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.