Candidates being welcomed to an interview
Ettie Holland By Ettie Holland on 19.02.2021
Talent Acquisition | 10 Min Read

Candidate experience matters for every business, but it especially matters in high-volume recruitment.

However, delivering a consistently excellent candidate experience is one of the biggest high-volume recruitment challenges. It’s one of volume recruiting’s great ironies.

In this piece, we’ll tackle the challenge head-on. We’ll share some simple tactics to deliver a better candidate experience in high-volume recruitment, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

Why is the candidate experience important

Candidate experience is the first impression job seekers have of your business.

For candidates you hire, that first impression is the foundation for a successful first week, which becomes a platform for a successful first month, quarter, year and beyond. A negative first impression can be difficult to combat.

For candidates you don’t hire, a good candidate experience means the candidate is more likely to leave feeling positive. They’ll be more likely to tell positive stories about you to friends and family (72% of job seekers report sharing negative candidate experiences online).

And they’re more likely to buy/keep buying from you in the future. (Because candidates are customers).

A negative first impression is near-impossible to combat because you never get the chance to turn things around.

For future prospective candidates, the candidate experience is your employer brand. A good candidate experience means job seekers are more likely to have heard good things – and more likely to apply. A bad reputation and they’re more likely to give you a miss altogether. Moreover, you never get to change their minds.

That’s why candidate experience matters, even for businesses that only hire a handful of people each year. But when we start talking about high-volume recruitment, candidate experience becomes even more critical.

Why candidate experience matters more in high-volume recruitment (and is a more significant challenge)

High volume recruitment is recruitment on steroids. You might be hiring tens, hundreds, even thousands of candidates each year. So:

  • It’s not one new hire who’s more productive, but tens or hundreds.
  • It’s not one unsuccessful candidate who spreads the word, but tens or hundreds.
  • It’s not a few applicants deciding whether to apply, but hundreds or thousands.

Plus, a common high-volume recruitment challenge is high pre-start drop-out rate. Poor candidate experience impacts whether candidates buy into your business. If they don’t, they won’t be loyal and are more likely to drop out.

And another high-volume recruitment challenge. Serial applications from candidates you’ve already rejected for the same role.

If you’ve given clear feedback (crucial to an excellent candidate experience) candidates are more likely to understand why they’re not suitable, and less likely to reapply. So you have to sift through fewer low-quality applications.

The fact is the consequences of getting the candidate experience wrong are more business-critical in the high-volume recruitment world.

And there’s the irony. The same things that make candidate experience so crucial for high-volume recruitment are the reason candidate experience is a challenge.

When you’re talking to a handful of candidates, you can deliver a higher-touch process where each candidate feels valued. When you get 15 applications, you can send a personal rejection letter to each. When you interview five people, you can easily give individual feedback to each.

But when you extrapolate to volume, you simply don’t have the bandwidth.

You’re too snowed under scheduling telephone interviews to read most CVs. You’re too busy with hours of interviews to send feedback to unsuccessful interviewees. And you’re too focussed on continued recruitment to personally onboard and handover new hires with any consistency.

That’s the problem. Here’s the solution.

How to improve the candidate experience in high-volume recruitment

When you’re battling with volume, delivering a consistently awesome candidate experience can feel an insurmountable challenge. It’s not.

1 - Don’t skimp on strategy

When hiring’s urgent, it’s tempting to launch straight into active recruitment. But hold your horses.

The strategy behind hiring is the foundation that underpins the entire recruitment process. The more robust that foundation, the more the process can flow and the more likely you can deliver a great candidate experience.

Know exactly why you’re hiring, who you’re hiring for, and what they’ll be doing. Build a picture of the ideal candidates and get internal stakeholders on-side now, so they don’t cause candidate-experience-upsetting delays later.

2 - Write impactful job descriptions

Job adverts are the first building block of candidate experience. They’re the very first impression many potential applicants have – maybe even hundreds of thousands of first impressions.

When you’re busy, it’s tempting to repost an old advert, run adverts on a constant loop, run the same advert across different locations, or publish internal job descriptions.

Don’t do those things. Job adverts are a sales tool. They’re your chance to make an impression and stand out from the crowd. If you battle with regional disparity, for instance, a well-crafted job advert can help differentiate and drive applications in less popular locations.

And, if you’ve done the first step, your adverts should be backed by strategic clarity. So you can articulate precisely who you’re looking for – which will help cull low-quality applications.

A well-written, unique job description that brings your brand and the opportunity to life is the first stepping stone of candidate experience. And done right, job adverts improve quality of hire too.

3 - Make the application process easy

Candidates don’t care about your business as much as you think.

They’re probably applying for tens of roles at once. They’re burnt out. They’re sick of forgotten passwords, intricate processes, complex application instructions, restrictive file types and endless forms. They’re too tired to sift through your complicated, convoluted UX.

60% of job applications are abandoned. Don’t be one of them:

  • 1) Every step in your application process has a frustration cost. Keep the steps as few as possible, with all information on one page.
  • 2) Be careful about ‘required’ versus free-text form fields. Maybe an answer isn’t as black and white as you think, and candidates will be frustrated if they can’t add an explanation or qualifier.
  • 3) Plan for mobile applications. You’ll likely get a heap, and your process needs to be short and simple. Use responsive design, so elements like forms display correctly on small screens.
  • 4) Allow candidates to apply with LinkedIn or upload from Dropbox. Don’t be a dinosaur. And for the sake of all that’s good in this world, don’t make them copy and paste elements of their CV into your unique form.

4 - Communicate regularly and frequently

Consistent communication is crucial to candidate experience and one of the biggest high-volume recruitment challenges.

