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Five top tips for providing an excellent candidate experience

Richard Williams

42% of candidates will not re-apply for a position at your company if they’ve previously had a bad experience with you, and one-in-five actively advise their peers not to apply as wellCareerBuilder (1)

The assessment and selection process is often the first interaction that a candidate will have with your organization and brand, so it stands to reason that you would want to make a strong first impression. We believe that you should be striving to give candidates the same level of service, and valuing their time in the same way, that you do your customers.

While a good assessment process and candidate experience can successfully showcase your role, branding, ethos and organizational values, a bad experience can not only put candidates off applying for further roles, but also from using your products and services as a consumer. 

In this article, we discuss the things you need to do to provide an excellent experience for your applicants and candidates.

Provide a joined-up & immersive experience

If using an agency, you should be aiming for a seamless process between the three parties involved (the recruiter, the candidates and yourself), with all parties kept up-to-date with where they are in the process and responded to in a swift, efficient manner. This includes letting rejected candidates know that they have been unsuccessful and not ‘leaving them hanging,’ but also letting successful candidates know about the next stages and responding to any queries they may have.

However, sadly this isn’t always the case. A survey by Talentegy revealed that nearly 63% of candidates are dissatisfied with the level of communication from employers after applying and that 78% of candidates believe that the overall candidate experience they receive is indicative of how a company values its people (2).

41% of applicants surveyed in our ‘Are you switching on or switching off your candidates?’ study stated that they have decided not to purchase a product or service from an organization as a result of a bad candidate experience (3).

Furthermore, one leading telecommunications company found that, over an 18-month period, 7,500 unsuccessful applicants terminated their subscription, equating to a loss of $6.2 million, highlighting the importance of the assessment experience to your overall brand reputation.

“One of the top complaints job seekers have is that employers are disrespectful of the time they spent applying and don’t bother to respond to follow-ups or even let them know the position was filled. Even if you don’t have a dedicated HR department, taking the time to let applicants know their status is the first step a company can take to build open communication and goodwill with job seekers,” says Laura Spawn of Virtual Locations.

Providing valuable feedback to candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, is also best practice, allowing candidates to reflect on the experience and learn from it.

Present an engaging & enjoyable assessment process

Our research suggests that the most important factor in the assessment process for candidates is that it ‘results in a job that they want to stay in’, with an overwhelming 91% saying this was very important to them.

Therefore, candidates want an assessment experience that paints an accurate picture of the role, its tasks and responsibilities, and the organization as a whole. We need to start thinking of assessment as an experience for the candidates and not simply a process; a two-way street where the candidate is learning as much about the organization as you are about them. With the war for top talent arguably fiercer than ever, if you aren’t providing a satisfactory experience then you risk losing individuals to competitors who are. 

Our Situations assessments present candidates with realistic workplace scenarios that individuals are likely to experience in the role, assessing their suitability for it. We have ready-to-go solutions available for customer service, manager, retail and logistics roles, and can also work with you to create fully-customized scenarios specific to the role you are hiring for.

The assessment process is also a great opportunity to showcase your brand colors and values. The newly-revamped Wave® interface has increased opportunities for this, providing a spotless first impression of your organization.

Keep your assessments succinct

According to a survey by Modern Hire, more than half of job candidates believe that the hiring process should take no longer than two weeks from initial interview to job offer. It is important to ensure that the candidate is kept up-to-date throughout the process and given an indication of when they will find out and/or start the role should they be successful.

76% of hiring professionals consider finding high-quality candidates to currently be one of their biggest challenges (4), so once you’ve found them, don’t lose them with an assessment process that takes too long to complete, or keeps the candidates in the dark.

In terms of the assessment stage itself, the ideal completion time will depend to an extent on the role in question. However, for most professional roles, we consider the 40-minute mark to be the magic zone in terms of gaining the insight you need to make informed decisions, without the risk of disengaging your candidates.

Indeed, our research suggests that at 60 minutes in length, recruiters can lose up to 50% of their applicants, with two thirds of applicants rating having an online process which is quick to complete as important to them (see below).

optimal assessment length graph

For some roles, an even shorter assessment stage may be appropriate and will be long enough to gain the necessary data required to make an informed decision.

Our Match 6.5 behavioral screener brings the predictive power and reliability of Wave® in a questionnaire that takes just six and a half minutes to complete, helping you efficiently identify the right talent for your role.

Maintain a fair and objective process

Both recruiters and candidates want a fair and objective assessment process that results in an informed hiring decision. Candidates need to feel that they stand as much chance as everyone else, regardless of gender, age, background and ethnicity. For this reason, the importance of fairness and a zero-bias approach cannot be understated.

Our assessments display no significant differences in completion rates across gender or background (one technology client witnessed a 19% increase in complete applications by ethnic minority candidates), helping you to maintain Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) at each stage of the pipeline.  

We are also constantly updating our flagship personality tool Wave® in line with the latest advice on usability and accessibility to ensure a smooth user experience and a level playing field for all. You can find out more about this in our article Delivering a Positive Candidate Experience: A Spotlight on UX and Cognitive Load.

The below chart shows how Wave compares to other widely-used assessment methods:

Wave compared to other widely-used assessment methods

Let candidates complete by their preferred method

Where possible, your assessment process should be compatible with mobile and tablet devices, allowing the candidate a choice of where and when they complete the assessment. This is especially important for entry-level roles and younger candidates who may not have access to a desktop computer, and may be more used to completing everyday activities on their phones.

Our data shows that while the majority of applicants want to complete their online screening on desktop or laptop, a sizable minority prefers to complete on a mobile phone:

online assessment preference

Our assessments are rigorously-tested to ensure that they work on a wide range of devices, so that users can complete our assessments in their preferred way.

You may also want to consider whether initial interviews need to be done face-to-face (at the travel expense of the candidate), or if they can be done just as efficiently via video interview. Whether the role is remote or hybrid, it may be a good idea for the recruitment process to reflect that. Similarly, for office-based roles it may be an ideal opportunity for candidates to get acquainted with your location and any potential commute they may face.  
The assessment process is often the first chance to engage your candidates in your organization, in a current climate where candidates have the choice to shop around, isn’t it time you that gave them an excellent first impression?