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How Recruiting Automation Can Improve Candidate Experience

Cornerstone Editors

In a high-employment economy, there's a critical tangle in the modern recruiting experience that technology can help unravel: Job candidates want a simple and transparent application process with regular updates about their status—not frustrating silence.

"Candidates often make a decision to join an organization solely on their interaction with a recruiting team during the talent acquisition process," says Madeline Laurano, co-founder and chief research officer at Aptitude Research Partners.

Meanwhile, overstressed HR departments are falling behind on the screening process, fielding hundreds of applications for each opening. Employers know they need to make the recruiting experience better at a time when many good applicants have multiple opportunities—over 60 percent of companies responding to the 2018 "Hire, Engage and Retain" study conducted by Aptitude Research and Cornerstone OnDemand identified improving the candidate experience as their number one priority.

But how? Enter: the chatbot.

Consumers have grown comfortable engaging with chatbots for everything from tech support to banking, so much so that for many, communicating with a chatbot while applying for a job would seem natural. The chatbot can bring welcome relief to employers and actually improve the recruitment process.

Chatbots Enable Speed and Two-Way Engagement

A well-designed chatbot, customized to an employer's specific needs, can speed screening by asking key questions about experience levels or salary requirements. It can also answer FAQs about the job, benefits and the company itself. And, crucially, chatbot conversations can create a far more engaging process than the all too common file-and-forget alternative. A CareerArc study cited in Employee Benefit News found that 65 percent of candidates never (or rarely) hear back from a company after an application.

Cornerstone OnDemand and Aptitude Research Partners studied Boston College as one example of thoughtful automation. The private, 4,000-employee college in Chestnut Hill, Mass., is an attractive employer, and draws 150 to 175 applications for every opening. "Unfortunately," the study concluded, the college's legacy hiring system "left candidates wondering if they had even applied and unsure if they were advancing through the system."

Boston College partnered with Cornerstone OnDemand to modernize and automate pieces of its hiring system. "In a short period of time, it was able to reduce the number of complaints and improve the candidate experience," the study notes.

Large employers willing to examine their hiring systems are finding similar benefits. The report found that companies that invest in automation for talent acquisition were three times more likely to improve time-to-hire and two times more likely to improve the candidate experience.

Finding Untapped Potential For Chatbots in Recruiting

There's plenty of room for innovative employers to move ahead of the pack. Recruitment is still far behind marketing, supply chain and sales in its speed to adopt automation ideas like the chatbot. According to the Aptitude Research report, only 20 percent of companies understand the role of automation or AI in talent acquisition; only 22 percent use recruitment automation for sourcing; and only 7 percent use chatbots to communicate with candidates.

The Aptitude report offers several recommendations for recruiters looking to adopt automation: Consider automating in stages; get expert advice from consultants who have customized chatbots and other AI tools; and make sure screening algorithms are not shutting out whole categories or demographics.

Perhaps most importantly, current employees should try out the chatbots. It's always good to know how new technology looks to your best recruits—the ones you've already hired.

Photo: Creative Commons

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Twitter Talk: One Small Work Change To Improve Talent Experience

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Twitter Talk: One Small Work Change To Improve Talent Experience

