Advice for Employers and Recruiters

5 tips from the Dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University for employers who wish to improve their candidate experience

Photo by Jonathan Heisler, Hofstra University Photographer
Dr. Janet Lenaghan
August 23, 2022

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. According to Forbes, “42% of candidates will not apply for a position at a company if they’ve had a bad experience during the hiring process.” A positive candidate experience can help attract the best talent to your organization, boost retention rates, and facilitate a strong company culture.

College Recruiter recently asked experts for tips for employers who wish to create a positive candidate experience.

Here are some tips from Dr. Janet Lenaghan, Dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University

1. Nurture your employment brand

The candidate experience begins before an application is initiated. Your employment brand is a key driver of your success in the labor market.  Understand your reputation as an employer and develop a marketing strategy to improve your visibility.  

2. Celebrate and market your Employee Value Proposition

Communicate your organizational culture by paying special attention to the critical elements that lead to the employee experience and retention. Use all forms of media to communicate. For example, using video to provide a realistic preview of what it is like to be a team member in your organization is very helpful for applicants to assess whether they would succeed in your environment. It is expensive to recruit talent so helping applicants deselect early in the process not only reduces costs it provides a more positive candidate experience. Another example is posting testimonials of current employees and alumni about their positive experiences working in your organization. Including alums may seem counter to the mission of building an employment brand through the employee value proposition but with the increased mobility of talent and the redefining of the employment contract, it is not only accepted that great people leave great organizations – it is expected.  By including them as part of your brand messaging, it communicates a strong culture that values people and the choices they make. 

3. Treat a non-hire as well as you do a hire and a former employee as well as a current employee

These talent pools are a rich source for future needs. While you may find a candidate does not best match your current need, they may in the future – leaving them with a positive feeling about the process and therefore by extension the company, increases the likelihood they stay engaged with your brand.  The same holds true for former employees – reframing the relationship with former employees to consider them as alumni – offering alumni networking events, newsletters, etc.- can help maintain connection and garner positive feelings about the company increasing the likelihood of reemployment and strong referrals.  Remember the exit process is important to maintaining a strong employment brand. Take as much care in structuring the deboarding of good employees as you do onboarding new candidates. People tend to suffer from recency bias – placing more weight on what happens last therefore take care to ensure the last interaction is a positive experience. Despite losing a good employee you can be gaining a strong spokesperson. 

4. Set up selection processes to “screen in” rather than “screen out”

Traditionally, employers viewed the selection process as one with hurdles erected to narrow down the pool until the successful candidate emerges. Reframing the process to be inclusive – searching instead for ways to include candidates placing value on organizational competencies needed for success and recognizing that job-specific skills can be trained – will expand the talent pool and lead to more successful hires. To do this, talent acquisition needs to reimagine the selection process to provide opportunities for candidates to demonstrate their strengths rather than uncover weaknesses.  For example, in the United States, reportedly 85% of college graduates identifying on the autism spectrum are unemployed.  Tools like virtual interviews may reject applicants based on old models of selection leading to a high number of false negatives erroneously excluding potential great hires.  Thinking more broadly about the selection process and reducing pain points that generate negative applicant reactions – will expand talent pools and enhanced candidate experiences as the process will be perceived more positively. 

5. Conduct an honest assessment of the candidate experience

Much like a secret shopper in retail – view the process through the lens of a candidate and grade the experience. Look to answer questions such as :  

  • Does the process seem fair and transparent?  
  • Is each step and its purpose clearly communicated?
  • Are we using technology appropriately?
  • Is it adding to the diversity of our candidate pool or detracting from it?
  • Does it supplement our human connection to the candidate or replace it?
  • How are we communicating at each step?
  • Is the feedback timely?
  • What is the message we are conveying?
  • Can we say it more positively?
  • Do we take affirmative steps to ensure the process is open and inclusive?
  • Does the process further strengthen our employment brand or weaken it?  

Honest answers to these types of questions and others will afford the organization a better understanding of how candidates perceive the process and yield a framework on which to build a more positive candidate experience. 

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