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4 mins

How To Craft an Outstanding Candidate Experience

Every job interview is a two-way street: you’re assessing the candidate and the candidate is assessing you. Here’s how to give your interviewee the best possible experience.
by Deborah Caulet | Apr 7 2020

At Blinkist, we’re very proud of our candidate experience. According to Glassdoor, Kununu and the candidate survey we send at the end of our recruiting process, the vast majority of people who apply at Blinkist have a great experience. Indeed, we receive emails from candidates on a daily basis praising the quality and humanity of our process. Here are just a couple of examples:

Email from a candidate

You know you’re doing something right when candidates you didn’t hire send you gifts

At this point, you must be wondering what we’re doing differently and what sets us apart from other companies. In this article, I’m going to share my top 3 tips on how to craft a candidate experience that’s inclusive, supportive, helpful and humane—which will ultimately help you attract great and diverse talent. The good news is: it’s simple, it doesn’t cost anything and you can start today. All you need is empathy, a candidate-centric mindset and a little bit of time.

1. Set your candidates up for success

Finding a new job is an important life decision and can be a daunting process—especially for candidates who are more on the introverted side of the spectrum. Part of our job as recruiters should be to alleviate the stress and feeling of uncertainty inherent to the process so that candidates feel at ease and psychologically safe during their interviews. Not only will your candidates perform better, but they will also open up more easily and show their authentic selves.

— How to do it

  • When you invite candidates for their first interview, send them an overview of your recruiting process. Tell them how many interviews they’ll have, what each interview will consist of and who they’ll talk to so that they know what’s coming up.
  • Share articles and videos about your company so that they can learn about your culture and prepare questions.
  • Give them insights on what you expect from them so that they can prepare for their interview.
  • If you’re a B2C company, sending them a voucher to try your product will help them to get a better understanding of what you do and prepare questions.

We send this Webpage to all our candidates

2. Start a conversation with your candidates

As recruiters, we often tend to forget that an interview process is a two-way street and that candidates are evaluating us just as much as we evaluate them. At Blinkist, we strongly believe that one of the outcomes of a successful recruiting process should be that candidates are able to decide if the company and role they’re applying for is a good match in terms of values and growth opportunities. In order to achieve that, we proactively share accurate information about the role, personalized details about our culture and create enough room for candidates to ask questions.

— How to do it

  • Spend some time at the beginning of the first interview to understand your candidates’ values and expectations. Why are they looking for a new job? What’s important to them while working in a team? What do they expect from their future lead? Second, use that information to introduce the role, the team they’ll join and your company values in a way that’s tailored to them.
  • During interviews, provide context before you ask a question. Let’s say you’re interviewing a recruiter and want to learn about their experience with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Instead of asking “Which ATS have you used in the past and what was your experience with it?”, introduce your question “We use X here. We’re quite happy with it because of Y but we think Z could be better. How about you? Which ATS have you used, etc.” Not only will it help them understand how you work, but it will also give them time to breathe and think about what they want to say.
  • Invite the candidate for lunch at the end of the process so that they can meet their potential colleagues in a casual setting. It gives them the opportunity to observe how team members interact with each other and ask questions they wouldn’t necessarily ask in a formal interview.
  • Organize a reverse interview with your leadership team so that candidates can ask about their vision, strategy and ambitions. At Blinkist, we think that the more candidates know about our plans, the better they can decide if they want to join the ride. We share pretty much everything with candidates, except for financial information like our valuation or bottom line.
  • Schedule a quick check-out meeting at the very end of the process to ensure that candidates walk out the door with all the information they need in order to make a decision.

3. Reject your candidates gracefully

Rejection is the most difficult, and sadly, the most common part of our job as recruiters. After all, we reject most candidates we interact with so it’s important that we thoroughly think about how we end the process. Ideally, you want to provide each candidate with meaningful feedback, but unfortunately, if you work in a fast-growing start-up, I’m sure you will agree that doing it consistently is challenging. At Blinkist, we want every candidate to be treated with care, compassion and respect. We want people to have a memorable and pleasant experience regardless of whether or not they get an offer. We don’t have the capacity to provide feedback to everyone but we’ve found a way to manage their disappointment which I describe below.

— How to do it

  • If you’re a B2C company, include a voucher in your standard rejection template. It’s a small gesture that rewards candidates for the time and effort they put into their application.
  • Add a disclaimer for tasks and coding challenges. Let your candidates know in advance that you won’t be able to provide them with feedback and leave the door open for them to withdraw from the process if they wish to.
  • Offer a feedback call to candidates who went through the entire process but didn’t get an offer. The call can be done by the recruiter or even the Hiring Manager for a more personal approach. At this point, candidates will have invested a lot of time into your process so giving them feedback is required.

Our rejection email template

In a nutshell, remember to put yourself into your candidates’ shoes and… be a good human! Last but not least, make everyone responsible for candidate experience—not only the TA team. Check out my article on Self-Service Hiring© for more info on that.

Now, we want to hear from you. How do you manage your candidate experience? Do you have any super-special-magic-trick to make your candidates feel good? Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn!

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