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Taylor Swift is Leading the Candidate Experience Revolution (Really)

Nov 25, 2019 4:33:21 PM

An applicant may not be a pop star, but word travels quickly in this digital age. Twitter. Glassdoor. Reddit. LinkedIn. Word on the street about a poor interview experience and a company could be trending hashtag.

Taylor Swift at the American Music Awards (AMA) may be now the new record holder for most wins (29) at the awards ceremony (surpassing Michael Jackson’s 24), but she’s become a defacto candidate experience coordinator of sorts. Swift’s kerfuffle with music mogul Scooter Braun backlights her current war with her former music label, Big Machine: she’s not legally allowed to redo her old songs. In an unprecedented move, Swift took to social media, notifying her fans of the legal stand-still and its effect on upcoming projects. Her experience in the music industry showcases how serious an issue it is that big industries continue to fail to prioritize candidates and their overall interaction with a company.

Swift’s publicized legal battle drew the attention from all different areas, including politicians, like Senator Elizabeth Warren. The saying, “any publicity is good publicity” may be popular, but also certain publicity could be the death knell of companies. Remember viewing the flight passenger that got dragged off a United Airlines flight? The airline's stock price fell after the and CEO Oscar Munoz was forced to issue two public apologies.

Companies must fundamentally understand this modern phenomena: the customer is the candidate.

As much as companies believe they prioritize customer service, they are failing to miss the biggest blindside: the people they hire. Ask Richard Branson’s Virgin Media. They calculated they lost more than $5 million in revenue due to poor candidate experience. Individuals coming in for an interview were met with inconsiderate interviewers, unclear interview procedures, and more. In turn, a considerable amount of applicants, 6%, canceled their Virgin Media subscriptions. Disgruntled applicants and former employees (like Swift) are looking for a candidate experience coordinator---a person or a system that respects the time and work it takes to apply to a position, work at record label, or wait years to re-record some tunes.

What can companies do now?

Create a transparent interview process

We understand what abuse of power is. It’s when a person of authority uses their position to prey on or demean those in less-powerful positions. Could it also not be termed to be an “abuse” when applicants are kept in the dark about the whole recruiting and hiring process? In each stage of the pipeline, individuals should be told in advance what the hiring manager is looking, what the role’s expectations are, and how the entire interview process shall proceed. Some HR departments fail to meet this standard, withholding valuable information from an applicant. Candidates may prepare for an interview by focusing on the wrong area; or they may be unaware of the person or department they’ll be working for.

Companies need to create a consistently transparent and easy recruiting process. Enhance and streamline HR functions like pre-screening assessment, mobile-friendly application process, and a “roadmap” of action items and hiring decision timelines. Edelman found that 1 in 3 employees don’t actually trust their employer. If a first interaction with an employer is confusing or humiliating, the relationship suffers, even if the employee signs on the bottom line. Hiring managers must build transparency into their employee experiences, which is the gateway to a trusting relationship.

Invite the digital experience

Taylor Swift swung a mean punch by taking her Scooter Braun feud to Instagram. Not only did that provide a rare insider peek into the world of music celebrity, it highlighted how fundamental that an easy, digital experience is for applicants. Candidates want convenience, ease, and piece of mind. Think of LinkedIn’s Easy Apply feature. Thousands of job postings are listed daily on the global networking site. Companies, from big corporations to one-person agencies, are hunting for the most qualified talent. With LinkedIn, applicants can upload their resume (CV), save it, and then hit “Easy Apply” to certain job listings. With only a few clicks, a company tore down a huge barrier in creating a broad talent funnel. Technology could be considered the back office candidate experience coordinator: it could exponentially improve the lives of both hiring managers and candidates.

Integrate AI-powered chatbots to quickly answer candidate's common questions, like IBM does. Or make sure that interviews can be held via a video phone call. Or better, use a convenient tool like Retorio to have candidates record short video clips of their responses to interview questions, anywhere and at anytime. Pre-employment assessment does not have to be dull or reminiscent of a 1970s office tool. It can be convenient, intuitive, and streamline the entire interaction.

Keep it human

Most people just want to speak to a human. The ease of smart phones, the beauty of near-instant delivery services (hey Instacart!), and how we can sit in our pajamas to watch the latest blockbuster is all pretty useful. However when we’re making a life change or a key career move, like deciding whether to work at a company, we crave human interaction. We need the assurance that someone is invested in their work to find the best fit and because of that, we’ll receive humane and thoughtful treatment.

Taylor Swift at the AMAs revealed her need for fan support and how she wants to be treated fairly. Companies should take note of building trust with personable interaction. It could be training the assistant to greet applicants with warmth when they arrive for their in-person interviews. At Boston Consulting Group, candidates receive a little note telling them a bit about the person sitting across the table from them. All these little steps to add in the “human touch” means plenty to a candidate.

Companies are awaking how key a positive full-cycle is for their bottom-line. Many are creating a new position, that of a candidate experience coordinator. This person is in charge of creating and managing the entire interaction and operations in the candidate search funnel. They strategize with marketing to figure out how to reach candidates via social media, email, or other venues. They look to emanate personalization and authenticity to candidates with each and every touchpoint, even the undesired rejection email. A candidate experience coordinator can be a linchpin in securing the “good feeling” a candidate has about a company. Even if candidates are not offered a job, they’ll be able to walk away feeling valued and respected. This kind of trust can pay dividends in the future.

If trust is not delivered...well, ask Taylor Swift.

Companies like BMW and Lufthansa, 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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