Candidate experience essentials: Tips from FabFitFun, Checkr and Greenhouse

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5 mins, 53 secs read time

Is it enough to simply meet candidates’ expectations when they go through the application process at your company? Greenhouse’s Director of Talent Acquisition, Jacqui Maguire, doesn’t think so. “Candidates have a very low bar when it comes to expectations,” says Jacqui, which is why “we want to proactively design an experience with the candidate in mind the entire way.”

Jacqui recently led the “Candidate Experience: Design with the Candidate in Mind” webinar. In this fireside chat with FabFitFun’s Recruiting Manager Angela Mayhew, Checkr’s Head of Technical Recruiting Vannaro Lim, and Greenhouse’s Associate Recruiter Michelle Yoshihara, Jacqui and the other panelists talked tips and tricks for taking a proactive approach to candidate experience.

Keep reading for a few highlights from their conversation, or click here to watch the entire on-demand webinar.

3 Fundamentals of a Proactive Candidate Experience

Every interaction a candidate has with your company is part of their candidate experience. This means you have countless ways to retool and refine your candidate experience, which can get a little overwhelming. Jacqui recommends focusing your attention on three fundamental elements: data, transparency, and design to scale. Here’s how she breaks these down.

1. Data

Traditionally recruiting hasn’t used much data, but that has changed in recent years. We now have the ability to measure different stages of the hiring process. We can evaluate everything from which sources bring the candidates who are most likely to be hired to the average length of time candidates spend in each stage of the process.

We can also use data to make the business case for investing in candidate experience, especially since a person’s experience as a candidate can also impact how they feel about a company as a customer. Candidates who’ve had a positive candidate experience are 38% more likely to accept job offers and more than twice as likely to become customers.

After a negative candidate experience, on the other hand, 72% of people share online and/or with their friends and 27% actively discourage others to apply.

The ripple effect of a negative candidate experience has an impact on your ability to hire and your overall brand.

Audience member question: We have very involved founders/executive team, which was great when we were small, but it’s no longer reasonable to have them interview every candidate. Do you have any advice for weening them off interviewing?

Angela’s response: Data is your friend here, too! Calculate the number of final interviews you anticipate having and let the executives know how many hours of interviews that would be on their calendars. Often seeing that will show them that it’s no longer feasible or practical for them to interview every candidate. Also, bring them into the decision of who will be their replacement as the “executive interviewer.”

2. Transparency

Savvy candidates understand that no company or role is perfect. Every job will come with its own set of challenges. Rather than try to hide these from candidates, Jacqui recommends being transparent both about company culture and expectations.

Share some stories that highlight your company’s values and what’s expected in this specific role. Talk openly about the hiring process and what will happen at each stage. When you communicate frequently and openly with candidates, you demonstrate that transparency is a priority. As a result, candidates will feel more comfortable being open with you.

3. Design to scale

Designing to scale is all about planning for the future. Consider the tools and processes that will best support your recruiting team and the candidates themselves. Remember: all the interactions candidates have with tools (whether it’s an ATS, a scheduling tool, a background check tool, or anything else) will impact their opinion of your company. Carefully assess all the tools candidates will be interacting with and ensure there’s nothing clunky or confusing.

“Training is your most important tool,” says Jacqui. Well-trained interviewers will give the best experience to candidates, so think about how you can roll out training for your hiring managers and teams.

Customizing the Candidate Experience

After Jacqui introduced these fundamentals of a proactive candidate experience, she opened up the floor to hear from the other panelists. One of her first questions was, “How do you customize the candidate experience to have the greatest impact?”

As a former engineer, Vannaro brings an engineering tactic into his work as a recruiter and always conducts retrospectives to see what went right and wrong in a hiring process. The retrospective reminds him that every hiring process is a learning experience and an opportunity to improve the next time around.

Angela likes to highlight the product and people. At FabFitFun, they think of interviews as a chance to “showcase the magic.” The hiring process is designed to help candidates see FabFitFun’s unique energy and values.

Similarly, Michelle says that at Greenhouse, every candidate who comes in for the onsite will get a tour of the office and a quick demo of the product. This approach gives a high-level picture of the product and helps candidates get some additional context on the types of problems they’ll be working on every day

Collecting Feedback from Candidates

Feedback from candidates is one of the most important factors when refining your candidate experience. Each of the panelists uses the Greenhouse candidate survey to gather information from candidates, and they all had stories of specific elements of the interview process they’ve changed as a result of feedback from the survey.

FabFitFun is a dog-friendly office, which is something employees love, says Angela. However, some candidates expressed that having a canine companion in the interview room with them was a little distracting. Now dogs stay out of the interview rooms and candidates feel more comfortable.

Vannaro finds the Greenhouse survey helps him to understand trends and stay ahead of the curve. He saw that engineering candidates at Checkr were craving more cross-functional interactions, so now they have the chance to meet people from several different teams during their onsite interview.

At Greenhouse, candidates receive the survey after the onsite interview, but before a candidate leaves the Greenhouse office, recruiters make sure to check in with them and get a sense of how they’re feeling. Do they have any urgent questions or comments? Taking a moment to check in with candidates like this provides one more opportunity to collect feedback and ends the long day of interviews with a personal, friendly interaction.

Audience member question: How do you increase engagement in your Greenhouse candidate surveys?

Vannaro’s answer: Increase awareness. Let candidates know that they’ll be receiving the surveys in a couple of different ways. You can add a line to the end of your onsite interview confirmation email, your post-onsite interview email or verbally mention it to candidates in person as they’re heading out the door – or maybe all three!

Still craving more advice and insights on candidate experience? Tune in to the full webinar to hear the panelists’ tips on dealing with negative feedback, coordinating multiple stakeholders and much more!

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.