You can’t neglect any candidate, even if they sent an awful CV with shoddy formatting and littered with spelling mistakes. If they rescheduled the telephone interview twice then didn’t answer the first seventeen times, even if they lack the basic requirements for the role, which you clearly stated in the ad.

Even those candidates need prompt, consistent, kind, honest communication.

Luckily, consistent communication is one of the things you can most easily achieve, with scores of tech options to help speed and smooth the process. Your ATS probably includes some automated communication options, for example.

If you’re using Tazio, automated comms are standard with every module. For example, you can send an automatic confirmation when candidates have finished the assessment or interview process, reminder emails if they’ve left without completing, or personalised rejection/next-stage emails depending on your assigned scores.

5 - Treat candidates like individuals

When you’re recruiting at scale, it’s easy to start thinking of candidates as numbers. Percentages of quotas; completed targets.

But, of course, they’re not. Moreover, candidates are unlikely to understand the unique challenges of high-volume recruitment. They don’t reaslise they’re the 1000th person you’ve spoken to this week.

A good candidate experience means making each candidate feel like the first and only candidate, making them feel valued. Like you’re giving them your full and undivided attention, so they can express themselves as an individual, and you’ll listen wholeheartedly.

In practice, that’s hard to achieve at high-volume. Certainly not during the early stages of the recruitment process, if you’re using traditional recruitment methods.

But unfortunately, those early stages are where poor candidate experience is often felt most keenly and in the highest volumes.

That’s where video interviewing can be so powerful. Video interviewing gives candidates space to express themselves at an earlier stage, where you’d previously only had time for a cursory telephone interview – but demands a fraction of your time.

No scheduling, no bad lines, no endless phone tennis – just short videos, collated in one place, that gives deeper insight about your candidates. (Which also saves time at the second stage because you’re inviting the right people to face-to-face).

6 – Give honest, constructive feedback

It’s frustrating when you see hundreds or thousands of applications – many low quality. Especially if candidates have been rejected before for the same role.

But recruiters have to find empathy even with the most frustrating candidates.

Candidates still made an effort to put themselves out there. And if they didn’t make much effort, perhaps that’s because they’re frustrated and burnt out because nobody’s ever taken the time to tell them why they’re getting rejected.

Definitely give personal, constructive feedback to everyone who has a face-to-face interview with you but strives for better too. The more candidates you can provide any semblance of feedback too, the bigger the candidate experience gains.

Like, rather than grouping all your first stage interviews into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles. Instead, you could arrange into ‘yes’, ‘no – not right cultural fit’, ‘no – not right experience’, ‘no -doesn’t meet basic requirements’, ‘no – poor attitude’, ‘no – poor references’, according to your most common rejection reasons. You could then deliver semi-personal emails for each group.

Finding time for personalised feedback at scale probably feels impossible, but that’s where technology helps, even indirectly. If you’re using tech to automate and accelerate your process elsewhere you free bandwidth for activities like this, where you can add the most value.

Much better, you spend time giving feedback than rescheduling interviews and leaving voicemails for the 75th time.

7 – Improve your interview experience

A positive interview experience helps great candidates buy into your business, which reduces drop-outs and carries through to a more productive tenure.

But for candidates, interviewing can be stressful. It’s your job to mitigate those feelings, or candidates might leave with a sour taste in their mouth.

Here are some pointers:

  • Send clear directions/instructions. Don’t leave anything to chance. Walkthrough the interview process – where should they park? Which entrance do they need? Where do they go when they arrive?
  • Send an itinerary, so candidates know who’ll they be meeting and what the interview format will be. Anxiety comes from not knowing what to expect.
  • Greet them as soon as they arrive. Don’t make them awkwardly wait for you. Show you value their time.
  • Plan your interview questions. Ad libbing can make candidates feel you’re bored and worry you’re treating them with bias. Don’t ask potentially biased questions that might make candidates uncomfortable.
  • Read their CV before the interview. Or you’ll come across like you can’t be bothered. Nothing gives a worse impression.
  • Work hard to put candidates at ease. Interviewing can be nerve-wracking. Treat them with compassion, even if they’re not right for the business.
  • Help them learn about your business. Introduce them to a few prospective colleagues and show them around. Candidates aren’t just there as the interviewee - they’re also the interviewer, and you need them to choose you.
  • Give comprehensive answers to their questions (email more info later if needed). Don’t gloss; even if you know you won’t make them an offer. Never let candidates sense you’ve already made a decision.
  • Be transparent. Tell them where things stand with the hiring process, and when you’ll next be in touch.
  • Give feedback. Be constructive. Don’t shy away from delivering honest truths. That’s how you add value, so no interview is seen as a waste of time. Never automate rejections or ignore candidates.
  • Ask for feedback after the interview. And take it on board. Each candidate offers a valuable opportunity to improve your candidate experience.

8 – Onboard, even for short-term employees

Onboarding is the crucial final aspect of candidate experience, showing you value candidates and helping them transition from candidate to new hire. (A new hire who’s more productive, more engaged and more likely to recommend your business).

Make sure candidates/new hires don’t slip through the cracks between recruitment and HR. A consistent onboarding process means you can formally handover knowing all candidates have timely, relevant onboarding scheduled.

This might sound like a load of work, but it’s not. For instance, you can easily assign automated onboarding tracks using Tazio ENGAGE, so successful candidates go straight into a consistent, structured process that HR can pick up seamlessly from.

High-volume recruiters improve the candidate experience by working smarter.

Improving the candidate experience isn’t brain surgery, but high-volume recruitment is more challenging than traditional hiring.

Much of this stuff is about being smart about how you work. Create more time for yourself by investing in smart technology to automate and improve parts of your recruitment process.

That way, you’ll have more bandwidth for the areas that can’t be automated. So you can spend your time delivering more value (not ticking boxes that technology could do faster, more consistently and with fewer errors).

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