The Candidate's Experience: Is it just Smoke and Mirrors?

I'm planning to be at RecruitFest in Boston on the day before it opens (I'm taking Amtrak up from NJ). So, Wednesday night (perhaps at a wine bar) and, again Thursday during the day I'll be looking for a lively discussion on the pros and cons of the Candidate Experience. I might bring a poster like the one above. Then again, maybe not.

Why should we care about this phenomenon anyway? No one ever cared about candidates during the 'Olden' days' when the hiring process ran at the speed of the US Mail (Oh, and is the process that much faster now that we operate in 'real' time?). Or, did they?

If the candidate experience were relevant wouldn't there be a 'standard' definition for what it looks like? There isn't.

Wouldn't employers be increasing their investment in a better experience so they could see a marked difference in who showed up at the door, how candidates make their choices and how long they stayed while performing at ever higher levels rather than asking recruiters to increase their req load? They don't.

Wouldn't third party recruiters actually sell their ability to add value to the candidate's experience as a differentiator rather than selling the rather common and outmoded skill of simply finding a breathing candidate? They don't.

Wouldn't hiring managers set a priority on making sure each and every candidate is treated in a way to guarantee their interest now, later and even later than that?

Wouldn't recruiting leaders measure deeply the experience of the candidates and the correlate that to the performance bonus of the recruiter so that they are measured on what is really important? Nah.

And, of course, there are the candidates themselves. Should they care enough about what they've gone through during the various 'touch points' they've had with the employer (whether actively search or dug out through sourcing) that they consider it an indicator of what is to come and opt out in increasing numbers. I'm kidding of course, most (active) candidates either want the job and the harder it is to get the more they appreciate their success or, their idea of an improved experience(passive) is wrapped up in 'what's in it for me'.

Do you think the fellow below will opt out or will he...

...jump, and if he does jump through the hoops, does his candidate's experience really matter?


Views: 1507

Comment by Jim Damico on September 10, 2010 at 11:39am
In many cases I think the concept begs more to be considered customer experience.
The issue revolves around the old restaurant maxim that if a customer has a good experience they'll tell 1 other person, a bad experience they'll tell 11 others. At a previous employer, we received over 100K unique applicants a year, and we knew that statistically between 3K and 5K were current customers. By improving the candidate experience, we were able to engage with 95,000 potential customers. By establishing this as our foundation, it became the mantra to treat all candidates like our best customers. I'm certain this helped us create new customer, but the metric I looked at (I'm a total metrics geek and measure everything) was our source category - Candidates Referred by Rejected Applicants. Prior to instituting this new way of thinking it was less than 3 candidates a year. Within a year it was 5-6 a week.
Comment by Gerry Crispin on September 10, 2010 at 6:17pm
'Candidates referred by rejected candidates' Love it. Thanks for these comments. A great measure of doing something right... although the stakeholder who is the 'customer' is the hiring manager not the candidate as far as I'm concerned. Still....

So if you were treating a candidate like your best customer I've got a few questions.

-Would you offer the same Warrenty for the job as you do the product?Within a couple weeks Zappos pays new hires to leave if their expectations when they were hired were not met?

-If your products are labeled with prices, Can I assume all your jobs list the salary range? Wells Fargo has begun to do that.

What exactly does treating a candidate like your best customer really mean? If you don't have the job they came prepared to compete for will you help them find it and get it at a competitive firm? Believe it or not Northrup Grumman does exacatly that with severely disabled job seekers.
Comment by Keith Robinson on September 11, 2010 at 4:05pm
Hi Gerry and Jerry,

Hope I find you well and whilst I hugely value your views, knowledge and opinions about this industry on this one you are so wrong.

I've been talking about the candidate experience for 10 years and it;s based on a simple fact " candidates have opinions, they understand good and bad behaviour, they then share them".

I did a survey some years ago amongst 8,000 job seekers and 54% had had a bad experience. As a result of a bad experience in the recruitment process, people are less likely to:

- accept a job at that company - 76%

- Recommend that company to a friend -82%

- Buy that company's product or service - 6$%

This was a professional survey.

Another survey by the RPO firm the Capital Consulting Group highlighted the following;

- 53% of job seekers will not purchase products and services if they have been badly treated

- 31% of people tell between three and five people about their bad experience, and 24% of people tell more than six people. A very vocal 10% tell more than ten others, and 1% will go as far as venting their spleen on the Internet by blogging about their bad experience.

So what are the issues that upset the jobseeker:

- One in two (53%) people were aggrieved that no reason was given for not being offered the job.

- 51%of people said the lack of feedback following an interview was their main irritation.

- Almost half (49%) of all job seekers find the lack of acknowledgment of their application the most annoying part of the recruitment process

- 34% say they are asked irrelevant or stupid questions at interview

- 30% are asked to do irrelevant tests

- 26% of job seekers don’t like dealing with third parties and recruitment agencies – men (30%) dislike this more than women (20%)

- 32% of people say they are sent details for jobs that do not meet their skills or salary expectations.

Now I understand that for most 3rd party recruiters it is the fee which is king BUT if I'm running a P&L and thought that treating my "consumers badly when they were trying to consume a career with my company cost me $$ I'd take notice".

