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Improving the Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is one of the hottest topics in recruiting today for businesses of every size – small, medium or large.

Why? Because your company’s ability to successfully attract and recruit top talent depends on how well you manage the hiring process. This hour-long webinar explains:

  • How the candidate experience came to be and has evolved within the recruiting industry.
  • Its importance through each phase of the recruiting process.
  • The impact of a negative and positive candidate experience on both your recruiting and bottom line.
  • How you can improve the candidate experience in your organization.

Watch this archived webinar and learn to enhance candidate interactions using your career site, recruiting efforts and hiring process. 

Monster Candidate Experience Webinar PDF
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About the Presenter:
Amy Hughes,
Former Director, Monster Professional Services

Amy has over 14 years experience in working with clients to develop successful online recruitment campaigns. Since joining Monster in 1997, she has held various responsibilities, giving her a thorough understanding of the recruitment industry.

Webinar Transcript: Improving the Candidate Experience

Welcome to this webinar presented by Monster. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor of the Monster Resource Center. Our presentation today is on improving the candidate experience; our presenter is Amy Hughes. 

Thank you, Connie, and welcome everyone. The material we're going to talk about today is going to be very relevant to the candidate experience through the hiring process.

So whether you're a recruiter, a hiring manager, or a small business owner, you've likely heard about at least one of the hot recruiting trends that are being discussed on employment blogs.

The Importance of the Candidate Experience

Buzz words like big data and mobile recruiting are frequently used today, and frequently discussed in industry articles and on blogs. And bloggers in the industry often talked about how big data analytics can transform your recruiting strategy, or how important mobile readiness is in streamlining your apply process. And while each of these topics is important, there's another subject that is widely recognized, yet companies rarely dig deep to analyze and understand the impact of candidate's experience.

Larger companies who recruit high volumes of candidates are implementing changes to improve the candidate experience. And they understand the implications that both good and bad seeker experiences with the recruiting process can have on their employer brand, and their ability to attract talent. But for other organizations it's almost an elephant in the room, because it requires a thorough analysis of how seekers interact with each of you, the people behind the brand. The candidate experience is all about those interactions.

Regardless of the size of your company, that your ability to successfully attract and recruit top talent depends on the ability to manage the hiring process and the candidate experience through the hiring process. It's about how the candidate is treated, and how they perceive they're being treated throughout the hiring cycle.

So, we're going to examine candidate experience in more detail. Today, specifically, we're going to talk about how the candidate experience came to be, and has evolved within the recruiting industry. It's important through each phase of the recruiting process, as well as the impact of a negative and positive candidate experience on both your recruiting efforts, as well as potentially, your bottom line and then how you can improve the candidate experience in your organization.

New Recruiting Trends

Now before we get started, I wanted to just level set on some of those hot topics that I talked about. From a big data perspective, there's many applications of big data in recruiting. And at a very high level, it's about bringing information and data points together to tell a story or make a business case around recruiting and workforce planning. It can help companies understand their skill gaps and strengths to develop targeted campaigns to reach and attract top talent.

For example, Monster's SeeMore® technology allows organizations to find talent and understand recruitment effectiveness across all of their resumes, your own private resume database regardless of source. But then, social profiles also come in to play and this something that we're seeing more often. Companies are using social profiles, which is a big shift because we collect resume as recruiters, as organizations, we want insight into a candidate's skills and experience and that traditionally comes through the resume and that's what our apply process dictates – that we're asking for that resume.

We are starting to see some companies accepting a social profile in lieu of a resume, particularly early in the recruiting process. And this is especially true if the organization is recruiting passive candidates to build a pipeline. Social profiles can offer a better representation of someone's personal brand, and allow seekers to present themselves with more depth than a traditional resume which just documents the work experience and education. Social profiles allow us as recruiter and business owners to stay connected with these candidates, both through social platforms, as well as some of the technology that's available today to manage candidate response management campaigns.

Then there is employer branding. This is not a new term in the industry at all but it's really the idea of playing on the consumer brand but highlighting your strengths as an employer. So showcasing your values through culture – the value prop – to your target audience. It's really about why would someone want to work for you versus another company. It's creating transparency into your culture, insight, and again why someone would want to work for you.

