Every interaction with the employer's brand influences the candidate's perception of the company. Employers who are aware of this fact understand that strategic investments in employer branding can influence the candidate’s initial impression (and every subsequent one), their commitment, and engagement with the company throughout the selection process. Of course, this doesn't mean that a candidate cannot impress the employer with their qualities after the initial impression has been formed; it just might take a longer route.
The purpose of the selection process is to narrow down the pool of candidates and through gradual elimination, arrive at the most suitable one. However, an essential goal of the selection process is also to captivate the candidate, maintaining their interest for the next steps in the selection procedure. Therefore, the employer's brand and the candidate's experience are inherently intertwined, together yielding lower turnover and a more appropriate selection.
Huselid (1995) conducted one of the first studies that found that by improving recruitment strategies by one standard deviation, a reduction in turnover of up to 7% can be expected, along with an increase in average employee sales and company profitability per employee.2 These are impressive findings, but today we know that companies invest in their employees in various areas beyond recruitment and training, such as motivation, satisfaction, engagement, organizational culture and climate, and others that are equally linked to company success. The recruitment strategy connects with different aspects: it impacts legal compliance challenges (such as discrimination complaints in the selection process or regulatory alignment), the likelihood of the desired candidate accepting an offer, subsequent job satisfaction, the quality of organizational climate within workgroups, the quality of employee-supervisor relationships, and even the possibility of retaining non-selected candidates as future clients of the company.3
The candidate experience can always be improved
Candidates can experience strong emotions regarding the recruitment process, communication methods, and the feedback provided during the selection procedure, evaluations, or the selection process itself. It can be expected that unsuccessful candidates may form a negative opinion about the company, perceiving it as biased towards certain candidate groups or feeling that communication is impersonal and akin to conversing with a computer. The candidate experience can be improved at every step of the selection process. The way employees present the company is just as important as the information candidates receive during the selection process. From the first interview, a candidate should leave with an understanding of what sets the company apart from others, what the working environment is like, and what opportunities the company offers. The company's strategy can include crafting a concise and impactful message that presents the company's vision and mission aligned with goals. Recruiters can use this message during interviews and subsequently convey it to all employees and candidates. These individuals can then share the message in various social contexts – perhaps even right after the interview, when responding to friend’s questions about how the interview went.
Application on a smart screen
LinkedIn data indicates that candidates don't wait to get home to start looking for new jobs. The most popular day for job searching is Monday, gradually decreasing throughout the week before a sharp decline over the weekend.4 This practically means that candidates are searching for jobs while at work. Given that the use of employee’s computers is mostly monitored, employees conduct their job searches on mobile phones.
Figure 1. When candidates view and apply for jobs on LinkedIn
According to Glassdoor platform's research, 58% of candidates search for jobs on mobile devices, and only half of them complete the application process. However, the time taken to complete the application increases by 80% compared to applications submitted through a computer. Reducing the application submission time by 10% increases mobile applications by 2.3% and computer applications by 1.5%. Job postings tailored to mobile devices receive 11.6% more applications. The use of mobile phones is not limited to job searching; 43% of candidates also use them to research the employer before an interview, with 15 minutes before the interview being the most popular time. Additionally, only 20% of companies have career portals optimized for mobile devices. In a time when companies compete to attract talent, investing in mobile-friendly career portals can align recruitment strategies with candidate habits, giving companies a competitive edge in the market.5
Method "kick the door"
The goal of the method is to persuade a person to agree to a larger request by first getting them to agree to a smaller commitment. The key to the method's success lies in establishing a connection with the other person. If the person complies with the smaller request, there's a higher likelihood they will agree to a larger commitment to remain consistent with their initial decision. The very name of the method symbolizes a door-to-door salesperson who prevents their target from closing the door by placing their foot in the door's way. The buyer has no other option but to listen to the sales pitch.6
Similarly, candidates can be relieved with a deferred process of job application, which involves providing a smaller portion of the necessary data, such as personal information and a resume, for the initial step of selection. Only in the next step, a more comprehensive completion can be requested.
