Creating a Consistent Candidate Experience

You’ve no doubt heard that you should “create a consistent candidate experience.” But what does that mean, exactly? And why is it important?

At the basic level, creating a consistent candidate experience means providing all job applicants with the same information and therefore the same opportunities. From a legal standpoint, this helps prevent discrimination.
There are other reasons to aim for consistency. Doing so increases the likelihood that you are accurately comparing candidates, and will therefore make informed hiring decisions. A consistent candidate experience also ensures that your company is always presented in the same way, thereby reinforcing and promoting your employer brand.
Although the phrase “create a consistent candidate experience” is frequently associated with talent acquisition practices at large companies, it is an area on which all hiring companies should focus.
It begins at the first points of contact, and carries through until an offer is made or the candidate is notified that he or she did not get the job.

Focal Points

Job ads. Among the details to include in job postings are information about your company, the work environment, and the organizational culture. Ads should also include an overview of benefits. For the most part, all job postings should contain the same information, although it may be organized differently. Job postings should also include details about the position, as well as the criteria for consideration. This is the “meat” of a job ad. Regardless of whether it is presented as text, photos, video or all of the above, the basics should be covered in a consistent manner.
Careers site. Job postings often link to a careers site or careers page, where more information is available. Here too the candidate experience should be consistent. Large companies sometimes have one site for experienced candidates and another for recent college grads, but within those sites the candidate experience should be uniform. Job candidates should leave a site with knowledge of the company and its culture, and an understanding of the company’s recruiting and hiring process. This means that your company’s careers site or page has to include more than job postings and links to online applications.
Response time and reply process. In order to create a consistent candidate experience, a company has to provide information regarding response time and its reply process—and then adhere to it. For example, “You will receive acknowledgement of your application by the end of the next business day” and “All candidates will receive an update as to their application status within two weeks.”
Application process. Consistency with regard to the application process itself also matters. For example, if an advertising position requires that a candidate submit a portfolio, the application process should facilitate submission of the portfolio and not allow the application to be submitted without it.
Screening processes. Whether you use an automated or manual process to screen applications or resumes, it is essential that you apply the same criteria to all applicants. The same is true with regard to pre-employment testing, background checks, and reference checking.
Interview process. Asking the same or similar questions of all candidates who interview for a job will likewise help ensure consistency. Granted, each candidate has a different story to share and therefore follow-up questions will be different. However, if you develop an outline and a standard list of relevant questions, you will have the building blocks of a consistent interview experience. Additionally, when possible, interview each candidate for a given job in the same environment.
Notification. Ideally, you have already let applicants know when they can expect to hear back from you. It’s important that you pay close attention to the actual correspondence, whether it’s a notice of rejection or a job offer. If it’s a rejection letter, make sure you respect the candidate and the time he or she has invested in the process. If, after earlier communication, you are sending a job offer, make sure it honors the candidate and the process. You also want to provide next steps, so that the new hire can transition smoothly from the candidate experience to the employee experience.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.

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