Recruiting is about selling, right? It's selling the best aspects of the organization and the opportunity. Taking it a step further, this is about the personalization of the employer. The people who represent and live in your brand interact with job seekers and applicants. You can have a strong employer brand but it's really the people behind the brand that make it a reality and are the authenticity of the employment brand.

Mobile is another hot topic and I would hazard a guess that everyone on this call has a smartphone, an iPad, a tablet or some kind of technology that allows them to be mobile. That they can stay connected whenever they are. The sale of smartphones and tablets has surpassed traditional desktops and laptops so we know that people are active and on the go and being able to connect through social, through email no matter where they are. So more and more jobs seekers expect mobiles optimization. So if your site isn't mobile ready and maybe your pages take too long to load or you have poor navigation through mobile, candidates could leave your site and maybe not return.

The other hot topic is increased competition. It's always been difficult to find top talent. The unemployment rate for candidates with a college degree has always hovered around four percent — I think it's actually a bit lower than that right now. If the unemployment rate continues to decline, there's an increased competition for talent. In high-demand industries including IT recruiting as well as in healthcare hiring there is also talent shortages for talent which further complicate matters. So across all industries, job seekers have more opportunities to consider which is going to make it harder for you to attract and retain talent.

Then there is candid experience and again, candid experience is about the experiences seekers have with us, with our brand, with our technology, as recruiters, as HR generalists, as small business owners — and how these experiences shape their perceptions of our company. Interestingly enough, of all the topics that we've discussed — they all tie back to the candidate's experience.

Because for example, you might have all kinds of data points at your fingertips but if the job seekers that you extract from this data don't have a positive interaction with your brand, you've likely lost them. Or if you– how job seekers interact with your employment brand, whether it's through a job ad, your career site, or talking to you or one of your recruiters, if that impacted their perception of your company and whether or not they'd work with you. So how we treat candidates is perhaps the best differentiator of whether or not a candidate would consider working for our companies.

Defining the Candidate Experience

Let's take a step back and define candidate experience because this can be kind of vague, right? Because candidate experience is hard to define because people's attitude and behaviors are going to vary. Based on their own experience, as well as the interaction with our brand and with the people behind the brand. So the concept of candidate experience is the result of the work of people like Gerry Crispin, Elaine Oiler and other industry experts.

The candidate experience monograph was originally published in 2011 and offers an explanation of the candidate experience and it's important in recruiting. So this is their definition. It's the attitude and behaviors of individuals who aspire to work for a firm about the recruiting process. The stakeholders in the process, the work, and the company itself as a place to work.

So in other words, every interaction with your company, whether it'll be a reading a job posting, visiting the career site, talking to an employer or hiring manager, or the actual apply and interview process can positively or negatively impact the job seeker's perception of your company. Your candidates decide to join your organization or not, based on how well you treat them, and how well-informed they are throughout the process, and most importantly if they're treated just as pieces of paper or leaves versus human beings.

So every phase of the recruitment process – from attraction and sourcing to onboarding — is taken into consideration when we evaluate candidate experience. But what's really made the candidate experience more top of mind within the industry? And how do we really get here?

It's automation. Applicant tracking systems emerged to help companies manage high volume of resumes, and attract candidates to the hiring process. While they make the hiring process easier in many cases and they provide key metrics around recruiting success, with automation, it became an impersonal interaction. But, social media changed that. Social media changed seeker's expectations on how they interact with brands. It's how they purchase the product or how they learn more of how it's like to work for the company. So, with social there is much more visibility into a company than ever before.

A post about an interaction with a brand can reach hundreds and thousands of people through social media recruiting. Today, candidates have more choices, yet is harder for employers to differentiate themselves, and establish how their values, and their culture, and products, and people represent a unique opportunity for top candidates. So am employers are really starting to understand that, in order to attract talent the candidate's experience with the brand is critically important, and this applies to all sizes of organizations; whether you are hiring one person a year or thousands of people a year.

