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Always Focus on the Candidate Experience


Written by: The Kinney Group Team | Last Updated:

July 8, 2022

Originally Published:

May 12, 2016

Spoiler Alert! Companies should be focusing on providing an excellent candidate experience at all stages of the recruiting process.

I’m going to break down the four common missteps companies make and where Kinney Group focuses to continuously improve our process.

1. Most application processes are over-complicated and frustrating.

So much so that the Recruitment Marketing Blog, SmashFly, found drop-off rates to be as high as 74%! Many company websites leave much to be desired, especially on their career page. We’ve all experienced a rough application process. Remember when you had to click through a maze of links to get to the company’s applicant tracking system? Next you uploaded your perfectly polished resume, then you were required to enter the exact same information that is bulleted on your resume (oh the redundancy!), and finally to top it off your submission fell in a black hole and you weren’t even given the courtesy of an automated rejection email.

Did you ever apply for a job at that company again or recommend it to a friend? Probably not. CareerBuilder conducted a study that found 32% of applicants that never heard back from the employer reported they would even be less likely to purchase a product from the company because of their experience, that’s a direct hit to your company’s revenue.

As employers, how can you fix this? Test out your application process through the applicant’s eyes and work with your ATS provider to make improvements for simplification. Also, get back with every candidate within a reasonable timeframe. Kinney Group posts jobs on LinkedIn that can be applied for in one click. Our ATS is well integrated into our website and the only information required from the candidate to apply for a job is a name and contact information. To take it one step further we promise to respond to every single applicant within 3 business days of submittal. This is even stated in the automated email that thanks them for their application. This absolutely stuns candidates and I’ve even received thank you emails for sending out a rejection.

2. Lack of communication leaves candidates frustrated and stressed out.

Taking a new job is a major life change. It’s easy to forget as recruiters or hiring managers, that applicants are anxious throughout the entire process. Being kept in the loop allows them to relax and enjoy the process instead of hanging on to every word in a brief email.

Send your applicants confirmation emails when they have an interview or a call, reach out to see how their week is going, help them best understand the role and the company culture. You will learn more about them on a personal level. Kinney Group’s talent team has committed to respond to all emails or calls within 1 business day for both internal and external customers.

Your applicants are your customers and need to be treated as such. An impactful activity I picked up from Employer Brand Strategist, Stacy Zapar, is to schedule a weekly Friday Blitz. Schedule an hour with your team each Friday following up with every active candidate. If you don’t have an update for them, just call and wish them a relaxing weekend. This will significantly increase the trust with you and your candidates. You need them for the job not the other way around.

Tired of waiting.


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3. Candidates aren’t provided clarity throughout the interview process.

A recruiter’s assistance on navigating through this crucial step will establish trust. Face to face interviews are basically the Big Dance. I’m not advocating you send them over a list of questions they will be asked, but don’t send them into an interview blindly. Prior to the day of the interview send over interview names, titles, and any other relevant information. Most candidates are going to research on LinkedIn.

Always cater to the candidate, work around their schedule, and always ask for preferences. During the last Friday Blitz, you uncovered their favorite breakfast spot so why not set up a breakfast interview there to make them more comfortable and show that we value what they bring to the table. After interviews, wrap up with them and continue to set clear expectations.

4. Not closing the loop with an applicant is the norm for many companies, and it’s affecting their bottom line.

This is a huge pain point for many applicants. They’ve spent the time researching, interviewing, and moving through the process but still aren’t given the respect of a rejection. This is unacceptable and will affect your company’s reputation, especially with social platforms such as where candidates and employees can write reviews about a company anonymously.

If an applicant takes time out of their day to come in for an interview and we don’t move forward with them, we call them directly. We always close the loop, no exceptions. It’s not fun to reject someone but it’s less fun for the candidate to never hear back from a company. That takes away an opportunity for them to make personal improvements and implies that you don’t appreciate the time they dedicated to the process.

On the other hand, you can enhance the process of extending an offer. Being the candidate’s advocate, don’t allow hiring managers to low-ball the candidate. Add personal touches and make yourself available for questions. Understand that this is a huge life decision for an individual to make and respect that decision.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”Online Survey Response” link=”” color=”#f7901e” class=”” size=”17″]“I think the hospitality and friendliness is superb. I have no suggestions other than to keep exercising what you have been doing at an elite level.”[/perfectpullquote]

Bringing it all together:

As talent pools become smaller and competition for world-class talent skyrockets, focusing on candidate experience is a tactic that will give you an undeniable advantage. As with every process, continuously evaluate and improve. Kinney Group sends out a monthly, online survey to all applicants that spoke with a recruiter. As a team, we analyze the results, identify pitfalls, and tweak the process where needed. To implement impactful, immediate changes, focus on the common mistakes I just covered. Review the application process, provide constant communication, be the candidate’s advocate, and close the loop to take your candidate experience to the next level.

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