The Importance of Centering the Candidate Experience

January 4 2023 Posted by Zing Professional in Blog

It’s no secret that it’s a candidates’ market. The demand for top talent combined with a severe worker shortage is turning the heat up on employers to differentiate themselves from the sea of options that candidates can choose from. And timing is everything. If a job seeker doesn’t hear from their recruiter early and often, with relevant information that serves them at the right moments, they’re likely to ghost the process altogether.

The truth is that while this experience is not a good one, it’s very common.

According to The Ghosting Guide: An Inside Look at Why Job Seekers Disappear, out of 4,000 job seekers and 900 employers surveyed, 18% of job seekers say they have ghosted employers during the interview process, and 83% of employers say they’ve been ghosted. Employers are guilty of ghosting too. According to Greenhouse’s candidate experience report, “More than 75% of job seekers have been ghosted after an interview, never hearing from a company again.”

The good news is that employers have the power to keep candidates engaged and turn them into advocates—regardless of the outcome of the hiring process—simply by putting the candidate experience at the center of your recruiting efforts.

Why It Matters: Candidates Are the New Influencers

The tables have turned, and the Great Resignation spurred by the pandemic has caused job seekers to get clearer than ever on their values. Many no longer see it as an option to settle for a lackluster office job doing something they don’t care about.

Beyond the worker shortage, the emergence of employer reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are offering an entirely new level of transparency. This empowers job seekers to shop around before they even engage with a potential employer. And it means they can leave a review based on the recruiting experience alone.

The candidate experience, regardless of whether they join your organization, is an opportunity to leverage that person’s influence over their personal and professional networks. For better or worse, it’s up to employers to make sure that the candidate walks away with more good feelings than bad.

Examples from the World Wide Web

Glassdoor has a dedicated “Interviews” section for users to rate their candidate experience. Candidates can anonymously share their comments plus data indicating overall positive, negative or neutral experiences, plus how they got the interview and the overall difficulty of the process.

Example One: Apple

Here’s an example of a candidate’s experience with Apple, Inc.
“I applied through a recruiter. The process took four weeks. I interviewed at Apple in Aug 2022.

One good Apple recruiter reached out to me, but then I got passed around a bit to find a suitable role. Eventually had a great screening call with an engineer—then the recruiter ghosted me. Eventually I reached out to another Apple recruiter who confirmed that I actually passed and should do a full panel interview next. Did the video conference full-day interview gauntlet. Two of the interviews were great—one around past experiences and behavior, the other a relevant coding challenge. The rest were bad, with interviewers that seemed dismissive or asking questions that were not job-related. Final behavior interviewer kept repeating the same question in multiple versions trying to gain psychological insight into how solving a difficult work challenge changed me as a person.”

It’s clear that these days, the scrutiny goes both ways.

As an employer, you’re paying attention to the candidate, and they’re likely paying even more attention to you. The difference between you and them is that they can take to sites like Glassdoor and tell the world about it. And their firsthand account absolutely influences other job seekers, and even consumers, as people increasingly want to know that their money is going to organizations whose values align with their own.

Examples Two & Three: Target

Here’s another candidate experience—this time, from a candidate who interviewed with Target Corporation and was offered a role but ultimately declined.

“Really nice people, very professional, easy to talk to. They responded within two weeks of receiving my job application. I’ve heard nothing but good things from the employees who work there but I did not take the job due to my own scheduling.”

And here’s one from someone who didn’t even get a job offer but still shared their positive experience.

“I interviewed for a role in corporate. Everyone was incredibly friendly throughout the interview process and made me feel very at ease. I interviewed with three separate people on the team in addition to HR.”

The takeaway is that regardless of the outcome—even when the candidate declines the offer or when an offer isn’t extended—employers should see every candidate interaction as an opportunity to make them love your brand. Next, we’ll get into how. Spoiler: It’s simpler than you think.

Opportunities Seized: Turning Candidates into Promoters

Dr. Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

So, how do you leave candidates with that warm, fuzzy feeling? How do you communicate gratitude, respect and trust to everyone who crosses your path in search of a job? How can you consider the concept of net promoter score and use your candidate experience to create more promoters than detractors or passives?

