Candidate Experience: The good, the bad & the ugly

By Adam Robinson,
December 3, 2012

If you’ve been reading our blogs, you’re probably well aware of the importance of using interview guides. They help to keep the interview on track, and more importantly, interview guides ensure that you are asking the right questions. By the end of the process, you’ll find yourself handing over an offer letter feeling confident that the candidate will be a great fit, thanks in large part to that handy interview guide. 

But what happens if that stellar candidate rejects your offer? Why would they ever turn down an opportunity with your company? You offered them a competitive compensation package and generous benefits – what more could they want?

Well maybe they didn’t turn down the position because they weren’t happy with the offer, or even because they didn’t like your company; but maybe they turned it down because they were less than impressed with the you and your interview process. 

So, how do you make sure each and every candidate, whether they are offered a position or not, feels that their experience interviewing with your company was worthwhile? 

The Good

Trying to find a job can be quite an unsettling process; but what makes it even worse is when you don’t even know if you are still being considered for the position. Candidates enjoy feeling like they are in the loop, and catering to this need only takes a few minutes.

My first internship was at Tellabs, a global telecommunications company. I felt that it was a bit of a long-shot applying to such a large, well-known company, but I submitted my application anyway. One day later I recieved an email from the recruiter; it was brief, but informational. What really stood out though was that this email was personalized. It was addressed to me, gave further insight into the position and was from an actual person – not a do-not-reply email address. The recruiter, Mark Valadez, contacted me the next day wanting to set up a phone interview. He told me how long it would take and whom I would be talking to. Mark followed-up with me the following day to see how I thought the phone interview went to give and to give me a time frame for the next steps. When I came in for the interview, Mark took the time to show me around the building, and point out some of the perks of working there.

I had low expectations going into the interview process because I’ve heard countless stories about people feeling like a number rather than a potential hire. But I was blown away by my experience with Mark and Tellabs; and because of that, I have shared this experience again and again.

The Bad 

You walk into an interview knowing that you’re there to impress. But nothing is worse than dealing with an interviewer who is disengaged or acts as if they’re doing you a favor by interviewing you. Of course you want the job, but do you really want to work for a company who is disrespectful towards candidates? Who knows, they may treat their employees even worse!

CareerBuilder conducted a study of 800,000 workers from June, 2011 to April, 2012. They found that 44% of candidates who applied to a job without ever hearing back had a negative opinion of that company. Even worse, a whopping 78% of candidates said that they would share their negative experience with family and friends. Another survey, administered by Mystery Applicant, found that 64% of candidates share their negative candidate experiences on social media! 

All it takes is common courtesey and good communication to boost your candidate experience. In turn, candidates will share their positive experience with your company, thus spreading awareness of your company. Plus, chances of them turning down a job offer with your company are slim!

The Ugly

Sometimes you just can’t help but be grateful you weren’t offered the job. As easy as it is to provide a good candidate experience, we just can’t help but wonder how some people are trusted with interviewing.

“I thought the interview was going reasonably well, when the lead person on the three person interview panel took off his shoes and put his feet on top of his desk right in my face. As he put his feet up, he asked me a question and I, shocked but not missing a beat, simply answered the question. I wasn’t sure if that was a test on dealing with rude people or unusual situations, or a signal that I was not going to get the job. Fortunately, I didn’t get the job.” —

A qualified candidate who would fit in great with the company culture comes in for an interview. The interviewer is courteous and has a score sheet in hand. This seems like a recipe for success, right? Well sometimes interviews just don’t pan out the way you expected. 

“While I was interviewing someone I saw a mouse step into a sticky trap.  The interviewee was talking and did not hear the mouse start to cry out.  I kept the conversation going to the end, never breaking eye contact with the person.  The mouse continued to cry – it was heartbreaking. After the interview was over another employee and I peeled the mouse off the trap, hair by hair and let it go out in the field.” —

Interviewing isn’t always glamorous, but hiring the right people is crucial to the success of your team. By keeping candidates updated on the interview process and remaining cordial, you will be well on your way to being recognized for your great candidate experience. 

So, once you hire those all-star candidates, how do you keep them around?

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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