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: 1505

Comment by Steve Levy on September 13, 2010 at 1:17pm
Imagine if Gerry hadn't been married in that little chapel in a hospital 39 or so years ago to a lovely woman named Diane...imagine if instead that this charming, influential business man finally decided to meet the woman of his dreams and recruiting conferences simply weren't providing enough fodder for this fellow...imagine instead that Gerry placed his profile up on ("Jerry Garcia look-a-like, globetrotting and influential, great sense of humor seeks jocular woman to build recruiting strategies together").

With all the competition out there for women like this, are you sure that candidate experience doesn't matter?
Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 13, 2010 at 1:24pm
This is right up there with, "I have a lousy boss, i am going to quit and everybody in my department is going to leave too, they said they would." So John quits expecting to have all his buddies walk out too.

They don't.

People bitch when they don't get a job. How many times have you called a candidate who interviewed for one job with a company to let them know that the company wants to speak with them about another position only to have them say, "Oh no, i had such a bad experience when i interviewed before i don't want to interview for another position."

I have never had a candidate turn down a second opportunity to interview for another job unless they had found a new position and were happy with it.

The candidate experience in my opinion, is to get yourself there, interview as well as possible and hope like hell you get an offer if you want the job. If a company wants someone, the experience is always good. If they don't it's going to be a bad experience in the eyes of the candidate. And how many times do we hear, "I really liked the company, if something else comes up with them please call me".

I agree with Jerry and Paul. In the real world it's not Disney. It boils down to who signs the front of the check and who signs the back not who pours tea and serves cookies to candidates they don't want to hire. Candidates are setting a land speed record applying for jobs they don't come close to fitting then talking about how they were "perfect" for the job and bitching about the company. Does it matter? In my experience, not much. Never has and never will no matter what the market is from what i have seen.
Comment by Gerry Crispin on September 13, 2010 at 5:12pm
Steve, assume you are now looking at the candidate as date rather than customer but not going further as you just know too much. I'll buy you a latte at Starbucks next time in town and we can hash out how a recruiter is like bigamist.

In any case. Love the comments. Great food for thought. The candidate experience as means to an end is not a universally accepted notion beyond providing a common 'professional' courtesy ( what ever that means). I wonder if there is any basic 'courtesies' you require of or are prepared to promise All candidate, some candidates, no candidate?
Comment by Karen Franklin on September 13, 2010 at 5:16pm
What about the candidate who becomes an employee? Doesn't their hiring experience reflect the real culture of the company? And doesn't that culture dictate how interested parties, inside or outside the company, are to be treated? I agree with the notion that how a rejected candidate feels about the hiring process or what h/she does with those feelings is ultimately of little consequence. However, if the goal of every hiring company is to bring on board the best employees who exit the starting gate with a strong sense of partnership and company loyalty, then it's in their best interest to treat all candidates using the simple principle of the golden rule. And if you don't know what that is, ask any 1st grader.
Comment by Paul Alfred on September 13, 2010 at 8:18pm
Yes Karen ... But that is an end result ... a) If the Candidate gets hired ... b) If the candidate does not get hired ... We still need to assume he/her was treated fairly through the life cycle of the process. To Gerry's point all we can hope for is that the Recruiter and the players in the process of Recruitment extend common " basic courtesies" it should be a given, not a promise for those of us who rely on our reputations in the market place... We can't control a candidate's emotion about the process in the end ... A good Recruiter should be able to call that candidate rejected or hired 3,6, 12 months down the road ...
Comment by Bill Ward on September 15, 2010 at 3:51pm
As long as I treat my candidates with respect and give them the opportunity to present their background so I can make an unbiased decision in terms of their candidacy along with honest...sometimes brutal feedback...that's all I owe them. In most cases, that's all an experienced, solid executive wants and expects. They don't need some recruiter blowing smoke up their a$$ telling them how great they are. The only people that get emotional about interviews are people that are in financial crisis or therapy.

Candidates are hoping that companies will respond in real time with a defined process that is geared towards making a decision quickly and without excessive formality. Sounds easy, but not many have got it right so far.


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