Branding & Recruitment

How to craft an authentic candidate experience that drives results

In a candidate-driven market, how do you stand out? It all starts with delivering an inspiring, authentic candidate experience. From the number of applicants your company receives, to cost savings and revenue generation, key performance metrics are directly influenced by the way you nurture candidates through their hiring journey.

To discuss strategies around how to craft an authentic candidate experience, we co-hosted a webinar with The Muse for an engaging conversation. Our awesome panelists included: 

  • Shannon Ferguson, Head of People at Blueboard
  • Manuel Tafoya, Director of People and Culture at Avocado Green Brands
  • Sarah Hisiger, Enterprise Client Success at The Muse

Check out the full recap below. For more great HR Webinars, stay in touch via our Resources page.

Why invest in the candidate experience? 

As you may expect, the type of candidate experience you design can have a direct impact on important recruiting metrics - such as the amount of applicants in your pipeline, the number of hires you make, and the cost to hire. But the candidate experience goes beyond that. It also has the potential to influence the perception of your employer brand, as demonstrated by the stats below.

Hired by Google shared that a poor candidate experience is likely to spur negative word of mouth (with job seekers turning to review sites like Blind, Glassdoor or Indeed to air their experiences). With review sites like Glassdoor rising to become the most valued resource for around 30% of job seekers, it’s crucial to keep candidate experience positive in order to sway the creation of negative reviews.

A negative brand perception can ultimately cost your company. Virgin Media ran a study where they evaluated the 150M job applicants they received in one year and identified around 20% as being current customers on their subscription plans. Due to their negative candidate experience, 7,400 of these applicants cancelled their service, resulting in $6M in lost revenue. This shows the very clear tie between candidate experience and your long term business impacts.

So what can companies do to craft a more positive and authentic experience for candidates? We’ll walk through four common stages of the candidate experience and share top tips from our panelists. 

Awareness - The Job Seeker Stage

The panelists agreed that the candidate experience begins at the very first point of contact - even before a job application is sent in. This first interaction could happen when a potential candidate has a conversation with one of your employees at a conference or comes across one of your social media posts on Instagram. Knowing this, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • First impressions matter. If the first touch point someone has with your company is negative, the chances of them applying for a job with you are slim. That’s why it’s important to invest in your employer brand and ensure that every interaction - whether that’s through an in-person conversation or through your social media presence - leaves potential candidates feeling good about your company (reputation, culture, etc.)
  • Your existing employees are ambassadors. Your current employees have the potential to be your best ambassadors. But to do so, they have to love where they work and understand how to talk about your company externally. This is why we encourage organizations to create a strong employee experience and get the entire team aligned around your values and culture. At the end of the day, both your internal and external brand have a powerful influence over one another. 

Consideration - The Applicant Stage

At this stage, candidates are aware of your brand and are considering whether you’re a company they want to work for. There are a few things you can do during this phase to help the candidate vet you as much as you’d want to vet them: 

  • Tell a story: During this phase, the team at The Muse recommends finding ways to bring your organization’s brand story to life. This could be through the company website, job description, recruiting video, or anything in between. The Muse partners with employers and serves as a one-stop-shop for companies that want to tell their brand stories in an effective way (learn more about The Muse here). 
  • Use inclusive messaging. At Blueboard, we have a culturally-rich team that welcomes people from all backgrounds, and we’re extremely intentional about getting this message across to potential candidates - from the language we use to the photos we share on our Careers page. Every organization should think about what type of message they’re sending out into the world by asking questions like: Are we giving an impression that makes people feel comfortable? Is our language gendered? Is our imagery homogenous? 

Interviewing - The Candidate Stage

Once a candidate enters the interviewing stage, it implies that both parties are interested in each other and are taking exciting steps forward together. To make every candidate’s interviewing experience more thoughtful and memorable, keep these things in mind: 

  • Candidates want clarity. One of the main reasons why candidates frequently have negative interviewing experiences is due to a lack of clarity (meaning the process takes too long, or there are too long of gaps between feedback or next steps). That’s why, once a candidate is engaged in the hiring process, the panelists recommend laying out a timeline of what to expect during the interviews. This will help them be better mentally prepared and understand how long the process takes. While Blueboard’s interviewing process is customized to the specific role, we give candidates a general overview on our Careers page so they’re never caught off guard. 
  • Values are an important part of the conversation. The team at Avocado Brands takes a values-driven approach to interviewing. Given the nature of their environmentally-friendly and global brand, they prioritize finding candidates who are passionate about sustainability and prioritize collaboration. Similarly, at Blueboard, we always dedicate a portion of our interviews to asking questions that allow a candidate to demonstrate how their own values align with ours. Below is a snapshot of a few of our favorite questions to ask:  

Onboarding - The New Hire Stage

An onboarding program is a must when it comes to the candidate experience, given its role in an employee’s tenure and work quality. Research has found that new hire retention rates improve by 82% and productivity improves by 70% when there’s a strong onboarding program in place. 

  • Warm welcomes are a must. Onboarding is the perfect time to get new hires excited about their role. The Avocado team takes a very company-specific approach to their onboarding and gifts each new hire with a welcome box that contains a personal note from the founder along with samples of the materials that their mattresses are made of (latex, cotton, wool, etc.) This creates a truly hands-on experience with their brand and product and also creates another link back to their sustainability focus.
  • Remember that moments can be powerful. The panelists agreed that onboarding is the perfect time to create a long-lasting impression on the new hires. That’s why, at Blueboard, we have a whole process when it comes to rolling out the welcome wagon - from phone calls from the interview panel after the offer is accepted, to a shared onboarding schedule to relieve anxiety and, most notably, a Blueboard Ivory reward for employees to treat themselves before they start. Not only does this create a powerful memory in association with the onboarding process, but it’s also a great way to receive fresh feedback on how to improve our product and reward recipient experience from a pair of fresh eyes.

We hope these tips help you feel inspired to craft an authentic candidate experience! To learn more about how Blueboard can support your employee onboarding gifts or employee referral incentives program, drop us a note and get in touch with our team for an in-person demo.

Stay tuned for more valuable webinars and upcoming events here on our Resources page - we can’t wait to see you again online.

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