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Why Transparency Builds a Positive Candidate Experience

June 24, 2016 at 9:00 AM Jill Witty

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Quick exercise: Name one thing you could do today, with almost no cost and no time required to implement, that will have an immediate, positive impact on your recruiting organization.

Stumped? Here’s the feedback we hear all the time from candidates interviewing for roles at Entelo.

Increasing transparency at every stage of the hiring process is one easy and surprising way to improve the candidate experience. When we think about the candidate experience at Entelo, our main goal is to treat candidates the same way we’d want to be treated if we were interviewing at a company. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

Whether or not the candidate becomes an employee at your company, there are important ramifications to how you treat them during the interview process. A positive experience may lead to a favorable review on Glassdoor or a candidate referral. A bad experience could mean an unpleasant encounter captured online or shared word-of-mouth to potential future candidates. Essentially, the experience you offer a candidate in a phone screen or in-person interview becomes his or her lasting impression of your team, so make it a good one.

So, where does transparency fit into the equation? To see how transparency enhances the candidate experience, let’s break the interview process into stages. 

Initial Screen: Let them know next steps and commit to a timeline.

At the screen stage, the recruiter or hiring manager takes an initial call or meeting to gauge the candidate’s interest and fit for an open role. Studies show most interviewers make a decision about a candidate within the first 15 minutes of the interview. If you’ve made up your mind during your screen, why not let the candidate know right then and there?

There are several positive outcomes to this level of transparency. If you’re advancing the candidate to the next stage, you’ll be able to take that next step more quickly (saving yourself hours or even days of going back and forth over email). You also get to take advantage of the positive momentum and excitement of giving the candidate immediate feedback and information about what comes next.

Alternatively, if you’ve decided not to move forward, you will keep candidates from undue worry or anguish by letting them know right away. You’ll also save yourself time by rejecting candidates during the screen. They will appreciate your candor, and you’ll appreciate being able to keep your pipelines clean.

Before the Onsite: Give a preview of the interview.

Candidates are naturally nervous before coming onsite to interview with the team. Why not put them at ease? We try to prepare our candidates by letting them know exactly who they’ll be meeting with, for how long, and (if appropriate) what the interview focus will be. For engineering, that means indicating whether they’ll be doing paired programming exercises, a review of their resume, or an interview with an executive. For sales candidates, we describe some of the skills and attributes that we value on our sales team. Short of giving them the actual questions or details, we are able to prepare them to put their best foot forward in our interviews.

Another upside of giving candidates a clear preview is that they will have no excuse not to have done their homework on the company and the people with whom they interview. If preparedness is one of your criteria for evaluating candidates, this step becomes even more important.

Rejecting a Candidate: Tell them why.

Rejecting a candidate is not easy. Nobody wants to be on the giving or receiving end of bad news. By being transparent, you can make the rejection easier for both candidate and recruiter.

First, never rely on email to reject candidates who have advanced as far as onsite interviews. Email can be cold, impersonal, and is likely to leave a bad impression with them. Instead, make a phone call, and thank candidates for taking part in the hiring process. (After all, they’ve taken time out of the day to prepare, come to your office, and interview.) Let them know that the fit wasn’t right, and (this is the key!) give them one reason why. It doesn’t have to be the only reason, or even the leading reason, but giving the candidate one honest, concrete reason (beyond “there wasn’t a fit”) helps the candidate take something positive away from the experience.

Whenever I have to reject a candidate, I give this person a call, and usually, the candidate is grateful. Often, I’ll learn he has never heard feedback after being rejected from a role. Coaching candidates in this way will boost their future chances, when they may indeed be a fit for one of the roles at your company.

How are you practicing transparency in your hiring process? Share your stories in the comments!

Related articles:

Here's Why Candidates Are Failing Your Interviews
6 Steps for a Speedy Successful Sourcing Session
Implement Interview Load Balancing and Never Give a Candidate a Bad Interview Again

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