Candidate Experience and the Path to Enlightenment……

path to enlightenmentIt seems that you can’t read a recruiting blog these days without a well-meaning individual bashing you over the head with the phrase ‘candidate experience’ and foretelling your impending doom if you don’t get it right.

In my opinion, what most commentators fail to do for Talent Acquisition is to clearly shine a light on a path to true ‘business impact’.  If you drop the word ‘candidate’ from the whole experience piece, and think more holistically (way way more holistically) then experience can become a real strategic enabler for Talent Acquisition.

Recently I have been fortunate enough to attend and speak at a number of recruiting round tables and events, and the universality of the challenges faced by recruiters across a range of large and small organizations never ceases to amaze.  Searching for the proverbial ‘seat at the table’, engaging with hiring managers, moving from ‘order taker’ to ‘talent advisor’, raising the talent bar, improving the quality of hire; all of these and more crop up time and time again but can readily be addressed with a well-defined and executed program centered around experience.

In this model it isn’t necessarily the candidate experience that is at the heart, but more accurately defining how everybody involved in the process experiences every part of the process.

For the last 12 months, I have been gathering data from the customers and candidates of Talent Acquisition about their general feelings about what they have just experienced.  A simple survey is triggered at the point that a candidate leaves the process (whether they have been successful or not), and another survey is sent to hiring managers at the point that the hire is confirmed.  These surveys have been set up to gather information on different aspects of our process.  For hiring managers the questions focus on aspects such as intake and strategy, quality of the shortlist, communications and closing.  For candidates the focus is around how the job aligns to the posting, the interview process and the offer process.  Effectively each survey mirrors the other side and the responses draw three clear data points

  • A general effectiveness score for each focus area
  • An overall NPS score
  • Feedback

A happy bi-product of this has been that candidate feedback, rather than talking specifically about their interview experience, has been a lot more specific and valuable than I could ever have envisaged when I designed this program.  The candidate feedback that we have received has tended to follow one of two trends; either they are telling us why they chose to join the organisation, or they are telling us why they chose not to join the organisation.  When you invest as much as we do in the branding and attraction aspects of our trade, then you cannot underestimate the value of this information.  It has been used to inform discussions around how we develop our brand, our job descriptions, and our value proposition.

This also feeds into enablement, and the tools and training that recruiters are given to ensure that they can be at their most effective.

From a hiring manager perspective, the process of engagement and change has also been made a lot easier as we have a bank of clearly articulated feedback and data, supplied by our customers, telling us exactly what they want.  In turn this has meant that the creating of a global interview framework, the rollout of structured intake and onboarding programs have been a lot easier to facilitate buy in and adoption because it aligns with the feedback that they provided.

So far it is fair to say that quite a broad brush approach has been taken.  We have tried to measure everyone (in the Global TA team) in the same way for the same activities, with the same expectations and goals.  As my knowledge of this subject has deepened, so my approach has evolved.  The future for measuring experience is quite an interesting one and will follow a clearly defined set of ‘rules’ to enable the strategic business impact that I mentioned earlier in this article.  These ‘rules’ are:

  • The goal always has to be to drive actionable change
  • Seek the root cause of any issues
  • Identify and close the gap between what you are doing and what your customers think you should be doing
  • Work on specific challenges and then move on
  • Attach an owner to every problem

As this approach continues to be refined it will enable our hiring managers to make more robust confident hiring decisions, with the aim that each hire is an incremental improvement on the last.

Think for a moment about the power of this approach to experience.  Last year we hired around 2000 people.  Let us assume that the organisation has 20% attrition, which is common in global tech companies.  This would mean that 400 people failed in their first year of employment. That is 10% of our workforce failing before they start.  By using this very focused approach to experience we have already started making inroads into that first year figure.  Imagine in monetary (cost per hire) terms how much can be saved by closing that gap.  How much faster will the company be able to grow? That is business impact. That is a seat at the table.

For the future, experience will continue to cultural and operational change and be used as a spring board of enablement for the business and the TA team.  I’m not claiming to have it completely right (yet) but it is already a lot more impactful than simply focusing on the interview experience.

Allan McKay

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Allan McKay is the Senior Program Manager, Global Talent Acquisition at Concur.

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