Viewpoint - Candidate Experience: How Do We Get It Right? And Have We Moved Past the Universal Discourse?

By Nikhil Joseph
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​A few years ago, candidate experience emerged as a trending topic for recruiters. It reached a point where organizations hiring large volumes commissioned entire teams to focus on and ameliorate the journey of a candidate. For many others candidate experience has just been a conversation to be had intermittently, sidelined by more pressing priorities. With an increasing focus on hiring metrics such as application drop off rates, offer to join ratios and social engagement scores, how do we make the conversation on the subject more actionable?

DO YOU HAVE THE EAR TO THE GROUND?

One of the biggest mistakes of a candidate experience program is a unilateral approach. Several surveys suggest that there is a disconnect as to how the candidate and the recruiter view a good candidate experience. While the candidate is talking to a person, the recruiter is dealing with an ID. For us at Infosys, the mantra is for our recruiters to align and realign to the candidate's perspective. Ensuring that they view transactions as if they were at the receiving end of that treatment. We socialize and champion candidate appreciations as much as those from business. All with the fundamental intent of ensuring that our recruiters don't get numbed by volumes.

According to Kelly Services

95% of the candidates are more likely to reapply if
they had a great candidate experience

97% of candidates who had a positive experience
 

THE CANDIDATE IS MORE AGILE THAN THE RECRUITER

The Infosys recruitment team has many stories on how we have lost out on candidates over the years. Our process is world class and is structured to deal with volumes effectively. However, it has a weakness - by the time our recruiter completes the internal process of multiple approvals, executing due diligence and managing multiple stakeholders, the candidate would have picked up offers from other suitors. He or she may have picked up the offer because of a more lucrative offer monetarily or because they were swept off their feet by a bespoke treatment, where they felt valued and cared for. Either ways our recruiter has lost a candidate, having to start the hunt from scratch again. This can happen despite the candidate having reached a mature point in our process.

Now imagine the plight of those candidates who are orbiting in the application stage. Responses are hard to come by for such a candidate and repeated efforts to reach someone at best elicit automated replies. What is their recourse? Complain a little in their network at best? Write a rotten review on glassdoor maybe? One way or the other, your employer brand has taken a beating.

To give you an example, in late 2017 we had a fledgling practice at Infosys which reached out to us to hire people with one of the hottest skills in the market. Of the many that we hired, one particular instance is pertinent to the experience conversation. We had interviewed and shortlisted a candidate who was holding an offer from a well-known start up. This offer was 60% higher than the maximum that we could have offered him. We were mindful of this. The hiring manager and the recruiter had multiple calls with the candidate, explaining the role, the career path and opportunities. We were at his beck and call. Answering his queries, assuaging his concerns. He joined us eventually despite a substantially lower compensation offer. Now, we don't know what the other firm didn't get right or wrong, but we know what we did. 

THE CANDIDATE MICRO EXPERIENCE

A picture containing meterDescription automatically generatedWe often look at the topic as an overall entity. However, it is also a summation of micro experiences. Recruitment is a process, consisting of multiple stages such a sourcing, screening etc. Each touchpoint is an experience. Satisfaction levels of the candidate with the overall experience would be a function of how he or she was treated at every stage. Ask yourself this question - Do you have irate and disgruntled candidates despite rolling out an offer for them? Or, are you getting glowing reviews even from those candidates who are declined at some point in your process?

You can wow a candidate with one awesome experience and the odds are your process will not help you with that. It is the recruiter who has to roll up their sleeves and focus on giving the candidates a triumphant experience through diligent communication - through a conversation, a mail or a timely response. The actual process that the candidate goes through should be timely, transparent, empathetic and personalized. It isn’t that hard. 

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IS YOUR RECRUITMENT INFRASTRUCTURE TAILORED TO ENHANCE THE EXPERIENCE?

  • Do you think about the ease with which a candidate can navigate your careers page?
  • Is your recruiter enabled to build a relationship with candidates?
  • Do you focus on creating impressive recruitment content?
  • Do you take time to invest in and review the pool of panelists who interview the talent pool?

60% of candidates quit in the middle of the application
process given how cumbersome it is - SHRM

62% of candidates consider career sites as best channel for
hunting new job opportunities - Jibe

ALIGN TEAMS, PROPAGATE THE PHILOSOPHY

Being courteous isn't the toughest thing to do. Respecting another person's time isn't either. Be gracious and stay human, empower candidates to succeed in your process. Be honest. Be flexible. Be accessible. Communicate frequently.

These are cornerstones of a candidate experience strategy. Your teams and recruiters must be aligned to these.

  • Streamline your application process
  • Calm the candidate, make him or her look forward to the process
  • Provide better clarity to all stakeholders on the process, such as a crisp JD
  • Improve your recruitment marketing, careers sites, ATS and other touchpoints for the candidate
  • Improve your pool of interviewers, limiting bad hires
  • Help you move from talent pipelines to talent relationships

FEEDBACK IS A 2-WAY STREET

LinkedIn data suggests that 94% of your candidates want to give you feedback and receive feedback. Especially the ones who didn't get hired? He or she will walk away from the conversation feeling that you care about their career. He or she will definitely socialize the experience as well.

Getting your candidate to join isn't the end of the process. A smooth and caring onboarding experience is extremely important to make new hires productive quickly and reduce early attrition. The pandemic has presented new challenges to all of us. For us at Infosys, this was particularly acute given that we had a pipeline of thousands of offers when the lockdown measures were announced in India. The need of the hour was for us to assuage the concerns of the talent pipeline who felt they were caught out in no man's land. While business reasons did compel us to delay some of the joining dates, we were prompt in assuring each and every one of our candidates that their offers would be honored.  A lot of these candidates were between jobs and were worried about their finances if they couldn't join soon. We had to move our entire onboarding infrastructure online overnight and started executing it virtually. No matter where the individual might be in India, irrespective of their base location. We even shipped out laptops to some of these new employees if they didn't have the necessary infrastructure to execute their jobs. The obvious business benefit of their onboarding notwithstanding, we have as a result managed to garner tremendous goodwill in the talent market. There have been multiple testimonials on social media by these employees about their virtual onboarding experience, doing wonders to our employer brand.

 

 Nikhil JosephNikhil Joseph is a Practice Lead at Infosys and is based out of Bangalore. He currently leads the India hiring for enterprise application services, global consulting and strategic technology groups at Infosys. He is passionate about building and managing high performance teams. 



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