Candidate experience. It’s a term you’ve probably heard thrown around in these parts a lot lately and in fact, if you search it now, you’ll have over 26 million results to search through, with some of the top results being answers to the simple query ‘what is the candidate experience?’
Understanding it and actually creating a positive candidate experience are two very different things, and I’m happy to say that as the newest member of the Stories Incorporated team, I experienced a truly excellent candidate experience.
Why does the candidate experience matter?
Because as much as a candidate is looking to impress you with their background, experience, skills and resume, you, as the hiring manager or recruiter should be doing the same. According to CareerBuilder, about 78% of candidates report that their overall candidate experience is an indicator of how the company values its people.
And while both companies and candidates alike generally agree on the fact that prospective employees should be treated with the same amount of respect that current employees are, only 49% of job seekers actually think that companies are treating their candidates with that level of respect.
Where’s the disconnect? According to CareerBuilder’s research, it seems to lie in a discrepancy between which stages in the candidate journey seem to hurt the experience the most, and meeting the candidates’ expectations for the overall experience. And the number one pain point with candidates? Communication…and often, a lack thereof from recruiters or hiring managers throughout their journey.
How we made the candidate experience better.
It’s pretty rare to find a hiring experience that’s entirely perfect for all parties involved in the process. As I mentioned earlier, I’m the latest hire here at Stories Inc, and I had an incredibly smooth and enjoyable candidate experience. Okay, but what was different? Aside from the team’s quick and clear communications throughout the journey, which (and as the stats prove) is a major perk in our distracted and disjointed hiring and recruiting world, Lauryn and the hiring team did something very different.
We conducted a little ‘experiment’ towards the end of the journey which really spoke volumes about Lauryn, and the values of the Stories Inc team. Like most good hiring managers, Lauryn asked for the contact information for my references as one of the final stages of my journey. But she put a twist on it…
…we exchanged reference contact information and I was encouraged to call Lauryn’s references before we made anything official.
I called three former-Stories Inc. employees who had left the company for a variety of reasons, but had all been managed by Lauryn. I asked them about management style, communications preferences, and office culture. Now, at this point in the process, I was pretty much set on joining the team and hearing a slew of positive reviews only validated my decision. But I wonder, what would I had done if I hadn’t heard such glowing references? Take a step back and ask more questions, much like a recruiter who gets a questionable reference.
All in all, this little update to the hiring process made all the difference for me as a candidate looking to learn as much as possible about the company I was poised to join. Not only did it highlight the team’s willingness to be open and transparent throughout the hiring process, but it allowed me an unfiltered view of the team from former employees.
And while, no, I did not discover any skeletons hiding in the proverbial employee closet, I did feel like I had a better grasp of what it was like to work on the team and how to put my best foot forward on day one.
What’s next for the candidate experience?
If candidates are simply looking for more and better communications from hiring managers and recruiters, then it’s clear that the bar is set pretty low for the candidate experience and journey. But it doesn’t mean that recruiters should better meet those expectations and do nothing more, instead find ways to improve the experience that reflect your company culture.
At Stories Inc, where transparency and openness is a key aspect of our everyday in the office (and out), giving a candidate the opportunity to get the full and honest picture of working at the company was one of the best ways to showcase their values.
The gauntlet has been thrown, how will you improve upon the candidate experience?