February 14, 2020

The Interview Process – Your Path to Improving Candidate Experience

Masha Begovic
Masha Begovic Talent Hacker

We have all applied for a job at some point in our lives. Do you remember the frustration of never getting a reply and/or delayed feedback after an interview? Do you remember how you felt about that company afterwards? When we, recruiters, are on the other side of the table we tend to forget what we went through as candidates.  It is funny how even though we’ve been through the same experience, we tend to put the needs of candidates last. We have to remember that candidates’ treatment is important.

Candidate = Customer + Brand Ambassador

Nowadays, the candidate experience is a validated discussion point worthy of attention. Candidates are in a powerful position to pick and choose jobs, with the amount of jobs outweighing the people to fill them being at a record high. This entails that the experience of recruitment is becoming increasingly important and our job of charming our way through is becoming tougher. The contact your candidates have with your company is crucial. It can make or break a candidate’s decision on accepting your offer. Why, you say? Well, in the end, candidate = customer + brand ambassador. 

Yet, 60% of candidates have a poor candidate experience. We are failing to improve and make the candidate experience a great & memorable one. 

four people looking surprised

Companies seem to be looking at their service through rose-coloured glasses: candidates are feeling honoured, we are treating them well and we are all having a good laugh. How is it possible that over half of our candidates are not being treated the way we treat customers? At the end of the day, the candidates evaluate us as much as we evaluate them.

The Impact of Negative Interview Experiences

two girls sharing a secret

One crucial part that helps to improve the candidate experience that this article will focus on is: the interview process. A study has shared a startling fact that negative job interview experiences have the second most impactful negative experience that influences the purchase behavior of a company. I still remember a company in specific, where I had a bad experience. During the interview where I got asked questions that had nothing to do with the job and I experienced the interviewer as being rude. It greatly influenced my opinion about them and my willingness to promote the company to my friends to apply for vacancies there them. What if I was not the only one? Companies are then missing out on good candidates.

People talk. And people talk even more about negative experiences. “Companies do not seem to grasp that failing to improve the candidate journey can end up harming their employer brand” says Lisa Quast in a Forbes article. Research finds that 72% of job seekers report sharing their negative experiences online or with someone directly. 

What Makes The Interview Process The Differentiating Factor?

Did you know that the interview process is the biggest drive of a candidate’s overall satisfaction? And what about 65% of candidates who have a bad interview experience question whether they want the job at all? That is over half of our candidates! Half of the potential talent that could lead to a hire! 

Did I catch your attention?

AHH, I see you taking out your pen and paper now. 

man opening a notepad to write in

What Goes Wrong In Your Interview Process Then?

Subjective interviewing

How do you or your company tend to interview? Do you make questions in advance and ask all candidates the same or just make up on the spot? Unstructured interviews have been found to predict less than 25% of job performance. Not only does it reinforce biases and unjust decision making towards applicants, but also increase the risk of hiring the wrong candidate. Yet, it is still the preferred approach to many.

In an unstructured interview, an impression is made in the first 4-20 seconds. This sets the course for the rest of the interview. Once an assumption is made, questions will be chosen that will help affirm your beliefs about the candidate. Therefore, the focus of an interview varies every time. This is not a reliable strategy.  

Rounds of interview

Google found that four interviews were enough to predict if an individual should be hired with 86% confidence. After the fourth interview, every additional interview adds no more than 1% confidence. This magic number does not only benefit the speed of decision making for managers, but also the candidate’s experience. Both sides win! Research found that 55% of candidates feel that an unnecessary long recruitment process adds to a negative candidate experience. Hence, keep it to a maximum of 4 interviews. 

What can you do to improve this? Here are 6 tips on how to help leave a positive impression on candidates during the interview process:

1. Willingness to action

This is crucial. Note to recruiters: make sure our clients understand the importance of candidate treatment, and the reason for change and want to take action.

2. Create a more structured interview process

It will reduce the possibility of biases and give all candidates an equal chance to prove themselves. Research has long shown that structured interviews predict better job performance. It also reduces the time of decision making because you know what you are looking for. You might not be aware, as it is not an instant gratification, but will help you in the long run. It is worth the wait. Creating questions that will be asked to each applicant will be a simple way to create an advantage to your company and make candidates happier. 

3. Focus on behavioural questions

Hiring managers tend to base their reasoning for a candidate solely on “gut feel”. This kind of question helps assess whether you have the necessary skills for the job based on past experiences. The result is reflecting past behaviors and predicting future tendencies.  An example of this would be the STAR technique in which you ask the candidate to explain a certain situation they were once in and how they dealt with it. For instance: Can you give me an example of a time where you had an approaching but your team was not being proactive?  

4. Train interviewers – as explained above.

Everyone is prone to subjective thinking and interviewing in an unstructured fashion. Training interviewers to be more aware of their tendencies and remain neutral is essential for good hires.

5. Involve applicants

Ask candidates for feedback. It is crazy how underrated this is. 78% of applicants report never being asked for feedback on their experience. This will give you insight into what experience you are currently giving your candidates and where change is needed. This could give your company an advantage! Ask yourself: How do I know if our candidates are receiving the right experience? What am I doing about it? 

6. Check Glassdoor frequently

What are your applicants saying about you?

What do I do with these tips now? How do I start? Well, here is some final food for thought: 

  • How do you know if your candidates are receiving the right experience? 
  • What are you doing about it? 
  • What are your candidates saying about you?

Remember, our candidates are also customers, and should be treated equally. They evaluate us as much as we evaluate them. Everyone has equal strength in this tug of war.

If you want to read more about engaging those unicorn candidates with an optimised candidate journey check out this article by our Senior Recruiter, Ben Dowse.

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