Interview Experience: 3 Simple Ways To Give Candidates What They Want

Interview Experience: 3 Simple Ways To Give Candidates What They Want

Emily Smykal

The interview experience is an integral part of the candidate experience, and recruiters should pay just as much attention to this step as they do the rest of their talent acquisition strategy. So you have a gorgeous career website and a seamless ATS–what’s the point if your interview process leaves candidates turned off and dissatisfied?

Gerry Crispin of CareerXroads and The Talent Board has identified five key steps to improving your candidate experience, all of which can be applied specifically to the interview experience:

  1. Set clear expectations from the beginning
  2. Always listen to your candidates first
  3. Exemplify fairness throughout every step
  4. Provide some form of closure
  5. Demand accountability

If your candidates and your interviewers are clear on the process from the get go, you’re less likely to encounter misunderstandings. And by listening to your candidates, you’ll address any issues quickly and maintain those original expectations. Being fair sounds obvious, but any hint of mistreatment will quickly steer candidates away from your organization. Ending the interview experience with closure and accountability ensures the candidates know where they stand, and recruiters know how well the process went.

What Candidates Want from the Interview Experience

Before we discuss strategies to improve your interview experience, it’s important to know what candidates actually want from this stage. The Talent Board’s North American Candidate Experience Research surveyed applicants on their interview experience, and compared their responses for those companies they gave a five star review versus only one star.

Candidates gave top marks to companies that provided interviewer names and background information before the interview along with a detailed agenda, plus they took care to escort candidates between each interview event. As for the one star companies, candidates reported a significant lack of these services, along with little to no feedback or explanation of the process afterward.

The Talent Board surveyed over 25,000 candidates for their Candidate Experience Research, and some additional results solidify the fact that the interview experience at many employers needs some work. Approximately 41% of candidates reported receiving no preparation or communication before an interview, and 23% didn’t get additional information, a follow-up or any next steps after completing an interview.

Perhaps worst of all, 73% of respondents said they were not asked to give any feedback to employers on their interview experience. Not including a short survey or follow-up email after an interview is a missed opportunity to get insight to the interview experience in order to make improvements for the future.

3 Ways to Greatly Improve the Interview Experience

Luckily, the Talent Board also asked candidates specifically what they want during the interview process, so recruiters take note:

1. Prepare Your Candidates

Among the candidates in the survey, 38% reported only receiving minimal interview preparation and communication during the entire interview experience. And the information they got was limited to the name of the interviewer and some background details. As we mentioned, 41% got no information at all.

Yet a majority of employers in the survey insisted they provided detailed agendas before their interviews. Something is clearly being lost in translation in many interview situations, but this really is an easy problem to fix.

Recruiters and hiring managers can agree on an agenda with the appropriate interviewer, including all the relevant background information a candidate needs, and quickly share those details with candidates before the process begins. Some teams could even define a standard interview process that must be followed for every candidate, to ensure no information is left out.

2. Ask Relevant Questions

Another obvious point perhaps, but recruiters may be surprised by the kinds of questions that arise during the interview experience. Only 45% of the Talent Board’s respondents strongly agreed that most questions they were asked were relevant to the job. That means more than half of candidates in the survey didn’t fully agree, and they probably fielded questions that seemed irrelevant to the open position.

Again, this is a problem recruiters can solve by discussing the interview process with interviewers. Some may simply be unsure what is appropriate and what isn’t, or may never have been given interview guidance in the past. A company-wide list of interview questions that can be tailored to specific departments or roles would help keep interviewers on track and make candidates feel that their responses matter.

3. Provide Feedback

When the interview ends, there are still two steps to the experience–closure and accountability. But in the Talent Board survey, only 34% of candidates said they got next-step instructions and a follow-up from hiring managers. A further 23% got no closure at all.

Feedback in talent acquisition should be a two-way street. This is an opportunity for recruiters to clearly explain to candidates what happens next, but also gather their input on the interview experience. If we already know these steps are crucial to a successful candidate experience, it should be easy to convince talent acquisition leaders they’re necessary in the interview process, too.

What Market Leaders Are Doing

Some companies are already incorporating these methods in their interview experience. Intel, AT&T and Comcast for example all have dedicated Candidate Care Departments. Other employers like PNNL, Corning, Cumming and T-Mobile all make it clear to candidates what to expect in each stage of the process, through maps, infographics and videos.

Accenture has built a mobile interview app that recruiters can customize for each candidate to better prepare them for interviews. And Genentech even puts all candidates through interview training. A separate survey from LinkedIn found that 77% of candidates say the interview is very important when they make their final decision. So no matter what state your interview experience is in right now, it’s a good time to review the steps above and make sure you’re offering candidates the best interview you can.

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