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Applying for a job can be nerve-wracking. A candidate will spend hours crafting the perfect resume and cover letter, researching a company, trying to memorize anything that will help them be memorable to the interviewers, and preparing for the interview, and then they are met with "radio silence." No confirmation, no answer, nothing to acknowledge that they even applied for the role. This is not only disappointing to the job seeker, but it's actually damaging to your company's reputation.
In 2022, we saw more than 140,000 jobs get cut and 2023 isn't looking much better. By early-February Crunchbase had reported more than 66,000 jobs cut in the tech sector alone. These RIFs (reduction-in-force) present possibly the greatest opportunity to attract talent in recent history, but they also mean that candidates who've recently experienced a huge disruption to their work, life, and income will be especially sensitive to how they're treated during the job-seeking process. Because of this, many companies are finally grasping why candidate experience is important and trying to understand how to improve candidate experience for every new applicant.
Candidate experience (CX) is the sum of all the interactions between an applicant and your company during the recruiting process. Improving your CX can help you attract the best talent in the market, and there are a host of great tools to help you. From ATS systems and interview intelligence software to chatbots, there are plenty of options to create a great CX.
At the core of the issue, what is candidate experience in recruitment? I like to "boil it down" to one simple question, "How does the candidate feel at every step of the recruiting process?" A great candidate experience involves making the process efficient and hassle-free. It also means that they feel seen, heard, and valued even if they're not a great fit for the role. To accomplish this, they need a clear communication strategy, high-touch customer service, and thoughtful consideration of their time.
But in the high-stress, fast-paced world we live in, it's hard to give them the time they deserve. Let's face it, as HR professionals and recruiters, we're inundated with applications, and it's hard to keep up.
The answer is to implement a tech stack that automates much of the process while still integrating CX best practices. Here's the tech stack that we use and recommend because it's efficient and effective at generating, identifying, and keeping top talent.
Candidate Experience Best Practices 2023:
1) Create a seamless application process - Make sure your online job application is as simple and intuitive as possible. Use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help you manage applications, organize interviews and quickly assess talent.
2) Improve your communication - Receiving tons of applications? Send a quick automated response to the candidate indicating that their application was received and they’ll be hearing from you soon. This can be done by integrating tools like interview intelligence software into your stack.
3) Get personal - Utilize technology to personalize and automate your communication, but be sure to maintain a human touch. The human touch tells people that they're seen and important.
4) Lead with the mission - more than at any time in history, workers value meaningful work. Lead by telling prospective candidates why your company's mission and why matters. But don't stop there, tell them how their work will contribute to that mission.
5) Keep the candidate updated - Once you've interviewed a candidate, keep them in the loop as to where they stand in the process. Even if they're not selected for the position, send them feedback or an update and let them know so that they're not guessing.
6) Communicate the job details - Make sure you communicate clearly any expectations, set salaries, duties, hours of work, etc. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and reduce any potential confusion or frustration once they've taken the position. It's also one way that we can eliminate gender pay disparities and unfair treatment in the workplace.
By doing these things, you can create an environment where candidates feel valued, heard, and seen. You'll also be able to recruit the best talent in the market and build a talent pipeline for future hires.
A few years ago, I applied for my dream job. The role meant a substantial jump in pay, two steps up on the corporate ladder, and the benefit of working for a fantastic VC-backed company creating an incredible energy-tech product. However, my experience was quickly soured by the third-party recruiter they'd chosen.
After submitting my application, I anxiously waited for confirmation which took more than a week- and then silence. Finally, a month later, I got an email thanking me for my time, but that they'd chosen to move forward with another candidate. This email had obviously been copied/pasted because much of the information it contained wasn't even relevant to me.
Candidate experience examples like mine are all over Glassdoor. Today, applicants have access to more than a dozen review sites where they can share their experiences and express their opinion on the companies they've interacted with - and these review sites have a dramatic effect on your talent pool. According to Glassdoor, 86% of candidates read company reviews before even applying for a role, and it’s clear that companies with reviews that show great candidate experience examples get access to the best talent.
These candidate experience statistics will be more important in 2023 than ever as quiet quitting, contract employee opportunities, solopreneurship, and other trends attract unfulfilled workers away from traditional jobs. A positive candidate experience is the biggest way you can ensure your future talent pool will be brimming with qualified applicants.
If you're seeing reviews online and wondering why so many people are asking, "What is candidate experience?" The reason is that millennials and zoomers (GenZ) are obsessed with finding work experiences that fit their values.
In short, CX (candidate experience) is how applicants feel about your brand throughout the recruitment process. A bad candidate experience will diminish your talent pool limiting your access to the best talent whereas great candidate experience examples and reviews will lead to excited candidates and word-of-mouth referrals to top talent.
Now, you may be thinking, we don't have an internal HR team, what is candidate experience in recruitment? How do we make sure that our applicants have a great CX? The answer is to test your recruiter. Have a few current employees or close connections give your recruiter a trial run to see how they handle each step of the interview process. This could include initial contact, scheduling, interviews, and even follow-up emails or calls. Make sure that these interactions are all blind so that the results can't be skewed.
Video interview platforms like Pillar are also great for CX as they provide interviewer coaching opportunities, question prompts so the interviewer can be more engaging with the candidate, automated scheduling, interviewer/ candidate introductions, and even post-interview thank-you emails. This type of technology is essential for creating great candidate experience examples and ensuring a smooth process from start to finish.
So, you know CX is vital, how do you create a positive candidate experience? The first step is to assess your recruitment process and make a checklist of all of the things that you believe should be improved. Here are some of the core points that should be included in any candidate experience checklist:
1. Keep communication open. Communicate regularly and promptly throughout the recruitment process to ensure candidates do not feel forgotten and show respect for their time.
2. Ensure that you have a positive tone of voice when communicating with candidates, even when delivering rejections.
3. Prepare interviewers with resources - interviewer expectations, ice breakers, questions, and other materials before the interview to ensure a great experience for both you and the candidate.
4. Have a clear process that is transparent from start to finish so candidates can work out an estimated timeline of when they will hear back.
5. Follow up in a timely manner. Whether you’re extending an offer or rejecting a candidate, make sure to follow up in a timely manner with all candidates.
6. Get and provide feedback wherever possible - feedback is key to making sure that your recruitment process is constantly improving. This can include applicant surveys, feedback from interviewers, and more.
7. Finally, Use technology and automation wherever possible to improve efficiency and reduce time spent on scheduling, communications, feedback collection, and other processes.
These are just a few tips for creating a great candidate experience checklist but there is so much more you can do to ensure your recruitment process is delivering the best possible results. Make sure you’re keeping up with the latest trends in CX and don't be afraid to experiment!
Over the last 12 months, we've helped our customers create better candidate experiences so they can make better hires. Our customers have reported a 50% reduction in employee turnover, lower costs, and shorter time-to-hire. If you're currently assessing your hiring process and would like to see how much time and money you could save, check out our hiring calculator and schedule a demo to chat with someone on our team.