The Remote Candidate Journey: Crafting an Exceptional Experience

Thee way we hire new candidates has changed quite drastically than what it was like a couple of years back. This is why the candidate experience you create is now more important than ever. Prospective employees will gauge your company based on the hiring process and a poor candidate experience will deter other job seekers from applying.

In today’s world of remote working, it is essential that businesses have a well-thought out hiring process in which they prioritise a positive remote experience. We discuss how you can take your original hiring process and shift it to the remote plane successfully, enhancing your candidate experience in the process.

The Candidate Experience: What is it?

The impression that prospective employees have of your hiring process is what the candidate experience is. It includes every single interaction a candidate has with your business, all the way from the first point of contact in a job ad, to the final decision.

Every single person from your company that comes into contact with a candidate plays a vital role in creating a positive experience. The way you communicate with candidate shapes their experience of the company. Whether that’s the quality of communications, or frequency- it all plays a part. Your employer brand is made up of candidate experience, amongst other factors, which is why it’s vital you assess each interaction. As a business or a hiring manager you need to ask yourself whether you communicate everything a candidate needs to know helpfully and respectfully. If there are areas where the answer is “no”, then you could improve your candidate experience.

 Perhaps the candidate experience seems like an abstract notion, but a positive or negative experience can have a direct impact on your company’s ability to attract top talent. If your business has a reputation within the talent market of being disinterested or uncommunicative, then word get around and you’ll find it harder to entice top professionals to endure your hiring process.  

The Candidate Experience: Its Impact

Crafting a solid candidate experience isn’t solely about getting potential employees to think positively of your hiring process and company, in fact it goes deeper than that. Your employer brand is improved tenfold when you have a positive candidate experience, which means you’ll have a higher success rate of recruiting employees for other roles in the future. It also increases your likelihood of having a returning applicant, as candidates are more likely to apply again if the process was enjoyable the first time around.

The fact that your work environment is now remote, it doesn’t change the importance of candidate experience. If anything, it becomes more important, as the element of human connection is removed when working remotely. The candidate experience is likely to have more gaps in the process, so as a business or a hiring manager you need to be thoughtful and precise about how you’re going to adapt the process for the remote world. Below are some statistics that underline the importance of having a well-thought-out candidate experience:

How Do You Create a Positive Remote Candidate Experience?

Your face-to-face hiring process is likely crafted to offer a positive candidate experience. If you have an easy to navigate careers page, a seamless application process and well-structured and engaging interviews, then the pre-Covid candidate experience was a good one. But now that we all find ourselves in a remote work environment you need to establish positive touchpoints with potential employees. This requires a bit more effort and consideration from you.

However, you don’t need to panic as your entire hiring process doesn’t need overhauling. Remote interviewing and hiring can follow a similar flow and pace, but it just needs adapting for virtual interactions. A good idea would be to invest in the correct systems and tools to aid you in making a smooth transition to a remote hiring process as this will enhance the candidate experience. You will need to be mindful of how you engage with your candidates via screen, so to make your candidate experience the best it can be for our current virtual world we have put together the following steps you could follow:

Step 1: Consider what your current candidate experience is like

The first step you need to take before you begin transferring your hiring process remotely is to assess your existing candidate experience. You’ll need to carefully consider every touchpoint you have with your candidates to see whether it will be a challenge to transition online and whether it needs to be improved.

An example would be your existing careers page; is it full of roles that have been filled or are no longer available? You’ll need to remove them because candidates will be frustrated if they put the time in to apply for a role that is no longer live. More so, you should make the application process optimised for mobile if it isn’t already, it should be a priority. As you assess your existing candidate experience, be aware of gaps that need filling with extra resources or tools, like phone or video conferencing software.

Step 2: Communication should be a priority

The mark of a successful and positive candidate experience is consistent and clear communication. Stats show that 81% of candidates believe that more frequent updates from companies throughout the hiring process would improve the experience. Very few candidates will be familiar or comfortable with a fully remote hiring process, so the stress of job searching is likely going to be exacerbated.

You should put your applicants at ease by making sure you communicate frequently. It is a good idea to make sure you regularly update candidates on the process, what the next steps are, and if there are any delays. Furthermore, don’t delay answering candidate inquiries as 69% of candidates have said that they want to see employer response time improved drastically. Set aside half an hour at the beginning of your workday to address candidate requests, or communications.

