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Six Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience

by Addie Linn | Nov 21, 2018

The talent tightrope we’re all walking in today’s tough market requires a relentless focus on the candidate experience. Children’s Mercy Hospital Director of Talent Acquisition, Molly Weaver, is no stranger to this statement. In fact, she and her team recently ranked 19/65 in the Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards, placing Children’s Mercy among national brands like Southwest Airlines, New Balance and Johnson & Johnson. In the latest episode of The TeamKC Podcast, we sat down with Molly to talk all things candidate experience. Below, you’ll find some of our greatest takeaways from the interview in addition to some of the top trends we’ve been hearing about and innovative ways they’re put to use.  

Be Sure They Can Find You
It’s simple table stakes to make sure candidates can find you in the first place. Make yourself findable, starting with these quick tips:

  • Review your company’s website: How easy is it for candidates to find information on your openings? Make sure the job descriptions are clear and address what candidates want to know, namely: Salary info, detailed job descriptions and information on the hiring process.
  • Talk with people who are in the job currently and learn about where they and their professional colleagues look for job postings.
  • Be aware of what people are saying about you. According to Jobvite’s e-book on continuous candidate engagement, people researching companies say they look at employer reviews first, THEN at what employers say about themselves on their websites and through their brands.

McSnapchat, anyone? This is just one of the innovative recruiting ideas Glassdoor recently profiled: “In an effort to capture the attention of Millennials looking for work, McDonald’s has been running 10-second Snapchat ads of current employees talking about their work.”

Make Applying Easy
Make it easy and make it mobile. Billions of job searches are conducted each month via mobile – and that includes seekers of all ages.  

Also, beware of onerous logins and long application processes. A candidate survey by Software Advice reports that 55 percent of job seekers say a long application process contributes to a negative candidate experience. Look at your analytics to find out where your potential candidates are abandoning the application - that will give you some clues about sections you may be able to leave out or save for a later stage in the interview process.

Children’s Mercy has implemented a process it calls reverse recruiting. Five years ago, the health care organization rolled out an “Introduce Yourself” feature on its candidate website, allowing job seekers to record a short video on their background and goals. According to Molly, video introductions allow you to look past the resume and see the whole person. Introduce Yourself has resulted in roughly 500 successful hires so far and has also played a role in increasing diversity.

Communicate at Every Stage
Easier said than done. Be clear about how the hiring process works and when candidates can expect to hear back from you. Keep candidates informed at each step including – perhaps most importantly – at the end. Provide some sort of closure, letting candidates know they did not get the job and WHY.

Children’s Mercy revamped all its candidate communications after receiving feedback from the Talent Board awards. One of the best tactics: The “not this but that,” letter for candidates who are turned down. According to Molly, while you’re required to respond to candidates about the specific jobs they’ve applied for, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them about other jobs for which they may be qualified. It’s another source for filling the candidate pipeline.

Make the Interview Process Consistent and Fair
In his free e-book, Gerry Crispin, of CareerXroads and the Talent Board, suggests “exemplifying fairness throughout every step,” and that includes everything from the job description and application process to the interview process and gathering feedback. Several questions in the McQuaig candidate experience-scoring quiz also focus on fairness and equity.

In a interview, SSM Health describes its “Hire for Fit” interview program for both managers and peer interviewers that trains them for preparing, conducting and following up on interviews. SSM says the program supports their value of respect and provides a “fair, consistent and equitable hiring practice for all.” It also helps to manage legal risks.

5. Include a thorough onboarding process
Your job is not done once you get the candidate in the door. The onboarding experience is critical – especially in those first few days. Check out our recent blog post for ways you can get creative.  

In a roundup of great ideas, LinkedIn shares that Zappos offers new hires up to $4,000 to quit during their initial training – a way to ensure they’ve made the right choice. Managers at Joie De Vivre Hotels encourage new hires to share ideas for improving the customer and new hire experience right off the bat. And Ernst & Young offers a “preboarding” portal that helps orient new employees before they even arrive.

6. Measure and improve
It’s easy to forget the candidates who didn’t make it. But they can provide some of the most valuable insights. And they can influence future candidates, too. According to a survey of job seekers by Software Advice, 59 percent of candidates who had a negative experience would tell others not to apply, and 42 percent would not buy the company’s products or services.

The greenhouse blog suggests sending a survey to unsuccessful candidates 30 days after you close the job. Ask just a few brief questions to help you understand how you did. Several experts also suggest tying that feedback to the specific recruiters so you can pinpoint problems and work on continuous improvement.

TeamKC is all about helping you boost your success throughout the candidate experience. Check out our most recent podcast episode and subscribe to hear more. To learn more about how you can be involved, contact Jessica Palm.

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