Your job as a hiring professional isn’t just to find the best fit for your company and the job at hand. After all, who’s to say the job candidate you want also wants you? Chances are, your first-choice candidate isn’t just interviewing with your company, but with a handful of others — which is why it’s equally important to sell your company and the position to candidates.
When it comes to setting yourself apart from the competition in today’s race for top talent, the key is to create a positive candidate experience. A candidate’s experience with your company during the hiring process can either make or break their decision to join your team. And a bad experience can potentially affect their loyalty not just as applicants, but as customers.
To help you create a top-of-the-line candidate experience that attracts applicants, creates customers, and secures top talent, here are seven tips from some of today’s leading hiring professionals:
1. Have fun with it
My non-appointed goal is to turn the whole process of getting a job into a fun experience at Workshop Digital. This starts with the job description, which is not your run-of-the-mill job post (check it out here). We also stream in pictures from our Instagram feed so candidates can see our culture before they apply. I’m even trying to incorporate a round of foosball into the interviewing process.
The final flourish: I mail a box of balloons with the words “You’re Hired” on the string with the official offer letter in the bottom of the box. Best of all, 100 percent of the people who received balloon boxes have accepted our offers.
People share a good story. Your company has an opportunity to be a candidate’s great experience for everyone close to them and in their social circles. Getting a job is hard work! Making the experience enjoyable is just a downright nice thing to do. Not many employers are doing it, so there’s huge opportunity for a great impact.
2. Keep things moving
Once you’re ready to hire, don’t drag your feet. Review resumes promptly and schedule interviews one to two days out, rather than weeks. If a candidate is applying for a position, it’s because they’re ready to make a move. If you want the best talent, moving fast will be an impressive differentiator from many other experiences that candidates have.
TechnologyAdvice gets feedback all the time about how appreciative candidates are that they heard back on their application so soon, or how impressive it is that we’re able to maintain such a thorough process while advancing through it so quickly.
Being upfront and prompt keeps everyone on the same page and saves both the candidate and hiring team time. When a candidate knows what to expect, they won’t reach out for answers, and the hiring team is able to keep the process moving forward for all prospective candidates.
The hiring process is a direct reflection of your company. Ensuring that each candidate has a positive experience allows opportunity for future referrals and ensures your ability to effectively hire the best talent available. After all, if you’re not doing it right, someone else will.
3. Give candidates a taste of your culture
We believe introducing a candidate to your culture is the best way to create a positive experience during the interview process. There is a common misconception that culture is about giving people things like free shirts, a stocked fridge, or the best equipment, but we believe culture is about giving people experiences they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The first experience you have with someone is the interview process, so make it about more than just the two of you talking across a desk. Do something outlandish and get to know this person for who they truly are. They’ll see you as a different kind of company if you break up the monotony of the interviewing process.
Steve Jobs commonly took people on walks to interview them. We often take them out to lunch and see if they can handle the most important form of multi-tasking — eating and speaking. This happens in executive recruiting all the time, but in a competitive job market you need to stand out from the competition and instantly wow your candidates with what you do the first time you bring them into the office.
4. Show a little respect
Always make the candidate feel valued and respected. I always follow up with every applicant and inform them if they are moving on in the process or not. There is nothing worse to a candidate than hearing nothing back regarding the positions they have applied for.
When the candidate feels valued and respected, it raises the bar. Additionally, when a candidate sees that you treat them well, they tend to ramp up their performance to meet the expectations and show that the respect was not misplaced.
5. Be direct and helpful
Many companies (including Fortune 500) are not treating candidates with respect during the interview process. They think they are in the driver’s seat, so they think they can keep a candidate waiting for an hour for an interview, not provide follow up on candidacy, not provide a warm environment, etc.
This impacts their bottom line because, even if the company does not hire the person, they still need to create an amazing experience because otherwise it can ruin the company’s reputation. You want every candidate to be brand ambassadors for your company.
So with every candidate we make them feel special. We not only interview them but we extensively coach them, as well, because we want them to succeed in their career. The candidates are very grateful for our direct and helpful approach, which has built a strong candidate referral system for us. It is not too difficult to get it right with candidates — treat them well, show you care, and communicate.
6. Lose the tie
I don’t wear a tie. Job candidates get nervous when I don my business outfit and introduce myself as the CEO. It instantly puts them on a defensive mode, then all they do is try to impress me instead of having an actual conversation about themselves and their qualifications.
I also abhor having a desk between me and the candidate. I use the couches in the reception area — it’s as if we’re just chatting in our living room! It’s also my way to test how comfortable and focused the candidate can be in a busy environment.
Let’s be honest. Everybody starts out cheerful and productive — until they pass their probation period. So I think long-term with hiring. When candidates have a positive experience, they relax and really let their personality show. Then I get to know how they will perform in the long run. I want to know the person because I’m interested in hiring a team member, not a worker bee.
Idan Shipzear, CEO, 911 Restoration
7. Set a good example
My best advice in regards to creating a positive candidate experience is to meet with any staff that will be in contact and help them to understand that you are ‘hosting’ the candidate. If a sales manager is performing part of the interview, they should not be checking their phone, should be smiling, and giving their undivided attention to the candidate.
The candidate should feel special and see that employees at the business are deemed valuable. The person being interviewed should never feel as if they are a burden, whether that is being forced to wait, or someone being preoccupied while interviewing them. Whether or not the particular candidate is hired, it sets a precedent of respect and value to people that could be working for your company, and could set you apart from other firms.
How do you strive to create a positive candidate experience? Let us know in the comments!