Improve Candidate Experience by Standardizing Your Hiring Process

Employers are under more pressure than ever to hire well with fewer resources. By making small changes that add consistency to your recruiting efforts, you can drastically improve candidate experience while simultaneously making your hiring process more efficient, fair, and effective. This blog summarizes “Standardize to a Better Candidate Experience” webinar on demand.    

New data shows that the candidate experience has sharply declined since 2021. When facing a newly candidate-driven market, employers were (briefly) forced to look at their hiring practices and understand their implications on the candidate experience. According to the CandE Benchmark Research Program, the candidate contentment rate has been on a downward trend the past two years – a trend so steep that the candidate experience could globally be described as “tanking.”

Compelled by the high-interest rate economy to become more conservative with headcount, companies are requiring candidates to jump through more hoops – an attempt to help hiring teams make the right choices as they aim to fill fewer roles with even higher-performing talent.  (Of course, when faced with financial constraints, you do have to be more confident in your hires – but additional interviews and more involved demonstrations of ability may not increase quality, and undoubtedly do nothing to improve candidate experience.)

The candidate experience crisis:
a vicious cycle

As layoffs inundate industries such as tech and retail with job seekers while shrinking the very TA teams that prosecute them, overwhelmed recruiters are simply unable to process applicants in a timely manner – if at all. Candidates falling through the cracks has become the norm – and not for lack of desire to offer a great candidate experience.  

Yet as our historically tight labor market continues, businesses can’t afford to sabotage their employer brand, which is inextricably tied to the candidate experience they offer. Even if your career site touts an inclusive, transparent, or high-functioning culture, your actions (i.e., your hiring process) will speak much louder than your words do. That’s why it’s imperative that your recruitment marketing and actual recruiting practices tell the same story.

Standardize your hiring process to improve candidate experience

The fortunate truth is that a few minor tweaks to your hiring process can differentiate your organization from all the rest. To improve candidate experience, you don’t need robust interview prep kits or dazzling visual offer letters (though those are great). A winning candidate experience doesn’t have to be particularly unique, high-touch, or expensive. It simply requires standardization so that all applicants are treated fairly, empathetically, and respectfully – and receive a consistent view of your workplace from the first time they read a job post to their first day on the job. 

Standardization also makes the hiring process more efficient, freeing up recruiters to authentically improve candidate experience in other ways. With the time and energy saved, they can, for instance, help candidates and hiring team members sufficiently prepare for interviews or provide personalized feedback to disqualified candidates (if your company allows that). Investing in candidate experience (and your TA team): it’s a virtuous cycle!

Seven steps to standardize (and transform) your hiring process

Standardization is the foundation of a positive candidate experience because it meaningfully influences every stage of the candidate journey. Here are seven ways you can bake standardization into your hiring process.

Require (effective) intake meetings. Kick off each and every req with a comprehensive intake meeting between the recruiter and hiring manager. Well-designed intake sessions establish clarity on role requirements, responsibilities, evaluation criteria, and communication protocols. Securing early alignment ensures consistency and transparency, setting clear expectations for candidates and fostering a sense of respect for their journey.

Use rubrics to evaluate candidates. Utilize rubrics to evaluate candidates objectively and consistently. By defining evaluation criteria and scoring methods upfront, hiring teams can mitigate bias, make informed decisions, and maintain fairness throughout the assessment process. Not only do rubrics allow hiring teams to make more confident selections, they improve candidate experience by helping stakeholders gain a well-rounded understanding of each candidate across relatively few conversations – without the need to “gut-check” by adding interviews.

Implement service-level agreements (SLAs). Define and adhere to SLAs to streamline the hiring timeline. Setting realistic deadlines for each stage of the process ensures prompt communication and prevents delays that could deter candidates. (The #1 reason job seekers drop out of consideration is the process taking too long.) SLAs underscore your organization’s commitment to efficiency and professionalism, reinforcing a positive employer brand.

Leverage job post templates. Develop standardized job templates to ensure all your job ads convey essential information consistently. Clear and comprehensive job posts attract qualified candidates while minimizing confusion and reducing unfit applications that overwhelm recruiters. When you distribute templates across your organization, everyone wins. Hiring managers save time writing effective jobs. Recruiters avoid wasting time on unqualified applications. And job seekers can quickly and easily self-select in or out.

Automate communication with email sequences. Build templated or automated emails for your team to keep all candidates equally informed and engaged throughout the hiring process. From application acknowledgments to status updates, timely, consistent communication demonstrates transparency and respect for candidates’ time. (Both of which, of course, improve candidate experience and your employer brand.) Automation lets you realize these benefits regardless of recruiters’ individual capacity.

Fairly compensate for interview projects. Offer market-rate compensation for interview projects to mitigate bias and promote inclusivity. Otherwise, you might give an advantage to certain job seekers based on their socioeconomic class, age, or caretaker status. By paying every candidate for their time and expertise, you demonstrate your organization’s genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In doing so, you enhance your employer brand, improve candidate experience, and secure the most diverse, qualified talent available.

Harness recruiting analytics. Leverage recruiting analytics like Datapeople Insights to identify and address inconsistencies (and therefore inefficiencies) in your hiring process. Data can expose meaningful patterns and concerning discrepancies across recruiters, departments, office locations, candidate demographics, and so on. By pinpointing and fixing any problem areas, you bring more uniformity and fairness to your recruiting practices and improve candidate experience – and hiring outcomes – for everyone.

Improve candidate experience to benefit job seekers and your business 

Recruiters, hiring managers, and businesses are under more pressure than ever to hire well with fewer resources. What’s at stake in candidate experience is nothing less than employer brand, strong hires, and the future of your company. Luckily, small changes will go a long way toward elevating the candidate experience. (Candidates aren’t asking for the world on a platter, but they do want to know when they’ve been rejected.) 

Improve candidate experience by standardizing your hiring process in a handful of straightforward steps. To learn more about these impactful steps, watch the “Standardize to a Better Candidate Experience” webinar on demand. Creating a great candidate experience that positively impacts your bottom line requires very little of your team relative to the benefits it will allow them to reap. After all, good candidate experience is a virtuous circle. Not quite sure where to start? Sign up for our free hiring process audit to better understand what influences your recruiting metrics and identify improvement opportunities.

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