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For a Better Candidate Experience Try Leveraging Data

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If the interview process at your company is broken, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority. One study shows that 50% of companies surveyed know they’re losing talent due to their application and interview processes.

What’s surprising is that 68% of those companies said they have no plans to make any changes to the interview portion of their candidate experience, even though companies that prioritize candidate experience can see their average quality of hire improve by 70%.

Why are so many organizations unwilling address such an important facet of recruitment?

In most cases, the teams responsible for changing the candidate experience are steeped in the everyday throes of talent acquisition and simply don’t have time to examine their processes. If your house is on fire, you’re probably not focused on how well you treat the visitors at your doorstep. So what can you do to improve your candidate experience – and in turn improve your recruiting results? I did some research and talked to Lars van Wieren, CEO at Starred, a candidate experience measurement tool, to find out.

Benchmark Candidate Experience

What gets measured gets managed. Start with a basic benchmark for your candidate experience. You don’t need a fancy tool to start gathering data.

All you need to do is ask your candidates a simple question: How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague? This is essentially a Net Promoter Score question, with a scale of 1 to 10 to reflect that. You can easily embed this question into automated emails, meaning it can be set up through your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) with minimal additional work. Ideally, you should get feedback from candidates at each stage of the application process. But at a minimum, you should ask them once at the end of the process.

To get the least-biased data, you’ll need to ask all applicants for feedback – whether or not they’ve been shortlisted or hired. Think about it: If you only ask those who have been shortlisted – or the few who’ve actually been hired – you’re likely to get glowing reviews that don’t actually reflect the true candidate experience.

When it comes to analyzing the data, you can keep things simple by dumping it into a spreadsheet and looking at your average score. The goal isn’t to be perfect right out of the gate; it’s to find out how much work you have to do.

This gives you one easy-to-understand representation of the health of your candidate experience. Once you have that number, you can start making small changes to your recruiting processes to see the impact on your overall number.

What kinds of changes might you make to improve the candidate experience? Statistically speaking, most candidates don’t like writing cover letters and they take a lot of time to review. So maybe you can ditch the request for cover letters. If the Careers page on your website is long and difficult to navigate, you can shorten the content. You could consider using Easy Apply functionality. Does your company do a long series of interviews? You could do fewer to see if that improves things.

At the same time, you can improve your candidate abandonment rate by measuring and improving it. Candidate experience scores and abandonment rates are almost always linked. If you improve one, you improve the other.

Gather more data

Feedback is vital. To make sure it’s as useful as possible, feedback should be gathered during every phase of the process — from application, screening and interviewing to assessment, offer and rejection. This way you’ll be able to see where your candidate experience needs improvement, so you can make quick, effective adjustments.

Doing this every step of the way may not be easy to do with your current setup. But it can be easy to configure if your ATS or software solution has the capability. Is it worth it? I’ll let the numbers do the talking.

A study we did with Aptitude Research showed that, on average, gathering and acting on mutual feedback:

  • boosts quality of hire from 36% to 58%
  • boosts candidate experience from 34 % to 44%, and
  • improves first-year retention from 35% to 50%.

Get your team involved

Improving candidate experience is something that your entire talent acquisition or recruitment team should be a part of. Appoint an internal candidate experience champion who will be responsible for compiling the benchmark data and giving updates on it to the team regularly. How often is “regularly?” That depends on how many applications you have and how long your process is, but a monthly check-in works best for most and can give you an insightful trendline.

Don’t be intimidated!

Although improving candidate experience is a task that’s never done, it doesn’t require a complete overhaul in the way you do your recruiting. Start small and make incremental improvements over time. If you focus on making at least one more candidate smile, you’ve already made a big improvement.

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