12 experts share their best candidate experience methods

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Expert interview

According to IBM Analytics, nearly half (48 percent) of job candidates have some manner of a relationship with the potential employer before they even apply. This means one thing – taking the time to build strong candidate experience methods is worth it if you want to attract the best talent.

To help you make the most of your customer experience strategy in 2020, we’ve reached out to HR professionals and company owners and asked for their tips. The result is a list of best practices to guide your way in the upcoming years, with remote work becoming more prevalent than ever.

What is candidate experience?

To put it simply, candidate experience is the overall impression a candidate has about a potential employer. Factors that influence the candidate experience include interactions with the brand during a job search, the company’s website, and social media content, as well as application, interviewing, and onboarding processes.

Why is a positive candidate experience important?

Positive candidate experience has a direct impact on brand advocacy. The better the candidate experience, the more willing the candidates are to recommend the company in the future. While those who had a negative experience are 35% more likely to talk about it on social media, which then adversely impacts company’s future recruitment efforts and hurts their brand image.

What’s more, positive candidate experience also translates into greater job acceptance. Finding the right candidate is a costly and time consuming process – recruiters have to go through job postings, interviews, assessments, and background checks. If after all this effort the applicant rejects the job offer due to a poor recruitment experience, not only do the the hiring costs go up significantly but the business loses valuable talent.

It’s crucial to note that providing a positive candidate experience goes beyond recruitment – it can potentially impact sales. Think about it this way, candidates can become customers, and we’re more willing to buy from brands that we had a positive experience with, right? According to Software Advice, 71% of job applicants are more likely to buy from companies that provided them with a positive candidate experience during the recruitment process.

Source: Software Advice

12 positive candidate experience best practices

We have asked 12 business experts to tell us how to create a great candidate experience in 2020 and beyond. Here is what they said.

#1 Attracting more talent by distributing job posts in the form of Facebook Ads

Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding

Run FB ads for job posts ✨: This may sound odd, but we believe in making the candidate application process fun. For example, our jobs page includes a Madlib style entry for the candidates name, which then adds it to some of the headers and body text. The application itself includes typing tests and screen shots; something more than a traditional text based application.

For sourcing remote work, you need to be mindful of who will see your job post. Usually, you would post to NYC or Chicago or whatever your relevant region is. Remotely, your best candidates could be nearly anywhere in the world, which means you need to find a way to reach them. Large job platforms can help with multi-city listings, and I also recommend running ads for some roles. For example, with Facebook or Twitter ads you may be able to reach people that fit your hiring criteria, regardless of where they are.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-alexis/

#2 – Attracting hires through WFH perks (mental health package, home office furniture) & work sample coding tests

Neal Taparia, CEO of Solitaired

We are now looking for employees globally. It doesn’t make sense for us to hire locally in the NYC area anymore. Now, we are building a team with remote work in mind. With that said, our recruiter needs to be very cautious about time zones of candidates and making sure this is defined with the hiring manager. She also has to quickly judge English-speaking skills.

We offer mental health benefits and also subsidize home office furniture to ensure productivity. Not many companies have done this yet, so this is our way to stand out. We make sure we sell this.

We ask final round candidates to work on a project, simulating how they would actually work with us. This has become very important because we need to understand how effectively they communicate and work remotely. We’ll look for people who aren’t afraid to ask for questions and keep communication clear and succinct. We recently hired a developer who loved this, because it also gave him a positive experience on what it would be like to work with our team. In fact, I think this was the driving factor for him to accept our offer.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nealtaparia/

#3 – Attending virtual events to network with other recruiters and prospective hires

Jessica Salter, People Operations at Best Response Media

Positive candidate experience is all about communication. The candidate experience starts when a job ad is posted and finishes the first day on the job. Writing detailed job descriptions will ensure you are attracting the right types of candidates. Respectively, replying to each application, successful or not, will give candidates an overall positive experience of your company.

