#CandE awards

The Candidate Experience Awards UK #CandE (White Paper)

I’m proud to have been a judge for the UK version of the Candidate Experience Awards, and a member of the steering committee. it is a topic I’m passionate about. It is free for companies to take part in. Sign up is in 3 parts:

1) Expression of interest
2) Complete a questionnaire (45 Minutes)
3) Give access to candidates to survey (conducted by the #CandE’s.)

Awards are given to ALL companies who achieve a benchmark standard, and all are interviewed by the judges to determine which companies are awarded a distinction.

Sign up is as simple as CLICKING HERE

This is the white paper from the 2012 edition, with all the data from the candidate questionnaires and conclusions. Enjoy!

The UK Candidate Experience. Part 5 #CandE UK

This is the final part of my series reviewing the data from the Candidate Experience Awards, known as #CandE’s UK.  You can order your free copy of the official report HERE. Please sign up to take part in the 2013 competition, it’s free, and you get a full benchmaek report.

Candidates acknowledge use of assessments.

44% of responding companies use 1 test or instrument for assessing candidates in areas like personality and fit, with 27% using three or more in the selection process. Half of the candidates reported completing assessments during the selection process. Candidates accept this as part of the selection process that is consistently applied to everyone, creating a sense of fairness. The results from these assessments present hiring companies with the opportunity to give the candidates  valuable feedback that will be of use to them in the future, by enabling them to get to know themselves better. The number of companies who provide candidates with the result of tests and assessments where a candidate is unsuccessful is nominal, and this should change.Hiring companies that employ additional background checks to mitigate risks, such as credit checks, must make this clear and transparent pre-application, to prevent those who think they might fail such a check to opt out. It is a long process to go through to discover a condition of employment that the candidate was never going to get passed. This is why transparency of the whole process and all requirements should be clear at the pre-application stage. Managing expectation is critical to candidate experience.

Employer communication follow through.

57.5% of the responding companies reported that they follow-up with finalists no longer being considered or updates on the next step, with the remaining 42.5% are advised that they will only hear back if they are successful, and no updates after the notified cut off date means that their application is no longer being considered. In this case, no news is not good news. Whilst this reduces the time pressure on recruiters to give feedback, the benefits should be compared with the negative impression this will potentially create with candidates who have invested time in the process and are waiting for an answer. The growth of review sites like Glassdoor in the UK makes candidate reviews over process available to potential candidates. The data from Glassdoor from the US indicates that candidates are checking individual companies for reassurance before hitting apply, and next to salary levels, selection process is the most visited area of a company profile. Feedback is a critical part of a positive candidate experience, and should be an area for serious consideration in the selection process. The distinction winners set KPI’s for feedback on progress, and the reasons for rejection. Good practice and fairness to candidates dictates the need for timely and efficient feedback.that has a future value to the candidate even if they are unsuccessful.

Candidate as a decision maker.

Candidates choosing to opt-out during the selection process with 42% of candidates deselecting on the grounds of salary not meeting expectation, 28% due to being unqualified to do the job and 28% due to a bad relationship with the hiring manager and the recruiter. The first 2 could have been avoided with greater transparency at the pre-application stage. The solution to this might well lie in the low volume of respondents who were given access to the job spec before applying (25%). Making minimum requirements and job descriptions transparent at the pre-application stage allowing candidates to choose not to apply, providing a better candidate experience and saving recruiter time courting unsuitable candidates. it is unsurprising that half the candidates who chose to withdraw reported a poor candidate experience. This affects the probability of candidates reapplying for future positions, the feedback they may post on sites like Glassdoor and what they may tell friends.

Candidate selection.
The managing of the offer process is usually the responsibility of the recruiter, although increasingly this responsibility is moving to the hiring manager. It was interesting to note in the winners interviews the different views hiring companies held over when a candidate is a candidate, and when they are an employee. The answers varied from offer stage, to the completion of on-boarding through to the end of the probationary period. Whilst this might seem like a minor issue, it has some bearing on how the hiring company views candidate experience. The turning point seems to be the point at which the candidate moves from the responsibility of the recruiter, to the responsibility of HR. It is easy to see how the recruiter, having built a relationship with the candidate throughout the process, could be the best person to manage the transition from candidate to employee. What is clear is that the candidate is most likely to have second thoughts during the offer period, where efficient and timely communication, administration of the process and accessibility mitigates the risk of a last-minute change of mind, and is a key stage in candidate experience. The better the relationship between the recruiter and the candidate, and the better the candidate experience, the smoother the transition to employee.

Would the candidate reapply?

