The value of being valued – Why the candidate experience really matters.

When it comes right down to it, we all want to feel as if we matter. As employers, we all know the importance of showing our teams that they are valued, but what about candidates? Does the candidate experience really matter? 

What is the candidate experience? 

The candidate experience refers to everything that happens up to the moment the new person walks through your door as an employee for the first time. It is their involvement with the process of employment from the moment they learn of the opportunity until they become an employee. 

The candidate perspective 

There is a key difference between the candidate and the employer during the employment journey. For the most part, the employer is making a logical, commercially viable decision to add another employee to their team. For the candidate, they are making a life-changing decision to go to a new job. Whether it is because they were dissatisfied in their old one, pursuing a career boost opportunity, or any of 100 other reasons, they are investing in their new role. It is an emotional decision, and as such, the associated stress is considerable. In fact, the Homes-Rahe stress scale (which measures the impact of life events on well-being) has changed to a different line of career in the top 20 stressors. It stands to reason then that the more stress-free the candidate journey is, the better the experience will be for them. 

Should a good candidate experience matter to the employer, though? 

In short, yes. Even taking out the fact that most employers are nice people who don’t want to be the cause of stress for the candidate, there are some very good reasons to avoid a bad experience for the applicant. 

Potential results from a bad candidate experience: 

  • A bad experience could damage your employer brand 
  • You are less likely to attract candidates 
  • There is more chance of a candidate accepting a counteroffer or looking elsewhere 
  • The candidate is less likely to refer you to other potential employees 
  • Your recruitment partner will find it harder to fill your vacancies 
  • Existing employees will see you having an issue filling vacancies 

Most importantly, though, with a candidate shortage and a skills gap, a candidate that has a bad experience may well end up not joining your business or, worse, signing with a competitor. It could literally be the case that a bad employee experience is hitting your future success. 

Some good experience factors. 

It never does any harm to check your employment process, and, with the current skills shortage reducing the candidate pool, now is a great time to think about the experience for applicants. 

  • Think in their terms. Remember, they are making an emotional decision. Often that will mean they are more prone to backing out of applying because of the fear of change. Go through your interview and application process with the applicant’s perspective as your agenda. 
  • Check for gender-specific language and accidental bias in your job descriptions. 
  • How easy and pain-free is it? It is better to have clear, easy to manage stages for the employment journey than one big hit of information with complex forms to fill in. 
  • Set realistic expectations and time scales. The earlier the candidate knows your employment time frame, the better. Always be precise about what you are expecting. Be really clear about skills assessments, experience needed and anything similar that are a requirement.
  • Be positive about being flexible. Desirables and ‘must haves’ are very different things. Using positive language will encourage applications. Rather than saying you ‘may consider’ an applicant without a particular desirable criterion, use ‘will consider’ and so forth. 
  • Focus on your values. A candidate is more likely to consider a move if they are attracted to your business because your values align with theirs. 
  • Flexibility is key for interviews. Could you break the interview up into part online video call and part face to face, for example? For the face-to-face interview, could you do a Saturday morning or hold it near to the client to make it easier for them? A candidate dragging themselves to a long interview after a hard day at work is not going to perform well, and that really defeats the object of the interview in the first place. 
  • Be quick and keep in touch. One of the worst parts about applying for a new job is waiting. Send regular communications and respond quickly with decisions whether the news is good or bad. 

Nobody is angry, reluctant to continue or upset because they felt good about a process. In the end, we all need to feel wanted, valued and respected, and when we do feel that way, we have a much more positive view. In this case, that will be about you as a potential employer. A good candidate experience will, therefore, bring real benefits to you and the prospective employee. It will also widen your potential pool of applicants, get your team up to scratch faster and increase the likelihood of getting the right candidate. 

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