Hiring Employees

3 Important Things to Know to Improve Your Candidates' Experience

3 Important Things to Know to Improve Your Candidates' Experience
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A negative candidate experience is common, and it’s these bad experiences that frustrate and discourage a lot of job-seekers who are eagerly exploring today's new career opportunities.

Related: Check Out What Happens When You Consider 'the Candidate Experience'

A 2014 report from Jibe found that 80 percent of 1,000 job-seekers surveyed said they found their candidate experince too time-consuming. Some 78 percent called it stressful, and 71 percent said they felt just plain discouraged.

So, what does "the candidate experience" incorporate? It’s all the interactions a candidate has throughout the recruitment and hiring process. These include everything from the initial point of contact with a company (e.g., the job posting, a friend's tip about an opening, etc.) all the way through the application and interview process, to the offer letter.

Employers, from their end, however, tend to overlook an important aspect of this experience: If the process of applying and interviewing were better, employers might see more enthusiasm and passion on the part of the candidate.

Here are some interesting facets of the candidate experience and how to improve it:

1. Candidates are also consumers.

The connection between "consumer brand" and "employer brand" is clear. Every interaction a brand makes with the public, whether that be on the consumer or candidate side, has a direct impact on the brand's reputation. With the advent of social media, companies are held more accountable for their actions than ever before.

That includes how companies treat applicants. A May 2015 CareerBuilder study reported that 58 percent of the 5,013 workers surveyed said they were less likely to buy from a company to which they had applied if they didn't get a response to their application.

So, the lesson here is that the disconnect between how employers communicate and what candidates expect is sizeable. Thirty-six percent of candidates surveyed said they expected to be updated throughout the application process, and 41 percent expected to be notified if they weren’t chosen following an interview.

Yet only 26 percent of the 2,002 employers surveyed said they proactively communicated with candidates about what stage of the hiring process they were in. And, while it may be unrealistic to expect companies to reach out to each applicant, employers can still close that gap in communication without exhausting their HR resources. Here's how:

Solution: Get more human. Provide direct contact to an HR professional who can reach out to qualified applicants and provide them with insights about the company’s recruitment process. Lay out a time line, and inform candidate about how long they should expect to wait until they are contacted.

Also, provide a contact’s email address on the careers page to field any questions about the positions being posted. These company contacts can clarify any misunderstandings, which could result in less unqualified applicants flooding the talent pool.

Related: Employers Benefit Most When Every Hiring Candidate Has a Good Experience

2. Referrals are your best bet.

HR needs to make referrals easier on employees. An April 2016 study from Workplace Trends found that 71 percent of the 129 HR professionals surveyed said employee referrals were the best resource for finding candidates, yet only 7 percent of the 4,347 job seekers surveyed said they considered referrals to be their top resource for finding a job.

So, while employees value referrals as a top source of hire, they rarely get them. Despite the proven effectiveness of referrals, for connecting candidates with companies, why are job-seekers so rarely receiving them?

Solution: Create a simple employee-referral program that incorporates rewards for participation. Make it easy for employees to submit referrals and track them. In short, workers should feel invested in making the company a better place to work and building a more effective team by helping HR professionals find and hire A players.

3. Bad interviews turn people away.

This is a simple rule: A good interview will win top talent, and a bad one will turn people off. The 2015 Talent Trends report from LinkedIn found that 83 percent of the 20,000 employees surveyed said a negative interview experience could change their minds about a role or company they previously liked.

What makes an experience bad? A bad interview is one that comes off like a sales pitch for the company, instead of engaging candidates and allowing them to express their qualifications and value.

The ideal interview, in contrast, will be productive, by providing the interviewer with the information needed to make a decision. Tools like role-based competencies should also be made convenient for candidates, to get them excited about potentially working for the organization.

Solution: Prepare by asking the candidate the right questions, clearly defining expectations, being personable and showing the human side of the company. Additionally, always follow up with news, good or bad, to provide constructive feedback.

The LinkedIn report found that 94 percent of job-seekers surveyed wanted interview feedback; it also found that talent is four times more likely to consider a company for a future opportunity when constructive feedback is offered.

Related: The Art of Courting Candidates: Creating a Stellar Startup Interview Experience

The candidate experience is dense, involving various aspects. Hone in on these common shortcomings to find the best talent and to build a reputation centered on respect for the candidate.