All of the winning companies interviewed reported that they were operating either a talent network or talent community where an ongoing relationship is maintained with candidates regardless of the outcome, An increasing number of hiring companies are adopting CRM (Client relationship management) technology for maintaining relationships, and are adopting a methodology of sourcing from previous candidates for all new, open positions.

Only candidates who have had a good experience with the hiring company will be willing to engage again. The question “would you reapply?” is an important one for monitoring the change in perception of the employer, and how it might change throughout the process. This provides valuable feedback and data for improving the hiring process, and should be asked of candidates in real-time at every stage. In the research, 36.5% of candidates were left with a negative or neutral impression of the company as a result of their candidate experience. This should be a concern for hiring companies, and a key metric in candidate experience, particularly to those companies looking to re-engage candidates at any time in the future, manage reputation on sites like Glassdoor, and increase the possibility of getting recommended as an employer to others.

Thanks for sticking with the series. I hope you found some of the data and recommendations useful. Candidate experience needs to be a priority. It’s not hard to get it right.


The UK Candidate Experience. Part 4. #CandE’s UK

This is part 4 in the series looking at the data behind the candidate experience awards in the UK. This research gives a unique insight in to what actually happens when people apply for jobs, and the picture is not all that great.

You can get a copy of the official report HERE, and apply to take part in the next round of research. It is free to take part.

Candidate evaluation and selection.

The lack of information indicated in the pre-application stage means a high volumes of applications for most jobs, with unqualified applications are at an all time high. This makes automation in the selection process essential, with a heavy reliance on the ATS to do the work. Only 8.4% of applicants responding had any kind of selection conversation before applying. It may well be that these conversations are the result of the direct approaches reported in the winners interviews as being increasingly adopted. Of all the candidates applying, only 11.6% completed a structured interview, with the majority of candidates being discounted before this stage. Questions should be asked as to why such a large volume of unqualified candidates feel an application is worthwhile, and if the minimum qualifications are made clear to potential candidates at the pre-application stage. Hiring companies should look closely at the information and content they are making accessible to potential candidates, and if the driver in their recruitment marketing efforts is geared to increasing the volume of applications rather than encouraging opt-out from those who are either unqualified, or don’t have a culture or values match.

A reliance on the ATS for selection means much of the messaging will be automated as notifications or rejections on “do not reply” mails rather than personal feedback. With the importance of the ATS in the process, hiring companies need to collect on-going feedback from applying candidates to ensure that the application process is user friendly, intuitive, relevant and as short as possible, with clear instructions and on-line help.

Preliminary screening resources.

For the most part, the ATS is used to present screening questions of varying detail and complexity, from the yes/no qualifiers through to those requiring a more detailed response. Due to volumes of response, the process for the most part is designed for deselection in order to present recruiters with a manageable short-list of candidates for selection and interview. Selection within the ATS is based on qualifiers like eligibility to work, experience etc, with more detailed questions over aspirations, and confirmation of the information submitted at interview stage. Due to volumes, hiring companies have been increasing the amount of questions asked, and the time it takes to complete an application. This has been evidenced by increased abandonment rates during the process.

This is an important figure for hiring companies to monitor, in order to identify if there are particular stages where candidates are bailing out, soliciting feedback at the point of leaving to identify the reasons behind it and adjusting the process accordingly. Examples of best practice within the survey included limiting the application process to seven clicks, CV parsing for speed and convenience, issuing clear and simple instructions at every stage and the opportunity to engage with recruiters throughout the process.

The objective now for hiring companies should be to reduce the volume of applications by greater transparency and access to information at the pre-application stage, encouraging opt-out from those unqualified or a poor values or culture match. In demand candidates will have less tolerance for a lengthy, complicated or confusing application process, the more likely they will abandon it. Hiring companies should be concerned with who is abandoning their application, as well as the volume.A lengthy application process presents real problems for the increasing number of candidates looking to apply by mobile.

The job interview.

The technology application process and telephone interview (averaging 35 per job) is designed to deliver a short list of 10 – 12 candidates to interview on a face to face basis. 75% of responding companies conduct telephone interviews to arrive at the short-list. A number of the winners commented at interview that they are now replacing the telephone interview with automated video selection (17%), in order to improve efficiency. What is clear is that employers are looking for more than the ATS to shortlist candidates for interview. All of the winners train their recruiters in interview techniques, and most extend this training to the hiring manager. The interviewer, whether recruiter or hiring manager is the face of the company with the candidate, impacts candidate experience in that the applicant is looking to be given a fair chance to present their case and the relationship formed with the hiring manager at interview plays a big part in their decision making when it comes to offer. 25% of employers conduct 5 or more interviews (including phone interviews), Each of these touch points present an opportunity to select candidates and to create a positive impression, by the same token each touch point throws up the risk of creating a poor impression by poor delivery.

