Candidate Experience on HRExaminerIn 2003, I launched a small endeavor called “CandidateVoice”. The idea was to audit websites based on their ability to deliver a sound experience for each candidate who visited the employment section of a website. As usual, the idea was ahead of its time.

(You might enjoy this little pamphlet which places Respect at the center of great candidate experience)

The CandidateVoice service involved assessing 60 different aspects of the candidate experience. From interface design to click flow, from web server speed to personalization, the service set a benchmark and measured against it.

In recent years, Claudia Faust has been making great strides with her ImprovedExperience assessment process. Customized surveys embedded in the job hunter’s workflow gave Recruiting managers their first ever real time assessment of actual candidate experience. The firm operates on the notion that the best assessors of candidate experience and job site design are, well, candidates.

Several things have been clear about candidate experience from the very beginning:

  • Candidate experience depends on the candidate. What works well for RF Engineers is likely to be a bust for teachers or retail workers.
  • Ease of access to opportunity trumps fancy design. More clicks (and therefore more time) always equals less success for everyone involved.
  • Transparency comes right after ease of access. Candidates want information about the status of their application and the reasons they were turned away. This sort of public accountability is foreign to the hiring process which would rather be done in the dark.
  • Putting the candidate first is hard. Candidate needs are usually the opposite of hiring process requirements. The idea that candidates are actually customers and stakeholders is new and hard to grasp.
  • Good candidate experience probably includes bad candidate experience. The truth is that you want the kinds of people you want to have a good experience that leads them to want to spend more time with you. The rest will be better off off their good experience is a firm pointer towards the door.
  • What’s good enough varies by industry, region and position. You simply have to treat executives differently than low level hourly workers. It doesn’t mean that either should have a bad experience. Just that what’s appropriate varies widely. It’s unlikely that a single web experience is appropriate for all.
  • Candidates require differing experiences for the phase of their relationship. Great recruiting operations are constantly building relationships with prospective employees. It is prudent and important to treat potential candidates differently than actual candidates. One’s experience as a member of the talent pool should be compelling.
  • Candidate experience doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Without a way of understanding how many candidates flow through a particular system and what the error rates are, it’s not really possible to evaluate the overall effectiveness of one approach versus another.
  • Candidate experience is validated by data not intuition. This is the powerful lesson from ImprovedExperience. Click rates, conversion statistics, signups and productive candidate output are necessary datapoints for any evaluation of the Candidate Experience.

This is our way of introducing the Candidate Experience Awards. An industry first, this new award is designed to recognize excellence in the delivery of Candidate Experience. Organized by Gerry Crispin, Elaine Orler, Ed Newman and Mark McMillan, the operation has partnered with Bersin and Associates for its research backbone.

The awards will be presented at this year’s HRTech. With any luck, the new awards will help employers shift their focus towards making hiring a pleasant experience.