Whether you use an applicant tracking system, or you have an online lead form, or even just use email, it is part of the process and we have to acknowledge that, and it does impact candidate experience. But this is only a piece of the process, technology is one way we interact with seekers and applicants.

But it's really the people behind the technology that can truly impact a candidate's perceptions. So I like to think of it this way, we look at — as recruiters, and HR generalists and even small business owners – we have people coming in and applying for positions in our stores, our restaurants, and they're leaving behind their resume or they're leaving behind that application, but behind every resume is a human being. And behind whatever technology a company uses, is the people — the recruiters, the hiring managers, the office managers that make the candidate experience the human interaction and that human connection.

This is what we've lost a little bit with the automation, but job seekers have come to expect and they want to be treated with respect, acknowledging that their time is valuable that I took an interest in the company so respect the fact that I invested this time. 

What does this mean to you as a recruiter or as a HR generalist? Your role is actually very significant because you're on the front line of the candidate experience and you're the one delivering or not delivering on expectations that a candidate might have as they interact with you and your company brand. And it's your job to deliver on the experience your company wants your candidate to have as they interact with you and your brand.

And sometimes that's not defined, we'll talk about that and how you can actually start to evaluate and assess candidate experience for your organization. But because there is so much technology, and people are connected in new ways through mobile, and through social, and because technology often powers part of the process, we have to recognize that we need to find a balance between what we ask the candidate to do when applying for a job, or taking an online assessment, with that need for personal interaction with the people behind the brand.

Humanizing the Candidate Experience

Technology and automation — particularly in larger companies — is inevitable, right? But we must challenge ourselves to identify changes in the process that allow for better communication with candidates throughout the hiring process. And whether that's through technology, or ourselves, and managing that in owning the communication back to the candidates, particularly those that has made it into the interview process and beyond.

In smaller businesses, I get it, it's sometimes difficult to follow up with every candidate, but be aware of the tools and technology that are available to you to help you automate the parts of the process that make sense. So for example, on Monster, if you purchase a Monster job ad, you also receive free screening questionnaires that can help you identify the most qualified applicants. You can also set up auto-response letters so no candidate feels as if their resume has gone into the infamous black hole. Make the most of what you have and use the technology that is available to you.

What should a good candidate experience answer? We target quality candidates by segmenting their key prospects and welcome customized content. But it's really answering these questions, and it's going to be different for every candidate. But they really want to know, and this is part of the recruiting pitch:

  • Why would I want to work here?
  • What's the culture like?
  • How is it unique?
  • What's different about your organization versus what I'm doing now?
  • What's the commitment to work-life balance?
  • Who works here?

And then you as you move through the process: what does the application process look like? Is it long? Is it tedious? And then what happens after I complete the apply? How will I know if I've been selected to move on through the hiring process?

Reducing Candidate Drop Off

Let's also start to talk about candidate drop off. Candidate drop off can be anywhere from 60% to 90% depending on the process, so that's not unusual, and responding to applicants. That's also a common problem, so we'll get to — we'll just talk about each of those as we continue with this conversation.

So let's think about the process today. Every company has a different process for recruiting. And whatever your processes are, think about the experience from a candidate's perspective. So is it okay that the candidate experience– that we're asking candidates who invest 40 minutes in their first interaction with you? Think about some of the interactions that you might have as a recruiter and in your perception of candidates who don't complete the apply process. That they're not right for your organization.

Perhaps we don't speak to candidates unless they've been through the apply process. Or that the large majority of candidates who apply never hear back from the organization. Some of the people that view drop-off rates is a positive thing. I would question that and ask are you sure that you only want to interview the people that spent 40 minutes on the initial application process?

Because the likelihood is that the people that you really want to talk to are the ones that have dropped off because they can't be bothered with that cumbersome, long investment of time. So, the question really becomes how many candidates are we losing as a result of that current process? Or even lack of process is sometimes a problem.

So candidates remember, right? And everyone on this phone at some point, myself included – we've all applied for different jobs. And hopefully there have been some very good experiences. But it's likely that we all have a story about a bad experience or a bad interaction with the company. And think about that for a moment. How did it make you feel? Did you walk away feeling that the company showed you respect and appreciated your interest in the company?

