Part III: Creating a positive candidate experience

The final part of our series on thoughtful hiring: create a phenomenal candidate experience to attract the best talent.

A candidate’s experience begins well before an offer is extended, and lays the groundwork for how people are introduced to an organization. How companies attract and select talent should be placed under a microscope. The following tips take a closer look at helping you foster an excellent talent experience.

This can also lead to positive reviews and feedback from candidates who are not selected. Four key areas to focus on to improve the candidate experience are talent attraction, the application process, the interview phase, and candidate selection.

Talent attraction
The secret sauce to attracting interesting candidates to your company is simply approaching talent attraction with a marketing mindset, but as most hiring teams are not marketers, this can be daunting. Additionally, founders are often met with the challenge of scaling their teams quickly to meet aggressive business goals. Because of this, the candidate experience can feel rushed and unintentional. Developing a strategic marketing plan shapes how candidates view an organization and provides a framework to attract and focus on the candidates with whom you want to engage.

In order to maximize your time and optimize your recruitment marketing efforts, consider a more targeted candidate approach than the typical job boards. For example, if an organization is developing content (blogs, video, podcasts) to attract applicants, social media is a great place to interact in real-time with your desired candidate pool. Some companies have been largely successful in engaging future employees on social media. Additionally, rather than traditional recruiting events, consider creative and interactive experiences in your office or hosting meet-and-greets with current employees operating in the role you are looking to hire.

Application process
For any job seeker, the application is the gateway to the hiring process. Some companies have found an edge by automating some of the tedious tasks in the recruiting process (like candidate sourcing and outreach). Be mindful of long and drawn-out application processes, as this can discourage those you want to hire from completing their applications. There are simple and streamlined technologies that create beautifully designed platforms for candidates to submit their applications. Two important things to consider: first, are you using a third party to process applications? Secondly, remember that most people are on mobile. If your application is not easily accessible on mobile, you’re operating at a disadvantage.

 Interview phase
How we interview candidates has changed significantly. Many companies are using strategies that provide a more inclusive, less biased outcome for candidates. Unconscious bias training for all members of an organization is just the beginning. Implementing standardized and diverse interview panels, and ensuring that you have a diverse candidate pool, are actionable ways to begin creating more inclusive hiring practices and a better candidate experience.

Candidates from non-obvious backgrounds
People from non-obvious backgrounds may include individuals of different ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, and sexual and gender identities. The candidate experience can be very different for people from these groups, and bias and discrimination are often not overt actions. However, they can seep into things like interview questions or even our interpretations and assumptions.

Workplace bias has been a top of mind topic for some time now, but the process of how a candidate is introduced to a company and considered for a role often gets overlooked. A person’s name, gender, and even geographic location can all play a part in setting the stage for discrimination and bias well before an offer is extended. Hiring managers should also be careful to avoid tokenism in the hiring process. The best way to combat discrimination or bias during pre- and post-hiring is to check assumptions and be honest about the areas that need improvement. When taking a personal bias inventory, bring other voices and perspectives into the hiring process to avoid creating a culture of sameness or isolating people who could be great additions to your business.

Candidate Selection
Candidate selection can be a long and arduous process. Scheduling, interviewing, and narrowing your candidate pool often leads to delays; however, unforeseen delays should not negatively impact the candidate experience. The truth is, employers risk losing talented applicants when inefficiencies live within their recruiting funnel. The key to a positive outcome is to have a consistent and intentional communication strategy in place. And once you have selected your candidate, an offer letter should quickly follow. Companies have lost great talent to competitors just because the offer letter took too long.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from your hiring process. Survey candidates about their experience to gain invaluable insights into their experience to improve the efficiency of your hiring process.

The secret is this: if a more human-centered approach can scale, then employee retention, ownership, and contribution will also scale with the business. This model and mindset has the potential to change the relationship between employers and job seekers for the better. A holistic and comprehensive view of the hiring process will push us all toward creating work environments that can become blueprints for the future of the workplace.

Insider Tip: The candidate experience is only one ingredient in achieving hiring success. Check out this free playbook to elevate your hiring practices to the next level, as well as the other posts in this series (I & II).

Brandice Sills-Payne contributed to this piece on behalf of