How to enhance candidate experience during COVID-19?

Sudhanshu Ahuja

May 28, 2020

WHO, in a statement, has said that coronavirus is here to stay and we will have to learn to live with the virus. In view of this, several countries are lifting lockdowns and opening up their economies. As everyone is adjusting to a new normal, organizations are also embracing new working styles. However, running their business, as usual, is not going to be as simple. It will come with unique challenges and problems. For instance, a good candidate experience will be a new learning curve for the recruiters.

Several tech giants have welcomed the remote working culture. They have even announced their plans of making it permanent. Most other organizations are contemplating a longer duration of work from home. In this scenario, virtual recruitment is going to become the norm. Due to this, recruitment teams will have to revise their strategies. They will have to work on enhancing their remote working capabilities.

In the past, positive candidate experience has helped the recruiters in attracting top talent. Recruiters have worked hard and deployed tools to ensure a seamless experience for the candidates. If there is one thing that can make or break a candidate’s decision to join an organization, it is this.

  • What is the candidate experience?

    In simple words, it is the perception that an applicant builds during the hiring process. It is the perception of how an organization treats its employees, and a peek into the company’s culture. It includes everything right from the job application process to interviews to onboarding. The candidates tend to link their time as future employees to this experience.

    If they are content with their hiring experience, their chances to join the organization increase. Even if the interaction doesn’t result in a job offer, it leaves a positive impression on them. Linkedin found in a survey that 64% of candidates who had a good experience would take their relationship ahead – despite not getting a job.

  • Why is the candidate experience important during COVID 19?

    These are tough and uncertain times for everyone. Candidates may not be keen on taking chances with their careers. They may want to stick with their current jobs where they have proved themselves. They will prefer security over uncertainty. Given the high anxiety and stress of people, recruiters will have to go the extra mile. They will have to work hard to engage passive talent. They will have to work even harder to convince them to join.

    With a seamless candidate experience and frequent communication, attracting talent may become easier.

    4 Steps to enhance candidate experience during COVID-19

  • 1. Communicate and keep in touch

    Strong communication was always essential for ensuring a positive experience. It will become even more crucial now and will probably be the single criterion for getting candidates to join. In these unpredictable times, no one wants to wait to know the hiring status. They want more transparency and clarity.

    Here are a few ways to resolve this.

    • Partner with the PR team of your organization to ensure that the right communication is sent out. For instance, if your organization is planning to hire, send out a clear message about it. Moreover, make sure that this is done across channels and media. When the organization sends a consistent message, it leaves a lasting impact.
    • Ensure there is a strong communication plan to keep the candidates in the loop. It means informing them even if they are not selected for the position. They will appreciate your honesty much more than waiting and chasing you for status updates.Secondly, be thoughtful about the candidates and express your empathy. Try to engage them with conversations beyond work. For instance, you can ask them how they are dealing with the COVID situation.
    • If you are a large organization or are planning to recruit in large numbers, you will need to automate the communication. It may not be possible to share the updates manually with all the candidates. Secondly, the team of recruiters may not be able to send out a consistent message.

    Technology can help in resolving this situation. The chatbot offered by Impress can enhance the candidate experience by manifolds. Firstly, it can answer all kinds of candidate queries in real-time. It can become one common resource to provide all kinds of information. For instance, it can provide the right answers relating to work culture or the job position.

    With the presence of this feature, candidates won’t have to wait for the recruiter to answer their phone call.

    Secondly, it can share regular status updates with the candidates. This feature will ensure that the candidates know what’s happening instead of waiting for the recruiters to get back. They will receive the communication directly in their mailbox.

  • 2. Change your recruitment process for candidates’ safety

    In the near future, the old tradition of face-to-face interviews will not be feasible. All organizations will have to revamp their hiring process and move to digital hiring. It will ensure the safety of both the employees as well as the applicants.

    As crucial as it is to adapt to a new life, it is equally vital to inform the candidates about this change. Firstly, they are not used to digital interviews. Even the tenured ones may feel anxious before their video interviews.

    To alleviate their concerns, share the complete details of your interview process. Send a list of dos’ and don’ts’ to win brownie points. They will appreciate your efforts and even learn some crucial aspects of video interviews that they may have missed.

    The platform offered by Impress can conduct the first level of screening. It can interview the candidates and ensure that only the qualified ones move to the next round. It helps in improving the employer branding as there are no chances of mismatch between the candidate’s skills and the job. Moreover, it can be integrated with all the leading video interview platforms to provide a seamless experience to the candidates.

  • 3. Empathize and add a human touch to the hiring process

    The world needs more empathy at this point. Your applicants are no different. The best way to empathize with them is to think like them. Be empathetic if they want to postpone their interview dates. Maybe their anxiety is getting the better of them. As recruiters, you may have to become more flexible to accommodate their requests.

    The best way to build a human connection is by talking to them on the phone. Emotions can get lost in emails and texts. Let them know when you will be available so that they can call. Send out a positive message and encourage them to ask questions. They may have fears about job security in the current times. This simple act from you will go a long way in delivering a positive candidate experience.

  • Make onboarding effective

    During these virtual times, onboarding new employees can be challenging. Earlier, face-to-face meetings and casual conversations would give employees a taste of the company culture. Moreover, they could walk up to their colleagues and get instant resolutions to their queries. Due to remote working, understanding a company’s processes and way of doing things may become more difficult. Make it your priority to resolve these challenges.

    Collect all the pictures and videos that you have of team meetings, outings, and events. You can also ask your employees to share this material to make an interesting deck for the new employees.

    To provide a smooth onboarding experience, you will have to move your onboarding online. Did you have a one-day induction program that introduced the new employees to various policies and processes? You can make it a virtual program with live video sessions. Make sure that you keep it as interactive as possible.

    Of course, you can share all the necessary documents but letting the employees explore may spoil their onboarding. Instead, assign a successful team to walk them through and answer their queries. Assigning a buddy will also be helpful in the current scenario. Also, give them a virtual tour of your office to make the bond stronger.

    Finally, encourage the current employees to have informal conversations with the new joiners. It will foster a healthy environment, and they will get to know each other. If your onboarding process involved a team lunch, ask them to have a virtual lunch for better integrations. Ask them to dedicate the last five minutes of their calls for informal talk and personal updates.

    The goal is to make the welcome special so that the new employees feel valued from day one.

  • Final thoughts

    The coronavirus has disrupted our usual way of doing things. While remote hiring is new for everyone, all organizations are trying their best. While some initiatives may fail, several others will succeed. A few companies are sharing their learning for others’ benefit. You can pick up clues from what others are doing to give candidates a positive experience.

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