Most sourcing activities do not take place face to face, so recruiters are in a good position when it comes to remote working trends. Due to high global unemployment rates, many high-quality candidates are looking for jobs right now. Chances are, these candidates are fishing for employment in the same pools as recruiters are sourcing from. It’s also a tight market for recruitment agencies, so it’s essential that you stand out from the crowd and really engage with your target industry. Get involved in discussions and attend virtual events. Many events are now free and are

even offering networking opportunities where you can connect directly with attendees and speakers.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-salter-assoc-cipd-certrp-2118878/,

#4 – Finding innovative ways of breaking bread with new hires remotely

Chase Tinkham, Technology Staffing Partner at Vaco, Inc.

Getting to know candidates face-to-face has been a best practice of Vaco since inception. We feel it allows us to truly understand our candidate’s needs for their next step and builds a deeper, personal connection. Sometimes – this means meeting them for lunch, coffee, or otherwise outside of work instead of the standard face-to-face interview.

While virtual interviews will be here to stay and the rules shift almost daily for what is OK via Government and CDC Guidelines – it can be challenging to build that same deep connection through breaking bread together physically. As such, we’ve been shifting our focus to still set up these types of interactions virtually by sending along gift cards to order something for delivery prior to the meeting. While not always applicable – both candidates and clients alike appreciate this approach to build deeper relationships.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chasetinkham/

#5 Using software to track employee progress remotely

Branka Vuleta, Founder at legaljobsite.net

I think recruiters will change their approach to sourcing in hiring, given current remote working trends by opting for phone interviews and screenings and switching to video interviews.

Nothing beats in-person interviews, because we lose an important part of communication while talking over the phone or by video conferencing. Nonverbal communication can tell us a lot about candidates – whether they feel comfortable, or whether they’re trying to convey something. Overall, it can reinforce or contradict what candidates are saying. However, due to the recent Coronavirus crisis, recruiters will be forced to conduct interviews via phone or video calls and get accustomed to these new strategies.

Companies will have to think about solutions for virtual onboarding new candidates. Imposed physical limitations in the workplace will impose new ways for employee onboarding, and companies will have to think about the best ways to get them integrated into the existing team. Some examples include implementing a mentoring program, buddy system, preparing online handouts, etc.

They will also have to think about implementing new software. Remote employees are harder to track simply because they lack in physical closeness. Due to the new situation in the hiring process, companies will have to think about taking all kinds of software that will enable them to track new employees’ progress promptly. For instance, they can use Asana for task tracking or Hubstaff for employee monitoring purposes.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/branka-vuleta-6978bb194/?originalSubdomain=rs

#6 Screening candidates through remote-specific questions

Tatyana Tyagun, HR Generalist at Chanty

If you want your candidates to have the best possible experience when applying for your (newly) remote roles, make sure to address all of their questions about remote work before they apply. Provide answers to some of the following questions:

 – What does remote work mean for your company?

 – What are the working hours? Are they fixed or flexible?

– What time zones are encouraged to apply? Will you accept candidates from different continents?

– Do remote workers have different benefits and rights than those working from the office?

– Will they be paid the same?

Basically, make sure that candidates understand what you require from them and that remote work is no joke. Lots of candidates applying for remote roles for the first time in their life tend to take them not so seriously, so make sure to be honest and show them what their workday will look like.

Moreover, give them an outline of what your hiring process will look like, ideally in the job ad itself. It will make the process more transparent and the candidates will know what to look forward to.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tatyana-tyagun-313589159

#7 – Using technologies like CRMs/email marketing to boost recruitment

Kaitlyn Holbein, Founder & Principal Consultant at The Employer Brand Shop

The candidate experience has changed dramatically with the move towards remote work and virtual hiring processes. As a result, it’s important that employers audit their virtual hiring process from start to finish, and work to identify and omit areas of friction. In particular, since candidates can no longer pick up on in-office culture cues, you should look for opportunities to showcase your employee experience and introduce team members throughout the process so candidates can feel confident deciding if your organization is the right fit for them.

