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Companies often believe candidate experience begins and ends with the job application on your website. It definitely does include the job app, but there’s so much more to the hiring experience that deserves close attention.

To create an overall amazing hiring experience, you first have to define its wider boundaries. The experience starts when people become aware that your organization exists; in other words, it’s your brand. It’s how you show up in the world, what you say on relevant current events, and how you portray life at your company through pictures, videos, words, and anywhere your brand is present online. The next touchpoint is when candidates apply for a job and hear (or don’t hear) from you with an enthusiastic, transparent and timely follow-up. Then hopefully they get an interview, then an offer and they accept.

But it doesn’t stop there. The candidate experience extends beyond accepting their role to the first day on the job, and even through their onboarding period. There are easily dozens of touchpoints in the candidate experience, whether organizations realize them or not. That means dozens of opportunities to impress or fall short of expectations in the eyes of the people who are going to help you achieve your business goals. A negative or inconsistent candidate experience can damage your brand’s reputation and your ability to hire and retain the right people you need.

Here’s some much-needed guidance on how to think about and shape candidate experiences to make them as meaningful and beneficial as possible, both for candidates and for everyone involved in the hiring process in the company.

You no longer directly control your reputation

The days when companies controlled what information was released about them are long gone. Today, in the time it takes to eat a ham sandwich, a person can get a full data dump about your company from Glassdoor and corroborate that information with other social media and connections on LinkedIn.

Mathematically, most applicants and candidates for your jobs will never get an offer from you. However, many won’t hesitate to describe the experience, no matter how far they got in it, on Glassdoor and on very public social media channels. And these channels will help inform the decision of the next star candidate that you so badly want and need to hire.

You’re no longer in control—at least not in the same way as 10 or 15 years ago. The only way you can be in control of your employer brand now is to think about the hiring experience and make it so good at every step that perfect strangers will interview with you and write you glowing reviews, even if they don’t get the job.

What are you posting?

Many organizations do not make a clear distinction between three documents:

  • A job description is the internal document which outlines the responsibilities, requirements, expectations, pay and so forth;
  • A job post lists the open role on an organization’s website, with enough information and enticement to appeal to talented people so they decide to submit their information; and
  • A job ad is a placement on an external site like Indeed or ZipRecruiter, meant to get people to click through and apply.

Don’t post your job description. It’s usually paragraph after paragraph of dense, bullet-point language and meaningless jargon. Instead, create job posts and ads that are customized and tailored for specific audiences that actually aim to attract great talent and give a real feel for what taking on this role entails.

What are you mapping?

Have you mapped every impression and interaction of your candidate experience? If not, you should. Mapping all your interactions with prospects during the hiring process will help you understand where you can improve and how you can stand out from competitors. A few areas to consider:

  • Emails that go from your organization to applicants
  • Which employees are contacting an applicant and coordinating an interview
  • Creating useful materials to provide candidates before they interview (from employee profile blogs to brand videos to company milestone timelines)
  • Understanding how to correctly pronounce a candidate’s name
  • For in-person interviews – who will greet the candidate; where will the interview happen; is the candidate left alone in a room; is a beverage offered
  • During any interview, regardless of stage – is there an agenda; does the candidate get a chance to ask questions; will someone share what next steps with the candidate without being asked
  • After the interview – how do you provide updates on timing and follow-up interviews; how do you inform candidates you won’t be progressing with them.

Have you asked how you’re doing?

While mapping out every interaction will help give you think about the candidate’s experience from their perspective, you won’t actually know how well you’ve executed unless you ask them.

Sure you should monitor Glassdoor, but it’s often the case that only a small (yet loud) percentage of all candidates will leave a review. Forward-thinking companies gather useful information through candidate surveys in addition to monitoring Glassdoor and other similar sites. We’ve found that around 20 percent of the surveys get filled out — giving us more data than what we’d gain with Glassdoor. These surveys should go to both candidates who received an offer and those who didn’t get the job.

Having a consistent flow of feedback and information will help you continuously refine and improve your hiring process.

Onboarding

Many companies think of new hire onboarding as the logistics of getting people a desk and a computer, with a side of paperwork to sign and documentation to complete. While that’s partly true, a new hire’s onboarding experience should include a whole lot more.

Onboarding should be about how a candidate becomes part of the community as an employee. It should include opportunities and information to help them learn the real culture and philosophy of the company. During the interview phase, we may have established that a candidate will be able to do a particular job. During the onboarding phase, we show that person how to do that job, and how to begin to navigate the company teams, processes, and culture.

You have the ability to transform onboarding from a boring bureaucratic function into a customized experience that will blow away new hires and compel them to want to tell everyone about how you gave them the red-carpet treatment.

