Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Exploring Ways to Ensure a Consistent Candidate Experience

As a recruiter, you have a challenging job recognizing the best talent to fit your company’s specific job posting. Did you know that recruiters receive up to 250 resumes for a corporate job posting on average, but only six candidates proceed to the interview phase? Recruiting new and qualified employees is a very stressful job. It means you have to have an eye for detail and know exactly your company’s needs. The whole recruiting and onboarding process takes loads of resources. 

Being an effective recruiter takes experience but also an open mind. Ensuring a consistent candidate experience helps in preventing discrimination which is closely connected to finding the best talent, reducing costs, and making new employees happy and satisfied. Let’s explore the most common ways to ensure consistent candidate experience and remove any form of discrimination. 

What is a consistent candidate experience and why is it important? 

Candidate experience refers to a whole candidates’ journey – from applying to a specific job position, getting through initial interviews, all the way to filling the open job position. The journey starts the moment you’ve publicly posted a need for a specific role in your company. From the candidate’s perspective, they find a job posting and all requirements, submit the application, go through interviewing processes, and if they fit the company culture and job requirements, they’ve successfully landed a job. 

The recruiting process isn’t only crucial for finding the right fit for a given job position but also serves as a ‘tool’ for reputation control. Imagine you’ve interviewed a candidate who had a terrible experience – for example, you were running late for the meeting and interrupted the candidate throughout the interview. You, as a recruiter, may think it’s just another day at the office, but imagine the following scenario. 

The interviewee arrives at home, thinking about the unprofessional experience they just passed through. They decided to use their social media influence to write a thing or two about the experience, and the post gets picked up and goes viral. How would it affect your brand reputation? It’s possible you’ll experience difficulty filling the open position, as well as low application rates going forward, leading to decreased productivity, and ultimately to loss of revenue.

Consistent candidate experience is closely related to the interviewing process, and the most common reason why candidates have a bad experience is due to some form of unconscious bias during job interviews. So, before we go further in detail, let’s understand what unconscious bias is.

Unconscious bias can be seen as discrimination or lack of equality based on a specific situation or answer in a job interview context. The most common reason why unconscious bias can spread comes from cultural stereotypes and expectations from different people. 

Work and Family Balance

Balancing career with a personal and family life is a vital aspect of every job. However, women get asked this question more often than men, especially if they are married and have kids. Recruiters assume that having kids and family will make women less focused on their careers, making them less attractive for the job position. According to Bustle, men experience marital questions less often since it’s usually not a deciding factor for getting a job. 

It’s recommended to completely avoid asking the marital questions during the interview. These questions can be extremely awkward which can increase candidate nervousness as well as change the interviewee’s mind towards the job position or company in general. If it’s crucial for you to know about the candidate’s marital status, then mention it in the job ad and through the application process. 

Interruption During Job Interviews

No one likes being interrupted in the middle of the conversation. It’s seen as rude and disrespectful, yet it happens during the job interviews. Interviewees occasionally experience interviewers jumping in the middle of their sentences, asking sub-questions, checking their phone, or chatting with a colleague.

How would you feel if that happens to you, and what can you do about it? Since you have the power to set the interview dynamics and learn about the candidate at your own pace, it is easy to fall into the trap of interrupting a candidate. On the other hand, if the interviewee interrupts you during the interview process, it’s often projected as a bad sign, and that candidate has a lower chance of getting employed. If you’re constantly interrupting a candidate, imagine what he or she would think about the company. Would you work for a company where interruption and disrespecting the person talking is a daily routine?

Set up communication boundaries during the interview, but never be disrespectful to the candidate sitting in front of you. Take your time to listen with full attention, and don’t interrupt the candidate in the middle of the sentence. If you have a sub-question, you can always write down a short note and ask it later. That way, you’re communicating predictable professionalism, which makes an interviewee more comfortable and increases the overall candidate’s experience

Disclosing a Salary History

Understanding the value an interviewee can bring to the company is a significant part of a job interview. Asking candidates directly about their previous salary is a very personal question often seen as rude, and many decide to reject answering. However, many people answer that question in great detail, but did you know they’re not legally obliged to answer? 

A PayScale survey reports that 43% of recruiters ask directly about the candidate’s salary history, and only about 20% refused to answer. Did you know that women who refuse to talk about their salary history get paid 1.8% less than women who share a detailed response? On the other hand, men who refuse to answer get paid 1.2% more. It’s a perfect example of an answer resulting in a biased outcome based solely on gender.

The better way of communicating your candidate’s value for your company is by asking candidates about a previous project they worked on. Check their references, resume, and prior experiences as well because these aspects will give you a better understanding of your candidate’s value without creating an uncomfortable candidate experience. 

Assertiveness As a Virtue

Assertiveness is seen as a virtue, as successful businesses want to employ energetic, confident, and decisive professionals. According to Elephant in the valley, 84% of women have been told they are too loud or aggressive while communicating their assertiveness and confidence. During the job interview, women’s assertiveness is often seen as being bossy, which is overall negative. When it comes to men, especially if it’s a middle or higher management interview, assertiveness is a desirable virtue. 

There is a big difference between “bossiness” and “assertiveness”, so don’t fall on that trap as otherwise, you can miss valuable people in your ranks. Talk about a candidate’s ambitions and long term goals in life, as these can be a great indicator if the person is assertive and confident. Being unsupportive of assertiveness and confidence warns candidates away from your organization. It can negatively affect your reputation and give your competitors a competitive edge. 

Lack of Preparation

On average, recruiters spend about 6 seconds screening the resumes. You don’t have time to read every resume, most likely you favor those well-structured written in a clear font, supported by bulleted lists and bolded text. After you’re done with initial screening and start with a shortlisting process, it’s crucial to invest time into learning about the candidates. Learn about their previous experiences, education, personal hobbies, and anything else that can bring value to the company.

Recruiters tend to learn more about the candidate during the interview, asking personal questions while studying the resume. It clearly shows the lack of preparation, which doesn’t contribute to good candidate experience at all. You are probably expecting a candidate to be fully prepared for an interview, knowing every detail about your company, customers, competition, while since many recruiters are in the “still learning” space, seem unprepared. Imagine what would be your thoughts if the candidate failed to do initial research about your company and industry – how it would affect their chances of getting a job?

Take your time and read resumes before an interview with great attention. It will save time, and you can focus on deeply knowing the candidate, which will give you enough information for deciding if they fit the job position.

Wrap-Up

Inequality is all around us, but has no place in the candidate experience. A biased experience demonstrates more negatives than positives for your organization, and interviews are a two-way conversation where both parties try to learn as much as possible about each other. When focusing on finding the best talent on the market, be sure to communicate and promote equality during job interviews.

Job interviews are a huge part of overall candidate experience, and having a negative job interview experience, candidates will likely decline a proposed job offer, and share their experiences publicly through different channels. Ensuring a consistent candidate experience makes the recruiting process easier and more pleasant for both sides, while helping you find the best talent, increasing your employer brand, and gaining a competitive edge in your industry. 

About the Author

Chloe’s why is people; she gets her kicks from intensifying the purpose and exploring the potential of those around her. She works as Head of People & Culture at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Chloe sees her work as an extension of her lifestyle and is constantly working on revolutionizing the people and culture space.

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