Are candidates sharing horror stories about your recruitment process? (A webinar recap)

Marie Evart, Laura Holcombe and Paul Church discuss providing a great candidate experience

You don’t have 50 minutes to watch the webinar about candidate experience, but really want to know what Laura Holcombe (Faculty), Paul Church (The Animo Group) and Marie Evart (Teamdash Co-Founder) discussed? Then this recap is written just for you.

Candidate experience has been a hot topic in recruitment for years. However, plenty of companies out there don’t prioritise it and, therefore, miss an opportunity and great candidates in the process. Seems like it’s even worse on the agency side – other aspects are in focus, leaving candidate experience completely in the background.

Whether you work as an in-house recruiter or an agency recruiter, not setting candidate experience as a priority makes the recruitment process one-sided…which we all know is not the case.

Providing a great candidate experience starts with getting the basics right!

The biggest mistakes in candidate experience

We asked Laura and Paul what the biggest mistakes in candidate experience are. Luckily, these are all easy to avoid:

  • Making candidates go through a long recruitment process with too many stages and 4-hour interviews. Design the recruitment process steps and interviews to be engaging. Don’t waste the candidates’ time and your own time!
  • Giving candidates tasks and homework, which take up hours of their time, without them getting anything in return. Way to make them feel that they are already doing the work for free. Yikes!
  • Misalignment of the salaries throughout the process stages. Talking about one range in the first stages and then making a low-ball offer in the final stage? Sounds like a definite ‘no’ and bad review on Glassdoor.
  • Overall bad communication and not keeping the candidate informed. This also includes not involving hiring managers in the process and not getting any feedback from them.

How to reach out to candidates the right way?

The communication starts with the first message, and the key here is authenticity. Both Laura and Paul had their own approaches to candidate outreach. Find what works for you through experimenting.

Laura likes to keep her outreach short and sweet. She recommends avoiding walls of text and suggests using three bullet points with the most important information and then providing a link tree, where the candidate gets to read more about the company and the role.

People take just 2-3 seconds to scan, so the message has to be on point and provide all the initial information to qualify.

Example of a recruiter inmail reach-out.
Example of Laura’s LinkedIn InMail reach-out.

For Paul, it is less about the length and more about covering the 4Ps:

  • Purpose (of the role and the company)
  • Pay (usually the range)
  • Progression (in the next 12-18 months)
  • Personalisation (name, current position, what stood out on the profile, etc.)

What to include in the outreach subject line?

Test different subject lines to see which approach gives you the best results – both in open rates and response rates.

Ultimately, your goal is to get the person engaged and on a call. Having a subject line that creates FOMO might be good for the open rates but also a way into the blacklist. And you don’t want that.

  • Laura uses this formula: Is this {role name} right for you, {candidate name}?
    It has led to a 30-70% response rate in LinkedIn outreach.
  • Paul also has a simple formula for the subject line: Job title & salary (+equity, if any)
  • For Marie, the best-performing subject line is: {First name}, I have one question. The recipients are actually really anxious to find out what that question is. It might not be the best idea for recruitment, but it is a way to make connections!

A tip: You should never bulk message (a common practice for agencies). Of course, using placeholders and having templates helps speed up the process, but try to personalise. Even small things help already – references to recent posts in their feed, mutual connections or events attended or industry news relevant to the candidate.

When should I mention the salary?

The million-dollar question in recruitment is: “At which stage do you talk about salary?”

But it shouldn’t be that difficult. Paul says that he mentions it in the 1st message, if possible. This way, the candidate knows what they’re getting into and knows what to expect. If the range does not meet the expectations, it saves a lot of time for you and the candidate when you disqualify them early on.
Laura says that there is always the risk that it can put the candidate off when the range is not right. But she still brings up the topic early on in the process, already on the first call. This helps to align expectations.

Communicating salary early on in the process signals transparency and helps build trust from the get-go.

There’s always a risk that you miss out on some candidates, but there are always candidates who fit into the range. That being said, you should be confident going out with the salary range. Otherwise, it’s not the right range for the role anyway! And you should negotiate the budget of the role.

Give feedback to all candidates

Let it be clear as crystal – you must give feedback to ensure a great candidate experience.

Recruiters are not big fans of giving negative feedback or sending rejection emails. It’s often emotionally hard but also necessary.

