Candidate experience has never been a hotter topic.
Don’t take my word for it - here’s what Google has to say about it.
In this blog post, we’re sharing in-house tips to offer a qualitative and consistent candidate experience - even when hiring remotely.
Click to jump on the desired section.
Wait, what is Candidate Experience?
The term Candidate Experience describes how candidates feel about your brand once they have entered your recruitment process. It shares a lot of similarities with the customer experience. Read: if customers receive a poor experience from a brand, they will likely not come back.
Job seekers undergo the same thought process.
Consequently, brands offering a so-so hiring experience have a harder time to hire talented candidates. This can be a major problem for many businesses just as COVID-19 is revamping the entire hiring process.
How is COVID-19 impacting candidate experience?
It probably didn’t escape your attention that the COVID-19 has shaken our world, and we’re now on the brink of a terrible economic crisis. Now, during (most) economic crises, candidate experience is often greatly depreciated, as businesses assume that candidates should consider themselves lucky to be interviewed in the first place.
But it’s not what is happening at the moment. In fact, optimizing the candidate experience has never been more critical for businesses.
We believe that 3 factors are fueling the change.
1. Purchasing decisions are becoming more personal
Global Consumer Pulse Research (Accenture, 2018) reveals that consumers are more likely to spend their money on companies that care. This means that brands treating their employees, customers, and candidates well are more likely to attract (and keep) customers.
What’s more, according to CareerARc (2017), 64% of job seekers say that a poor candidate experience would make them less likely to purchase goods and services from an employer.
2. Wellbeing and safety matter more
Candidates need to know that you won’t take any unnecessary risks during the interview process. One way to do this is, of course, to allow remote interviews, from their homes.
Now, some specific interview procedures may require them to go to specific off-site locations. As an example, if you require candidates to undergo a drug test, you need to make sure that it’s not happening at a place where COVID-19 tests also take place. And if it does, let candidates know that it is 100% safe.
“You might call it common sense, but given the unique situation we’re in, being transparent about safety measures will contribute to reducing stress levels for candidates, thus improving their overall candidate experience with your brand.”
–Miikka Tuomola, Business Development Director at RecRight
3. Information travels faster than light
Two words: social media.
Social media has given brands new ways to reach out to millions of people all around the world, in an instant. However, social media is a double-edged sword. What businesses gained in reach, they lost in control over their own messaging.
Read: if a brand offers a terrible hiring experience to job seekers, it will face social media backlash, potentially destroying a reputation that took many years to build.
Why is candidate experience optimization so important when recruiting remotely
We - humans - are social animals. We need interaction to fully function. This is something that we’ve all gotten to realize the hard way after undergoing strict social distancing rules.
|Do you wonder how COVID-19 is likely to affect the future of recruitment? Read our piece on How COVID-19 Revamps the Hiring Process.|
We believe that remote recruiting adds two extra challenges for businesses to provide a high-quality candidate experience:
- Less in-person social interaction
- Harder for candidates to grasp your culture
Less in-person social interaction
This one is a no brainer. When recruiting remotely, you won’t get to meet candidates in the flesh before later stages – if you deem it necessary. In the meantime, candidates won’t get to meet you and your teams either, potentially making the process colder and somewhat less genuine.
Harder to grasp a business’ culture
When interviewed in your office space, candidates can learn a lot about your company just by looking around:
- Is the office messy/tidy?
- Are there plants?
- Are people smiling? Do they look happy?
- Is it noisy/calm?
- Is there enough space for everyone?
When in the middle of a remote hiring process, candidates won’t, at first, have the chance to take the temperature of your office’s atmosphere. Instead, they will have to trust your word based on what you’re willing to share.
Sure, stories and pictures can say something about your business and how it cares for its employees, but it may be difficult for some candidates to grasp the full picture without being given a chance to visit the office space. Having said that, we’ll see later in this blog post that video can help.
“When hiring remotely, you need to make up for the lack of proximity with a failproof candidate experience.”
–Jussi Luhtasela, CEO at RecRight
The benefits of an optimized remote candidate experience for your company
Offering a better candidate experience isn’t only about showing candidates a nice time. It has significant perks for businesses.
A strong(er) employer brand
Great candidates are likely to be vetted by more than one company.
In fact, we know that once in the middle of a hiring process, a whopping 56% of candidates are also discussing with 2+ other companies. In this (common) scenario, a strong employer brand decreases the probability of a candidate accepting a counteroffer from another business at the very last minute, thus wasting your time, energy, and money.
An efficient hiring process
Improving the hiring experience for candidates will significantly increase the efficiency of your existing process. Now, efficiency isn’t only about speed, it’s about making the best of a situation, given your time and resources.
At the end of the day, a better candidate experience will decrease your cost and time to hire.
