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Good Candidate Experience shouldn’t be sacrificed in a digital environment. Remote hiring is becoming standard practice in modern businesses, and with the relevance of Candidate Experience in mind, it’s time to polish your digital etiquette. We collected a series of best practices for you to implement.

If we imagine a hiring process uniquely developed in an online space, we need to start by mapping out the Candidate Journey Funnel. The phases that compose it involve both active and, even more importantly, passive candidates. 

Candidate Journey Funnel
The Candidate Journey Funnel

Your Candidate Journey Funnel

Your Candidate Journey Funnel starts with awareness, the phase in which the potential candidates find out about your vacancy. 

Once they become aware of your company and job opening, they enter the phase of consideration, and they will do some research on you.

After that, your potential job applicants reach the interest phase. They will compare you to a few other potential employers and dig deeper into your employer branding.

These first steps usually occur in the displayed order for active candidates, but passive candidates enter the equation from the next phase onward.

And so, the much-anticipated application process begins. This is the first time that the candidate shares information with your business. Afterward, you start communicating - you can, and should, reach out to the applicants to confirm you received their applications, and to potentially share information concerning the structure and length of the hiring process. 

The selection phase follows, and you’ll assess and interview your candidates. They might have to take part in business cases or simulations of job-specific problems that they may face in the workplace. Finally, you’ll hire the talent you prefer. Once they sign the contract, the on-boarding process starts and the new employees are introduced to their team and role.

The 5 Dimensions of Candidate Experience

Now that we’ve quickly reviewed the funnel, let’s look into what you mustn’t forget in order to provide your applicants with good Candidate Experience in your remote hiring process. 

During our interview with the Candidate Experience expert Gerry Crispin, he told us about the 5 main elements impacting the candidates’ perception of your hiring process.

He was referring to closure, setting expectations, fairness, listening, and accountability. “These 5 practices are weighted differently by culture and by level and by a variety of other dimensions,” Gerry said, “but they are a foundation for how the candidates are driven to share that their experience was good, bad, or somewhere in between.”

In what way can you make sure to meet your applicants’ expectations throughout your remote hiring process? We’ll provide you with a step-by-step analysis inclusive of mistakes to avoid, applicable advice, and tool recommendations.

Best Practices, Step by step

Let’s start with the active candidates. To make sure they’ll find your job posting, you can utilize job boards and social media.

The latter has the potential to let you showcase your company culture, which is an important element for candidates to consider when deciding whether to work for you. Perhaps it’s time to build your own strategy for these channels - you can read more about it in these Harver and articles.

In order to entice potential candidates to apply, remember that video is a powerful tool. As a matter of fact, the candidate application rate increases by 34% when a video message is included in your job posting. During this phase, make sure you offer clear, respectful, and insightful information - this can help you set expectations. Pay particular attention to your communication not being biased and discriminatory against any minority. There are a variety of tools that can help you in the process, with various degrees of complexity. To start, the Gender Decoder for Job Ads is a basic tool that you can easily implement. Fairness is, as previously mentioned, one of the 5 dimensions of good Candidate Experience, so don’t let any applicant feel left out.

“You don’t need “solid” performers. You need “star” performers.” These are the words of Atta Tarki in his book Evidence-Based Recruiting. He also mentions how, possibly, top talent is barely ever unemployed, even during economic downturns. How to attract them, since job boards don’t cut it? Luckily there are some very good tools like Personio, Hunter, or Hiretual out there to help you in the process. Once you figure out how to reach out to your new potential candidates, remember not to be intimidating or disrespectful in your outbound messages. This is the first interaction with someone you might soon want on your team.

Now, onto your application process. What can be done there? 

This phase needs to be as sleek and user-friendly as possible. This is why it’s crucial for the tools thate candidates can use to apply to your vacancy to be mobile-friendly. 90% of modern-day job seekers look for their dream job via their phone - lagging behind is no longer an option.

If you don’t yet understand the importance of keeping the application process simple, know that a CareerBuilder research quotes that 60% of candidates drop an application halfway through because of its complexity. If you’re looking for some advice on how to tackle this, don’t ask them to input the same information more than once, simplify the document upload process, and minimize the number of steps needed.

On top of that, do your best to make your career page impressive. It can truly impact the candidates’ perception of your business to see you’ve put in effort to create an unique space that lets them comfortably browse your vacancies while learning more about your company. The Netflix Jobs page is a good example of what a high-quality career page looks like.

If you work for a big company, it’s probable that you’re receiving hundreds of Curriculum Vitae, so an ATS and a good resume parser go a long way. They let you easily store your applicants’ information and skim through to take out of your pool those candidates whose profiles are incompatible with your expectations. This will help you be quicker, other than better organized, and in the digital world, speed is key. As much as the lack of bias is relevant throughout the hiring process, this is particularly true for the application stage. Several tools have been developed for this purpose.

There will be very little human interaction with your candidates, so it’s crucial that you take communication seriously. You should be promptly informing them after every relevant step, starting from their application and including the interview and assessment phase. It’s vital that they have a clear understanding of the steps in your hiring process, of how they’re timed, and of what is expected of them. You should also maintain your potential and current applicants informed of which vacancies have closed, removing old job postings and reaching out to let them know if another candidate has been selected. This helps you set expectations.

Clarity and speed are important elements at play, so don’t have your candidates wait for days for an update. But if letting too much time go by is a costly mistake, taking too little time before rejecting your candidates at any stage, be it after receiving their CV or after an interview or assessment, could make them feel dehumanized and unfairly dismissed. Do you know what’s worse than reaching out too soon or too late? Not reaching out at all. Keep in mind that your job applicants deserve closure.

