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Candidate interview experience

How to Structure Your Interview Process to Deliver a Great Candidate Experience

The candidate experience has many components. The pre-application experience is all about converting the right candidates to complete an application. The application experience is about making it as easy as possible for candidates to provide their information. The interview experience is about bringing out the best in candidates and helping them feel they are being evaluated fairly. 

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Read enough Glassdoor interview reviews and you’ll find all sorts of behavior around the interview process that turns candidates off: difficulty scheduling interviews, unprepared interviewers, off-topic interview questions, too many interviews, a drawn-out process, employer ghosting, and many more.

According to the Talent Board, two of the top three reasons candidates around the world withdraw from the process are “My time was disrespected during the interview process” and “The recruiting process took too long.” Both factors are in the employer’s control and strongly relate to how well the company structures its interview process. Here are three keys to getting it right:

1. Make it easy to schedule interviews

Today’s job seekers are not strangers to technology. They can schedule taxi rides, salon appointments, gym classes, and service appointments through online services. They expect the same for interviews. Interview self-scheduling with an integrated company calendar allows candidates to click a link from an email or text and view a selection of time slots. Not only does self-scheduling make it easier for candidates, but it also saves time for recruiting teams who notice a big difference in their workload.

I have saved 84 minutes in scheduling these dozen candidates. Now factor in that this happens every week or multiple times a week and I’ve gained back nearly a ½ day each week. – Meryl Petraitis, Talent Acquisition Manager, McDonald’s

As hiring processes have become more complex, self-scheduling technology has risen to meet the challenge. SmartRecruiters customers can now conduct mass self-scheduling and multi-part/multi-day scheduling. They can also add buffer time for interviewers to collect their notes and take breaks between candidates.

2. Set clear expectations for the interview process

Before starting any lengthy process, it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into. For candidates who already have jobs, it’s even more important. How much of their time are they going to invest? Is the trade-off in time invested worth it for a new role, different commute, and any other potential life disruptions that occur when switching jobs?

At the most basic level, setting expectations entails offering candidates an overview of the process during that first interview/phone screen. It can also include automated/templated communications delivered through the ATS that offer process explanations and typical timelines. Even better, candidates learn what to expect before they even apply. SmartRecruiters customer KinCare, which recruits for highly competitive home care roles, offers candidates this informative page on their career site that outlines each step. The home care industry requires more checks than competing industries such as retail, and this information helps keep candidates engaged because they know what to expect.

  • By restructuring their interview process within SmartRecruitiers, Kincare decreased time-to-fill to 18 days from 40, and the overall candidate drop-off rate fell by 60%. Read the KinCare story.

3. Facilitate collaborative hiring

When you make interviewing easier for hiring managers and interview teams, you also make it easier for candidates. Candidates who experience a structured interview process get the impression that the company is well-organized and evaluates potential employees fairly. They will respond positively to the interview process whether they receive an offer or not, and potentially write a positive Glassdoor interview review.

“The system creates transparency about how we evaluate candidates in a structured way. SmartRecruiters makes the points of collaboration visible and easy to discuss. In the end, the candidate benefits from improved collaboration.” – Marcel Rütten, former Global Director of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding at PACCOR. Read the PACCOR story here.

A candidate-friendly interview process includes

  • Hiring processes configurable by job, department, country, etc.
  • Appropriate hiring manager and interviewer visibility into the candidate funnel
  • Consistent evaluation criteria by role, with suggested interview questions for each interviewer
  • Team-level visibility on interviewer notes, resumes, candidate assessment results, and interview scorecards
  • Mobile app access for hiring managers on the go.

The long-term benefits of a great interview experience

The results from a more structured interview process usually include improved hiring times and meeting quotas. But the real reason to give candidates a great experience is to make high-quality hires who build your company’s future. 

At some companies, over half of the employees have less than two years’ tenure. The next individual contributor you hire could quickly become a team lead or a senior manager. Another could eventually become a senior executive. Take a look at these examples from SmartRecruiters customers who are building the future of their organizations as we speak:

We’d love to help you start building your organization’s future with a streamlined interview process. It’s time to end candidate feedback like “My time was disrespected during the interview process,” or “The recruiting process took too long.” Today’s most advanced hiring technology will help your organization move forward and create a candidate experience worth praising on places like Glassdoor. 

Interviews are just one important aspect of the candidate experience. To learn more about how to design an end-to-end candidate experience, our latest ebook has you covered with six checklists to keep track of improvements for each stage of the candidate journey and much more. Download New Essentials of the Candidate Experience: How to Create Candidate-Centric Experiences from Attraction to Onboarding.

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Ready to get started with a new ATS? Sign up for a SmartRecruiters demo.

Lee Ann Prescott