The “candidate experience” is something you should be thinking of. It is what candidates see, feel, and perceive of an employer based on their interaction through the entire recruitment lifecycle, from initial contact to onboarding (or even if they don’t get a job offer). As you approach the candidate experience, if you lay the right foundation, it will become second nature to you and your team. Mapping your candidate experience can take away a lot of the guesswork in whether candidates will accept your invitation for an interview, and down the line, your potential offer.
The interviewing process has become more complex of late; you may find your organization using more video interviews or going through most of this process virtually or remotely. There are distinct benefits of remote interviewing, especially on cost and time for both your team and the candidate. The flip side of saving time is that in-person touches are not possible and many teams forget to put in the effort to make up for this change.
At this early stage of the candidate experience, it will be important to keep the top talent you are looking for engaged. Here are a few key ways to improve your virtual candidate experience:
1. Focus on the relationship. Doing this at a distance means finding new ways to stay connected. Your team involved in hiring can find a process to check in with the candidate at regular intervals through the process. Asking how the interviews went, being clear and proactive about next steps and how long each step will take, and sharing what their level of effort at each step will be. This will build trust and show the candidate what kind of organization they will be joining if they accept an eventual offer.
2. Optimize your tools. Video interviewing is extremely helpful, whether you are mass recruiting and want to speed-interview or are meeting a senior executive "face to face" for the first time. There are some wonderful tools available in the market to facilitate a virtual experience. The first hurdle is ensuring you’re technically set up so that your video and audio are easy to join and work consistently. You would be surprised how much time is wasted on poor connections and the kind of impression it leaves when the first portion of your interview is spent troubleshooting! The second part of this equation is training your recruiting and hiring manager teams to use the tools smoothly. If they are comfortable, it greatly enhances the candidate experience, and theirs too.
3. Keep “success” practices. Your company is likely no stranger to hiring. Your success has been mapped to practices that work for your company. As you spend more time interacting with candidates remotely, consistency is critically important. Find ways to create the same touchpoints you have for candidates that come into your office. Ensure your recruiters and hiring managers have positive stories to share about your company, and that they are prepared to talk about how your company makes money and any media coverage they may have seen recently. Consistency in your recruiting practices, virtual and in person, help to ensure you are not losing great talent for your organization by having vast differences in how the candidate connects with you and your team.
Increasing your virtual candidate experience may be daunting at first. While there is excitement about ushering in a new era of interviewing where you no longer need large blocks of time, or a big space with tons of hiring managers and recruiters spending hours meeting all candidates at once, there is much to lose if you don’t follow this guidance in a way that is meaningful for your team. With the guidance in place above, you can further improve the virtual candidate experience by keeping speed of decision-making top of mind.
Once you meet candidates virtually, evaluating them with hiring managers can be expedited, especially if you ask consistent questions at the interview. Hiring managers can watch a portion of interviews and stop videos early if they see the candidate is not a fit. It would be very rude and bad for your brand to cut an interview short if the first response is not desirable. With a virtual candidate experience and pre-recorded video interviewing, you might get 10 hours of interviews from 10 candidates but be able to vet them in as little as two hours. Circling back within the time frame you clearly communicated to the candidate about your decisions makes a big difference. Everyone who interviews for your company deserves a response within a reasonable time with your decision to move forward or thank them for their efforts and decline.
The virtual candidate experience can help you scale quickly. Coordinating interviews with candidates from any quiet, comfortable location they can find will often be much faster than coordinating travel time, working around their current role if they are currently employed, and reduces the risk for travel delays. Interviewing candidates that a vendor may be providing to you for part-time, or short-term contracts may be effectively done through this method, and can also give you a chance to provide more input and feedback to the types of skills you’d like your candidates to have for roles where the ideal candidate hasn’t been fully described (or met yet). Workers who are part of the gig-economy may also prefer video interviews to help them secure pieces of work and enable them to be in any location to get it done, while allowing your hiring managers to get a sense of the candidate.
Regardless of the scenario, your virtual candidate experience should showcase your employer brand in its best light. Good planning, clear expectation setting, and proper follow up and closing out of candidates is expected and often lost when you move to a virtual experience. Being out of sight should not lead to candidates feeling like they are less important. It is up to your team to invest in building relationships and communicating in a way that reflects your brand that will ultimately matter most. As hiring practices evolve and candidates have more influence because the job market is positive, having an outstanding virtual candidate experience will be a differentiator for your company and leave candidates walking away feeling good about meeting you and wanting to receive an offer from you.
Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.