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Are you scaring talent away with your candidate experience?

Posted by Chad O'Connor  October 31, 2013 11:00 AM

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The mark of a company with a great candidate experience is one where even those candidates you turn down for a job opportunity recommend you to other people in their network.

And yet, 75% of businesses fail to create a positive candidate experience, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, by something as basic as not replying to applicants.

Companies that create a negative candidate experience through their recruiting and interview process make it nearly impossible for themselves to recruit A-players. There are many factors that can contribute to a poor candidate experience—from lack of response to an application, to mismanaging a candidate’s time or expectations—but the implications of these recruiting oversights can be severe. A negative candidate experiences may not only result in those who were directly affected not applying to your company again, but it can create a chain reaction that can go much further. If an applicant forms a negative impression of your company, they may also discourage other people in their network from applying to a job, accepting a job offer, or doing business with you.

So, how can you create the kind of positive candidate experience that causes even those you turn down for a job to recommend your company to others?

Here are four simple tips -

1. Respect the Candidate's Time: A candidate’s time is as precious as yours. A candidate’s typical work hours may be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but if he or she can only speak early in the morning or after work, consider arriving early, staying late, or trying to catch that person during lunch hour. Communicate your respect for their schedule by being flexible. Think ahead about future interviews so you do not need to ask a candidate to come back in to meet with multiple people who they could have met on the same day.

2. Outline Next Steps: A big component of creating a positive candidate experience is keeping candidates informed of where they are in the interview process, and when they can expect to hear from you. Make sure they understand your general timeline and ideal start date, the number of interview rounds they may be asked to participate in, and the people they may meet in subsequent interviews. This is important so candidates know that if they don’t hear back from you within two days of their first interview, it doesn’t mean they’re not being considered—it may just mean that you have not yet interviewed all of the candidates in the first round of interviews.

3. Receive and Relay Feedback: Establishing a feedback loop with candidates from the outset is beneficial for both parties. For the candidate, it creates a sense of engagement and respect. For a recruiter or hiring manager, it provides a forum for gauging a candidate’s interest and addressing potential concerns. That said, you must know your role in the interview process. You can’t be completely transparent when it comes to sharing feedback. Share positive feedback from a recent interview over email, but be careful how you share any areas of concern, as these can be easily misinterpreted and are best addressed in-person or over the phone.

4. Provide Timely Rejections: Once you’ve made a hiring decision, notify all other candidates in process as soon as possible. Make sure you give rejected candidates the respect they deserve when letting them go, as they have spent time and energy applying for and interviewing with your company. All candidates in process should receive a personalized email—and in some cases, a call—to let them know you have decided to move forward with another candidate for the role. Thank the candidate for their time, keep the communication positive, and briefly explain why you ultimately made your hiring decision. If you think the candidate may be suitable for another opportunity at your company in the future, tell them you will keep in touch—and then follow through!

You’ll need referrals—and lots of them!—in order to build a talented team of employees. Focus on creating a positive candidate experience for every person your company considers for a role, whether you hire them or not. You’ll be on your way to not only building your team, but to building your company’s brand as an employer of choice in the market.

Diana Martz is the Director of Talent at OpenView Venture Partners, a venture capital firm in Boston that recently published an eBook on how to recruit top talent.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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