Add to that the efforts you make to improve the hiring experience in general, and not only are you likely to have increased the Employee Lifetime Value of this person, but you may well have your newest, enthusiastic referral source.

Take ownership of the hiring experience

By owning every moment of your hiring experience – from job post to onboarding – you are making the process easier and more productive for both candidates and your organization.

The experience of applying for a job shapes how candidates form their impressions of your brand. Unless you’re a company like Google or Facebook, and maybe even then, most people don’t know what it’s like to work for you. If your hiring team is disorganized or unprofessional, that’s how the candidate will perceive your entire company.

By taking ownership of the process to ensure a candidate has a good experience, you can improve your ‘talent brand’ and make it easier to hire great candidates who are excited to work with you.

By Jon Stross, Co-Founder and President of Greenhouse Software, and Co-Author of TALENT MAKERS: How the Best Organizations Win Through Structured and Inclusive Hiring.

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Sally Fletcher
Sally Fletcher

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Sally Fletcher
December 12, 2023

I would highly recommend agilis recruitment to anyone looking for work. I was contacted a few weeks ago by Chris, who matched the skills I have to an opportunity I was unable to refuse. He was professional and knowledgeable, but also friendly and down to earth. With quick response times, he was able to answer every question I had about the role whilst selling my skills and personality to the company before I had even met them. The input form Chris throughout the process, not only made everything easier but also it took the pressure off massively. I am very grateful. Thank you.

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December 11, 2023

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December 2, 2023

It was great to work with Chris at Agilis to find my new role. He was always on hand to guide me through the process and make sure I was fully briefed prior to each interview. I would happily use Chris to find me a job... although I'm very happy where I am now! M-W Kelly

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May 15, 2023

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March 29, 2023

Chris at Agilis was professional throughout the entire process and was always available to discuss any concerns. He also made sure to only flag roles that I would have a genuine interest in. Thanks again Chris!

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March 1, 2023

Chris Ellsworth was my recruiter and I was greatly impressed with the level of his assistance throughout the process from start to finish. He provided me with job role applications that were personalised to me based on what I told him I was looking for. If there was any confusion, I was always able to contact him throughout the whole process and ask for clarification which he would then, always happily give. Chris genuinely made me feel that he wanted me to get the role as much as I did and helped me with every step on the way.

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May 24, 2022

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Had a great experience with Agilis Recruitment. Ed helped me find the perfect role for me in a great business. He also was very professional, cooperative but most importantly, understood what was important to me and listened to what I was looking for. Thank you Ed!

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Arthur Guide
February 25, 2022

Amazing experience with Agilis, a professional company. I have no words to thank Edward. He found a great role for me.

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February 5, 2021

I had a great experience with Ed and Agilis. It was great to have a recruiter who understands exactly what his clients are looking for in a candidate. 5 stars!

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February 2, 2021

Ed was great, found me a job which was the perfect fit and supported me along the way, solid agency

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May 27, 2020

Laura is a lovely individual and easily the best recruiter I have ever worked with: proactive without being pushy, professional without lacking sincerity, and most importantly, she genuinely cares about her clients. She was incredibly conscientious in understanding my background and aspirations, and matched me with a role I WAS really excited about. I knew I was in good hands from our very first conversation – and I am happy to say I am a month into my new job and loving it!

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April 21, 2020

I worked with Ed when securing my role. It was a massive step in the direction I wanted to move my career in and Ed was pivotal in making that happen. I liked that right from the start he was not pushy, he listened to what I had to say and feedback and he kept in regular contact without bombarding me, using the most suitable form of messaging whether it be LinkedIn, Email or a Phone Call. I would highly recommend Ed and the guys at Agilis - keep up the great work guys!

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March 30, 2020

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March 23, 2020

Have found Agilis recruiting fantastic. Cannot rate them highly enough! Give them a go for all recruitment needs!

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March 20, 2020

Laura and Ed at Agilis helped me get placed last year, and Laura was exceptionally accommodating and patient, calling me outside of hours when it was convenient for me and keeping me in the loop about everything that was going on. I'm happy with my role and feel like the guys at Agilis really put time and effort into their work -- thank you!

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March 20, 2020

My experience with Agilis has been great. I found Laura to be incredible helpful and always ensured she remained in contact with me throughout my job search. Thankfully I managed to find a new job through Agilis and the company has turned out to be everything that they told me the it would be! 5 Stars from me!!

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March 19, 2020

Great experience with Agilis. Following relocating to Bristol I’d found myself having conversations with a couple members of the team. I’d expressed how important it was for me to find the right role but also due to circumstance I needed the process to be accelerated as much as possible. Laura was my main point of contact and managed to find me the best role I’ve ever had in what must be record time. I couldn’t rate their work higher and will definitely be my first point of contact when looking for new opportunities. Thanks again!

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March 19, 2020