Secrets of a Brighter Workplace


Tips on how to understand, recruit and keep the best people for your business


How changing candidate expectations have impacted on how we recruit

What’s in it for me?

Technology and austerity, as we know, have driven a number of significant changes to the way we recruit.

As budgets have become tighter we’ve turned to new technology to aid our hiring efforts, using more online tools to make things quicker, reduce the resource burden and make it more cost-effective.

There is another factor that’s having a huge impact on how we recruit.

Changing candidate expectations.

Just like consumers, job candidates have become more discerning, more demanding and more vocal. The way we recruit and assess them has had to adapt. And fast.

Here’s how.

Candidates as consumers

Over the last 10 years or so, the way we shop has changed almost beyond recognition. Anyone with a phone can buy virtually anything at any time of day or night and expect it to be delivered the next day.

How different to our parents’ generation. They could only buy what their local shops stocked. Unless they placed a special order in store, then waited for what, a week?! for it to be delivered.

These developments have changed us as consumers. We expect to be able to buy what we want, when we want it and we want it now. And if we don’t get what we want, we’re more than happy to post an eviscerating criticism online where everyone will see it.

Social media has changed how we perceive ourselves and others too. How we portray ourselves online – where appearance has become all important – has led to a new age of individualism, an age of me, me, me. Plus social media gives us access to other people like never before. Not only can we watch every aspect of our favourite celebrity’s life but we can comment and message them too. These people are no longer the remote and venerated icons of society magazines. They’re posting pictures of what they had for breakfast!

But what does all this have to do with recruitment?


As consumers, we’ve come to expect high levels of customer service. We demand super-quick response times. We want to engage with the brands we buy from – just as those brands want to engage with us.

As candidates, we will not settle for an impersonal, lacklustre, time-consuming process. We won’t accept having to wait three weeks before we find out whether we’ve been successful. And we’ll make up our minds pretty quickly about whether yours is an organisation we want to work for from the experience we’ve had applying to you. And we won’t hold back from expressing our feelings about you online – e.g. on Glassdoor.

All of which means organisations would do well to ensure their recruitment process, their employer brand and the candidate experience are in good order. Are swift, engaging and personalised, respectively.

So, what techniques are businesses deploying in order to meet these changing expectations and demands?

Realistic assessment techniques

Realistic (also known as immersive) assessment techniques enable the candidate to experience the organisation’s brand and the role in a deeper way. Realistic assessments give candidates a real sense of the reality of the role – the challenges and responsibilities involved, as well as the culture and context of the organisation itself.

A great example is Heineken. Watch this video and you’ll see how the company has created a fun, engaging approach to recruitment while also devising a way to assess candidates for the specific attributes they’re looking for.

Many of my clients are moving away from generic assessment exercises towards those that reflect their particular circumstances. So when I design a bespoke assessment, I relate it as closely as possible to the reality.

This doesn’t just give the candidate more of a feel for the role. It also helps the recruiter evaluate how the candidate will respond to situations that are likely to happen in role. E.g ‘They might be good at communication, but how will they cope with our kind of difficult customer?’

Adaptive assessment

Fortunately, when it comes to smartening up our act, technology is on our side. More and more organisations are utilising the benefits of online testing to reduce the administrative burden of assessment and speed up the process for candidates.

Some, though, are taking that a step further. Adaptive technology enables assessments to flex and interact with individual candidates.

Instead of all your candidates answering the same questions, in the same order, these tests can mix up the questions. For instance, candidates might be served increasingly difficult questions in response to their successfully answering the previous question. As if the test is saying, ‘you got that one right, now try this.’ This approach can be a way of establishing an individual candidate’s capability level and marks a huge shift in the reasoning industry.

It also keeps the testing more interesting for the candidate, it helps prevent any ‘sharing’ of test items online and is a truer measure of their potential compared to a fixed set of questions.


Don’t forget – we also love to hear about how we’ve done. What did we do well? What could we have done better? As an organisation you can really help candidates walk away with a better experience if you give good quality feedback.


Whatever you are doing in your recruitment process, if you place a high priority on candidate experience it will be good for your organisation’s brand. And it will help you to attract better candidates and retain them through the process.

I’d love to hear more about what you do to create that special candidate experience. Let me know in the comments below.

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