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The candidate experience, or a candidate's overall evaluation of the hiring process, gets a lot of lip service. A CareerBuilder survey found that even though 82 percent of hiring managers view the candidate experience as “very or extremely important, only 32 percent of candidates rate their experience as “very good."

The top complaints from candidates? According to Software Advice's research, organizations' applications are most often chided for a time-consuming process, a lack of information and poor communication.

A bad application doesn't just discourage a single candidate in the moment; it has long-lasting effects. When job seekers have a bad candidate experience, 42 percent of them say they would never apply to the company again, and 22 percent would tell other candidates not to work at that company. The good news? There's a lot of room for improvement here.

Let's dig into some concrete ways recruiters can improve their candidate experience.

Speed up Your Application Process

To start, you can cut down the time it takes candidates to apply for a job by making the process mobile-friendly and offering one-click applications. If that's not possible, keep your pre-qualification questions to a minimum (five or less), or allow candidates to apply directly through their social profiles and with pre-populate text boxes from their resumes.

In addition, shortening the screening phase is one area where the right technology can make a huge difference. SHRM reports that it takes an average of 9 days for recruiters to screen candidates. Instead of spending hours manually screening resumes, technology such as AI can learn what the job requirements are, and automatically screen, grade and shortlist candidates for you.

This means you can reach out to candidates much faster and avoid losing talent to your competitors.

Keep Candidates up to Date

Surprisingly, many companies fail at the basics of providing information to candidates. A notable 83 percent of candidates say it would greatly improve their experience if employers set expectations by providing a clear timeline of the hiring process.

This doesn't have to be complicated. There are plenty of opportunities to provide more information about your application process including:

  • Adding a detailed timeline in the job posting
  • Allowing candidates to check their application status from their applicant profile
  • Emailing candidates with details about the process after they apply

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

The job search isn't called a black hole for nothing: In fact, about 50 percent of candidates never hear back after submitting an application.

It's no surprise then that the number one request from job seekers is more communication. While job seekers still value a human touch, they're also realistic that it's not always possible. Randstad found 82 percent of job seekers believe the ideal recruiter interaction is a mix between innovative technology and personal, human interaction.

Recent technology, such as chatbots, makes it easier than ever for companies to provide real-time interaction with candidates. Recruiter chatbots can be used to collect information from candidates, ask screening questions, answer FAQs and schedule interviews with a real recruiter.

While chatbots are the cream of the crop for candidate communication, there are plenty of other tech options on the table to help manage relationships. Start off by using software that can automate candidate communication as much as possible, whether it's through email, SMS or a messaging app. Just remember to add a human element to your messages—you don't want to sound too robotic.

Last but not least, an often overlooked aspect of candidate communication is asking for feedback when the process is said and done (whether they accepted your offer or not). If you survey candidates on what they didn't like about your application process, you'll not only show them that you're invested in improving the candidate experience, but you'll get real-time data—allowing you to attract, identify and hire better talent, faster.

Photo: Twenty20