Importance of A Positive Candidate Experience Journey

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Importance of A Positive Candidate Experience Journey

Akhilesh Verma, Strategic Talent Acquisition Team Lead, UST India

Competition for top talent is fierce. Forward-thinking companies are stepping up their game to create an excellent candidate experience.

Akhilesh Verma, Strategic Talent Acquisition Team Lead, UST India

What makes a positive candidate experience? How do you stand out and convince candidates that your company is the ideal choice? The candidate experience journey has significantly changed for both employers and candidates. Instead of shuffling candidates from one stage to the next, employers must be mindful of each candidate's experience, making every interaction with them count.

Imagine this scenario - the one no candidate wants:

It's a new day, and Andrew is ready for his final in-person meeting with the Senior Director of a large multinational IT company. He had successfully cleared all interviews and made it to the final one.

Andrew's profile is impressive. He is a Practice Head for a major executive search firm and has successfully placed top leaders across major global organizations and various geographies. The new job would be the perfect stepping-stone for the next stage in his career. He is ready to switch to the corporate side as a Leadership Hiring Group Leader.

Andrew was excited about joining the new company. It was exactly the kind of organization he wanted to be in and grow with. He was already dreaming of being the star performer in his new role, bagging the talent acquisition awards, and making an impact.

He reached his potential future office, ready to rock his interview. At the reception, he was asked to wait for his interviewer Mr. Melvin, to call for him. After waiting 30 minutes, Andrew requested a glass of water. The receptionist nodded and assured him that water was on the way. Another half an hour passed, and there was no sign of water or Mr. Melvin.

Like other hopeful candidates, Andrew thought Mr. Melvin was genuinely busy and would call him soon. A part of his mind also thought this could be a secret psychological test to observe how he reacts in these situations. He maintained his poise and waited patiently for Mr. Melvin. Another hour passed, and there was still no sign of water or any update on Mr. Melvin.

Eventually Andrew received a text from a co-worker asking him when he would be back at work. He had important meetings lined up and did not take the day off. He just took an hour to interview and had planned to return to the office. But he did not anticipate this long wait and his whole day to be derailed.

A visibly angry Andrew asked the receptionist how much longer he was expected to wait. She told him that Mr. Melvin's meeting had unexpectedly been extended, and he had to wait for some more time.

The enthusiasm and excitement that kickstarted Andrew's day deflated. He wondered what kind of an organization treated potential candidates this way and, more importantly, did he really want to be part of a culture like this. He felt mentally and physically drained. There was no information or update about the status of the interview timeline, let alone a glass of water. The receptionist finally informed Andrew that the interview needed to be rescheduled as Mr. Melvin had to attend to other pressing matters and was told someone would contact him with the next interview date.

Candidate having a positive experience at interview process.

This situation goes against the very fiber of a candidate-centric hiring process. These interview horror stories have no place in the candidate experience journey, and potential candidates no longer accept them quietly. They share their positive and negative experiences on social media and with friends, spreading the word that could negatively impact an organization's image and brand.

Candidate experience has never been so critical to organizations. From the job description itself to the interview process to follow-up communications, all candidate journey touchpoints determine how a brand is perceived and accepted. Each step provides an opportunity to show candidates that you care about them and their needs.

Competition for top talent is fierce. Forward-thinking companies are stepping up their game to create an excellent candidate experience. Andrew finally accepted a job with a company that continuously communicated with him during every step of the hiring process. The candidate-centric company understood that hiring is a two-way street and that the candidates evaluate them as much as they evaluate the candidates during the hiring process. The company valued Andrew’s feedback and experience as an applicant even before he got the job offer.

Organizations that treat candidates like VIPs and offer a personalized candidate experience have a competitive advantage in recruiting. Word gets out. Even if a person is not selected, they may still refer others to your organization. A positive experience and respectful treatment during the interview process could certainly lead a person to continue to be interested in working for you and apply for future job opportunities.

The UST Way - No Candidate Left Behind

UST is built on three core values – Humility, Humanity, and Integrity. It is ingrained in everything we do, including our hiring process. Here's how we focus on improving the candidate journey:

One of the biggest complaints of potential candidates going through a hiring process is that they are never fully informed about the next steps or get proper feedback. The Talent Acquisition Team tells them they will get back to the candidate, which often never happens. Keeping the candidate informed and updated throughout the process is a basic rule that improves the candidate's journey. It is disrespectful to do otherwise and ghost candidates, not to mention detrimental to brand reputation.

We believe in the 'No Candidate Left Behind' philosophy.

Advances in AI technology, recruitment chatbots, highly advanced Applicant Tracking Systems, and other tech-inspired automation have changed the recruitment marketing strategy. But no amount of technology can beat the personalized candidate experience. There still is a need to personalize and create candidate experiences that feel genuine, humane, and authentic.

The Strategic Talent Acquisition Team (STAT) at UST goes by our motto and guides candidates through the hiring process. From responding to our job posts, applying via our website, scheduling their meetings, and receiving feedback, candidates experience a recruitment process like no other. Even the rejected candidates get a timely update with feedback and reasons for rejection. We handhold them throughout the entire hiring process. After a candidate joins, we check in, addressing any potential queries they might have.

We are intentional in offering a personalized candidate experience rather than a transactional process. We value the suggestions and feedback from every candidate and implement them in our candidate journey map.

Candidate journey touchpoints range from application to onboarding. Each interaction and engagement that a candidate goes through makes an impact. A positive candidate experience journey makes a big difference, as we see in Andrew's case. He is very happy at his current organization. He has even used his negative experience to successfully restructure and implement a new candidate experience process in his new organization.

Strategic Talent Acquisition Team discussing about Candidate journey touchpoints

Learn more about UST unique approach.