Personally I remember going to an interview, and was not greeted very warmly by the receptionist. I was made to wait in the lobby, well past the scheduled interview time. And when I finally did meet with the hiring manager, they were distracted and didn't seem very invested in the interview. So it left me with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Just like us, candidates remember these experiences. And in a time when we have a labor shortage and increased competition, these interactions can have a large impact on our recruiting efforts. Think about it again that bad experience and how likely would you be to recommend a friend apply to that company.

From my own experience after I left that company and that poor interview I would never recommend any of my friends to apply to that organization just based on my own experience. The implications there can be pretty vast when you think about it. So why is it important? Again, when we think about the secret responses to our interactions with our company, they do impact our recruiting goals.

We've talked about drop off rate to the applied process, but have you taken any steps to reduce the candidate drop off? How many qualified applicants are we losing because of our apply process? So, if you eliminate some of these barriers, consider the possibility that you're going to get more qualified applications.

Focusing on the Post-Apply Process

And what about post-apply communication? What processes are in place to ensure candidates are kept informed of their status, especially the frontrunners? The people that you think stand a good chance of being offered an opportunity within the organization. Because again, recruiting is selling, and selling the job and the company. And if you're not communicating with your candidates, you're not selling them.

I recognize that there are barriers in the process; even a recruiter having a bad day can result in a candidate having a poor experience. Throughout the process, we need to be adding more value than we extract.

So, think about your company and your processes: does the number of candidates who have a positive interaction with your brand outweigh those who have a negative experience? We call this the positive-negative ratio.

If more seekers have a good experience outnumber the bad, then we feel like we have a pretty solid process. But is it really? Because how many people are we not interviewing because of a bad experience? And, how is this impacting our ability to reach our overall goals — whether it's hiring one person, 20 people, or 500 people.

On the flip side, if we strive for a helpful, thoughtful hiring process, your employees are likely to be a better fit to the organization because they understand the contributions to your organization, and have clear expectations about their role. A poor candidate experience can impact new hires in retention, because if what you're selling isn't authentic then those employees are going to be less engaged? This can lead to less productivity and higher employee turnover.

All of these factors negatively impact the bottom line, because if you want hiring the right people at the right time, then you're also having a ripple effect through the organization on your current staff and their job satisfaction.

Additionally, what about the cost of hiring people who don't fit within the organization whether it be a cultural fit or a skilled fit. Our goal here is to create a positive candidate experience which drives a greater quality of hire, and someone who stays engaged with the company after becoming an employee. 

This is where I was talking about the domino effect or the ripple effect through the organization because it definitely extends beyond just the ability to reach our recruiting goal — it also can impact your bottom line.

How Candidate Experience Impacts the Bottom Line

Research from the candidate experience awards goes back to the Talent Board and Gerry Crispin and Elaine Oiler. Every year they have the candidate experience awards where companies can nominate themselves to be benchmarked against candidate experience, their own view of what their candidate experience is, as well as having their applicants surveyed, and aligning that data to get real feedback on how good or how bad their process is. And through their research, it indicates that companies are likely to lose approximately nine percent of their candidates as customers.

This percentage – 9% — may not seem big in the overall scheme of things, but for some of the companies and the firms that actually participate in candidate experience – they're larger companies, right? So that nine percent is exceptionally large — as is its potential impact to the bottom line.

Conversely, when they treat candidates well, they have a more prominent impact on changing the customer status positively, meaning 23% were more inclined to buy from that organization. So there's definitely an impact — not only the implications of referring friends but on the consumer buying behavior within those organizations as well.

Taking it a step further, think of the larger impact on the organization. Whether you have one job position or 20, what's the cost of vacancy? How much employee productivity and revenue is lost when a position is open for 30, 60, 90 days or longer? What does that impact have in your current staff? Are they working overtime to maintain production or are they covering additional territories to generate revenue?

If so, does this potentially put them at risk if you can't hire quickly by exacerbating the issue? Let's take a look at a couple different scenarios and put this in some real life implications.

