Lars Schmidt on Candidate Experience
How do you define candidate experience?
I think it’s basically the way organizations treat candidates during the application and interview process.
Where do you think candidate experience stands today at most organizations? Why?
I think it’s poor at most organizations and that’s because they focus on the transactional nature of recruiting, not the human element. Unfortunately most recruiting teams aren’t resources to provide great candidate experience.
Where do you feel candidates get the most frustrated while looking for a new job?
This whole reality of the black hole that we’ve been talking about forever. That is probably the most frustrating to candidates because they find new jobs and get excited, then they apply and don’t hear anything. That is frustrating.
What are some positive steps that organizations can take to enhance the candidate experience?
Setting expectations is a big piece - letting candidates know at the beginning of the process what the timeline is like, what the interview process looks like, there’s lots of things that candidates should know and recruiters should be upfront about. Recruiters should be forward with candidates about what that process looks like.
How can organizations avoid the candidate “black hole” (when your candidates never hear back)?
Communicate. Set expectations upfront - and that can be as simple as creating a guideline for the interview process, creating template emails after application. Have more content there. Create FAQs that you know candidates typically ask at the beginning of the process, and get ahead of them so once they’ve applied you can share information and you can set expectations. That doesn’t take heavy effort. That’s an important piece that you don’t see a lot of but you should.
Do you think recruiters have an obligation to explain specifically why a candidate is not chosen to move forward?
Obligation? No. Well, in some cases there is legal risk in doing so. In other cases you cannot provide enough context to where it’s a really meaningful piece of feedback. As a rule, there is no obligation that recruiters should follow, but from a recruiting process, where [recruiters] can they should.
You also have to look at organizations that hire at scale. There are different degrees of candidates. So an applicant who is not yet qualified and who never received a call or a phone interview, I don't think that person necessarily can be given detailed feedback on why they weren’t considered. But a candidate who took time to interview and took time off work to interview - someone who has already started that process - they should get a higher level of feedback why they may or may not be a fit.
What are the biggest challenges or obstacles in the way of candidate experience today?
I think it’s just not a priority. Most recruiting teams are spread really thin. They’re strapped for capacity and bandwidth, so they are really just looking to find the right candidates for the twenty jobs - or however many jobs they are recruiting for - at a time. They are stretched too thin to provide all the other levels of service to candidates. Recruiters take a lot of heat for poor candidate experience. Sometimes it’s deserved, other times it’s a bandwidth issue even when best intent exists.
What are your thoughts on bringing AI (artificial intelligence) into the hiring process?
I think it’s got a ton of potential. There are a lot of companies out there today claiming AI that aren’t really that (yet). I think we’re a couple years away from seeing the real potential of it, but I think it absolutely can have a positive impact on recruiting.
If you could formulate the ideal candidate experience, what would it look like?
That’s a tricky one to answer because it’s so subjective by company and other variables. At a high level, its one in which candidates feel informed and valued.
Start from the outcome. So, the outcome of a great candidate experience would be a process where candidates feel respected, informed and valued. They know where they stand in the interview process. The expectations have been set with them. They’re clear on what the process and timing looks like. They are fully engaged and in the loop. So they aren’t surprised and when they are rejected and they feel they experienced a fair process.
Reverse engineer it from the outcome. How do you want candidates to feel in the process? Then figure out how to get them there. There’s no "one size fits all" in terms of a great candidate experience, but it’s all about driving the outcome.