Process and training for everyone involved in the hiring process, from recruiter to hiring manager is a critical factor in candidate experience, as evidenced by the practices of the winners. It is also worth noting the practice of giving feedback in a method that matches the mode of screening, once voice communication is initiated, feedback by voice is expected. Candidates are expected to invest an increasing amount of time and effort into applying and going through selection. The time and effort committed to feedback on each stage by the hiring company needs to reflect this.

Interview preparation

Interview structure and format should not come as a surprise to the candidate. Candidates want to prepare for interview by researching the company, the opportunity and the people conducting the interview. 29.9% of the candidate respondents received an agenda of what to expect before the interview, and 10.2% at the interview. 63% were given the names of the interviewers before the interview. This means 60% went in to the interview blind without any agenda, and 37% had no opportunity to research their interviewer before the event.

Giving the candidates the opportunity to prepare is essential for candidate experience. The candidates need to feel that the hiring company gave them the best opportunity to present their case in the best way. They don’t expect to always get the job, but they do expect the chance. 51.1% of candidates report being required to attend a panel interview as part of the selection process. This experience can be nerve racking enough for a candidate looking to make a positive impression, but the pressure is intensified when the panel comes as a surprise. Candidates do not expect to get a job, but they do expect to be given the opportunity to present themselves in the best light. The opportunity to prepare is a big part of this.

The survey results indicate that few candidates were advised that a panel interview was going to take place, and the negative impression this can create on the candidate. 54% of candidates were advised on the next step, time-scales and expectations, which means 46% were left in the dark. Co-ordinating candidates in a timely and informed way should be an essential part of the selection process. Care and attention paid to the candidate at the critical selection stages, indicates the care and attention that will be paid to the candidate if they transition to being employees. The attention to detail in the selection process can play a big factor in the candidates decision making process when it comes to the offer stage. Hiring companies should be mindful of this when designing their hiring process.

If you have stuck with this series, which concludes tomorrow, I hope you are getting the picture of what really happens when people look for jobs.I urge anyone involved in the recruiting process to get involved in this years research and awards. It’s free to take part, and will get you a free benchmark report on how you are doing. I ask my fellow bloggers in the space to help promote this far and wide. It is important, and through real research we can make a difference.




UK Candidate Experience. Part 2. #CandE’s UK

This is day two of my look at the data and research that came back from researching the UK edition of the Candidate Experience Awards. There are three days to go in the series. You can get the full research HERE. This post is my opinion, and does not reflect the official line of the #CandeS.

Pre-application content.

Prior to application, the emphasis is on providing non-specific information. Detail like how often a job opening comes up, previous job holders etc is unlikely to be made public until deep in the application process. As most information is communicated by the recruiter in the process, the thinking behind this may well be that the recruiter can control the negative impact of a message to a candidate they are looking to attract. This is often referred to by recruiters as candidate control or selling the opportunity. By contrast, however, candidates are seeking this information before applying in order to opt in or opt out of an opportunity.
This could be a major factor in the high volume of applicants needed to fill a job. For many of the responding companies this was in excess of 85 per filled post, of which 60% are considered unqualified.
Only 44% of candidates were aware of the values of the organisation before applying, and an amazingly low 34%, the workplace and culture. Only 25% had access to the job spec before they applied.This can only result in candidates being in the process in order to find out there is no fit and opt out. With the reliance on recruiters to communicate this type of critical deal making or breaking information on a one to one basis, a high volume of response will significantly reduce the time available and opportunity to do this.

Full transparency in public channels reduces applications, because people choose to opt out or identify themselves as unqualified to apply. This creates the time needed to give a great candidate experience to those who remain in the process.

Feedback during the attraction phase

Only 1 in 8 of the companies who responded surveyed candidates during the application stage. Fewer than 10% of the candidate respondents felt the hiring company were interested in listening to feedback at this stage. The pre-application stage is the time when their is the most people in the process. Companies are relying on guesswork to determine if they are providing enough information in the right way to enable candidates to make informed choices. A good mantra for decision making over strategy is that “In god we trust, everyone else bring data.” Relying on random feedback between recruiter and candidate, when the candidate may well be doing their best to impress, will only lead to a false sense of security.

Good candidate experience is dependent on consistent data collection at every stage, including from those who determine not to apply.Companies who offered a good candidate experience for the most part collect data at every stage, and work to K.P.I.’s for satisfaction delivery throughout the end to end process.

