A First Impression Matters (& HR Can Control It)

In our continuing exploration of how HR technology and processes impact the experience of employees, business leaders and the organization itself, we wanted to turn our attention to talent acquisition. Sadly, talent acquisition is where some of the worst experiences happen. Anyone who has applied for a job typically has some level of frustration with their experience in the process, ranging from no feedback to disjointed interviews to offers that come too late. So, to unpack how talent acquisition tools and processes impact experience, let’s take a look from the candidate’s perspective.

Are you providing an experience to land the candidates you really want?

We do a lot of research here at Aptitude, and our latest talent acquisition research found that 87% of organizations felt that a positive candidate experience has a significant impact on a candidate’s decision to join the organization, second only to compensation, as cited by 89% of our survey respondents. This means that how your candidate experiences the process of talent acquisition is almost as important as what you offer them when they make their decision. Whoever coined the term “you only get one chance to make a first impression” was certainly right when it comes to wooing the right candidates to join your company.

Despite the importance of the candidate experience, only 59% of organizations said they currently measure the candidate experience as part of their talent acquisition metrics, and just 32% say they are using candidate relationship management technology to help them deliver and improve their process. The good news is that putting in a formal process to get feedback from candidates on the hiring process was identified as a top priority. It’s important to get this feedback, because your process is only a quality experience if the candidate agrees that it was.

Set expectations and then deliver

Delivering and measuring the quality of candidate experience is challenging, but top-performing organizations are looking to tools that help them understand what type of content or interactions are actually leading top quality candidates to apply, or for influencing them as they make their decisions. Once these levers are understood, it is equally important to deliver that experience consistently. Consistency means setting applicant expectations and actually delivering on them. It’s not that you have to outline an extravagant process, people just want to know what to expect. And don’t forget, your candidate experience impacts more than just the single candidate. With the amplification provided by social media, a bad candidate experience cannot be hidden. And that’s important for your reputation as an employer; our research shows 67% of organizations feel that their online reputation on sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor have significant influence on someone’s decision to join.

You really never get a chance to reset first impressions, so make sure that a bad candidate experience doesn’t cause your organization to miss out on great talent. It’s bad business. Formulate your point of view on how you want to treat candidates, set the right expectations, and deliver on them again and again. And don’t forget the impact your process has on hiring managers and HR organizations – those are the upcoming topics from Lesley and Ben, so we hope you come back for more!

Mollie Lombardi, Co-Founder, Aptitude Research Partners

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