Real Life: How a Horrible Candidate Experience Hurts Your Brand

Real Life: How a Horrible Candidate Experience Hurts Your Brand

Michael Altiero

The candidate experience is at the forefront of most recruiting strategies in 2016. Providing job seekers a seamless hiring process is more important than ever, especially with candidates gaining the upper hand. Yet many companies still provide terrible experiences throughout the application and interviewing processes.

Chances are you know someone who has had a bad experience. I was an exception, until recently. My friend’s application experience was an eye-opener, especially for someone who has worked within the talent acquisition space for most of my career. This story, which is an actual example of a bad candidate experience, is one that is all too familiar for many job seekers, and in the end can really hurt your company.

When Candidate Experience Goes Bad…

A friend of mine, Bryan, decided it was time for a change in his career. He had been working at his job for years, but was beginning to become uninterested in his role. He decided it was time for a career transition, and started applying to jobs. This is how his story played out:

June 2016 – After weeks of applying, Bryan finally heard back regarding a position he was really excited about with a mid-sized company. Following an initial phone screen and two phone interviews, Bryan was invited into their headquarters for an in-person interview.

July 2016 – In early July, Bryan went in for his first face-to-face interview. Things went really well, and he was invited back for a second interview with a different person. This second visit was scheduled for the end of the month. That interview also went very well, with both the company and Bryan appearing to be on the same page about the role.

August 2016 – Now into the third month of the hiring process, Bryan was excited about the opportunity. His 3rd in-person interview took place in mid-August, when he spent half the day at the company’s headquarters, interviewing with various team members. While he didn’t receive an offer, he was asked for his background and reference checks. Things were looking really good for Bryan.

And then his experience changed…for the worse. After his latest interview, communication with the company started to become a challenge. They weren’t getting back to him about where he stood in the process, and Bryan started to feel like he was left in the dark. Finally toward the end of the month, Bryan was asked to hop onto yet another phone interview. Again, nothing came from this call.

September 2016 – Now into month four, Bryan was barely hearing from the company. He started to reach out for updates, sometimes hearing back, sometimes not. When he did get a response, the company provided vague answers, and promised to get back to him in a couple days. This rarely, if ever, happened.

Instead, it was Bryan who would have to reach back out to see what was going on. By this point, he was growing increasingly frustrated with both the company and the process. But he really liked what the position would offer him both short and long term, so he kept pushing forward.

After weeks of him emailing his recruiter, Bryan finally got an answer in the last week of September: He didn’t get the job. The only reason he was given was that he lacked the one year of role-specific experience the company was hoping for in a candidate.

Needless to say, Bryan was caught completely off guard. It was something that he wasn’t expecting. A hiring process that started in the beginning of June and lasted until the last week of September, with over 6 interviews (and 3 days he had to take off of his current job), ended because of something that was known from the first phone screen.

At the end of the day, Bryan wasn’t necessarily angry that he didn’t get the job. Instead, he was upset about how this company went about the hiring process as a whole. He, like many other candidates today, went through a truly terrible candidate experience.

What A Candidate Experience Like This Means For Your Company (And Brand)

Negative candidate experiences are all too common, and they can have BIG impacts on your company. The digital age makes it very easy for job seekers to share their experiences, both good and bad. Data from the Talent Board backs this up.

67% of candidates surveyed said they would likely or definitely share a negative experience with their inner circle. Meanwhile, 80% said they would share a positive experience. When it comes to public sharing, 33% of candidates surveyed said they would likely or definitely share a negative recruiting experience. On the flip side, almost 50% of candidates said they would publicly share positive experiences.

Even potentially more devastating (especially for consumer companies), a recent survey from SoftwareAdvice showed that after having a negative experience, 42% of candidates would likely stop buying that company’s products/services. Also, 33% of candidates would likely tell others not to buy that company’s products.

What To Learn From Bryan’s Poor Candidate Experience

The experience Bryan had during his hiring process is one that can hurt your recruiting reputation in the long run. Obviously, providing a bad candidate experience makes it much, much harder to recruit top talent. But it can also have other, even more impactful repercussions for your business.

If candidates share their negative experiences on social media or with their friends, your brand can be impacted. For most companies, the brand is everything. And if your employer/recruiting brand is associated with negativity, it will become harder and harder to successfully execute your talent acquisition strategy.

When your recruiting efforts start to become harder, and require more time and effort, that means your recruiting costs will go up! This is never good for talent acquisition teams and recruiting leaders, and will almost certainly cause issues for your team both internally and externally (with other business functions and leaders, etc.).

None of these things will happen after just one poor experience. But when your recruiting process regularly lets candidates down, you have a major problem on your hands. Just remember, always put yourself into your candidate’s shoes.

Want to improve your candidate experience? There’s no better starting point than hearing advice from “The Godfather” of candidate experience himself. Check out our new eBook below:

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