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Why Candidate Experience Is Critical During the Hiring Process

  • November 06, 2019
 

It’s a candidate-led recruitment market that we are currently experiencing. And with 40% of employers hiring full-time, permanent employees in 2019₁, it’s crucial to ensure your candidate experience is set up to guarantee you attract the right people to your organisation.  

There are plenty of other options out in the job market if it turns out the role you offered is not what your new hire expected. Loyalty doesn’t exist in the same way it did ten years ago, so it's critical to get it right and invest in an excellent experience for your prospective employee. 

Candidate experience starts the minute your potential new team member spots your job advert. From then on, through the application, interview, offer and onboarding – it’s vital to get every step right to make sure you have a happy and engaged employee. 

As recruiters, we have witnessed first-hand the mistakes companies make with their hiring process that results in potentially perfect candidates simply walking away. 

To ensure you aren’t left wondering what happened to the ideal Senior Buyer you offered a job but who turned it down, or the new Director of Operations who left after a few months – then this article will guide you through the steps to take to guarantee an excellent candidate experience and a happy hire. 

 

Are You a Good Prospect? 

 

 

Before we discuss the candidate experience, I’d like you to take a minute to think about your employer brand, as this plays a pivotal role in how you are perceived in the marketplace by potential candidates.  

To attract the quality and level of candidates you want, your employer brand needs to be rated highly in your sector. A company's reputation in the world of business is crucial to ensuring people want to work for you, enjoy working for you, and are reluctant to leave. 

If you are still sceptical about the importance of employer branding, a recent study found that up to 84% of participants confirmed they would leave their current employer to join a business with an excellent reputation. Additionally, 69% confirmed they would decline a job offer from an organisation with a poor reputation.₂ 

So, having a strong, recognised employer brand is the first step to making sure you attract the ideal senior-level managers to your business. 

 

Is Your Job Description Telling the Right Story? 

Firstly, before you discuss your recruiting needs with a specialist recruiter, think about what you ideally want from the vacant position. 

There is no point in looking to recruit your new Quality Manager unless you have first thought about the details and tailored the job description to make sure you’re going to hit the right target audience. I’ve seen many job descriptions that are too vague and consequently don’t attract good quality applicants. 

I would advise, before you rush in, to think about whether you want to replace like for like.  
 
Let’s say your Senior Mechanical Design Manager has left – before you refill the role, ask yourself -do you need a direct replacement, or has the role changed, and do you now need someone with a different skill set? In other words, what does your business need right now? 

Once you have identified exactly what you need, the title of the position may change and will need to reflect the role. The next step is to write your job description. Ideally, it will list the essential skills you are looking for including;  

  • Duties (e.g. overseeing operations, devising policies, budget control) 

  • Requirements (e.g.  international experience, leadership and coaching skills, 
    negotiation skills, qualifications, specific expert knowledge)  

  • soft skills (e.g. communication, great time management)  

  • ideal, non-essential skills (e.g. second language) 

Include a brief for the role, including information on the characteristics of the individual you are seeking, and what they will be doing day to day.  
 
An overview of your job description will engage candidates too. For example, your new Warehouse Operations Manager for Pharmaceutical Logistics may read as “Managing a time critical, temperature controlled/cold chain, packaging, processing & order fulfilment operation for a blue-chip multinational based in China.” 

 

When Do You Hire? 

 

 

The most common time to hire is when a vacancy occurs as previously mentioned. However, is this  
the most appropriate strategy? Do you;  

  • Wait until there is a vacancy? 

  • Recruit in advance based on your planned growth? 

  • Recruit in advance based on your succession plans? 

  • Develop an expanding talent pipeline that allows you to create new roles as the  
    business requires? 

Many companies only think about hiring when they have a role to be filled immediately.   

While that’s understandable, savvy employers know that best practice is to hire before you are in dire straits because your Head of Transport Planning has suddenly left, and to plan strategically to allow you to expand your business smoothly and quickly. 