Hiring software engineers. I don't know if there's anyone in the call today that needs to hire software engineers, but from an IT perspective, it's very challenging to source software engineers today. My brother is a small business owner in San Diego; I'm going to use him as an example here. His company manufactures underwater cameras. His target audience from a consumer standpoint is professional videographers.

It's a very small business. He has about 12 employees; he has a constant need for manufacturing and product development and staying ahead of the competition and keeping in line with each of the new video cameras that companies like Nokia and Sony are releasing every year. He needs to hire two engineers. But he has a really tough time because no one knows who he is from an employment brand standpoint.

His company is well-recognized within his industry as having a very reputable product, but he's not known as an employer. And he's in San Diego, competing with bigger brands like Google, like eBay, for some of that same talent. So it increases his time to hire, and ultimately he's having a real issue with product development and getting products to market in time, often missing some deadlines.

For the people who are currently working for him, the employee morale can start to decline. And if he can't keep up with the competition because he's unable to get the right engineers in place, then the competition can leap forward, taking more of the market share within the industry.

So the way he addresses the candidate experience and attracts people to his organization is by selling them on a couple key points: one, that they are a small company; because of that, the engineers that he brings in are going to be exposed to a lot of different tasks and responsibilities. This allows them to really hone their skills as kind of a stomping ground, build their skills and learn things that can further develop and enhance their career.

He knows that some of the candidates that he hires are likely going to move on to some of the bigger companies but he's giving them that training, that background, that experience, to be able to make that leap. Playing on the fact that they are well-known within their industry, that they have access to those big brands like Nokia and Sony, from a product development standpoint.

There are other implications of this in the real world as well, right? These include the overall impact to an organization, especially for some smaller businesses. Say, for example, you have an office manager who quits without giving notice. Being a small business in a small community, you might not be well-known or you have a limited candidate pool. And then, compounding that – you have competitive pay, but you can't offer benefits.

So the result is that you've got a small candidate pool to choose from, and sometimes it can be difficult to find qualified candidates. And what happens is that as a business owner, you're pulling double duty, you're trying to manage business, and you're trying to do the back-end invoicing, billing.

Your stress level increases and perhaps the staff is getting frustrated as well, putting them at risk, and the outcome potentially could be that your bills aren't getting paid, or the shipments or products are delayed and ultimately the revenue suffers.

So, not having access to talent because you're not providing a good candidate experience through whatever media you're using to bring in applicants is really important, and extends beyond just the ability to reach recruiting goals.

The Social Media Factor

News travels fast through social media so we can't talk about candidate experience without mentioning social media because both good and bad experiences can and are shared socially on sites like Facebook or Twitter and to some degree Glassdoor. But good and bad experiences with a brand can travel easily on social media.

On the positive side, there have been numerous instances where companies have used Twitter to share information on relief efforts or their community outreach to various food banks to feed the hungry. Where they're either donating canned goods or the staff is actually working at the food bank. And from a consumer perspective, we see instances where a customer received great service and shared these experiences with their network. So sometimes this good experience is shared on your Facebook page or on your Twitter page. It could just be on the candidate's own personal page but it's seen by everyone on their network.

And we all know how social media works. That if you're on Twitter — re-Tweeting it, favoriting it – it starts to be seen by a broader audience. So tweets can be seen not only by the company's followers but the followers of the person who tweeted the comment.

On the negative side, unfortunately, this seems to be an instance where bad news can travel faster – it's just human nature. We've seen instances of complaints about customer service, flight delays, products that don't meet our expectations. I know personally I have used Tweeter to express some dissatisfaction with some products that I received and the manner in which they were shipped, multiple products shipped at different dates, and used social media as a way to get the company's attention and it was very effective.

That is something that was seen by the people who follow me and if they share a comment, just like I said, it can be seen by their network and it just goes on, and on, and on. So just like a tweet about that customer service might make a consumer rethink a purchase, it can also make a job seeker think twice about applying for a job.

A candidate is less likely to buy or use your goods or services as are the people in your network. Bad candidate experiences can ultimately impact your bottom lines in ways you might not anticipate.