Improved talent retention
A positive hiring experience builds up for establishing more loyalty and trust between new hires and their employers. What’s more, your employees are your best brand ambassadors. In other words, being able to keep great people around will contribute to attracting more.
It’s a virtuous circle.
Now that you’re aware of the many benefits of a positive candidate experience, let’s take a look at what makes a great candidate experience.
8 components of a great remote candidate experience
An employer branding video
In 2020, you need to leverage the video format not only to catch your audience’s attention, but also to show who you are and highlight what makes you different.
Think about this. Remote job seekers don’t have the luxury to come to your office, shake hands, and share an informal coffee with their (potential) future coworkers. One way to solve this is to bring your office life … to them, with a company culture video.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. All you really need is a good camera, a decent microphone, volunteer colleagues and a good story to tell. Here’s an example I really liked, from Zendesk.
You may have noticed that this is a video dated from 2012 – yet, the video feels accurate because it puts people and experiences first. This type of content works wonders to introduce your business as it shows how it really feels to spend a day at the office.
If you need more convincing, know that recruiting agencies report 800% more engagement with job postings that have a video embedded.
Write clear job descriptions
Based on our discussions with both recruiters and candidates, we’ve identified 5 elements to take into account to improve your candidates’ job searches.
Keep your job descriptions jargon-free
You know your company and what it does better than anyone else. Consequently, you may be using a lot of words and appellations that are specific to your industry. So specific that no one outside of your bubble can understand them.
Here’s an example:
Having a headache yet?
The use of jargon is inevitable as each market and profession is unique in many ways. Having said that, we find that the best way to avoid using too much jargon is to:
- Keep your sentences short and simple: if you can say something with fewer words, go for it.
- Always explain the acronyms you use.
- Ask colleagues to read the job description: you’re biased. Some things may appear very clear to you while being a complete clusterfudge for anyone else. Having colleagues read job descriptions before you share then online will significantly help to reduce the amount of jargon used.
- Ban gender-biased language as well as age-related adjectives from your job ads.
Briefly introduce your company
Do not copy/paste your “about us” page.
Overwhelm your candidates with (jargony) information and you will bore them. Instead, briefly introduce what your organization is about.
Here’s a winning example from L’Oreal.
In 3 short and sweet sentences, job seekers get all the information they need to make up their minds.
Structure your adsNo one likes to read blobs of text. Instead, clearly structure and space out your job ads as follows:
- State who you are
- Mention the expected responsibilities of the position
- Mention the expected skills for the position
- Add nice-to-haves: make sure that desired skills are stated as such, or you may miss out on opportunities to interview exceptional candidates.
- Highlight employee benefits: what makes you unique? Mention exclusive employee benefits, career growth opportunities, or anything else that makes your company a great place to work.
- Bonus: share information about your recruitment process.
Here’s an example of a well-structured ad from Tory Burch:
Keep your ads up to date
Yet another no brainer. Building high hopes and applying to a position that’s not available anymore is extremely deceiving for job seekers. This is why you should unpublish ads as soon as you start the interview process or, at the very least, as soon as you’ve hired someone to fill the position.
Share your job ads via the right channels
If we recommend that you host your hiring process on your own career site, you need to let the world know that you’re seeking talented candidates. Or course, you may rely on job and talent boards, as well as on social media platforms to get more eyeballs on your ads, but quantity isn’t the best option when it comes to hiring talents.
If you’re looking for talented profiles, we recommend that you make use of niche job boards.
Our partners from SmartRecruiters identified 50 great niche job boards, take a look!
An Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
What is this?
An ATS is an all-in-one platform designed to help Human Resources professionals and team leaders to manage and oversee the entirety of their recruitment operations.
An Applicant Tracking System gives businesses full control of their recruitment strategies and eases the communication between all parties involved.
As a direct consequence, candidates will enjoy a much smoother experience.
If you’re working for a well-established company, there’s no doubt that you’re already using an applicant tracking system or a similar recruitment software. Learn more about RecRight’s ATS here.
Pre-recorded video interviews
A pre-recorded video interview is an interview that’s taking place remotely, both in space and time.
You (the recruiter) record a series of questions using video, and candidates record their answers in turn, also using video.
This gives candidates an equal chance to show who they are.
Moreover, recruiters don’t only have to rely on CVs to identify candidates they wish to interview. Instead, recruiters can discover each candidate for who they are and can select the best profiles for the next steps of the hiring process.
In short, video interviews make your process more efficient.
“It’s much more efficient to use a video interview tool instead of scheduling sessions with candidates. We don’t have to sit down and schedule all the interviews and contact people. It makes jobs more flexible and easier to manage.”
