I’m all for an efficient recruitment process. I’m in favour of collecting data about your candidates so you make a informed hiring decision. I’m a cheerleader for bringing a scientific approach to selection. In fact I’m shaking a pom-pom right now!
But I’m dead against how, sometimes, we forget that each and every candidate is a human being who deserves to be treated as such.
And it’s not just about common courtesy – there are very good business reasons why we should consider how we treat our job applicants. After all:
- they may also be your customers – shopping at your store, banking at your bank, looking to engage an accountant, a solicitor, an estate agent, and so on. A bad experience applying for a job could impact on their opinion of your brand
- their criticism of how you dealt with them during their assessment might well end up all over social media
- they might dissuade others to apply for jobs with you
- their disgruntlement about a minor issue might turn into a formal complaint.
Here are my five top tips to improving the candidate experience of your recruitment and selection process.
I think there are two main reasons why we lose sight of the human side of recruitment. One is about process and the other about attitude.
If you’re dealing with a large number of applicants or managing multiple recruitment campaigns you need an efficient process. One that sifts out unsuitable candidates early and assesses people fairly and consistently and as quickly as possible.
Candidates themselves want a streamlined process where they’re dealt with in a timely and professional manner.
But sometimes this can lead to systems that treat candidates as units on a conveyor belt – which can be a very dehumanising and frustrating experience for those candidates.
When it comes to attitude, it seems, I’m afraid, that many organisations seem to think that they, as the potential employer, are doing applicants a favour. They view candidates as lucky to have been given the opportunity to apply for the job, lucky to have been selected for assessment and lucky to have been interviewed.
But think about it from the candidate’s point of view. Applying for a job is time-consuming, intrusive and stressful. And all with no pay.
Quality candidates – the ones you want and need in your business – are usually already in jobs they’re quite happy with. They’re not desperate to move. But they’ve chosen to apply because they like the sound of the job or the organisation and think they have something to offer.
Instead of assuming they’re doing candidates a favour by seeing them, recruiters need to consider how they’re going to prove to those candidates that they’re the right choice, that it’s worth the hassle of applying and the upheaval of moving jobs. And how to show appreciation for the effort a candidate has put into applying, even if they’re ultimately unsuccessful.
Here are my top five tips for ensuring your candidates come away from their assessment, successful or not, feeling well-treated, respected and positive about your organisation:
1. Communicate. Let candidates know in advance what to expect during the assessment – in terms of timings, the sorts of activities they will be doing etc. Also, keep them informed about any delays or hiccups in the process.
2. Make sure information e.g. the job advert and description, is an accurate reflection of the role so applicants are able to judge whether it’s something for them and don’t feel misled further down the line.
3. When interviewing, be in the room mentally as well as physically. It sounds silly but it’s easy to be distracted by all the other things you’ve got to do today. Make an effort to focus on the candidate in front of you and actively listen to what they’ve got to say.
4. Give candidates the opportunity to find out more about your organisation. Recruitment is a two-way street. It’s not just you finding out all you can about the candidate. They need to know as much as they can about your business. Ensure there’s time for their questions and, if possible, give them the chance to meet someone already in the role.
5. Give feedback. There’s nothing worse, I think, than going to all the effort of applying and the pressure of being interviewed, only to be rejected and never know why you weren’t successful. I’ve been delivering a series of feedback sessions lately and find them to be such a valuable tool on so many levels. Giving feedback, whether face-to-face or over the phone, enables the candidate to ask questions and see how they might improve their chances next time they apply for a job. And it gives you the chance to get feedback on the assessment process. Plus I find that it reduces the likelihood of a formal complaint – most people just want the opportunity to express any issues and to feel that they have been listened to.
Recruitment has to be a process, it’s true. But none of us want to feel processed. We’re not battery chickens! Humanising the process will help to ensure the candidate has a positive experience and is left with a positive impression of your organisation, whatever the outcome of their assessment.