Recruiting: The Candidate Experience
As the market for elite talent becomes increasingly competitive, the way in which an employer goes about attracting and acquiring that talent is changing. One of the most important parts of talent acquisition strategy is something called the ‘Candidate Experience.’ Now, more than ever, employers are having to evolve past the traditional “Assess candidate –> Make Offer” model of interviewing by providing a more robust ‘Candidate Experience’ that is designed to differentiate the employer from it’s competitors and actively convince the candidate to join their company.
What makes for a good candidate experience? I like to think about the hiring process as three distinct parts: the interview process, something I call “the turn”, and the close.
A good interview process is one that is short (within reason – I wouldn’t advocate for a one-interview process for a C-level role) and well-defined. A long and drawn-out interview process can be taxing on a candidate – since the vast majority of elite candidates are currently employed, it becomes difficult to take time off on short notice multiple times. It’s also important to have a well-defined interview process that the candidate is made aware of up front. An interview process that seems to drag on for weeks at a time is a potential red-flag for the candidate; is this company organized? Is this company serious about hiring? Is this company serious about hiring me?
However, It goes beyond the simple logistics of the interview process; providing a unique experience is also important. A candidate tasked with a seemingly never-ending battery of 30-45 minute one-on-one meetings in the same small conference room is likely to become disinterested by a monotonous process. It’s good to mix things up – a tour of the facility, a casual meal, or an off-site interview are all solid options.
In poetry, “the turn” or volta is the point in which the tone of the poem shifts; the turn here is when you’ve decided you want to hire the candidate and now have to sell the company and opportunity to them. With the market for high-level talent as competitive as it is, it’s no longer enough to use an interview as just a tool to assess the talent of the candidate. Talent assessment is, of course, still an essential and important part of the process, but once you’ve determined that you want this person for your business, the onus is now on you to actively sell your business to the candidate. Like it or not, as much as we all like to believe that we work at the best company in our industry, there are going to be other exciting options available to a great candidate. That’s why it’s so important to make the candidate feel wanted throughout the entire process, but especially after you’ve come to the conclusion that you want to hire them.
This brings us to the offer and closing of the candidate, and the most important part of this process is making the candidate feel valued and wanted. Instead of sending an email with an offer letter, meet them in person to deliver it. Rather than tell them what their new title will be, explain the project that they will be part of when they join and what their role will be. Talk to them about what you see in their future at your company, not just what they’ll do when they start.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that doing all of this will ultimately get you the person that you want, but by improving your candidate experience, not only will you get more offers accepted, but you’ll also have candidates who ultimately do not make the final cut come away with a positive impression of your company which can have wide-reaching effects on the perception of your brand in the market. By creating a positive and cohesive candidate experience, you put your company in the best possible position to win the battle for elite talent.