–Linda Wall, Recruiter at Volvo Cars
If your ATS doesn’t contain video interviewing features, you can integrate it with RecRight video interviews. This will allow you to perform all your interview related actions directly from your ATS.
|To learn more, read 6 Reasons Why Pre-Recorded Video Interviews Beat Live interviews|
How to set up your pre-recorded video interviews (with RecRight)
Create a job offer
Add video interview questions to an application
Screen the candidates' video replies
Interview the top candidates personally
The one thing that all job seekers have in common? They hate being left in the dark after applying for a job.
If you want to offer all candidates the best possible experience, be empathetic, and don’t be afraid to over-communicate.
Let rejected candidates know that you won’t move forward with them
Do this as soon as you can. Past your screening process, let those who didn’t make the cut know that you won’t consider them for this position.
Now, if you receive hundreds of job applications, you certainly don’t have the time to do this manually. Fortunately, using an ATS, you can automate this process.
Layout your entire hiring process
Let the candidates you’ve selected know how the entire process will look like and how long it will take. Here’s a list of things to consider:
- How many interview rounds should they expect?
- Who will they talk to?
- Which software will you be using?
- When are you to take a final decision?
Stay in touch all throughout the interview process
Follow-up early on (and often).
Applicants will appreciate follow-up calls, whether it is to announce positive, or negative news. In the latter scenario, take the time to explain why. In return for your honesty, you may receive precious and honest feedback about your hiring process. Bread and butter to improve your candidate experience.
Keep in mind that over-communication will always prevail over no communication at all, especially when you can’t meet in person.
Run structured (live) video interviews
Being interviewed 100% remotely is new for most candidates - and maybe for you too.
Doing something new, without a proper structure increases the chances of being sloppy. Naturally, this is something you want to avoid, especially when trying to hire new talents.
Set and follow a clear process
When interviewing someone live, you obviously can’t copy/paste your speech, but you can follow a predefined structure. This will ensure that you cover the same things with all the candidates and, therefore, leave less room for recruitment bias.
Make the exercise easier for candidates
You want candidates to be at their best.
Let them know, in advance, how the interviews will look like and who’s going to attend. If you use specific tools to run your live interviews, it doesn’t hurt to send your candidates short how-to documentation beforehand. Doing so, you’ll avoid surprises and greatly reduce stress levels on their end.
RecRight automatically sends how-to instructions to candidates when they receive an invitation to a video interview.
Record your live interviews
You can’t write everything you hear during an interview and there’s a chance that you’ll forget parts of the conversation you’ve had with candidates. Worst even, you could mix them up.
You can keep a trace of everything that has been discussed during the interview, and with whom, by recording the interview.
What’s more, because you can share the recordings and involve more stakeholders in the process, it leaves less room for bias and thus make the exercise fairer for candidates.
For evident privacy reasons, always ask for permission to record the interviews.
A feedback loop
The best way to improve your candidate experience is to involve your candidates in your iteration process.
“You can’t improve your candidate experience if you don’t consider candidates’ needs and wants.”
–Miikka Tuomola, Business Development Director at RecRight
There are two ways to do this:
You can automate the process (quantitative analysis)
Using an ATS, you can ask candidates to rate the quality of their experience right after they have applied.
This will help you make your job ads more relevant – as well as refine the video interview questions of your application process.
Ask the selected candidate to share their thoughts (qualitative analysis)
Further down the road, you’ll find it highly effective to ask candidates you’ve gotten a chance to talk to to share feedback on their candidate experience.
This is something that the folks at Volvo are leveraging.
While this can be intimidating for candidates, you should be able to receive honest feedback that will help you to improve your overall remote hiring process. To reduce the likelihood of receiving overly positive feedback, we recommend doing this once you’re done with your interview process.
A fully documented onboarding process
The recruitment process doesn’t really end when signing a contract. It ends with onboarding.
Now, we won’t teach you how to onboard newcomers in your organization. Having said that, and given the circumstances, we thought that it would be useful to share an extra set of tips to onboard your new colleagues … remotely.
Have a place to document everything
While you need to be available to answer all the questions that newcomers may have, it can be highly beneficial to store your onboarding documentation on Google Drive or on an Intranet. This could include:
- How-to tutorials to use tools or better understand how the organization is structured.
- An actual facebook, to put a face on the many names they’ll encounter every day.
- HR information about sick leaves, paid holidays, working hours, etc.
Ask for feedback on your onboarding process
Lastly, book a feedback session to sit down with recently hired colleagues to hear their thoughts on your onboarding process. This is an ideal way to identify what works, what does not work, as well as what could be improved to make the process better and deliver a smoother experience in the future.
Remote candidate experience: design, deploy, measure and iterate
"Nothing is ever perfect. And that’s okay... as long as you’re willing to accept it - and improve your existing processes."
–Jussi Luhtasela, CEO at RecRight
There you have it, folks. You now know everything you need to know to offer a better candidate experience when recruiting remotely.