If you tell your candidates from the start of the whole process what your hiring procedure is, then that will improve your candidate experience greatly. If you do this it’ll help candidates set realistic expectations and pacify any outlying concerns. This is a worthwhile effort as 83% of candidates think that the candidate experience would be highly improved if companies provided a clear outline and overview of the interview process from the offset.

Step 3: Video Interviews

The most significant drawback to a remote hiring process is the absence of face-to-face interviews. Candidates may struggle to make a connection with your organisation without direct human contact and the ability to experience your company culture first-hand. Nonverbal cues and body language are eliminated in video interviews, which are important details hiring managers and recruiters use to evaluate culture fit. Moreover, speaking to an employer or candidate via screen for the first time and in an interview situation can sometimes just be downright awkward.

To make sure that these video interviews are as successful and effective as possible, it’s a good idea to invest in the right tools and train hiring managers on how best to use the software. If hiring managers are up to speed on your software it’ll give them the chance to quickly troubleshoot any technical issues that may come up. Candidates should be given plenty of notice to become familiar and test out the software themselves. If they’re comfortable with the chosen platform then some of their anxieties will be eased and it’ll help them go into their interview with more confidence.

And lastly, make sure you communicate any extra resources candidates will need to conduct the interview well. Let them know that ideally they should find a well-lit, quiet space for the interview however, it’s a good idea to be aware that some candidates may be limited in options. Not everyone has ideal work-from-home setups, so try to be accommodating of any distractions that could arise and try to not let them influence your candidate evaluation.

Step 4: Showcase your Company Culture

Your company’s culture is an intrinsic part of your EVP (employee value proposition). Just over half of job seekers say culture is more important than salary. Normally, during a face-to-face interview, candidates would be able to get a sense of your culture, which is a pivotal part of the candidate experience. Try to make a concerted effort to highlight your culture all throughout the process to give your candidates a positive experience.

Speak to your core values, from as early in your process as possible, so candidates are familiar with your company’s central tenets. You should use storytelling to emphasize culture initiatives, your employee engagement efforts, and the enthusiasm your employees have for the company.  

It’s important to make up for the lack of in-person interaction by making sure that as the candidate progresses through the interview process they have virtual opportunities to engage with their potential future colleagues. You could schedule video conferences with various team members where you can discuss some of the innovative team building activities you’ve implemented remotely. Anything you are able to do to mimic the impact of face-to-face interview should be attempted, so this is the time to get creative. Wherever possible try to leverage your people as candidates believe that interacting with existing employees is one of the best ways to get a better sense of a potential employer.

Step 5: Candidate feedback- provide and ask for it

If you don’t extend an offer to a candidate, they deserve to know why. Give them the courtesy of offering professional feedback so they can keep going with their job search confidently. If you do this you’ll establish a reputation as an empathetic employer who values its people, whether they work there or not. This will ultimately endear job seekers to you and candidates will be four times more likely to apply to an open position in the future if offered constructive feedback at any stage the first time around.

You’ve got the industry know-how, so leverage that and your expertise to give candidates constructive feedback. Your insights will be appreciated, and they’ll feel more comfortable with your decision once they understand their areas for improvement. Remember to highlight some of their strengths and include positive feedback. If you treat your candidates the same way you would treat your employees they’ll leave from the process feeling positively, with only good things to say about the experience even if an offer wasn’t extended.

It’s also a good idea to ask candidates their input regarding your remote candidate experience, whether they have been hired or rejected. You can do this by asking them to fill a short online survey. While not all candidates will be willing to share feedback, most will and their insights will give you the chance to further improve your remote experience as you go along.

Step 6: Strong Remote Onboarding Process

Onboarding is the final stage of the candidate experience as it is part of their introduction to your organisation. Even though it’s likely not what you or your new employee may have had in mind, remote onboarding can still be just as successful as the onsite experience.

Onboarding someone remotely should be pretty simple generally. The key to a smooth transition is to look at your on-site onboarding process and fashion it for the remote world. With a wide range of software and applications available, you’ll be able to make virtual training effective and engaging.

The challenge lies in the lack of human contact. Try to go out of your way to help integrate the new employee into your culture by introducing them to colleagues outside of their immediate department or team, and finding ways to create opportunities for them to connect on a personal level. Remember that onboarding is there to help new employees get used to the company and their role.

So, all in all, the remote candidate experience shouldn’t be all that different to a normal face-to-face hiring process. It makes for a good candidate experience if you thank them for their flexibility and patience throughout the process, doubly so if you show them the same courtesy you’d expect. And finally remember to be transparent and understanding and you’ll create a remote candidate experience that job seekers will appreciate, enhancing your employer brand in the process.

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