A jobseeker is a consumer and a consumer is a potential employee - that is a reality.

Keith Robinson
Comment by Gerry Crispin on September 11, 2010 at 9:52pm
Love ya Keith. First off I've been speaking about the candidate experience since 1995 (that's15 years) including a couple stints in London and Manchester so you need to know that my tongue is firmly in my cheek on this one.

Secondly, I've read your stuff (and everyone else) and most of the folks whining over their experience don't actually follow through. Silly survey talk.

So what if 49% complain of a lack of acknowledgement.
Ever hear of a firm going out of business because they couldn't hire people because they failed to thank the ones who did apply?

Our CareerXroads study this year had the highest acknowledgment rate (85%) among the 100 best companies in America since we began doing applying under assumed names a decade ago. Still, that means 15% of the 'best' failed to acknowledge us. I've no doubt half of the firms still fail to acknowledge anyone who applies...let alone offer status etc.

Do they really stop buying product? (Despite what they or you might say I'll bet a real study would show they are right back into it.)

When do you think the issue will be important enough to actually see what folks do rather than list all the silly things they 'don't like' -stupid questions and all.
Comment by Keith Robinson on September 12, 2010 at 2:59am
Whew I did wory that you had "changed sides" and a confession it was your inspiration and work in this area that got me to pick up, along with Alan Whitford the baton over here.

I too have a level of cynicism about what job seekers say and then do and am sure that their is a lot of rhetoric and hotair..... but for those of us who beleive that a candidate should expect a certain level of treatment and respect these surveys, writings etc help build a case to take to companies and show that sometimes getting even the basic right can make a difference.

I was rally impressed with your results this year and also agree with your comments about the 15% of the best and acknoledgements.

Re your final paragraph.... I'd like to say that when the economy picks up and we move towards full employment BUT Gerry I don't think it will ever really change "human nature is to complain but do nothing" although in watching the moive Milk it is often about leadership.... but we are only talking about "recruitment"
Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 13, 2010 at 8:40am
If you have a good management team you can make it a good exp for the candidate if not it is 50 50...
Comment by Paul Alfred on September 13, 2010 at 10:56am
Wooo I have to agree with Jerry ... This is an Employer's Market place and its going to be for the next 5- 10 years ... The candidate experience unless you are applying to Google cmon folks ... I want to see a) the Candidate is qualified for the job my Client's been killing themselves for 3 months to find a guy/gal for ... b) The candidate presents well and backs up what he/her has on paper c) Serious about the next move counters covered they are closed etc... I present and I have his/her back up if there is a personality culture fit clash with my client.... The candidate experience is derived here ... In the end "Id love to work for the company but I was missing x,y,z ingredient ..btw I have a colleague who is perfect for the role ..." My typical outcome inside a 2:1 Submission to placement ratio .... Client response: "Paul great guy/gal liked him/her but they are missing x,y,z or can you get a reference to cover x,y,z .... or "Can we see your backup ..."

That really is the game folks ....
Comment by Jerry Albright on September 13, 2010 at 11:45am
OK. So half the candidates are frustrated in lack of feedback. I get that. But to think they then go on some sort of "Candidate Experience" crusade to spread the word is ridiculous. And just what word are they spreading? That they didn't get the job and don't know why.

Welcome to the real world. It's just the way it is. "We found a better fit" or "we just didn't feel you were the right fit at this time" is the feedback nearly every candidate but ONE gets during the interview process.

Is this a real life scenario? ----

Pete "I interviewed at XYZ two weeks ago and don't know what's going on..."

Larry "Man. What a lousy company. I'll never apply there."

Sally "Same thing happened to me at ABC - but that was 4 weeks ago."

Larry "That's just ridiculous. I'll never apply there either."

"And I heard the PDQ company does a psyche test after their 2nd interviews - so I'm never applying there."

Sally "Right on Pete!"

Larry "Heck - I can beat that. I applied for a job with their sister company - though it was a long shot since I don't have a BS degree - but they didn't even send me a nice letter letting me know they got my resume. I'm never shopping there ever again."

Sally "Amen! I'm just sick of every employer in town. I've heard of negative candidate experiences nearly everywhere. I wish a new company would move to town so I could get a job."

Pete "Right on Sally! I'm with you!"

Keep dreaming gents......
Comment by Pete Radloff on September 13, 2010 at 11:47am
I agree with the "Reality" of Jerry's arguments. But, just as when we see a bad candidate and someone asks us about them, (assuming we have a solid rapport with the asker) don't we let them know it's a candidate to stay away from?

We're never going to get a streamlined, serene "candidate experience", but it should be the mission statement of any Recruiting (HR?) team as one of their core values. And, in the end, you can't worry about what company X is doing, but only what you are doing at your own company.
Comment by Paul Alfred on September 13, 2010 at 11:58am
Core Values is to provide a great candidate experience forgive me Pete, we don't work for Disney World ... Look in the end all a Recruiter can provide is common courtesy to the Candidate... Was he or her professionally treated throughout the process ... I don't see it getting any more simpler than that regardless as to whether or not the candidate is hired.


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