Because candidate experience can be impacted at any stage of the process, it's important to review each step that you ask candidates to take. The hiring process is different for every company. Who does the hiring — or how many positions you fill annually. We have attraction and sourcing. We have the actual apply process assessment that the candidate might be asked to take, the interview process, the offer, and then on-boarding.

What some candidates might perceive as a positive experience, others will consider a negative experience. The interactions with your brand, your people and your technology is a personal experience for every individual. And while candidate experience isn't about pleasing everyone, it should tie back to the goals of your company and the people you need to hire. So it goes back to the idea of that positive-negative ratio that I mentioned earlier. Adding more values than we extract, and creating more positive experiences than negative.

And so as candidates move through the hiring process, the risk of them having a negative interaction increases. A qualified candidate actually may be willing to sit through a 40 minute apply process, but then decided to opt out after having to wait 30 minutes for an interview with the hiring manager. And seekers are often decision-makers when it comes to whether or not they work for your company.

We often think of recruiters and hiring managers as in control, but the reality is that the seekers can and do opt out at different stages of the process as well. So we need to evaluate each step of the process to make sure that we're not losing top talent. And while I wish that there was a magic formula or a boiler plate template to follow as it relates to candidate experience; it would make all of our lives a lot easier!

Unfortunately, there's not because, again, it is based on your goals as an organization and your target audience and it is a personal interaction for every individual. But you need to establish a protocol, implement it, and follow it, and ultimately do the best with what you have to deliver good candidate experience. So let's take a little bit closer look at each of these steps in the process, and how candidate experience can be impacted.

Candidate Experience through Attraction and Sourcing

When we're trying to find and identify talent for our organization, we use a lot of different tactics. You could use job ads. You may have the social media pages. You could use Power Resume Search; you may also have a career site. Whatever forms of media you're using as part of your campaign, large or small, you should create that positive first impression. So, again, aligning with the business goals and your target audience, develop content that is relevant to that community.

Military content, for example, isn't going to apply to every company, but it doesn't mean if I'm a military veteran that I still can't find value in the information you provided. I might be interested in your company after reading about your IT department, learning more about your benefits package. So I'm able to extract value even though there wasn't any content geared specifically towards military.

By showcasing different departments and your employees — the people that work for you– can also improve the candidate experience, because who else to better tell your story than the people who work for you. Help potential candidates understand the value each department plays in the success of the organization — give them transparency into the environment in which they're going to be working and who they're going to be working with. Most often this is the type of information they're looking for.

If you're a small company and don't have a robust career site, remember that these same ideas can be adapted to an external job ad because that's exactly what a job ad is. When you post a job ad on Monster, it is an advertisement, it's not your internal job description, it's an advertisement. So you want to target the right audience and make sure that you're including your company's value proposition and differentiate yourself.

So, again, it's making the best of what you have and if you don't have a career site, develop a consistent selling pitch  — an EVP — Employer Value Proposition that you communicate in job ads, even if you're talking to candidates out of the resume database, in a cold call, when recruiting one on one, or whenever you pick up the phone, smiling and dialing.

Companies with a Great Candidate Experience

Here are a few examples of companies that — and these are larger organizations admittedly – but they are all winners of the candidate experience awards, to give you an idea of how different companies use their business goals to communicate content to potential candidates.

ADP highlights their employees from different departments and then they break it down and give people the opportunity to be able to search as well as join their talent community. So there may not be an opportunity for that person at the present time, but they can connect with them socially, or join their talent community to learn of future opportunities.

But who is ADP? Why work at ADP? So here's all the training and development benefits information. In working at ADP, they do have a veterans and military initiative. It's laid out in a very clean, easy to read format.

Case Mate uses video which, if you're hiring a younger workforce, video is a great tool to use to engage candidates. So they use this in the operation sales and e-commerce.

They talk about the benefits and perks, they give candidates the ability to sign up for job alerts. And then there's also some navigation at the top about their openings and why Case Mate. The ability to connect socially is important to job seekers, as well as awards and accolades that the company has won. This helps them know that the company is well recognized as an employer of choice.

