A great candidate experience is a must throughout the hiring process. But when embarking on the interview stage, it must be remembered that candidates will be forming an opinion about your organisation and how they will fit in.
To attract the right candidates, especially in a candidate driven market, you’ll need to be focusing on candidate experience.
In fact, whether the candidate is right for the job or not, their experience of your company may still prove crucial. A negative experience as a candidate could potentially impact on your organisation at a later date. And, you never know, the candidate may be right for another position at a later date.
A great candidate experience is also important to who you do end up hiring. You will want them to be engaged with your organisation from the word ‘go’ with a positive image of how your organisation works and how it values its employees.
With this in mind, I’ve put together six points that I think every employer should consider when looking to improve candidate experience during the interview process:
1. Fully understand your objectives
Understanding your objectives is a priority right at the beginning of the recruitment process. However, before you start interviewing revisit your objectives and make sure you’re clear on:
- What skill set you’re looking for
- What soft skills are right for your business
- The business need behind why you’re hiring
- The responsibilities involved in the role you’re hiring for
Look back at the job description and remind yourself why you’ve requested specific skills and experience.
As a result, the interview will have direction and the candidate will feel confident in your recruitment process. They will see your interviewing technique as well thought out and prepared, which can only reflect positively on your organisation.
2. Be open, honest and don’t try any tricks
Employers who try to ‘catch out’ the candidate will always be starting off on the wrong foot. By being clear about what you’re looking for and by ensuring the candidate has all necessary information, you’ll see a huge difference in how comfortable interviewing will be – and the candidate will feel the same.
Let the candidate know when and where the interview will be (provide directions and a number to call if required). Be honest about the format of the interview – including who will be present. Candidates will then have the opportunity to conduct effective research, whilst also calming their nerves about the upcoming interview.
By being clear and honest you will also be encouraging shy candidates to come out of their shell. They will see that you’re providing them with the best possible opportunity to succeed and hopefully feel empowered as a result.
3. Understand your employer brand
Before stepping foot in an interview understand your employer brand so you can covey it effectively to the candidate. Think about the core elements of your employer brand that will impact on this hire.
As a result you’ll be able to put across a clear and confident image of your employer brand – how it values employees, it’s approach to development and growth, how it encourages personal development etc. These factors will be all important in helping the candidate understand your organisation a little more, making their interview experience all the more insightful and engaging.
4. Have a conversation
Have a two-way conversation with each candidate during the interview, which may mean stepping away from the regimented interview plan.
By having a flexible approach to the interview, the candidate will have the opportunity to direct the interview to a degree – allowing them to talk about their career and what matters to them. As a result, you’ll be able to pick up on elements of your organisation that fit well with them, and feed them back during the interview.
The interview will feel tailored to the candidate, helping them to feel valued.
Also, by giving the candidate a little leeway to discuss different topics, you will have the opportunity to understand their thought processes and what they see as a priority: Two important factors that might determine their suitability.
5. Know each candidate
Do your research on each candidate. By showing a real interest in their previous experience and skills you’ll make the interviewee feel like a valued candidate.
Don’t simply glance over their CV, instead dig a little deeper and look for:
- What they achieved in each role
- When they left particular roles
- Which skills come up repeatedly
See if you can gauge what kind of environments they have worked in and check their LinkedIn profile for further information such as endorsements, listed skills and qualifications or volunteer work.
If you’ve worked with a recruitment agency during the hiring process, speak to them about what they know about the candidate – they’ll have met the candidate and be able to feed you a little more information.
6. Always ask the last question
Finally, when wrapping up the interview be clear about what the next steps are and when the candidate can expect to find out if they’ve been successful. And don’t forget to ask the last question: Is there anything else you would like to tell us, which you haven’t had the chance to yet?
By asking this question you’ll be leaving the interviewee with a chance to put in their last ‘pitch’ for the job. They will leave the interview feeling confident about their efforts and pleased that they had the opportunity to say everything they wanted to – a great lasting impression to have.
And beyond the interview?
Make sure you follow-up on the interview, either with your recruitment agency or the candidate. Always contact unsuccessful candidates and offer to provide feedback on why they didn’t get the job – this can mean a lot to candidates, especially if they’re soon to be embarking on another interview.
Again, be honest with candidates. There’s no value in feedback such as ‘it just wasn’t right at this time’ – be constructive and helpful, and always thank them for their time and effort.
Finally, go back to point two with your successful candidate too. Give them as much information as possible so they understand what their first few days will entail and how the process will work – be clear about any probation period, for example, and what their induction will involve. Your new hire will feel confident walking in on their first day, with a great impression of how your organisation works – albeit with a few first day nerves of course!