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12 min read

Why a Slam-Dunk Candidate Experience Means More customers, More money

Nov 13, 2019 12:14:43 PM

Hiring talent remains the number one concern of CEOs, according to the Conference Board Annual Survey. PwC’s 2017 CEO survey reports that chief executives view the unavailability of talent and skills as the biggest threat to their business. Employers also spend an enormous amount on hiring—an average of $4,129 per job in the United States. AI can help recruiters save time while focusing on finding the most qualified candidates.

By 2020, nearly 85% of consumer interactions will be dealt with by technology. From chatbots, virtual assistants, and visual search, so many experiences will be wrought with technological enhancement. Optimizing talent recruitment, engagement, and development is already underway with the advent of AI. According to one 2018 McKinsey study on AI adoption, 47% of businesses “have embedded at least one AI capability in their business processes.” This is a massive jump from only a year before when 20% of respondents confirmed they used a form of AI in their organization.

With data at its core, human resources is the perfect case study for how AI will optimize the future. AI runs on diverse and extensive data sets. Managers already possess data about their hiring practices, employees’ strengths, skill sets, and more. Studies show HR departments already most turn to to AI-fortified software to determine which employees are likely to leave. Using their international database and choosing specific variables, recruiters are able to better predict performance and better address talent attrition. Recruiters also leverage AI to source the best talent via resume analysis and skill set parameters to ascertain how candidates will offer value.

Mainstream adoption of AI has arrived, but what does mean for talent professionals specifically?

Talent professionals can expect AI to support them in enhancing the candidate experience, saving time on banal tasks, and allowing them to focus on the “human” experience of finding and developing company talent.

You may have heard of the “retail shopping experience” or the “spa experience”, but what is “candidate experience”?

Candidate experience is defined as the “perception of a job seeker about an employer, based on the interaction during the complete recruitment process”. From the moment a candidate sees or hears about a job opportunity on an online job board or through a friend, the candidate experience begins. It includes all points throughout the job search: the application process, the interview process, and the experience of being on boarded. Companies are now awakening to the fact that each contact point as a way to build a positive company brand, gain customer loyalty, and attract the best talent. Evaluating a candidate’s experience is rapidly becoming part of standard talent strategy.

According to one IBM candidate experience survey, 48% of recent candidates had previous interactions or relationships with the hiring organization before they applied for a job. These interactions and could include having friends or family that already work at the company, brand notoriety, or having been a customer or a fan of the organization. The truth is, the person applying to a company position is often a customer, a present or a future client.

The truth behind a bad candidate experience

Does a candidate experience really mean so much?

Ask Richard Branson’s Virgin Media about how much bad candidate experiences cost them. They estimated having a poor candidate experience cost them more than $5 million in annual revenue. Here’s the story:

A new Head of Sourcing at Virgin Media Resourcing wanted to see how rejected candidates viewed the Virgin Media brand. He was in for an eye-opening journey. One candidate experience survey's feedback stuck out: a woman conveyed her less-than-optimal experience. From a grumpy receptionist to the interviewer ducking out of the interview process for 10 minutes, then returning to turn her down on the spot, this rejected candidate relayed each touchpoint as a negative experience. The woman wrote that she would be cancelling her Virgin Media cable subscription and switching to a competitor. She also wrote her sister would be doing the same. The Head of Sourcing went onto discover that 18% of rejected candidates were also Virgin Media customers—-oops. The Head of Sourcing also factored Net Promotor Scores (NPS), when someone is likely to refer (or not) a particular business. The Virgin Media team found out that they, in fact, switched providers within a month. 6% of candidate-customers actually did. Virgin Media calculated the compounding detractors, totalling up to the $5 million, a conservative estimate. They did not factor in the loss of when family and friends stopped using their service.

Hosting a poor candidate experience means financial loss. What’s the flipside? A positive brand image? More than that. It means more customers—-for a whole, lot less.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is calculated by the costs spent on acquiring more customers (usually marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent, according to Neil Patel. Virgin Media found that typically it cost them an average of $500 to land a new customer. With a great candidate experience, Virgin Media found that they gained new business for a whopping $50. So companies not only build a positive brand image, but they 10X their savings by having great touch points.

 

What are the specific touch points of the candidate experience?

Create a discoverable job search

This can be through social media, a job advertisement, or through the Careers page via your company website. Talent professionals can work with marketing to make sure the Careers page is easy to find. This is the first step in a positive candidate experience journey.

