In today’s hiring marketplace, a quality candidate experience is crucial to attracting the employees your organization needs to succeed.
Our team has been thinking a lot about how the candidate experience is changing — I shared my predictions earlier this year. I wanted to hear from a candidate experience expert about how technology, candidate expectations and other factors are fundamentally reshaping the application process, so I called Kevin W. Grossman, president of Talent Board, the leading research organization on the candidate experience.
Grossman and I spoke recently about how organizations can create a better candidate experience, and what the future of the candidate experience just might look like.
More Two-Way Communication
In the not-so-distant past, the beginning of the candidate experience was largely a matter of one-way communication. Candidates went to a job board or a company’s career page, applied for a job and waited to hear back. But now employers are seeking information about their candidate experience from candidates themselves, Grossman says. And this feedback doesn’t affect only the candidate experience; it’s also helpful in other areas. “It’s an opportunity to get insight on how potential candidates are viewing the employer brand as well,” he says.
This two-way street is creating a process with a higher level of perceived fairness. “[Feedback] is driving higher positive candidate ratings and a higher level of perceived fairness,” Grossman says. In fact, he says, research shows that this communication is so important to candidates that it creates higher positive ratings from all candidates, even those who don’t get very far in the process.
But feedback is only one aspect of creating a dynamic, fulfilling candidate experience. Organizations such as AT&T are making both chatbots and live agents available to answer questions during the application process, embracing a customer-driven approach. Additionally, Grossman recommends that companies utilize the power of social media to create virtual recruiting events. “There are companies who have experimented with answering questions live with recruiting coordinators,” he says. While this may be difficult to scale, it creates more touch points with candidates, and it offers even more insight into your organization.
A Flattened Application Experience
While applying for a job may never be as simple as ordering something from Amazon, Grossman says many companies have made their application process pretty short — some jobs take less than five minutes to apply for.
This ease of use is a reflection of our habits as consumers. We expect the apps on our phone to work simply and easily, and the candidate experience is mirroring that trend. However, Grossman says a shortened application process, while convenient, can be a double-edged sword. “While you’re making it easier to get people in the door, you’re also inviting a lot more applicants — and a lot more unqualified applicants,” he says.
To counter this, introduce assessments earlier in the process. Grossman says companies that put assessments closer to the initial application stage are better able to filter out unqualified candidates, while still making it easy to apply for jobs.
A New Generation of Candidates
Both millennials and Generation Z are beginning to take up a larger share of the workforce, with millennials even beginning to move into leadership roles. While the two generations are by no means mirrors of each other, both of the first digital native generations to enter the workforce place a value on diversity. “They want more information about diversity and inclusion,” says Grossman.
This focus on diversity also extends to company culture, says Grossman, and employer brand websites must target their efforts towards an authentic message about the company’s culture and values. “You can choose not to invest in some of these things,” warns Grossman, “but you will lose out on potential key candidates, both near-term and long-term.”
More Assessments and Job Simulations
I also asked Grossman to look a bit further into the future of the candidate experience. What’s it going to be like in ten years?
Grossman points to a rise in video screenings. But he also believes that advances in technology will help power a currently-nascent form of assessment: job simulations. Though a few companies use these already, the tools will become much more powerful, allowing recruiters to predict someone’s performance in a specific role.
Embracing such a powerful new tool, Grossman says, will also help candidates in an area that is particularly important: perceived fairness. “I would argue assessments and simulations will be better than the behavioral interviews that we do now,” he says. Giving candidates the chance to show off their skills will help them feel better about the fairness of the recruiting process, and they’ll feel confident that they’re being judged by more than the words on their resume.