Is your applicant experience driving away the best talent?


Having recently completed a job search myself, this article in Forbes caught my eye:  Seven Outrageous Things Some Employers Make Job Applicants Do.

While not everything I encountered as an applicant was outrageous, I can clearly relate to many of the key points in the article. On the other hand, there were also a few standout companies that actually made the application process enjoyable!

So, from a job seeker’s perspective, here are 5 key strategies you can use to create a winning applicant experience.

1. Think like an applicant.

Sounds simple enough, but most companies forget this critical first step. To create a positive applicant experience, put yourself in the applicant’s shoes. Better yet, complete each step in the hiring process yourself.  What is your impression?  Is the process clear, easy-to-follow, and up to date?  Based on my experience, the following problems can derail the applicant experience faster than anything:

  • No sense of structure or organization
  • Impersonal process
  • Poor communication – or even worse, no communication
  • Steps are unclear
  • No follow up

If you observe any of these issues in your hiring process, don’t panic. Most are easy to fix. The most important thing is to focus on personalizing the process. Make sure each step is clear and that the process is easy to follow.

2. Let applicants know what to expect, and when.

When I was conducting my job search, one hiring manager called me out of the blue one afternoon to see if I was available for a phone interview right then and there. I was in my car driving home at the time, but I completed the interview on the spot for fear of missing an opportunity. Not only was I given no time to prepare, but I was not given clear directions of the next steps after what was a successful interview. It gave me the feeling they were only interested in their own timetable and had no concern about my schedule or availability.

Clear communication and letting applicants know what to expect is critical. Not only will applicants have a better impression of your company, but you’ll also have a better chance of getting the best information about each applicant.

3. Respect the applicant’s time.

Applicants invest a lot of time in their job search—scouring job boards, sending resumes, traveling for interviews, and the list goes on.

In my job search, two companies eased this strain by using virtual interview technology.  Rather than driving across town for a face-to-face interview, I simply clicked an invitation link. The process was fully automated, allowing me to answer a few questions in my own words so I could express how I would handle situations I would likely face on the job. The fact that I could take the interview at home, on my own time, was a big plus.  It couldn’t have been easier or more convenient.

4. Be Realistic.   

Of course, applicants expect to complete some type of employment test to see if they’re right for the job.  And here is where there’s a big difference. During my job search, I ran across the following:

Personality Test:  Interesting, but I caught myself thinking more about what the hiring manager might be looking for rather than what I actually thought about myself.

Skills Assessment:  A good way to test—when they’re the same skills you’ll be using on the job.

Job Simulation:  What I liked best was taking a simulation. It threw me into real-world situations that I would be dealing with day to day. The simulation gave me the chance to showcase my ability, and it also allowed me to consider if the job is really what I wanted to do on a daily basis. Looking back, I can see how the skills necessary for success in my current job were tested through the simulation.

It’s crucial for the assessment process to be realistic and reflect the job. If not, the applicant won’t have a clear idea what to expect and what they’ll be doing. A relevant process is also important for employers so they can realistically predict how the applicant will actually perform once they’re hired.

5. Make it fun!

When I applied for my current position at Employment Technologies, providing an engaging applicant experience really helped them stand apart as an employer. Their innovative approach not only kept the experience highly relevant, but I also had a good time completing it. What I found is that the more applicable the hiring process was to the job, the more motivated I was to complete the process–and the more time and effort I put into being a standout candidate. That, and being a competitive person, I was determined to finish with as close to a perfect score as I could get!

Ready to improve your applicant experience? Just drop me an email or give me call at 888.332.0648, ext. 261, to discuss proven ways to attract and hire the best new talent!