Design an easy application

Making jobs easy to find is the first step. But it’s also important to that the job application itself is remarkably fast, intuitive, and easy. Be sure open positions come with easy instructions, so candidates feel confident and comfortable filling out the application. If you’re advertising through a job site, like LinkedIn, be sure that the job description and steps on how to apply are easy to follow. Additionally, think of incorporating one-click application. Through LinkedIn, candidates can hit “Easy Apply” through a job posted on LinkedIn. With one click, candidates can send in their resumes, breaking down barriers of setting up a new account and other cumbersome activities that may disengage applicants.

Send updates and transparent communication

Create an opportunity to impress and stand out from the crowd. One of the most frustrating aspects of applying for jobs is the lack of transparency and communication from a prospective employer. According to a recent candidate experience survey by CareerBuilder on how employers could improve their own candidate experience, nearly a third of the respondents stated they would like more communication during the recruitment process. Think of different mediums apart from the standard “Thank you for applying” email. Millennials may be open to communicating via text WhatsApp chat. Perhaps referring over a virtual bot to assist in answering any questions they may have along the way.

Give the greatest gift: feedback

Create a healthy feedback loop. For candidates moving to the next round, give them regular status updates will keep involved. Think about giving out timelines—-dates with actions made: “Nov. 13: Managers meet and discuss top 10 candidates and invite top 4”. |Nov. 14: Email sent to final round of candidate interviews”, etc. By keeping candidates informed about how interview process iterates shows applicants you value their time and want to keep them well-informed. Additionally, think about personalizing messages from the hiring managers or the manager that will be directly working with them. This shows candidates they’re not being Rolodexed by a machine, but rather a human is looking forward to looking over their material.

Implement a stream-lined interview

The interview is the biggest opportunity for a company to dazzle a candidate with its attentiveness, professionalism, and structure. It’s not only an opportunity for the interviewer to know the candidate, it’s the time and place where a candidate truly gets an essence of the company culture. Soon, they’ll be able to get a taste of whether they can envision themselves working there. It’s a chance to inadvertently convince them YOUR company is worth working at --or worth reapplying to if the job position isn’t a fit.

Implement a structured process that’s easy to follow. Also think about adding personal touches. At Boston Consulting Group, interviewees are given cards telling them a little bit about the person interviewing them. Candidates feel they’re talking to a real person, versus being on the receiving end of a firing squad. It’s a nice way to balance out what seems like a one-way conversation, where a candidate reveals details about their personal and work life while the other party simply asks.

Be short with the interview process. Having multiple interviews is a sign of disorganization and could be a source of confusion—- “didn’t we already talk about my qualification for the role?” In addition, it adds to the hiring timeline. Creating a structured pipeline helps quickly inform candidates about their interview and the upcoming steps. After the interview, be sure to let them know what to expect next, like an email early next week regarding a decision. If there’s any delay on making a candidate decision, be sure to inform candidates. Feel free to include some honesty: “we’ve got a lot of qualified candidates and we want to take some extra time with each application before sending out a final decision” could be one way to address this.

 

Handle rejection differently (candidate experience survey)

Knowing candidates took significant time to make plans to apply and come for an interview may make sending a rejection email or message a little more difficult. Because it’s a sensitive issue, most employers would not care to linger on it too long. A “thank you for applying, but we’re not continuing with your application” may seem adequate; it cuts a candidate loose to search out for the next job opportunity. However companies need to rethink this particular touchpoint. A candidate was interested enough to take time to send in an application, maybe write a cover letter; in some cases, companies who don’t have an optimal application experience, may have had a candidate dedicate time and effort to create a whole new account and go through the 9 different steps inputting their personal, professional, and work-related information. A lot of intense effort, in short.

It would be a missed opportunity to let these candidates go. They’re engaged already with your company at some level; keep the conversation going. Do this by delivering what every rejected candidate wants to know: why. Give feedback to candidates about why they were not selected, especially if they landed an interview. Include points of improvement or doubts raised. Give candidates the gift of wow-ing you next time.

Do onboarding right

Most companies forget the first day on the job is still part of the candidate experience process. It’s the piece de resistance in showing a candidate that they made the right choice in joining a team. Onboarding is the final candidate experience touchpoint. What could reaffirm their choice by making it a memorable welcome? It’s not purely for touchy-feely reasons. Without (or poor) employee onboarding, companies lose 25% of all new employees within a year, according to Allied Workforce Mobility. One market research firm found that up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days if onboarding does not go well.