Friendliness is another important ingredient to acing your communication. We encourage you to treat your candidates like “human beings with feelings”, as Greg Savage wrote in his book The Savage Truth. Build rapport. This means putting your candidates at ease in a digital context that might otherwise feel cold. For the same reason, it’s recommended to give a short call to the candidates whose applications you just received - this will let you break the ice, other than probe a little. A call is warmer than an email, and videos feel even more personal. 

Remember what the candidates share with you. An ATS can help you with this. If they feel like you don’t know who they are after already having sent over their information and perhaps even interacted with you, they won’t feel heard, and they’ll think they’re but a number to you.

Communication isn’t a one-way street, which is why you must remember to be reachable too. After all, accountability is one of the crucial dimensions of Candidate Experience.

Finally, make sure to provide your rejected candidates with feedback whenever needed: that is, after relevant touchpoints, and especially once rejected. In this specific case, this could occasionally lead to awkward conversations. Don’t forget to be human. If the content of your feedback could feel embarrassing or personal, warn your rejected candidate about it. If they still want to know why they didn’t make it through the hiring process, then politely tell them the reason behind their dismissal. Sharing the logic behind their rejection with your candidates will help them see the fairness in your selection process.

We mentioned that video communication is important. Let’s read why, in the words of Tamara Grigg, Head of Marketing at VideoMyJob.

Tamara Grigg on Video Communication for Remote Hiring

As we previously mentioned, the selection phase can include an assessment of the applicant. There are two main kinds of assessments, and both can be tested online. A tool like eSkill can help you lead a comprehensive cognitive analysis of your candidates. 

Since you won’t be meeting your candidate face-to-face, adding a psychometric assessment could be useful, especially for those roles with a higher level of complexity, where a more articulated selection process isn’t detrimental to your Candidate Experience. For this purpose, you can utilize a plethora of tests, including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Caliper Profile, just to mention a couple. None of these steps should come as a surprise to your candidates, if you maintain a frequent, clear, and honest communication with them. 

The selection phase involves at least one interview, too. It’s vital to provide your applicants with all the needed information in their interview invitation. This includes date and time, link, tool you’ll use, structure of the interview, or any software they might need to install for it beforehand,.

Onto interview etiquette. Here’s some applicable advice. Make sure, first of all, that there’s a plan B, in case the connection gets cut unexpectedly. It’s also important to set up the interview in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted, and to double-check your tools to make sure they work before starting the call. This involves both the hardware, such as your headphones and microphone, and the software. Make sure that your surroundings are proper, just like your attire. You and the space you call from must look polished and professional.

Interviews are a particularly tense step for all job applicants, therefore do all you can to make that sure everything is in order and be friendly and polite. Be the first one to show up. No one likes to be stood up. If you know you’ll be late, make sure to give the candidate notice - don’t disrespect them by wasting their time. Don’t forget to review their profile in your ATS, either. You don’t want them to feel like you have no idea who they are.
Ease into the interview with some chit-chat. Ask them how they’re doing and some more non-work related, yet respectful questions. This will warm up the conversation.

Address potentially undisclosed information on your end by asking the candidates if there’s anything else they’d like to know about your business or the job. Remember that it isn’t only the candidate that needs to be approved by your business, but your business needs to be approved by the candidate, too. Asking questions like this one will remove ambiguities and make your applicants feel heard.

Some businesses, instead of conducting one-on-one remote interviews, prefer to choose collaborative hiring interviews. What it entails is that a group of employees interact with the candidate at the same time. It can be useful in case you don’t want to miss out on possible information during your interaction with the aim of making better decisions, but as it can be even more stressful for the candidate to face more than one interviewer, make sure to put the applicant at ease. If this is the path you decide to take, try to have all the members of the hiring team make up their mind separately before they share their opinions, so to avoid groupthink.

Since the candidate won’t be able to physically visit the office and meet the rest of the employees, you can share images or videos of the space they might end up working in, and perhaps put them in touch with someone from the team, so they can probe on more personal matters and get a better feel of your company culture.

As a potential final step, there are reference-checks. Tools like XREF and SkillSurvey can facilitate things if, for instance, you handle large volumes of candidates at a time. Be tactful in your request for their former employers’ contacts and during your conversation with them.

Communication, once more, is crucial. This is why after your assessment and interviews you should take the time to reach out in the most personal way possible to inform the candidates about their progress and manage their expectations.

As we mentioned rapport, and since this entire recruiting process is taking place in a digital environment, it could be nice to send the hired candidates a branded kit, with mugs, t-shirts or other trinkets that make them feel that they’re part of the team.

Remembering the 5 Dimensions of Candidate Experience

How can you make your candidates happy, then, according to Gerry Crispin’s 5 dimensions of Candidate Experience?

  • Closure. Don’t leave your candidates hanging. Inform them of their position in the hiring process, and make sure to reject them tactfully and at the right time. Always make them feel respected.
  • Setting Expectations. Lying to your candidates about the time it’ll take for you to reach out or about the easiness of your hiring process, is a poorly played move. Make sure that your applicants are aware of what’s ahead of them.
  • Fairness. Your candidates shouldn’t feel discriminated against or rushedly judged. For the same reason, it’s wise to implement debiasing solutions and you mustn’t reject them immediately after one of the steps, or else they’ll feel like they never had a chance to begin with. Sharing your feedback when you reject them will also help them see your process is fair.
  • Listening. Keeping a line of communication and building a rapport with your applicants is crucial. Do your best to remember what they share with you. They must feel comfortable and heard.
  • Accountability. Do what you promised, respect the announced timeline and follow the criteria you said you would. Be reachable, and be sure to take responsibility if a mistake is made.

Remote recruiting can be complex to handle, especially if you’re new to it. To make sure that your Candidate Experience isn’t negatively impacted by it, try and implement feedback collection. The data you gather will let you know what your areas of improvement are before they heavily affect your business.

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