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Planning Your Company’s ‘Candidate Experience’ to Attract Talent

January 29, 2019

Attract talent

With unemployment at less than 4%, finding talent has become the biggest issue employers face today. The new buzzword is “candidate experience,” which refers to the process of garnering talent from your unique branding message, starting with how you source talent and continuing through the interview and offer stages.

The process of finding people to interview has changed completely. Gone are the days when you could post an ad in the company yard or on a job board and tons of qualified applicants would apply. Passive candidates need to be sourced. Communication in the form of an email, text, or social media outreach should contain a great message around the company’s story, written in a way that stirs the reader’s emotions. This sourcing will help companies enhance their pipeline with talented passive candidates.

Creating a great interview experience

Interviews are being done in a whole new way as well. It no longer makes sense to just “drill” candidates on why they think they are qualified. Your organization’s values and the behaviors attached to them should play a key role in forming the type of questions you ask potential employees. Because your “purpose” and your “why” are important to candidates, your questions should express your culture and allow you to determine if a candidate can integrate into it.

As part of the candidate experience, you must create the actual experience a person has before, during, and after the interview. Companies that do this well have figured out a way to create an experience that is unique compared with all the other interviews that candidates have been on. A couple of ideas that we have witnessed are:

Before the interview. Businesses that do “candidate experience” well have created material that gets people excited to interview with them. One of my favorites is the video Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, created called “We Are Honored” (on YouTube). This video begins with the normal viewing of the products the division makes—which in this case are very large military vehicles that, frankly, are not very “sexy” to the average worker.

Fast forward, and you see several employees of Oshkosh Defense talking and working at their jobs. Suddenly, you see these same people holding pictures of loved ones, and the messages attached to the pictures create a strong emotional connection at your core. This one video transformed the interest level of candidates who would interview with the company dramatically.

While this is a great example, sometimes all that’s needed is a nicely worded email from the company president telling a candidate how excited they are to meet him or her and a bit about the company’s story. It doesn’t take a lot of money or time to create a pre-interview experience, but the transformation in interest is highly notable.

During the interview. It is critically important to put your best foot forward during the interview. People always compliment our “Director of First Impressions” for the amazing experience she creates for candidates when they enter our doors. This is “game day”—now the “experience” begins:

  • Everyone is greeted by a person, not a phone with an extension to buzz.
  • Everyone is offered a beverage.
  • No one waits for more than five minutes in the conference room—even if they’re early. Someone goes in and keeps them company.
  • We let them know ahead who will be in the room and their positions in the firm.
  • We tell them they can ask any questions they would like. We will be completely transparent.
  • We learn about them first. This is as much about their decision as ours, and we want to know what it is that brought them to our firm.
  • The president, owner, or a member of leadership meets with every candidate for at least five minutes, no matter the position. No one can sell a firm better than those who run it, and that passion creates the “why” for most candidates.
  • If we decide to make an offer, we do so within 24 hours. Speed to hire is very real in this market.

After the interview. Once an offer is accepted, the final candidate experience piece is to send the person a company token, with a letter saying how excited you are that he or she will be joining you. This can be as simple as a note, but a polo shirt with the company logo or business cards with the person’s name and title go a long way in getting the candidate excited and creating that feeling of “I am home.”

Whew! Who knew that finding top talent was so difficult? Ah, but it is, because talented people have options. It’s a lot of work to garner the right folks—but well worth the investment long term.

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About The Author

Sharon Hulce is president and CEO of Employment Resource Group Inc.. She can be reached at sharon@ergsearch.com

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