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When Candidates Meet Recruiters, What Data Makes the Difference?

by Jen Wason

Joseph P. Murphy, vice president and co-founder of Shaker, recently joined Gerry Crispin, principal at CareerXroads and co-founder of Talent Board, in a web seminar to discuss the results of the 2015 Candidate Experience Awards survey.

The first non-profit organization in the industry committed to research to improve the candidate experience, Talent Board supports talent acquisition with benchmarks and best practices derived from candidate-sourced data. The results of the organization’s fifth annual survey aggregates the responses of 130,000 candidates from more than 200 North American companies to create the standards by which other organizations can evaluate and improve their own hiring processes.

Candidate point of view

The web seminar presented select results of the survey, offering details of how candidates approach the job search, what they expect from the process, and some of the drivers behind how candidates rate their experiences.

Candidates often spend multiple hours researching a company to which they plan to apply, according to survey results, and are most in search of explanations of the organization’s values, employee testimonials as a way of learning what it’s really like to work there, and complete details of the job requirements and responsibilities. The survey reports that candidates hope to find clear information about the organization and the job directly from the company’s website, but that if they can’t find the information they want, they will look elsewhere—where the information may not be as objective or reliable.

Among the top lessons from the 2015 report, candidates want an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience. Their perception of how well they are able to present their abilities is a strong indicator of their overall satisfaction with the recruiting process. While more than 80 percent of candidates answer general screening questions during the application process, only 50 percent are asked about job-specific skills, and fewer than one-third are invited to take assessments. When candidates do not feel the organization cares about what they have to offer or provides a fair chance to demonstrate it, the overall experience is invariably rated lower.

Job seekers cited lack of communication as a top factor contributing to overall poor candidate experience, Crispin highlighted, with nearly half of candidates reporting never receiving any update on the status of the application. In fact, according to survey results, only 40 percent of recruiters are required to respond to candidates at all. Closure—or lack thereof—creates the strongest and most lasting positive and negative impressions in the recruiting process, Crispin said, adding that there is no excuse for not having a method in place for responding to candidates. In survey terms: the longer the time to respond to the candidate for disposition, the lower the overall candidate experience rating.

Organizational impact of candidate experience

For better or for worse, the experience a candidate has applying for a job with your organization can have a lasting impact. Candidates who have good experiences are likely to refer friends to apply to your company. Those who don’t, are not. Candidates dissatisfied with their experiences may even actively discourage others from applying or otherwise have a negative impact on your brand.

According to survey results, 41 percent of applicants who had a poor overall candidate experience reported intending to take their loyalty and product purchases elsewhere. Others pledged to spread the word: 33 percent of candidates who had a negative experience reported the intent to share the news publicly via their social networks. Your candidates are your customers. Poor candidate experiences have consequences for your organization. The cumulative effect of millions of unhappy candidates seems likely to have the momentum to extend beyond the recruiting process to cause lasting damage to your brand and loss of key talent to competitors and even revenue over time.

Conversely, of the candidates who reported a positive experience, 67 percent said they planned to strengthen their relationship with the organization through brand allegiance, product purchases, or networking. Among candidates who had positive experiences, 62 percent said they would be extremely likely to apply again, while more than 78 percent said they would refer someone in the future. Again, attitude drives behavior. Strengthened relationships and referrals lead to brand loyalty and, for recruiting, further optimization of time and money.

Improving the candidate experience and your hiring outcomes

Candidates are least satisfied with screening questions as the main strategy for capturing their skills and abilities, according to survey results. Recall that, according to the survey, fewer than one-third of candidates are asked to take assessments, meaning that more than two-thirds of organizations are failing to do all they can to give candidates the opportunity they want to showcase their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Candidates equate the highest satisfaction when asked to present their abilities through behavioral assessment and simulated job tasks and activities. Adopting tools like assessments and job tryout simulations offer candidates a chance to experience the job firsthand and show their stuff via simulated tasks while allowing you to capture a work sample that predicts on-the-job performance. Robust assessment technology enables recruiters with structured data—unlike the random and unreliable data found in resumes and captured by some web scraping screening tools—that makes the applicant effort more meaningful for both candidates and recruiters.

Bundling the most positive drivers of the candidate experience and the most effective evaluation methods into one seamless assessment tool can make the application process easy and satisfying for your candidate while also optimizing recruiter decision making. Better decisions, faster, translates into increased operational efficiency. Using the right assessment tool can mean better experiences for candidates and reduced turnover, improved time to proficiency, and better overall new-hire performance for you.

The candidate experience is personal. Candidates want to feel like they matter. Offer them a chance to perform. Give them closure when they aren’t the right fit. Individuals you hire—and those you don’t—are critical to you and your success. Take control of what happens throughout your hiring process by providing candidates with the best possible experience. Improve your candidate experience and your quality of hire by employing an innovative assessment tool that elevates the candidates experience and provides recruiters with results they can use.

Interested in more results from the survey? Download the 2015 North American Candidate Experience Research Report.

Are you ready to see how you measure up? Apply to participate in the 2016 Talent Board Candidate Experience Award and Benchmark Programme. 

View a replay of this web event.
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Register to attend Murphy’s free web seminar on April 20, Computer as Recruiter: Predictive Modeling is Changing Recruiting Outcomes.