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Improving the Candidate Experience to Recruit the Best Talent

Improving the candidate experience - by Priority Appointments, BasingstokeBarbara Law shows how thinking about how you handle people applying for jobs at your organisation can have a significant impact on the quality of staff you attract.

The UK recruitment market continues to thrive. The employer survey by REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), published in March 2015 revealed the following:

  • 79 per cent of employers plan to take on permanent staff within the next three months
  • In the medium term (4-12 months), 77 per cent are planning to recruit
  • 95% would ‘have to take on new staff’ or ‘might take on new staff’ to increase business.

It is encouraging news for the economy as a whole. The only proverbial fly in the recruitment ointment, however, is the growing concern over the shortage of skills and appropriate talent. During the months of December 2014 to February 2015, employers identified technical and logistics skills as shortage areas; one in five employers (19%) identified technical and engineering and 15% identified driving and distribution.

Head of REC, Kevin Green, emphasises the importance of a positive candidate experience in attracting high achievers ahead of your competition but what does that mean exactly – and is it really that important?

To put it into some perspective, the Candidate Experience Awards, sponsored by the Talent Board, reported that only 39% of candidates enjoyed a positive experience when looking for a job. Typically, a poor candidate experience manifests itself in a lack of response to job applications and no follow-up after an interview. Often this is symptomatic of employers who quite simply aren’t trained in hiring skills.

Today’s applicants are more discerning and also more vocal; interviewees use social media and feedback sites to share interview experiences, whether positive or poor. If your company is failing to secure the best quality candidates for its vacancies or you are finding that your preferred applicants disappear from the hiring process, the following tips will help:-

Imagine applying for your own job vacancies: Stand in the shoes of the type of high-quality candidates you are looking to attract and think about exactly what impression candidates are receiving from you. A few simple changes could have a significant effect.

Make it personal: For candidates attending interview, follow up is always essential, either via a telephone call or a personal e-mail or letter and this is something that a recruitment consultancy can help with. This is particularly important for unsuccessful candidates who may be wondering just what went wrong.

Keep in touch: Professionals with in-demand skills will have a range of options available to them and won’t tolerate a poor experience during the hiring process. They don’t need to. Nor will they hang around if they don’t hear from you. State your application deadlines clearly and ensure all candidates are aware of the next steps after interview. As the adage goes, ‘time kills deals’, and this is especially true of recruitment.

Offer constructive feedback: Providing post-interview feedback is beneficial in a number of ways. An unsuccessful candidate will gain a greater understanding of the skills they lack and which aspects of their interviewing technique require attention for future success. As an employer, you will benefit from candidate referrals and positive feedback in your treatment of applicants.

Ask for feedback: Feedback works two ways of course. When was the last time you requested feedback on your hiring processes? Do you know how interviewees are greeted when they arrive at reception? How often do you check your body language during an interview? Do potential employees leave your office feeling invigorated or demotivated? Once you have that information, be prepared to act on it. A few simple changes, will transform your recruitment process and help you to attract the skills your organisation needs.

Of course, it is not always feasible for pressured HR managers or business owners to revamp their hiring strategy. A thorough overhaul of recruitment techniques takes time, planning and investment. A specialist recruitment consultancy can, however, help to resolve these issues.
Outsourcing your recruitment needs to a specialist staffing partner will bring the following benefits:-

  • A recruiter who understands your industry will already be creating relationships and engaging with the candidates you seek on a daily basis.
  • An experienced recruitment consultant can quickly tap into an existing talent pool to source the skills you need the most, whether on a temporary, fixed contract or permanent basis.
  • Interviewing is a skill. Specialist recruiters use that skill every day. They understand the questions to ask and how to get the best from professionals seeking their next career move or their next temporary project. The most effective understand your industry niche too.
  • An experienced recruiter will also provide you with advice on how to transform the candidate experience within your own organisation.

So, does the candidate experience really matter?  The short answer is, ‘yes’. As skills shortages continue to dominate the technical and engineering sectors in particular, the impact of a positive candidate experience will be instrumental in boosting your ability to attract the talent you need in order to meet those vital business goals.

How to

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