The Answer Is Simple: Communication

More from Indeed: “Job seekers who ghost also note areas where recruiters could make a difference — primarily around effective and open communication. For example, 26% of ghosters say they simply weren’t comfortable telling the employer they had a change of heart; 13% mention general communication problems with the recruiter; and 11% just didn’t know what to do, so they disappeared.”

Employers need to focus on good communication and delivering it with a robust candidate communication strategy, including automated, digital touchpoints, as well as human interaction when it’s appropriate and meaningful. The idea is to get inside the candidate’s mindset and offer clear, relevant and meaningful communications at the right steps along their journey.

Technology and automation are just part of the answer. Your tech stack and automation strategy can both be great, but if your content is flimsy (read: repetitive, boring, inauthentic or irrelevant), you run the risk of alienating candidates and leaving a bad taste in their mouth when they think about your brand.

How to Communicate with Candidates

Here are some ways that Zing Recruiting uses effective communication to center the candidate experience and make promoters of every job seeker—we:

  • Use basic automation and good content writing to immediately send a warm and reassuring response to job seekers who apply.
  • Use automated messaging that’s personal and relevant when the status of the application has changed, whether they’ve advanced to the initial phone screen or are no longer being considered.
  • Strive to build bridges, not make placements. We want relationships that last, so we make human connections, take the time to really get to know our candidates as people, and stay in touch for the long run—not just when they’re on assignment or we need something from them.
  • Send regular communications and balance asking for something like “Can you update us on your job search?” with offering something of value like thought leadership with insights they can apply to their careers today.
  • Never ghost candidates—we follow up, close the loop and express gratitude and hope for a future partnership every chance we get.

How to Add Value at Every Stage

Again, every interaction with a candidate is a chance to plant a seed for the future—whether that’s a someday job aligning perfectly with their profile or a consumer deciding between you and a competitor.

Employers can plant these seeds by offering value for free to their candidates in every phase of the lifecycle: active, inactive and everything in between.

One key to ensuring good feelings all around is to immediately let your candidates know when their status has changed. Nobody likes to be left hanging—especially when they have other employers swarming and, in many cases in this candidate-short market, multiple job offers pending.

Employers can go even further by offering helpful feedback when a candidate isn’t selected for a role. This can truly help them feel seen and valued while building trust and making them more marketable.

On the other side of that coin, employers should solicit feedback from candidates who decline an offer or withdraw their applications. Even those who become employees have a wealth of feedback about what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to their candidate experience.

Some other ways to offer a positive candidate experience include:

  • Brief emails, including timely articles about things they care about
  • Social posts featuring short and relevant videos they can like and share
  • News they can use: infographics, industry trends, tips/tricks, how-tos, listicles, etc.
  • Opportunities to connect with a recruiter in person or virtually just to check in, update their info, and hear about any open roles that might be a fit
  • Annual candidate satisfaction surveys to gain more insights into the inner worlds of your job-seeking audience and gauge their feelings about your brand

But Don’t Take It From Us: Hear From the People We Serve

Here are a few examples of positive feedback on Zing’s candidate experience.

“The Zing team always provided me with the answers I needed and treated me with respect. I would highly recommend this amazing company.”

“Zing Recruiting had my best interest in mind, cared about my career goals and helped me find a position with a company who aligned with my values.”

“The Zing team was very professional, maintained constant contact throughout the process and answered any questions I had in a timely manner. Each conversation that I had was encouraging and motivating, which set my experience apart from any other recruiter I have ever worked with in the past. Their professionalism and motivational efforts are unmatched.”

And over on our Zing Recruiting page on Indeed, here’s some info based on insights from a few of our candidates. So far, so good! And we’re learning how to improve our candidate experience all the time.

A Good Candidate Experience Is Built From the Outside In

When you don’t put the candidate experience at the center of your recruiting efforts, you’re not just missing out on putting a great person in a great role. You could also damage your reputation—both as an employer and a brand.

As an employer, you should take an outside-in approach to study how candidates navigate the recruiting experience. This will help you understand the best way to keep candidates informed, how and when to give and receive feedback, and small ways to make your candidates’ lives better with value-added content they can use right away.

The result will be a growing community of people who think your brand is super-cool and are happy to promote it, even if they didn’t get the job or turned your offer down (this time).

If you’re ready to let Zing match top talent with your open opportunities and deliver a world-class candidate experience, let’s connect today.