Candidate Resentment Can Impact the Bottom Line

By Roy Maurer Apr 28, 2015
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Gerry Crispin, SPHR, co-founder of CareerXroads, told SHRM 2015 Talent Management Conference & Exposition attendees about the dangers of treating job applicants poorly.

SAN DIEGO—When Gerry Crispin, SPHR, co-founder of CareerXroads, asked attendees at his April 28, 2015, morning session on recruiting practices if anyone had a world-class candidate experience to brag about, no one raised their hand.

Data increasingly shows that “how we treat candidates is a compelling business requirement,” Crispin responded, at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 Talent Management Conference & Exposition.

There is a cost to candidate resentment, he asserted. Crispin defined candidates as anyone who has expressed any interest or affinity with your company. Most people who apply for a job will not get the job, but the questions are: Will they try again, will they refer others to apply and what will they say about their experience with the company?

“Candidates have an expectation of how they should be treated,” Crispin said. “Today, we can measure the impacts of turning down people poorly [as] opposed to turning people down well. If that has an impact on your business and bottom line, perhaps you have a case for thinking about taking that information and investing in a recruiting process so that more people are positive—even though they were turned down—in what has been provided for them.”

If you can get candidates, whether you hire them or not, to spread positive word about the company and refer others to apply, you are going to change the game on how recruiting is done, he said.

Case Studies

Crispin presented several case studies for “companies winning the war on this candidate issue.” The candidates who get turned down at these companies still love the company, he said.

NBC Universal handles candidates’ questions by hosting regularly scheduled chat rooms. NBC brings hiring managers and recruiters into the online chats to answer questions about the company. Recruiters at companies that do this are empowered to openly and honestly answer every question that is asked, Crispin said.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory makes promises about the experience candidates will have in advance. The lab pledges to applicants that when applying to Pacific Northwest, candidates will encounter a user-friendly online system to search for jobs and will receive clear job announcements, quick and informed responses to questions about the hiring process, a prompt e-mail acknowledgement that the application has been received, and a timely decision-making process.

“Only a couple of companies in the United States set expectations like this,” Crispin said.

According to Crispin, Capital One is “the most extraordinary company in the U.S. right now in terms of measuring candidate experience, and receives the highest rating among the hundreds of companies we’ve measured in candidate experience.”

The financial services company launched the most comprehensive metrics effort on the issue to date in 2012. Every person who applies is asked a series of questions about their treatment. About 10,000 people are queried a month, with 50-80 percent response rates. The ratings are sliced and diced by location, level, function and recruiter. And recruiters are stack-ranked based on weekly analytics.

Companies are using a variety of creative methods and technology tools to better engage with their candidates and set expectations for the hiring process or the actual job, according to Crispin. Accenture developed a customizable interview app, Genentech requires all candidates go through interview training prior to the interview, MetLife built a virtual simulation for a day on the job, and Hyatt introduces candidates to employees during the interview process.

Deloitte and Intel have surveyed their own candidates to gauge candidate experience. As a result, they began to change their careers sites to offer information that candidates want, Crispin said.

Best Practices

There are commonalities among companies that score high in candidate experience, Crispin said. They all do four things well—seek feedback and take action on it, practice transparency, give off at least the perception of a fair chance at being hired, and hold people accountable.

Companies can ask questions of people who spend some time on their careers site, and at all stages of the hiring process. “It must happen for those applicants you do hire,” Crispin said. Only 15 percent of companies ask new employees about their candidate experience during the onboarding process, he said. “You need to know what candidates are thinking. You may lose someone that you would’ve hired next.”

The key question above all others to ask is: “Based on the experience you had, would you refer someone else to apply?”

Setting expectations in a transparent way is another best practice. To benchmark where you are on this issue, you could ask candidates, “Was there anything you wished you knew about this job before you applied, interviewed or took the job?” Companies that make the effort to provide information that allows potential candidates to make a better decision about applying in the first place are rated higher in candidate experience.

Crispin advised making salary transparent in job notices. “Almost every company in America drives people to Glassdoor. We culturally have trouble with this. This is just not an issue in other countries and we need to think about this.”

The perception that a candidate gets a fair chance in the hiring process is another important point. Crispin recommended adding a question at the end of the application asking, “How satisfied were you with the ability to present your skills, knowledge and experience during the application process?”

“Think about it: We are so obsessed with what we want, that we don’t stop to ask them what they were prepared to tell us,” he said.

Finally, Crispin stressed the importance of accountability. To some degree, more accountability means higher candidate experience ratings, he said. HR needs to know how candidate experience and recruiter performance align in the organization.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy

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