Capital One has a lot of different needs as a large organization. But they've done a good job of communicating that in a way where the candidate can easily find the information that's most relevant to them through the job search, through the quick links as well as video. So they have multiple videos actually integrated into their career site.

And then lastly, I'm just going to show you Home Depot, primarily because as we all think of them as retail companies and I spend a lot of time at Home Depot. We're doing some remodeling in our house and working on the lawn, so whether I'm getting garden supplies or paint or who knows what, I then think of them as retail. But they also have the supply chain, the call center for their e-com, their merchandising and then corporate positions.

And the other thing I think is great is they do have a strong military initiative. They hire a lot of veterans coming out of the military and they use Monster's military skills translator, making it very easy for the veterans to enter in their MOC code and then each MOC code has skills associated with it. It's what they did in the military, and it's able to then scan the open positions at the Home Depot, and return the jobs for which they are the best fit. That's a pretty sleek application for those of you who are doing some military hiring.

Refining the Apply Process

With the apply process, the key is to eliminate barriers, and whether or not you are using an applicant tracking system, you might use Monster's standard apply process, which gives you access to our screening questionnaires. Scrutinize it, eliminate steps, remove questions (if you are asking screening questions) but make sure to ask between 3 to 5 questions. Really identify the must-haves of the candidate. Most importantly, if you are asking for any personal information, such as the driver's license or security number, be clear as to why you are asking for it.

Early on in the in the application process, job seekers are going to be skeptical about leaving that type of information. So if it is required, make sure that the job seeker understands why. Concerning language, if you're hiring bilingual, make it available in that other language, and set expectations as to how long the process will take, and what next steps are. That's important. And think about implementing Apply with Monster, which allows the candidate to upload their Monster resume, streamlining the apply process.

And assessment. There's a number of different assessments that companies require, and some of them take place pre-interview — some of them are post-interview. We're talking about background checks, credit checks, drug screening, skills and aptitude testing. Whatever assessments you require of your candidates, just be upfront about it, and set expectations that this is what they're going to be asked to do throughout the hiring process.

I would encourage you to evaluate the different screening and assessments – and where they take place in the process — because if you require too many assessments early on, candidates can kind of start to move from a low risk, into high risk, into opting out. And the goal is to keep the top candidates where they perceive a positive interaction with the brand.

Evaluating the Interview Process

The interview process is important; it's often viewed as a corporate process, but we need to consider the fact that the interview is also an opportunity for the candidate to evaluate the company. The candidate interview is a tool for both the employer and the job seeker. So as the recruiters, as hiring managers, as HR generalists, we're often the ones questioning the candidates skills and experience to do the job. But from a candidate perspective, they're trying to determine whether or not they like us, whether they like the hiring manager, whether or not they like the work environment, or whether or not it's a place they can grow professionally.

As recruiters, we need to realize this interactive conversation is just as important to the job seeker as it is to us. We need to think about how we made them feel when they walk away from the interview, or you and everyone else the candidate interacted with. Were they welcoming? Were they kept waiting in the lobby or did you actually take them on a tour of the office or the facility?

After the interview, make sure that you're closing loop, even if the candidate is not selected. This is getting into those negative perceptions that can go viral socially, that can impact the bottom line and result in less referral. So, "the fat black hole" syndrome extends beyond the apply process, but through the interview process as well; not providing that feedback and closing the loop with candidates is perceived as a negative. And if a candidate declines an offer, for whatever reason, do everything you can to preserve that candidate's experience with your brand as a positive one.

Making the Offer and Beyond

You've found the perfect candidate — it's time to make them a job offer. So candidate experience doesn't end here. This is where the communication can be most important, because if you say you're going to extend an offer, and you have trouble working with HR to get the package put together, and a week or two goes by, that candidate could opt out. So keep the lines of communication open between the time the offer is accepted and the start date. And make them feel like they made the right choice.

Send a package once the offer is accepted, so work with HR to make sure that we've got all of our ducks in a row, and include a note from someone on the team (their hiring manager or a team lead) welcoming them to the organization. If possible, include a handwritten note from the CEO. What a great way to make someone feel special. Take them to lunch on their first day, either with the hiring manager or with the team, if possible, but wyoue really want them to feel that they made the right choice.