With the rise of remote work, most organizations hiring competitors have increased substantially over night. We’re no longer competing for talent just in our local markets – we’re now competing against companies around the world! As a result, recruiters increasingly need to take cues from their peers in sales and marketing when sourcing talent. Combining technologies that help increase your efficiency (like CRMs and email marketing campaigns) with personalized and strategic communications that clearly describe your company’s differentiators will become even more essential for landing qualified talent moving forward.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaitlynholbein/

#8 – Trace whether any changes occurred since the last time you spoke (i.e. the perks of unstable/uncertain times)

Barbara Bruno, CEO of Good as Gold Training

If you want to improve the candidate experience, focus conversations on what is important to them before you present a job. With the current uncertainty, the priorities of candidates often change, so start every subsequent conversation with this question: Has anything changed since the last time we talked? Once you know what is most important to each individual candidate, you can then present opportunities they will accept. Knowing up front what is most important to candidates hired also improves engagement and retention.

In this new normal, obtaining referrals is the best way to source new talent. At least 40 percent of the candidates you hire should be the result of referrals from your network. During conversations with candidates, also ask, Who was the best (job title) from your last place of employment? That prevents the response, I don’t know anyone. Also, ask each candidate what associations they support because membership lists are published and other members could be potential hires.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbarabruno/

#9 – Dealing with the overabundance of choice

Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO at The Energists

I ultimately think the addition of more remote options will have a positive impact on recruiting, though they will require recruiters to shift the way we look for candidates.

One challenge I think is the new overabundance of choice. When hiring for remote positions, you have the option of looking at a global pool of candidates without geographical limits, and this is not something most recruiters are prepared for. It’s important to develop new methods to narrow your search if you’re removing geographical restrictions, or else you’ll end up inundated with more potential candidates than you can reasonably review.

This is also a good moment to streamline your recruiting process. In the past, we’ve used a mix of e-mail exchanges, phone calls, and in-person interviews when working with candidates. We’ve now condensed that down to video calls with e-mail to follow up. I’d encourage other recruiters and hiring managers to look for similar ways to make their process more efficient.

https://www.linkedin.com/company/2312371

#10 – Spotting the emerging new skills for a post-pandemic world

Dr. Matt Marturano, Vice President at Orchid Holistic Search

With respect to sourcing given remote working trends, what we’re finding is that certain tech skills that were not previously on the radar for many job descriptions have suddenly become essential. With the recent explosion of video conferencing, among other remote working and collaborative apps, effective digital resource management is emerging as a top skill needed by any remote employee. Another big concern is with IPsec- knowing how to properly configure a virtual private network (VPN), using multifactor authentication procedures, and the basics of public-key cryptography are all skills that are rapidly becoming essential for the home worker.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmatthewmarturano

#11 – Identifying regions that have high employee retention rates

Sheena Ponnappan, Chief People Officer at Everise

At Everise, we’ve learned that to be successful, everything from sourcing, interviewing to onboarding and training should be remote and/or virtual.

We radically re-approached our requirements for people, processes and structure, sourcing for functional job fit and signals that a person will thrive in a home environment. We built a high-touch recruitment model to strategically interview for work-at-home propensity and demonstrable abilities to be successful without face-to-face contact. We identified specific regions and populations that yield high retention rates, along with the ability to self-support with home technologies and we look for those committed to remote work as a life choice.

Managing a remote workforce comes with challenges that are outside of the typical employee-manager paradigm. Now is the time to grow: our data shows that home-based support can work.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheena-ponnappan-24b2012/

#12 – Prioritizing filling roles internally

Matt Bieber, the Chief Operating Officer for JSCI

“For corporate recruiters who have to pivot to source for hiring, internal talent mobility might be the first place to look. Internal talent mobility is basically looking to the internal workforce and having them switch into new, advanced roles. They are already familiar with the workflow and regular processes, so they can move up to fill open roles.

It will be easier to fill lower roles with new employees who are unfamiliar with the company. For external recruiters, remote work opens up the sourcing funnel to a much broader audience that is less geographically constrained, which can turn this ‘forced’ remote work into a net positive. If you are looking to hire for a specific position and your location restraints open up to the entire country, you will have more opportunities to find the perfect candidate.”

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattbieber1/

Summary

As remote work is now no longer a perk, but also a necessity after the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s imperative that you adjust your candidate experience strategy. However, as you’ve just seen in the examples above, there are many ways in which you can maintain a great candidate strategy – even if all business operations move online!

Do you have any additional ideas that would make a great addition to this roundup? You’re more than welcome to reach out!

Image credit: Unsplash

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