Kaplan provides educational services to a wide array of organizations including universities and businesses to enhance learning experiences and support students. The talent acquisition team currently leverages Convey for Interviewing to effectively and efficiently interview candidates.
Chrissy Damasco is a Talent Sourcing Specialist at Kaplan Test Prep. She has been there for two years coming in from full-cycle recruiting in job placement and manufacturing. She leads the recruitment efforts for the West Coast including California, Washington, Oregon, and portions of the East Coast for Virginia and North Carolina. Her passion is wrapped up in candidate engagement, AI recruitment, relationship building, strategic thinking and a focus on emotional intelligence.
Kaplan on Candidate Experience
How does the team at Kaplan define candidate experience?
We hire less than 20% of our applicants, so we have thousands of candidates who aren’t hired each year. We view these candidates as just as important as folks we hire, so we take great care to ensure that everyone who comes through our process receives the same level of compassion, candor, and coaching. This is how we define our candidate experience.
Where do you think candidate experience stands today at most organizations? Why?
I can’t speak with much authority about other organizations, but we do have candidates express gratitude for nuances like tailored feedback during and after our interviews. When a company falls short of providing an optimal experience, it’s likely a result of the desire to fill a high volume of positions quickly. Our duty is to remember that this doesn’t have to conflict with the candidate experience.
Where do you feel candidates get the most frustrated while looking for a new job?
If an employer fails to provide all the requirements for the position at the application stage, candidates can waste a great deal of time and effort pursuing a position for which they’re not a reasonable match. We prefer to be as open as possible to avoid this situation.
Do you survey your candidates for interview feedback?
We often solicit feedback from candidates to determine where we can improve our processes. We’ve made a number of changes in recent years, including a wholesale shift in the order of our interviews, in direct response to candidate feedback.
What steps does the Kaplan recruiting team take to enhance the candidate experience?
We’re always looking for ways to ease a candidate’s journey through our process. Recently, we’ve enhanced the candidate experience by rewriting our job descriptions to reflect all facets of our positions, setting firmer expectations about the interview path at the beginning of the process, and eliminating unnecessary hurdles at the application stage.
How do you avoid the candidate “black hole” (when your candidates never hear back)?
At Kaplan, we strive to avoid the “black hole” through a system of checks and balances. Process matters! Specifically, we use shared spreadsheets, automated reminders, and periodic applicant sweeps to make sure we don’t lose candidates to this error.
Do you think recruiters have an obligation to explain specifically why a candidate is not chosen to move forward?
We do believe it’s important to give candidates a reasonable glimpse into our decision-making process, but we find it equally important to coach our candidates during interviews, regardless of the candidate’s perceived strength. To meet this goal, our candidates receive real-time feedback in our live teaching interview, which provides specific examples of how they can improve their teaching in the future.
What are the biggest challenges or obstacles in the way of your candidate experience that you’re working to resolve today?
The biggest challenge that we face and are working to resolve is the complexity of our hiring process due to the high bar we set for candidates. Our students expect stellar teachers, so we ask a lot of our candidates to meet this threshold. One example of an area where we minimize the burden on candidates is our free, streamlined retesting process, which allows candidates with low test prep scores an opportunity to meet our strict score qualification requirement.
What are your thoughts on bringing AI (artificial intelligence) into the hiring process?
Kaplan is very interested in the use of AI in the hiring process. We’ve yet to find the right tool, but are always exploring new AI possibilities, especially tools that would ease the initial sourcing burden to allow our recruiters to spend more time building relationships with strong candidates.
If money, time and any other resources were not roadblocks, what would be your dream hiring process for your candidates?
The dream process that we have for our candidates is to get a response to their application within 24 hours, including direct contact information with their recruiter. And then the candidate would be able to schedule subsequent interviews within a similar 24-hour window. Faster interview scheduling would allow us to get the right information in the hands of the right candidate in a faster manner. We’re certainly happy with our process now but there is always room for improvement!