Then onboarding. This is a shift, because now we're moving from candidate experience to the hiring process, and setting the stage for the employee experience. We want to make sure that the hiring manager is engaged, that we have established goals and a timeline for the new hire. You want to create a schedule of touch points between the employee, you, the recruiter, HR and sometimes even the executive team. They're going to be hopefully meeting more frequently with the hiring manager; have a 30-day touch point as a recruiter or as an HR generalist and go back and see how things are going.

Then, at 90 days, have someone from the executive team reach out to see how the candidate is doing — again, the idea is that we're keeping them engaged with the organization and taking that feedback and incorporating it into our candidate experience.

And then we need to generate impact beyond the candidate experience. I often get asked, "Well, isn't it just the recruiters and the hiring managers that are responsible for candidate experience?" And the answer is no, we're all responsible for impacting the candidate experience. It's really a lot more complicated than just assuming it's the people who interact on the front end of this.

In the candidate experience, surveys conducted by the talent board (both recruiters and hiring managers) can influence the candidate experience, but also the people they interact with. They're also going to be looking on sites like Facebook and Twitter to see who they have in their network and who they're connected with. So current and former employees can also influence and impact their perception of the company.

Candidates who are interested in the culture of your firm and how they align to the success of the firm are increasingly researching companies to see how they fit within the company culture. And it's also a desire to make sure there's a personal fit in the skills set. This applies both for us as employers and as a candidate.

From a candidate experience stand point, it's also making sure that our recruiting leaders, and even the VP of recruiting, understands the importance and the impact on the bottom line — and whether we are able to evaluate and assess our process. How do we measure this? With external surveys. Talking to people who have gone through your recruitment process and declined offers; inquire about their experience and why they declined the offer.

There's also internal surveys. Ask recent hires what they liked or didn't like about the process and how they feel like it could be improved upon. Assess the feedback from candidates from your career site, including email response to those who answer the question, "How can we improve our site?" or, "How can we improve your experience?" And then, even exit interviews, because that is a way to perhaps find out that we weren't really authentic in explaining the job. As a result, some of our employees are leaving sooner than we would have anticipated.

Your Next Step

So what's your next step? Put on that job seeker hat and go to one of your jobs, and go to your career site, and interact with your company through the eyes of the job seeker. That's the first step. Secondly, create a list of things that bother you about your hiring process from start to end. And then step three is start implementing changes to improve candidate experience. These can be small changes. They can be things that you decide individually, you're going to take. Make more effort to respond to applicants. Or make a promise to yourself — "I'm going to set up time in my calendar to communicate with people who have made it through a certain phase of the hiring process." Or "I am going to look into automated letters to be able to make sure that every candidate gets a response."

It's making the best of what you have, and if you're an individual contributor, it could just be some small steps that improve the candidate experience. Hopefully, it's talking to your co-workers, fellow recruiters, fellow HR generalists, and even your managers, to have a larger conversation around the candidate experience, and how you can take a closer inspection. At the end of the day, ask yourself, "Can I afford not to?"

Every company is going to be different in how you hire and the number of people that you hire. But if you want to ensure a positive candidate experience that results in more qualified applicants, better hires, and candidates that have a positive perception of your company, it's a question you have to ask yourself. The reality is it may require an investment in people, technology and social media — but the costs often outweigh the benefits in terms of successfully finding qualified talent.

At Monster, we are a partner sponsor of the candidate experience awards. We challenge ourselves every day to ensure seekers who come to Monster have a good candidate experience, whatever apply process they are using, that there is interaction with our search and the job seeker content we have on our site. We also work with individual companies to help them understand our candidate experience from the front end from a seeker's perspective. There are also consulting services – we also have a number of different products and services such as TalentCRM to improve the candidate experience, candidate relationship management, launch self-managed campaigns to interact with candidates — as well as career site hosting. From a social perspective we have Twitter Cards that allow you to engage with your followers on the Twitter platform.

Thank you Amy for that informative webinar on Improving the Candidates Experience. Have a great day.