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What is a common frustration of many hiring managers? Finding the right talent to fill open roles. For Recruiters and HR Professionals, the challenge is similar: finding qualified candidates to share with hiring managers. With the national unemployment rate hovering just above 4%, it is likely those qualified candidates are currently working someone else.

How do hiring managers, HR and Recruiters stir the interest of currently-employed individuals? What the job itself provides, yes, but just as important is the candidate experience.

Not just a buzz term, but candidate experience refers to the way candidates perceive and interact with the hiring process. And to attract top talent, everyone plays a critical role that drives a positive response from candidates. What does a positive response look like? Let’s look through the eyes of a candidate.

Candidates want to be aware of job openings

  • Is the job description true? Every job description lists a few key details about the day-to-day activities and what the required qualifications are for the position. We’ve all done it as a job seeker: skip over the minutiae if we have interest in the role. We are sure the job plays out different “in real life” than what is written on paper. How can they receive a realistic snapshot of what happens between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm?
  • Is the application process simple? Many highly qualified candidates can become frustrated by a cumbersome online application process that requires them to enter in every aspect of their career even-though it is on their resume. Companies can loose candidates before they ever even complete the application. Companies that are passionate about their application process not only ask candidates about their experience; but also test the process internally and track pitfalls or drop-off points.
  • Could you respond quickly to my application? Not all responses need to be personal. Many companies use AI driven technology to notice candidates about the changes in their status as they embark on their journey.

Candidates want a lot of communication

  • What is the delay? From submitting the initial application, to waiting for the second and third round of interviews, to waiting for interview feedback, candidates do not enjoy the delay. A career move is a significant decision for anyone, and delaying the process creates unnecessary anxiety, and could cast a shadow of doubt as to whether this is the right role for them.
  • What are the next steps in the process? Understanding who is all involved in the interview process, and especially how long those multiple rounds of interviews will take, is important. Let them know who all the interviewers are, let them know what their titles are, tell them about each interviewer to best prepare.
  • How can I best prepare for each interviewer? Details, details, details. Candidates want to be well prepared for every interview, not just to have an advantage above other candidates, but to know how to interview the interviewer. Knowing what questions to ask is a key to getting the whole picture of the job. This is all part of making sure the role is the right fit for them, too.

Candidates want to know about the job—outside of the job

  • What can you tell me beyond the job description? Candidates want to understand why the position is vacant (if it is), what the challenges and opportunities are that come with the role, and they want to understand more about the hiring manager. A role isn’t just what is on paper—it’s the environment and the influences that impact the day-to-day of the individual. Understanding this level of information will help the candidates to evaluate if this is the right role for them.
  • What can you tell me about the company? “Culture fit” is a widely-used term to determine if someone is the right fit within the company, not just the right fit for the job. Team chemistry, management style, communication cadence all play a factor in determining if a role is a culture fit. Everyone wants to work in an engaging, encouraging and enthusiastic work environment. And candidates want to learn this before the job offer.
  • How does this role help me reach my career goals? Candidates evaluate a job opening not just for the next six months, but the next six years. Most see the role as a step on a ladder to a much larger career goal. Sharing with the candidate how this role will help them achieve one more step in their career path is impactful.

Candidates want to know why they didn’t get the job

  • Can you give me an answer? Candidates invest a lot of time and effort to interview. They conduct research on the organization, learn about the market and competitors, read press releases, search for employee reviews online—all before completing the first interview. They may take time off of work for in-person interviews, and sometimes they must travel a significant distance to meet with the hiring team. With that investment, the minimum ROI candidates desire is to know as soon as you know.
  • Can you tell me the truth? Beyond knowing “yes” or “no” to the opportunity, candidates want to understand the Why was I not selected? It could be as simple as the role was filled internally—many people understand, and respect, the desire for companies to fill positions internally. But if there is a glaring gap in experience, or a fundamental flaw in how they interviewed, tell them. They may not work you’re your company, but you can help be more successful for someone else. Tell the truth—they can handle it.
  • Will you consider me for other opportunities? Maybe this role didn’t work out, but if candidates have a positive candidate experience, they could be a better fit for another role, now or in the future. Just like the benefits of networking in our professional circles, we never know when a door may open. But leading candidates through a confusing, disjointed and disheartening hiring process may prevent a talented individual from joining your organization in the future.

The candidate experience is about the journey, not just the destination. And the journey is what can bring exceptional individuals into your organization.

By Monica Frede