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Transparency in the recruiting process - with New Work to a better candidate experience

03/05/2022 2022/04

Register... So, once again look over all the information... looks good... send! There is already the confirmation of receipt - now the waiting begins.

Up to this step it could be an online order, or an online application. If I have ordered something as a customer, I will be kept up to date on a regular basis: Your order is being processed. Today we shipped your package. Here you can track the delivery. Depending on the online store, these interim messages sound serious or humorous, but in any case I can check the status at any time.

In the case of applications as a future employee, things are different: after the automatic confirmation of receipt with the prospect of "the fastest possible response", there is initially nothing for a while. Of course, I can guess what's going on behind the scenes, but how fast is "as fast as possible"? Particularly when various entities are involved in a recruiting process or extensive documentation such as an applicant matrix is to be prepared, initial feedback can take as long as two weeks. Perhaps there is even an application deadline or cut-off date after which applications are sifted?

 

Candidate Experience - what does the applicant think?

In times of higher unemployment, when companies could choose from a large number of applicants who could work for them, the future employee's view of the application process was not relevant. Now, however, the recruiting process is seen as a two-way application: companies also apply to skilled workers, and thus the applicant's perspective is given more weight. The oft-cited concept of New Work also means establishing eye level and trust between employer and employee as much as possible, including in the application process. Anyone who feels that they are not treated with sufficient respect in the selection process will simply look for a job elsewhere. This applies not only to the interview, where most people meet their new boss for the first time, but also to the steps beforehand. But what does a successful candidate experience look like, and what is important?

In our fast-paced times, we are used to getting feedback as directly as possible. After all, online stores process applications within 2-3 working days, so why do I have to wait so long for the first results of my application? As already explained, there are several steps involved in a sound application process. Actually, I would also prefer it if the recruiter didn't just skim over my resume within 2 minutes to classify me as suitable/maybe suitable/unsuitable. Here it is advisable for the recruiting team to communicate as clearly as possible. The automatic confirmation of receipt should read, "We are collecting the incoming applications so that we can process them in bundles for a fair comparison. Also, the note that initial feedback is usually received within 2 weeks after the application deadline gives me, as an applicant, some orientation. Feel free to add that you would like to take the time each application deserves, then I am directly less impatient.

What happens next?

Ideally, the confirmation of receipt of my application should give me an idea of the steps involved in your selection process; this can be easily illustrated with an overview graphic, for example. It may not be possible to give a timeframe in the graphic, because application processes take different lengths of time depending on the position, although approximate timeframes are also helpful to me. However, it should at least be possible to show the sequence of the individual steps. If the process unexpectedly takes longer: please do not "ghost", but send an intermediate message.

Of course, I am also interested in who is involved in which decision and when. Often, automatically sent texts can also be individualized per job - instead of a less tangible "We will get in touch with you, kind regards, your HR department", I am much happier about the message "Ms. Marinic from the recruiting team and Mr. Yildiz from the specialist department are already eagerly awaiting your application". Perhaps there is also the possibility of already integrating photos and profiles of the recruiting team on the career page or in the job advertisement; the more personal and detailed the picture I can form, the more I can assess how well I fit in with the company. An introduction to the recruiters on the careers page shows me that each individual is valued and is not just a cog in the wheel.

The first hurdle has been cleared!

Hooray, there is the feedback that I am to be invited to an interview! Sometimes, however, it is still the case that the HR department informs you of an appointment. Exactly one. What if I don't have time on that day at that time? To be merely informed of appointments also does not feel very appreciative. A more courteous and also more efficient way is if the:recruiter:in sends a link to an appointment booking tool where I can pick one of the available appointments. Generations Y and Z are used to such appointment bookings, and I as Gen X increasingly love it as well. The good old, but still friendly alternative: make an appointment by phone to get to know each other, which both sides can arrange well. I prefer to have an (automated or manual) booking confirmation afterwards, in which I can find further important information, especially for an on-site appointment: How can I best get there, where do I have to go in, who should I contact? But I also have questions before a virtual meeting: Who will I talk to? Approximately how long will the appointment last? Should I prepare anything?

There are also a number of ways to make the candidate experience pleasant and cooperative during the interview or meeting. New Work, for example, does not mean that general rules of politeness no longer apply. On the contrary, the time that job applicants take is just as valuable as the time spent by those involved on the company side. Therefore, someone who is invited for an interview should only be kept waiting in an extreme emergency or the appointment should be postponed at short notice. It is also important that all those taking part in the interview (!) take enough time. It still happens that, for example, managers unfortunately have to leave shortly before the agreed end of the appointment (?) due to an important meeting afterwards (??). By the way, these are the same managers who wonder why the good candidate left after the supposedly positive interview…

So many questions

At the beginning of the appointment, I don't just want to find out about the company (information that isn't on the homepage), but especially about my interview partners. After all, I assume that they have already dealt with my resume and my person in detail and thus have a knowledge advantage over me. It is only fair that I find out who is sitting across from me in the first few minutes. In addition to name and position, I might be interested in someone's education or professional background, how long he or she has been with the company, why he or she likes coming to work, and perhaps a few words about family or hobbies.

Part of being transparent and on an equal footing in the interview, and thus creating a positive candidate experience, is not using power plays or trick questions. Of course, the candidate's statements should also be critically questioned, and unusual questions certainly help to loosen things up. If I am asked however without explanation, which kitchen equipment I would be or unannounced tasks to work on, without afterwards a resolution in addition to get, I would feel rather fooled. In this respect: creative and unusual elements in the interview are welcome, but the purpose and the procedure should be explained either in advance or at the latest afterwards. All elements, with which the applicants can only puzzle, for which purpose this is to serve and which secret realizations the personnel manager now into their documents register, may with pleasure in the 90's remain behind. The more transparent and authentic the impression gained by both sides in the recruiting process, the higher the probability for a long and successful cooperation.

Does friendship end when it comes to money?

By the way, the keywords transparency and fairness also apply to the topic of salary. With New Work, it is also worth considering New Pay; at the very least, however, the company should indicate as early as possible in the application process an approximate range within which the subsequent salary for the position in question will lie. Even if the salary for the job can be negotiated fairly freely, the position is usually roughly budgeted. What many people don't know is that if you deliberately bargain down inexperienced candidates who don't know their market value, you'll be out of luck for seven years and regularly treading barefoot on Lego bricks during that time. Seriously, sooner or later your new hires will learn, either from their colleagues or from outside, what their work and qualifications are really worth. And it is very likely that they will then look for a new employer who will also show them appreciation in the form of appropriate remuneration. Incidentally, in a company that is bound by collective bargaining agreements, it makes even less sense to only ask applicants for their salary expectations: communicating the collectively agreed salary from the outset avoids disappointment and wasted time for everyone involved.

Conclusion

You probably already noticed at the beginning of this text that I have consistently put myself in the role of the applicant here - I would recommend this as a first step to everyone who wants to improve their candidate experience. Test your applicant management system, try to find answers on your career site, look at the wording of standard texts you send to candidates. The more authentic, insightful and personal you can make the recruiting process, the more likely it is that the urgently sought-after professionals will come to you. In this case, New Work is expressed less in specific methods and working methods and more in an attitude: Applicants and companies try to find out transparently and at eye level how well they fit together. 

If you would like to examine the individual steps of your application process in your company for optimization potential for a more successful candidate experience, my colleagues or I would be happy to come by and bring our special applicant glasses.

About the Author
Valeska Szalla
HR Consultant
Since 2017 I have been writing my success story at ARTS, where I can always add a new chapter through the various projects I have been involved in.

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