What's a small thing that your employer or manager has implemented or changed that has made the experience of work easier/better/less sh**ty/less of an exhausting nightmare slog? That’s the question BuzzFeed senior culture writer (and author of the widely shared article "How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation") Anne Helen Petersen posed to her Twitter followers late last week. And, boy, did they have some thoughts to share. From flexible work schedules to managers that helped them with development plans to bosses that were excellent communicators, thankful employees called out the practices that have made their work—and often, personal—lives significantly better. We’ve included some of the most poignant responses below! 1) Implementing a Flexible WFH Policy Number three on Jay’s list below was one of the most commonly praised decisions among participants. And it makes sense for businesses as well—a Gallup State of the American Workplace report found that employees who spend just 20 percent of their time working remotely are more engaged than in-office employees. 2) Reconsidering an Open Office Set-Up Not everyone craves a cubicle-free existence. Despite the design format’s recent popularity, several studies show that ambient noise can increase stress level and a lack of privacy can negatively affect employees. If it’s not possible to change the set-up, it’s worth figuring out helpful solutions for workers who need more of a quiet space. 3) Creating a Development Plan Employees want to know their bosses are invested in their future, and helping them to craft a development plan does just that (while simultaneously ensuring that the right employees are in place to fill key company roles down the road). By implementing a continuous review process, managers allow workers to take charge of their own goal setting and increase their autonomy at work, which Gallup research notes as one of the key ways to increase employee happiness. 4) Simply Saying Thank You Yes, employees want great pay and benefits. But it’s easy to overlook one of the smallest motivational tools at a manager’s disposal: simply saying thank you. Workers genuinely appreciate the acknowledgment of their hard work and it’s likely something their managers were already thinking. 5) Cutting Out Mindless Meetings There’s nothing worse than a pointless meeting. Employees have plenty to get done during their workday, so managers should be sure every meeting on the books is necessary and as efficient as possible. Find out three helpful ways to do that here. Header image: Creative Commons

4 Ways to Prevent a Poor Candidate Experience

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4 Ways to Prevent a Poor Candidate Experience

Despite all the talk about HR technology and artificial intelligence improving candidate experience, the numbers say otherwise. In fact, candidate resentment has increased by 40% since 2016. But what, exactly, is the cause? A few of the top reasons cited in the just-released 2019 North American Candidate Experience Research Report include: poor communication, discrepancies between the job description and interview experience and disrespect for candidates’ time. It’s clear that the impact a bad candidate experience can have on one’s business is more than a little troubling. Imagine receiving 100 applications for a single job posting, for which only 1 person is going to be hired. Quick math: Ninety-nine candidates are at risk for disappointment! And what will these not-hired candidates do if they had a less than positive experience? Seventy-one percent will share it with their inner circle of friends, relatives and co-workers. Fortunately, only 35 percent share it publicly online—probably because they don’t want to announce they didn’t get the job. But that’s still an incredibly large number of people speaking ill of your company. (And trash talk is the last thing you want going around when trying to entice top talent to cut ties with current employers and join your ranks.) But it’s not just hard feelings companies need to worry about. The impact can extend well into the future. Sixty-eight percent of candidates who’ve had a negative experience won’t reapply to that company. Worse, 54 percent said it would impact their decision to buy from said company. The Talent Board created an online candidate resentment calculator to help translate these results into real dollars. It’s based on the assumption that 100% of job applicants are potential customers or influencers. (Some might argue with this idea, but even a fraction of the whole results in pretty significant damage.) Here’s just one example: With 1,000 annual hires, the lost revenue due to candidate resentment exceeds $2.7 million, and the number of lost customers is more than 27,700. Numbers like these are nightmarish—and more common than you might think. So what can you do to prevent a bad candidate experience? 1) Be Proactive Applying for jobs at your own company to understand an applicant’s journey is likely the simplest low-cost solution you’ll ever find. Do it on several different devices—desktops, tablets and smartphones—and assess the experience using different operating systems: Apple, Google, Samsung, Windows. Remember that the candidate experience starts long before someone clicks to apply. "Google" your company career site on each device. How does it look? Is it easy to find? How long does it take the page to load? Is it easy to read, navigate and complete an application? If not, invest in fixing it! Remember to also be proactive when it comes to communicating why someone may not be the right fit for a position or company. Resentment rates decrease by 29% when employers give rejected candidates general and specific feedback on qualifications and job fit. A bit of honesty and clarity goes a long way. 2) Be Predictive No business function collects more data and takes less advantage of it than human resources. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to customers these days, and candidates are no different. It’s time to become comfortable with data. Google Analytics and most applicant tracking software, for that matter, provide deep insights into candidate behavior and the corresponding behavior of your systems and processes—data you can use to make much-needed adjustments and inform hiring decisions. In addition, ask for feedback from every candidate (whether they’re ultimately hired or not) and use that data to improve your process. Talentegy reports that 68.5% of candidates are very likely or likely to provide it, but 75% of companies never or rarely ask for it. 3) Be Pragmatic It’s just not practical for any recruiter, HR professional or hiring manager to keep up with today’s job demands without technology. Automate every task that requires manual entry and/or is routine. But remember that tech solutions can’t solve all of your problems. Chatbots won’t negate bad reviews on Glassdoor or Kununu. Automated emails won’t make up for delays in scheduling interviews and making decisions. A new video on your career website can’t hide a toxic culture. Identify each candidate touchpoint, assess its efficiency, then prioritize the risk of it creating a negative experience—regardless of whether it’s an automated or human-driven interaction. 4) Be a Problem-Solver Be vigilant. Be curious. Creating an awesome candidate experience is a journey. It has no finish line. The rules keep changing. The ecosystems keep evolving. The only true inevitability is that as soon as you improve the experience in one area, another issue is likely to pop up. It might be a new glitch in the software or the need to hire a new recruiter or hiring manager. In every case, delivering the most optimal candidate experience today requires a team of troubleshooters to fix the unexpected and problem-solvers to prevent recurrences.