An important part of every selection process is providing appropriate feedback to candidates. Regardless of the legal obligation for employers to inform unsuccessful candidates of their non-selection, crafting a feedback strategy has a positive impact on both the candidate themselves and the client in need of a new employee, the company, and the employer's brand. Officially informing a candidate about the acceptance of their application signifies their inclusion in the selection process. This message can include information about the progress of the procedure, when the candidate can expect feedback at each stage, and how soon a decision about the selection will be made. This way, the candidate gains a clear understanding of what will be expected of them throughout the process. Feedback after an interview can help a candidate improve their interview technique, and even if the feedback is negative, it serves as a source of motivation for future interviews. With positive and personalized feedback, the company keeps the door open to the candidate and the possibility of being selected in the future. The willingness of the client to provide feedback impacts the quality of the interview itself and helps establish a talent pool that the client is likely to revisit in the future. On the other hand, this willingness fosters a fairer selection process and greater diversity within the company.7
How does digitization impact candidates' experience
In the past, business relied on personal contacts and one-on-one interactions. With the advent of digital technologies, cloud solutions, and smart devices that enable greater flexibility, efficiency, and improved quality in the 4th industrial revolution, technology has started working on our behalf.8 We have entered an era of automated recruitment processes that have taken over most routine tasks, consequently pushing human interaction into the background. New digital forms of interviews have taken center stage, such as video interviews with or without a present recruiter, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, which further limited in-person interactions. By utilizing digital tools, the candidate experience can be enhanced through various video content on websites. Company information on web pages can be enriched with videos about the company's history, future development plans, and personal success stories of employees, highlighting what they find special about the company. Sharing the experiences of newly hired employees regarding their roles and the company itself are excellent ways to make candidates feel positively about the company, as they listen to the stories of those who have recently been in their position.
New trends are heralding the entry into a new era where machines and humans collaborate to achieve greater efficiency. Systemic solutions are typically designed for data acquisition and processing, where the employee experience is decentralized into individual segments such as onboarding, performance evaluation, learning, and development. Despite being part of the same process at the employee level, such tools can address the question of what is happening (e.g., increased turnover), but the answer to why something is happening is provided by a new generation of systemic solutions that place the employee experience at the center of their processes.
As a result, we are witnessing an increasing use of questionnaires in various areas, attempting to gather employee feedback on the processes taking place within the company. Centralizing feedback about the employee experience will enable faster and easier operations, as companies will obtain answers regarding what employees need, where, and how, with the assistance of artificial intelligence. This approach will help bridge the gap between the leadership and HR experience on one side and the experience of employees and candidates on the other.
References and sources:
1 - Willis, J.; Todorov, A. (2006). First impressions: Making up your mind after 100 ms exposure to a face. Psychological Science, 17 (7), 592–598
2 - Huselid, M. A. (1995). The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial performance. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 635–672.
3 - Gilliland, S. W., & Cherry, B. (2000). Managing “customers” of selection processes. In J. Kehoe (Ed.), Managing selection in changing organizations (pp. 158–195). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
4 - Hickey C. (2016). These are the Peak Times Candidates View and Apply to Jobs. Dostopno na: https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/best-times-to-post-job-on-linkedin z dni 28. 5. 2021
5 - Zhao, D. (2019). The Rise of Mobile Devices in Job Search: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers. Available at:
6 - Dillard, J. (1990). Self-Inference and the Foot-in-the-Door Technique: Quantity of Behavior and Attitudinal Mediation. Human Communication Research, 16 (3), 422-447
7 - Dunne, R. (2020). Giving Feedback on an Interview Candidate: Why, How and When. Available at: https://www.adriasolutions.co.uk/giving-feedback-interview-candidate-hiring-managers-guide/ z dni 28. 5. 2021
8 - Redek, T. (2020). Kadri v času negotovosti in tehnoloških sprememb. HR&M: strokovna revija za področje razvoja organizacij in vodenja ljudi pri delu, 6 (29), 22-25