• ClarkHouse Human Capital

Stop! You are creating a bad candidate experience

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

What is employer branding and why is it important?

An employer brand is the identity of a company as an employer, what sets it apart and makes it the place where the up and coming top talent want to work. Your values cannot be viewed as window dressing to your brand, but should be made clear during all interactions with the organisations staff and representatives. Attracting skilled, talented employees has always been of the utmost importance, but has become increasingly challenging over the years, setting yourself apart, for the right reasons, should be paramount in your recruitment strategy.

Why are some companies battling to attract and retain the talent that they so desperately need? Competition to attract and retain top performers is fierce, generally, organisations place a great deal of emphasis on creating and nurturing their brand from a client perspective, doing the same for its prospective and current employees is as important, as they are the very people who will be ensuring your organization continues to thrive in this competitive market. What some companies fail to realise however is that the balance of power has shifted tremendously over the last few years and sits squarely with the potential employee. With the abundance of information and choices available, organisations cannot afford to take the chance of a bad candidate experience as it could taint your brand for years to come, making the quest for top talent an uphill struggle.

In an environment where snapping up the best is a cut throat business, organisations need to make sure that, right from the onset, they are putting their best foot forward. From the very first point of contact candidates need to see that all representatives of your organisation are living the brand that you are promoting. Even in the case of an unsuccessful candidate, they should be walking away with a strong desire for another chance at becoming part of the ethos that you have created.

There are many implications to a bad candidate experience, the power has shifted. Previously, candidates may have talked amongst friends and family, but opinions were not as far reaching or lasting as they are today. With the advent of the mighty viral beast of social media, organisations can no longer afford the risk of a bad candidate experience. Not only are people feeling more empowered, they are also more inclined to share their experiences, not only amongst their inner circle, but on social media, creating an opinion that will be available to many and well into the future. Furthermore, although the candidate may not have been the perfect fit this time round, given time, they may be exactly what you’re looking for. By making sure that they walked away with a positive experience means that approaching them in the future will be a viable option, they were interested in being part of your brand previously, make sure they remain so. Last, but by no means least, there are the hidden costs of a bad candidate experience. Apart from the obvious profits that the candidate could have brought into your business in the future, a happy job applicant or employee is also an active brand ambassador and the reverse also remains true. Candidates are substantially more likely to use and recommend a company’s product if they had a positive experience than those who felt that their experience had been poor. In this case, the first impression is the lasting impression, make sure it’s a good one.

Making a concerted effort to ensure that a candidate’s experience is one they’ll talk about, for all the right reasons, will go a long way to building your brand.

What steps can you take to future proof your candidate experience?

Getting it right from the beginning

Getting it right means getting your representatives right, whether they be internal or external they will be the first touch point for any potential recruit. When appointing and training recruiters internally, it is of the utmost importance that staff are enthusiastic about what they do and that live and breathe the values of your organization. Patronizing and pretentious interview just won’t do. In short, HR needs to drop the arrogance, they are not doing themselves any favours and most certainly not the brand they are representing. They are the first touch point for any potential recruit and the impression they leave will influence the candidates view point of the organisation.

When considering an external recruitment agency there are a number of factors that need to be considered. So many companies use fly-by-night agencies which give the industry a very bad name. So it’s important to really focus on finding the true gems whose values and culture, align with your own. Ensuring that both parties are fully aware of the requirements and expectations is vital, ongoing communication and realistic expectations will provide a working relationship that minimizes the risk of harm to your brand.

The Next Step

The application has been received, the pre-interview screening done and now the candidate is taking the all important next step. Doing what you can to make the process a slick and easy one, will leave an invaluable impression of your brand. Organise a parking spot for them, welcome them and provide a back ground to who will be conducting the interview, be punctual, their time is as important as your own, make sure they feel appreciated for taking the time to come and meet with you and provide a feel for the environment they can expect should they be successful.

In this day and age competition is fierce and time is of the essence so why not consider an alternative to the old adage “Please come in for an interview”. Start with coffee or breakfast on neutral ground. Find out if there is synergy for both parties or why not try something new. Here are some options to consider.

Speed introductions, the speed dating of recruitment. The idea of speed interviewing is based on the premise that the sub-conscious mind is more efficient than the conscious mind, making it able to evaluate a situation more effectively and at a faster pace. Working with a buzzer system, candidates spend between 5 and 15 minutes with the interviewer. They are conducted at a career day or by organisations. At a career day the candidate would be “interviewed” by a selection of organisations who would be using the time to identify potential synergy between prospective employee and employer. Within an organisation, a number of managers from different areas of the business would be involved, establishing the candidates fit as well as providing the candidate with a brief overview of their business unit.

Gamification, taking recruitment into the twenty first century. Gamification, as a recruitment tool, is already being used by a number of organisations, from the US Army to auditing firms. How it’s being used would, obviously, differ between industries, but it creates an alternative means of establishing a possible candidate’s suitability in a pseudo real world situation. It has the added advantage of letting prospective candidates know that you’re a forward thinking organisation, with a finger on the pulse of what is relevant.

Don’t wait for the talent to come to you, seek them out. Conducting talks at relevant institutions, to specific groups of students, provides you with access to your target market as well as giving you the opportunity to detail the reasons they would want to choose your organisation, describing your brand and the career opportunities available. Organize open days, road shows and other events and invite specific individuals to attend. Sponsoring graduation ceremonies and hosting graduates at breakfasts and cocktail evenings also allows easy conversation to flow in a relaxed environment.

Give them a feel for their future Invite them along, be it a team building event, awards evening or a departmental function, invite potential recruits that you are interested in. Make sure you include pivotal members of your team to engage and drive their experience. It will provide them with insight into the culture of your organisation as well as giving them a taste of what to expect should they decide to pursue a career with you.

End of the road

It’s inevitable that not all candidates will be successful, but it’s how unsuccessful candidates are dealt with that will set you apart as an organisation.

Unsuccessful candidates need to be provided with prompt, positive feedback. They need to walk away from the experience having learnt something, a lesson that will make a difference to their next venture and will entice them to come back in future. How this feedback is provided could mean the distinction between a good and bad candidate experience, keeping in mind that, although they weren’t suitable for this position, they may be the perfect fit in the future.

The way forward

In the struggle to be the best, organisations are increasingly having to use the very tools that were traditionally used to attract customers, to attract top candidates, as they are the key to the organisations success. Recruitment Marketing is the process of creating awareness of your organisation as a prospective employer, engaging and nurturing the desired candidates so that when the possibility arises they are ready and eager to become part of your team. Without an authentic employer brand, that lives up to its values, your Recruitment Marketing will have a hollow ring and will not retain the top candidates you fought so hard to get.

Top candidates have many options open to them, make sure they want to choose yours and more importantly you will have to adapt your processes in order to make this a reality for your business.

To discuss more about how you can improve your candidate experiences please contact

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