Learning & Development, Recruiting

Why the Candidate Experience Still Matters in an Evolving Job Market

As the world continues reopening and the effects of pandemic relief begin to fade with respect to expanded unemployment and direct payments, companies’ hiring efforts will need to scale quickly. In this competitive environment, companies offering an efficient, engaging candidate experience will be in the best position to onboard talent to meet the needs of the market.

job interview

Hiring managers who place candidate experience at the forefront of their recruitment and hiring strategies will be in the best position to not only bring on the best talent, but also build their brands in the process. What’s more, the hiring experience can also serve as a consumer touchpoint that can aid in brand building as well as customer acquisition and retention efforts.

Leveraging new technologies in AI and automation can transform the hiring experience at scale, placing candidates in the driver’s seat of their own hiring while simultaneously freeing up HR teams to focus on higher-level tasks.

A Focus on the Candidate Experience

One often-discussed topic in the HR world is employer brand. When we set out to add members to our team, the interaction those prospective employees have with the brand mattersnot only when it comes to bringing in the best talent, but also how they speak about the brand to other candidates and customers. Seventy-two percent of candidates will tell others about a bad experience with your brand in the hiring process, and 60% will be less likely to buy from you as a result of a bad hiring experience. The amount of potential revenue loss due to these contextual hiring factors can take its toll on an organization.

Focusing on the candidate experience can have long-term effects in brand building, so how do you ensure a positive experience?

One of the main ways to build your employer brand is by keeping candidates in the loop. When candidates get strung along or aren’t informed that they didn’t get the job, it reflects poorly on your brand. By letting candidates know exactly where they stand, whether it’s a simple delay in the process or something more impactful like they didn’t get the position, they’ll respect your transparency.

Further, offering feedback to candidates within the application process can turn potentially negative interactions into positive, proactive touchpoints. One way organizations are accomplishing this is by providing feedback that is generated through automated tools and based on objective sources of data, like assessments. Not everyone is going to get every job, so making an effort to soften the blow helps preserve your employer brand even in an uncomfortable situation.

Creating a streamlined candidate experience that puts the applicant in charge is also crucial to building your employer brand. AI and automation can be key assets in this process, taking some of the more administrative tasks off of your team’s plate, freeing them up for more high-level tasks.

Leveraging AI and Automation in Recruitment and Hiring

To understand the role of AI and automation in recruitment and hiring, it’s first important to recognize what humans and machines each excel at in their own rights.

For high-volume positions, sorting through thousands of applications is too much for a team of recruiters to do with the degree of detail required to find the best candidates. Too often, good candidates are left on the bottom of the pile simply because that’s where their applications wound up. Leveraging automation means leveraging one aspect of the recruitment process that machines do well: analyzing high volumes of complex data.

For example, in a traditional hiring experience, candidates submit their application and receive an automated email from an applicant tracking system (ATS) saying that their application was received. Candidates are often left in the dark to the rest of the assessment process from that point until a recruiter contacts them to schedule an interview.

In an advanced automation scenario, you can dramatically cut time to hire when that same application is received and reviewed by automation tools. If it fulfills the criteria the recruiting team has set, candidates will receive a follow-up email that prompts them to take an assessment. The assessment is graded, again based on parameters the hiring team has set, and qualified candidates are moved along to a video interview. The video interview can be done asynchronously without the need for human interaction, which lets the candidates tell their own story.

This whole initial vetting process can be performed quickly because it doesn’t require the recruiting team’s input. And, the candidate is kept in the loop at every stage of the evaluation via automated responses that guide them through the process.

Because the process is candidate-driven, they choose when to take assessments and when they want to conduct the interview, which provides a level of convenience the traditional hiring process lacks. While this process may seem like a lot of onus to place on candidates who may not wind up getting a position, by automating personal, individualized feedback based on their assessments, they’re getting something out of the process. Additionally, this candidate-led hiring experience offers candidates more information about the company throughout the process, which enables them to assess whether it’s the right fit for them.

Once these initial steps are complete, hiring teams are put to work in the arenas where humans excel: connecting with people and understanding how they fit within teams and broader company culture. The role of automation has taken the more menial tasks off of the hiring team, thus providing visibility to all candidates and leaving the hiring team to focus on the top and bottom of the funnel, nurturing relationships with candidates, and conducting the key interviews that close the deal.

AI is also a key component of this process, because as more and more candidates are brought through the system, the hiring and recruitment process becomes a more powerful predictive and decision engine for labor market analysis, bias detection, personalized candidate experiences, or whatever application best serves your business. AI is also not a hands-off endeavor; it’s only as good as the teams executing it. With recruiting teams working to tailor systems, it can help remove bias and optimize for the best hiring outcomes.

In short, advancements in AI and automation are helping close the gap between the experience recruiters want to provide and what’s previously been available on the market.

2019 research showed that 60% of an enterprise’s activities can be automated, yet most hiring teams don’t come anywhere close to that capacity in the hiring and recruitment process. By leveraging new innovations in AI and automation, companies can find the best candidates at scale and center them in the process to create a truly unique and personal candidate experience that builds an employer brand.

Greg Moran, President and CEO of Outmatch, has more than 20 years of human capital management, sales, and leadership experience. He is also the author of Building the Talent Edge: A Field Manager’s Guide to Recruiting the Best (Spring 2005) and Hire, Fire, and The Walking Dead (June 2006, W Business Books). Previously, Greg served as Founder and VP of Sales for PeopleAnswers America, Founder and President of Pinnacle Technology Solutions, and Vice President of Best Resume/Career Management Services.