Using a retained recruitment service avoids a rushed hiring process when a role needs to be filled urgently and where ‘red flags’ can be missed. Additionally, 55% of those who continuously recruit throughout the year say this reduces their time-to-hire and 42% share it reduces cost-per-hire.₃  
 

Is Your Interview Process Smooth and Efficient? 

Your interview process plays a vital role in securing your ideal new director or manager. You’ve already got them interested, their application looks perfect, and they have accepted your offer of an interview. 

So, what next? 

Firstly, plan your timescales.  

Make sure you have time cleared in your diary to give you plenty of opportunity to comfortably hold the interview, allowing for questions and discussion with the candidate. Colleagues who are also taking part need to do the same.  

Additionally, remember to set time aside afterwards to review the interview. 

If your candidate is travelling some distance to meet you, it's worth considering a telephone interview first. This enables both sides to gauge how relevant and worthwhile a face to face interview would be. 

Think about the interview itself. What questions do you want to ask?  Where will you hold the interview and who will be present? Do you need rooms booking?  

What about other factors? For example, if your candidate is flying over for an interview, you will need to consider how, when, where, and what you are going to provide them with in terms of refreshments.  

After the interview, it's critical to make an offer quickly. Senior level, experienced professionals are not going to wait for several weeks for you to get in touch; they may well have had another offer by then. Moreover, your verbal offer should be backed up by a written confirmation within a couple of days. 

And once your candidate has accepted the role, be sure to stay in touch with them during the interim period before they start working for you. This will help them feel part of the team before they even get to their desk! Sending company e-newsletters and connecting on LinkedIn are excellent ways to do this. 

 

Is Your Onboarding Process Positive? 

 

 

Harvard Business Review studies showed that a good onboarding process reduces the average amount of time to reach full performance (i.e. able to make critical decisions with the right information in hand and having the right people in place to help execute) by a third – from six months to four.₄  

Conversely, a poor onboarding programme can have a devastating effect, not only on your ROI and time taken to get up to speed, but on the rest of your team who may feel demoralised if the new team member suddenly leaves after a short period. 

The onboarding process isn’t just a box-ticking exercise – it’s a critical part of welcoming your new employee to the team, getting them involved and productive, and making them feel part of the business as quickly as possible. Retention happens when individuals are committed to their company and understand their role in driving the business forward and growing its reputation. 

Nurturing your new talent should be your foremost driver when planning your onboarding campaign. They are an investment in your company’s future, after all. So, your onboarding process should include: 

  • An orienteering day (usually when they first arrive) covering the basics such as desk, laptop, keys, parking permits, and other admin 

  • A meet and greet – for team members, other colleagues, senior staff and board member where appropriate 

  • A training programme covering the first 90 days, with milestone achievements 

Additionally, you may wish to consider specific meetings (whether virtually or face to face) with same-level colleagues who represent your business elsewhere. 

Employees who experience excellent onboarding are likely to stay with a company longer. In fact, research by Glassdoor found that organisations with a robust onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 per cent and productivity by over 70 per cent.₅  

 

Conclusion 

Offering an excellent candidate experience will result in happy and engaged employees – and boost your company’s reputation.  

Investing in your company culture will enable your business to be seen as a great place to work, while real investment in your management team will not only encourage other employees to stay with you, but will attract new talent who want to work for your organisation, drawn by your employer brand. 

 

Thanks, 

 Roheela 

 

About Martin Veasey Talent Solutions 

At Martin Veasey, we have been working with blue-chip and SME businesses for over 35 years, both in the UK and around the world.  

We are an independent consultancy company with highly qualified staff, including many degree and Masters educated consultants, with memberships of professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the British Psychological Society.  

We have unique expertise in hiring for senior roles in Board & Senior, Supply Chain & Logistics, Purchasing & Procurement, Manufacturing & Engineering, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences, Sales, Human Resources, plus many more.  

If you are looking to work with a highly accomplished recruiting partner, you can call us on 01905 381320 or get in contact today.