If possible, call. If not, send a (detailed) email with feedback on why the candidate was not selected for the position. Naturally, the candidate feels disappointed, especially when you have done the previous steps right, making them excited about the role. That’s why they deserve to know why.
Be blunt – tell them what could be improved, where they went wrong, or why the selected candidate was stronger. And mention all the positive aspects as well, which helps keep the door open for future possibilities. As Laura puts it: “Wrap it up in a compliment sandwich”

If you don’t have time to call all the candidates in higher volume roles or when you don’t have very specific feedback to give, you can also share links to resources so they know how to succeed the next time.

What to do when you don’t get any feedback from the hiring manager?

Engaging hiring managers is a headache for a lot of recruitment professionals. Using modern recruitment software where hiring managers can join the process as limited users would cure the headache in a snap.

But still...If the hiring manager doesn’t say anything about the candidate, be honest about that as well. Say that currently, it is just a ‘no’ but that you are trying to get more information. If the candidate is rejected in a later round, you can use the feedback from earlier stages.

It is not a good look when there isn’t any feedback. Not giving feedback puts the company at risk – not to mention the risk of bias and not being inclusive in the recruitment process. It affects the company’s reputation and can negatively affect your employer brand, especially with candidates sharing their experiences online.

More and more candidates are sharing their feedback online. They can share actual screenshots of the emails they receive. Usually, people are more motivated to share negative experiences, but some can boost your employer brand to a new level when candidates consistently have good experiences.

How can you help the candidates succeed?

You can refer the candidate to other recruiters in your network when possible. It can have a huge impact in helping find the right position and company for the candidate. Even 30 minutes to give tips and tricks helps a lot.

You can also offer prep calls to certain candidates who you believe are skilled and well-qualified but struggle with the interview process. You can also send interview questions or topic pillars in advance. It gives the candidates the time to prepare, and they are not put on a spot. Situational questions can eliminate some really good candidates. A small heads-up can go a long way.

Should I ask for feedback from the candidates as well?

If it’s made easy, you will get feedback, which helps you identify places for improvement. You are not present at every stage of the process and every interview and might not be aware of where the obstacles are. You can’t and shouldn’t attend every meeting.

The problems might lie in distracted hiring managers who don’t focus on the candidates during the interviews (ever had a Zoom call with someone who kept looking at their phone?), the application process might be too complicated, or the candidate didn’t feel comfortable with the assessments or tasks given. Whatever the reason, you could use that information to avoid making the same mistakes in your next projects.

Using forms and technology for candidate feedback

You can use forms and tech to make getting candidate feedback a part of your process. With Teamdash, you can measure the Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS). The candidate gives your process a score ranging from 1-10 and also has a chance to give open-form feedback or comment on it.

You can get set-up emails that ask for feedback as soon as the decision is made and sent. You don’t get high-quality, detailed responses if you don’t ask for feedback as soon as possible. The comments give you more background to the score – look behind the low score. Could it be that the candidate is disappointed that they weren’t selected, or did they pinpoint a problem in the process?

Ask candidate feedback with automated emails
You can ask for candidate feedback using Teamdash and get your cNPS

What are the tips and hacks for giving a good candidate experience?

To sum up, the tips and hacks for a good candidate experience are:

  • Set up the optimal recruitment process: The pace is important. The process demonstrates how organised the company is. Set up a recruitment process that helps you attract and qualify your ICP. Also, give a chance to meet the people the candidate is going to work together with to help them understand the culture. This helps evaluate culture fit before making the hire and has been shown to boost retention.
  • Just be human: Sounds simple, but many people have forgotten the basics of communication: maintain a relationship, make it more than a business transaction, and most importantly – do as you promised to do! Check in with people who are in your talent pool for future openings.
  • Make your process attractive to the candidates: Screening calls are 60% of selling the role and identifying how this career move can benefit the candidate. Keep them updated throughout the process. A good idea is to put it in the job ad that they will get feedback. It is something that they really want and appreciate in a recruitment process. Mention the salary range early on to qualify the interest.
  • Onboarding is also important – allow your potential new employee to meet the person who hired them during the recruitment process, not on the first day of the new job. A way to scare a candidate off is to sell one job during recruitment but have a different reality once they have accepted the job.

This is a summary post about Teamdash’s webinar recorded in August 2022. You can watch it on our YouTube channel.

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Merilyn Uudmae


Content Marketing Manager

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