruitment metrics like time to hire, offer acceptance rate, cost per hire, and more. While these metrics are crucial to your job, they only reflect one side of your story - the “not-so-human” side.

Expanding on the human side of things, have you ever wondered how your candidates perceive their candidate journey with you? Are Glassdoor or Reddit reviews your only source of feedback? Without supplementing your key metrics with Candidate Experience data, you’re left in the dark about how your candidates feel when they walk away from their experience with you. To understand the importance and immense impact of the Candidate Experience on your Employer Branding, please bear these statistics in mind:

  • 64% of candidates who've had a negative experience will share that experience with friends, family, or on social platforms like Glassdoor or Reddit;
  • 27% of candidates who did not enjoy their experience will actively discourage others from applying;
  • In the worst scenario, providing a bad Candidate Experience might cause B2C organizations the loss of potential customers, consequently affecting their bottom line. 46% of unhappy candidates state that they will take their business somewhere else; that means that they’ll turn to the competition.

Recruiters' challenge 2: Talent-driven job market

The second challenge recruiters face every day is that available talent on the job market has become scarce. Your ideal candidates-to-be are pickier and will only consider company culture and workplaces that fit best with their values. In practice, this means that you can no longer neglect your candidates’ opinions.

To illustrate this, Sophie shared an example of a company that noticed many candidates withdrew after the offer stage. The Talent Acquisition team (TA team) simply assumed it was related to the offered salaries. That turned out to be wrong. By asking for feedback, the withdrawn candidates revealed that they were disappointed about the interview process they’d experienced. Interviewers were said to be distracted by their phones, not paying attention, or having their cameras turned off. The candidates felt like they were not taken seriously and decided to withdraw.

This revelation may not be that revelatory, data confirms that:

  • 63% of candidates are likely to reject a job offer because of a bad Candidate Experience
  • 87% of candidates claim that they will change their minds about a company after a positive candidate experience.

So, the interview stage can be a make-or-break event for both candidates and the TA team.

Recruiters' challenge 3: The need for measurement: no measurement, no improvement

When Sophie states that “You can't improve what you don't measure”, thereby paraphrasing management guru Peter Drucker, she struck a chord. Nowadays, the hiring process is so complex and challenging, not only for recruiters, but also for the entire TA team. It consists of different stages and involves many people. With recruiters, coordinators, interviewers, hiring managers, and more orbiting candidate journeys, there are many events and moments of contact that can impact Candidate Experience negatively. Measuring and collecting feedback data from your candidates on different touchpoints allows you to discover hidden patterns.

Let’s take a look at another example. One of our customers used to consistently score high on Candidate Experience (NPS) when they were a small-sized company. When they grew and needed to scale their recruitment operations, they observed that their NPS score slowly declined. The TA team didn’t make changes in their hiring process so they were surprised by the decline. When they compared the different NPS scores from individual recruiters, they found out that the new recruiters were responsible for the drop in scores. It became obvious that the new recruiters needed more training. The training turned out to help improve their candidate experience scores.

Why do recruiters need to address these candidate experience challenges now?

If you don't approach these challenges, you will inevitably attract fewer and fewer candidates to your job openings. Your talent pool will decrease and you and your TA colleagues need to work hundred times harder to fill a single job opening. Realistically, you're fishing in the same candidate pool as your competitors. To complicate matters, top talent is only 10 days on the market. Fierce competition means that you need a competitive advantage. A proven tactic that is universally appreciated by candidates is to delight them consistently with outstanding candidate experience.

How do recruiter deliver a positive candidate experience, consistently?

Sophie argues that by taking a simple three-step approach, positive Candidate Experience will be within your reach. Make sure you ask every single candidate for feedback, including those who were rejected. Measure and quantify the feedback and turn them into insights. Finally, turn these insights into learnings and take action. Let’s take a closer look:

Ask

First of all, you need to scope and define the recruitment stages and candidate audiences that you would like to include in your feedback program. This can vary from candidates who are rejected after application, CV screening, phone interview, assessment, and interview to hire, withdrawn, or offer declined. Our advice is to include at least one stage of rejected candidates, hired candidates, and withdrawn candidates. Withdrawn candidates are actually often overlooked, especially those who withdraw after the offer stage. Because you've invested the most time and effort in withdrawn candidates they are an essential source of feedback if you want to understand the underlying reasons behind their withdrawal.

Secondly, once you have defined the stages and audience, you can formulate your survey questions. Here, we would recommend you ask questions that are specific to your unique hiring processes. If you want to start quickly, you can use our templates. The upside of our native integrations with leading Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is that you can automate the entire process. You can, for example, pull fields directly from your ATS into your invitation text. Starred can populate other types of information like the department name, job name, and recruiter name. We encourage customized invitation texts to ensure a high response rate. Automation also means that setting up the surveys is just a one-time thing only.

Lastly, timing is also essential. Approaching your candidates at the right time will make a big difference. When you ask candidates for feedback when they're still in the recruitment process, you'll get biased feedback. So in the case of rejected candidates, make sure that you ask for feedback three days after the candidates have been notified about their rejection.

Measure

In the second step, you want to measure your feedback and transform them into usable insights. You don’t have to worry, though. You don’t need to be a data scientist to analyze your Candidate Experience data. Starred’s dashboard will help recruiters to solve the data analytics challenge. It shows you a summary of the most important metrics. You can always take a deep dive if you’d like to dig for more information. The platform presents recruiters with fresh data; as soon as new responses pour in, your dashboard will update the metrics automatically. If you like to zoom out and check where you are with Candidate Experience, you can compare your NPS scores with peers in the same industry.

Take action

The last step is all about taking action. A clear goal is to work on your Candidate Experience NPS score - turning detractors into promoters. The best way to do that is to follow up on the feedback that you've received. Often, when you respond to negative feedback from your candidates, they feel heard and taken seriously. As a result, they're less likely to leave negative feedback on social platforms like Glassdoor. You can also reinforce positive feedback by facilitating promoters to visit your Glassdoor page to leave a positive review.

A successful example of turning a detractor candidate into a promoter candidate was the simple act of reaching out. Sophie shared the story of a recruiter who reached out to a candidate after a negative review. The candidate felt disappointed because he thought he was screened by a CV screening tool. That was actually not the case. All the candidates’ CVs were screened manually. The act of reaching out and taking the time to explain it was a misunderstanding made the candidate feel better. He even said that he would be happy to reapply in the future.

Other actions TA teams can take are aimed towards structural, long-term improvements. Sophie would like to encourage you to look beyond the overall NPS score. If you take a moment to filter your results on different levels like department, recruiter, region, you can unveil areas that need urgent action you didn’t expect. Our earlier example addressed this. Searching the root causes when you notice a drop in Candidate Experience NPS may reveal that more training for new recruiters could be impactful. Implementing those improvements will certainly pay off in the long run.

Final Thoughts 

There are three challenges that recruiters face in search of providing good Candidate Experience:

  • Employer branding relies heavily on great Candidate Experience
  • It’s a candidate-driven job market
  • If you don’t measure Candidate Experience, you don’t know what you could improve

For recruiters to tackle these challenges, we’d recommend you to:

  • Ask your candidates the right questions at the right time - customized and automated.
  • Measure what you’ve asked your candidates.
  • Take short and long-term actions to elevate your Candidate Experience.
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