College Recruiter recently asked experts for tips for employers who wish to improve their candidate experience. The candidate experience contains all of the touch points between a candidate and an employer during the hiring stage, from the job search to the onboarding process.
Here are some tips from Krystina Irvin, Director of Experiential Learning, and Karen Ivy, Director of Career Services at the Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Employers should take the time to set candidates up for success before the first interview begins with clear expectations. Especially for candidates who are first generation college students–and in many cases, first-generation candidates in the white-collar workforce. Realize that interview screenings may be different from their previous experiences or different from those of family members. Let them know your expectations upfront. Help them understand that they should dress appropriately for in-person or video screenings, and in all cases should limit distractions during the interview. Let them know that they should plan to arrive early or (if arranging a virtual interview) that they should prepare to log on early. Of course, if they are college students, you can also remind them to connect with their university career center for a practice interview or even access to professional clothing.
Gently remind college candidates not to “ghost” – and be sure that your company doesn’t do it, either. At the end of the interview, be clear on anticipated timelines as well as expectations for responsiveness. Even if a candidate has already moved on to another opportunity, they don’t want to develop a reputation in the industry as someone who mysteriously “bails” on the hiring process. You can help them understand this without coming across as heavy-handed. Of course, companies need to do the same as well, and you should follow through on commitments to inform candidates in a timely manner when they’ve been invited to advance in the process, but also to let them know when you cut them loose if they are not selected, once that’s been decided.
Explain industry jargon that is specific to the job, as well as that which describes certain employment benefits, and don’t assume emerging talent knows the lingo. Making the transition from being a student in academia to being a professional in the workforce can have its language barriers for recent graduates. Employers would do well to review interview questions and communications in advance to ensure that any company lingo is translated into something that is accessible to a job candidate. In addition to differences of understanding based on generational experience with the workforce, it’s important to consider cultural differences as well.
Speaking of cultural differences, ensure your interviewing committee has a representation of multiple diverse populations, if possible. Having diverse representation on hiring panels and openly asking your review team for feedback about the language of questions and other communication throughout the process will help prevent you from inadvertently setting up certain candidates from diverse backgrounds to fail.
In addition to these tips, it is always a good idea to put the focus back on the candidate and their goals to help ensure a positive candidate experience. Of course, employers want to find a candidate that can help advance organizational priorities and specific tasks. But employees, especially Gen Z, want to know what continuous learning opportunities and growth they can find with a position or company. Be sure to ask questions about their goals and interests, and how the position they are interviewing for can help them grow, but also how they can make a unique contribution.