Expression of interest

To the serious candidate, the expression of interest is a big decision. The point at which they are going through the conscious phase of potentially leaving their current employer and joining another, or committing their future to a hiring company. For many, it is not an easy decision to move from curious to committed. It requires time, and a sharing of what is considered confidential information. Hiring companies must respect this level of commitment in a candidate, and respond accordingly. A number of the CandE winners spoke of having a separate process and view of a candidate, and an applicant. The commonly held interpretation being that a candidate was anyone involved in the process,wether an interested party, a target or a visitor to career content, whereas an applicant is more specifically a candidate who expresses an interest in joining the organisation, usually by commencing the formal application process.Acknowledgement of the application, simplified admin through technology (CV parsing), and opt-in additional information to support an application are common practice in most of the organisations replying, with the underlying thinking being courtesy and convenience. It was interesting to note in the winners interviews that some of the winning companies had moved to a direct sourcing methodology in order to get the candidate enthusiastic and qualified before asking them to formally apply through technology.

Screening and knock out questions

Given the lack of information available pre-application in areas like job description, company values and culture, it is not a surprise that open jobs receive high volumes of response, and that employers have responded by looking to technology and screening questions to cut down the volume before applications get the recruiter’s attention. The longer the technical application process takes to complete, and the more intrusive the questioning, the more likely applicants will abandon the process before completion. 61.1% of the responding companies enable unqualified candidates to complete the full application process before rejecting them for being unqualified. Transparency over minimum requirements at the start of the application process would change this, perhaps offering an alternative route to connect with the company for future opportunities they may be qualified for such as a talent network, whilst increasing the probability that those who stay in the process meet the minimum criteria. Each of the distinction winners offer some level of talent network, that offers an alternative option to applying for a specific role.

Be sure to sign up for this years competition. It is free, and there is no excuse for not taking part.


Sign up HERE for the #CandE’s 2013

Rethinking Mobile Apply #CandEUK

This might seem a bit of a change in direction. I’ve always championed mobile integration in to recruitment process, and apply by mobile has been a big part of the conversation. At risk of being controversial (as if I would), I have been rethinking my position on this. First off, this doesn’t mean I’m changing my mind about the importance of mobile, the numbers show that mobile is social, and is fast becoming web. Mobile should be the first consideration in buying or building technology, building mobile to web rather than the other way round.

Over the last 3 months I have been spending a lot of time going through the data for the Candidate Experience Awards, UK Edition, known as the CandE’s. When you look at the hard data from a wide range of companies, the learning points are quite clear. To give you some idea of the headlines that are going to be included in the white paper:

> The average job gets 80 applications for each post filled.

> 70% of candidates are unqualified for the job they apply for

> Only 20% of applicants see a job description before applying, and this includes the minimum requirements.

When you look at these numbers, it does make you question if this is desperation or a lack of research on the part of the applicants. Whilst the process might well be painful, as is well documented, killer questions are being left to the end of the process, (if at all), rather than being stated before starting the application process. It seem that all the emphasis has been on talent attraction rather tan recruiting, as recruiters have rushed to become marketeers. With these numbers, any level of candidate experience for already overloaded recruiters becomes a problem.

This brings me on to mobile apply, or any type of apply for that matter. The smart companies in the survey have started separating out candidates and applicants, with different processes to provide the best experience for each. My definitions are:

>  Candidates

Anyone connected with the company in a network. This could be a talent network, a LinkedIn follower, a Facebook fan or similar. A candidate should be able to declare their interest with one click, giving access to their data, enabling notification of relevant content and opportunities matched to their profiles. A candidate stays a candidate as long as they choose to be connected. This replaces concepts like silver medalists, or the win/lose application process.

> Applicant

Anyone actively in the application process for a job or jobs. A minimum requirement of this should be that the applicant is aware of the minimum requirements and has seen a form of the job spec, not the job ad, but the job spec. Rejected applicants become candidates for future messaging, sourcing, matching and consideration. My thinking on mobile is that this should be for the candidate process only, though the process of moving from candidate to applicant can be mobile enabled via the talent network, with mobile landing pages and related data sent to those candidates who match the minimum requirements based on the candidate data submitted.

My thinking now is for a mobile candidate process, and that a mobile apply process on its own might just make the situation worse. The #CandE UK WhitePaper will be available for download soon. Any company interested in getting their own process benchmarked against other EMEA employers can register their interest free to take part in the 2013 survey. There is no maximum number of companies who can be awarded the kite mark recognition, or achieve distinction, and all companies get a complete report. If you are serious about candidate experience, take part!


PLEASE NOTE: The opinions expressed in this post are mine, and not an official #CandE communication.

Find out about the CandEUK 2013 Awards HERE