How to Create a Consistent Candidate and Employee Experience

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How to Create a Consistent Candidate and Employee Experience

It's been clear for some time now that to attract top talent, companies have to make candidate experiences better. Yet less than half of organizations actually report making regular improvements to the recruitment processes. With a national unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, we are currently operating in a candidate-driven market. People have more freedom to be selective about employers, and if the candidate experience is negative, they will go somewhere else. "Today's candidates expect a positive experience from an organization from the time they begin exploring opportunities, all the way through the application, interviewing and hiring," Ed Newman, founding member and chairman of the Talent Board, a non-profit organization responsible for creating the Candidate Experience Awards, told me in an interview. And when candidates do make the cut and join the company, it's important to keep them engaged by creating an employee-centric work environment as well. Otherwise, your employees may become part of the 70 percent of U.S. workers who report that they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. If there's a disconnect between your candidate and employee experience, you won't hold onto talent for long. Here are the key components of creating a positive employee experience. Encourage Real-Time Employee Feedback Real-time and continuous feedback are crucial for several reasons. For example, nothing hurts more than working a full year before hearing that your work performance needs to be improved. On the flip side employees also shouldn't have to wait until their annual review to discuss questions and concerns with their managers. Millennials are gradually taking over the workforce, and they want feedback 50 percent more than any other generation. To meet the expectations of this generation, organizations need to forget about annual reviews, and instead encourage real-time employee communication and continuous feedback systems. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Internal Mobility Most employees want to work for a company that not only acknowledges that employee growth and success is important, but also provides ample development opportunities. This is why it's becoming critical for organizations to focus on creating and implementing an internal mobility strategy that encourages upward or lateral movement and provides learning and development resources. With more room for mobility, employees will feel valued, and will know that their company is invested in their growth. Create a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion During the interview process, company culture is always presented in a positive light, but if the culture turns out to be different once employees actually start working, they're going to feel duped. Diversity is more than just hiring people of different sexes, religions, ethnicities and ages—true diversity means differences in thought, personality and life experience. Your organization should embrace employee differences not only on paper but also in practice, and encourage diverse ideas to circulate and drive innovation. Drive Inspiration and Passion Through Leadership People don't just work for organizations—they work for people. That's why your leadership team should bring passion to the table, stand behind the brand, invest in employees and be transparent. A leader's passion and inspiration will trickle down to management teams and beyond. If leadership is steering the company in the right direction, this is going to impact the way your employees feel about being a part of the organization. Photo: Creative Commons

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