Onboarding is the employer’s opportunity to show that it’s a great place to work, to help new employees navigate the ever-present mountain of paperwork, create new work relationships with the team, and instruct them on the task-related questions. Create a strategic onboarding plan along with company swag, gifts, or a welcome note. Onboarding is also an opportunity to show-off the company culture. Maybe there’s an office joke about birds; gift them a mug with a bird, inviting them into the joke. Day 1 on the job means setting up your hire for success.

 

Create an analytical feedback system for HR

Feedback loops are not only for candidates. Think about instilling processes that will be helpful in optimizing recruiting efforts and improving the candidate experience. It’s time for talent professionals to be able to receive objective data and information about candidates and the candidate journey. Having a centralized place where applicant data like communication behavior, personality insights, and skillset range is essential. Not only will be a great asset for existing employees, but also supports talent professionals in figuring out which candidates were a success while others were not. Was it a skill, team, or personality mismatch?

By creating tools that offer this kind of centralized feedback, companies will save time and money. One of the biggest benefits that AI offers hiring managers is the ability to identify suitable candidates. Retorio, for example, leverages its AI to identify for personality match and communication behavior. These two pieces show how an employee relates to their thinking, decision, and social processes. AI in the recruiting process particularly can do some of the heaviest lifting in terms of redundant work Talent professionals gain support in cross-checking declared skill sets with existing employees with the same job title.

These are the tasks Retorio helps hiring managers save time with:

Broader Candidate Funnel

One way to create a broader candidate funnel: optimize the candidate experience for those that you don’t hire—-they’ll either reapply or provide a great source for referrals. Most companies understand the experience for their chosen candidates, but it would be a mistake if the candidate experience strategy did not include optimizing it for rejected applicants. Candidates have come to expect experiences that are convenient, easy, and are able to be done with mobility. Retorio digitizes the recruiting experience, giving candidates the digital and mobile-friendly experience they expect. It helps to screen everyone rather than focusing on certain keywords in certain applications. This enables a more fair process while boosting hiring managers' limited time constraints

More Candidates Per Role

Attracting more candidates to a role is a mixture of several forces: from promising and delivering strong career opportunities to candidate-focused advertising. One major factor is the overall workforce experience, which requires high levels of engagement and ease. The candidate experience is the telling experience of how an organization operates. Retorio supports hiring managers in finding more candidates per role. By leveraging internal databases on personality, hiring managers can see how an in-house employee can fit a role, rather than immediatly outsourcing. Additionally, it looks at skillsets and communication behavior. Perhaps that content marketer would be an excellent candidate to the UX Writer role, but the candidate may not even think they would qualify. Candidates can come from dozens of different sourcing channels— job posting sites, employee referrals, social media, your company careers page, recruitment agencies, and others—but not all sources are created equal. Social media delivers over 1,000 applicants per month while referrals average around 500 applicants per month. Social media may seem the more effective source, but while social media drives twice the applicant volume, referrals drive twice the number of hires. Again, paying attention to how candidates feel about the interview process is highly important. 

Candidate Flexibility

Candidates expect flexibility in the recruiting process. They’re used to it in nearly all aspects of life: choosing which restaurant to order in from which movie to purchase from on Amazon Prime, to having a rotating wardrobe. Flexibility provided by technology is a must. If a recruitment process is stodgy and difficult to navigate, the number of qualified applicants may drop off. Retorio provides flexibility to candidates by allowing them to record short clips of them answering questions, from anywhere and anytime. All they have to do is upload them to their account.

Our kind of technology speeds up the recruiting process while giving hiring managers more time to focus on the tasks that demand more human intuition and decision making. Our product is easy to integrate, as it’s easily used with all ATS systems.

Preparing for the new workforce

Next year, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce. It's a generation that grew up on digital. Gen Z will be make up 20% of the workforce in 2025. That's 5 years from now. Video is the digital avenue how these specific generations navigate purchasing decisions, communication, to travel plans. It makes sense companies integrate video now, creating a seamless and memorable candidate experience.

Companies, like BMW, leverage Retorio's AI to support their own talent management teams. Our video-based AI was featured in TechCrunch and Süddeutsche Zeitung .

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Written by Elizabeth T.

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