How These 4 Companies Dramatically Boosted the Candidate Experience

April 4, 2019

When you have a bad experience at a restaurant, you don’t go back — and you might warn others not to go there either. The same thing happens when candidates have a negative experience with your company. But when they have a positive experience, they can become enthusiastic ambassadors for your brand — even if they don’t ultimately land the job.

Improving the candidate experience can be tough, especially if you’re dealing with a large number of applicants or you’re working with minimal resources. But a little outside-of-the-box thinking can make a big impression on candidates.

See what these four companies have done to make their candidates feel taken care of and then steal a page from their playbook:

1. Children’s Mercy Hospital allows candidates to introduce themselves with a short video and then recruiters pair them with the right role

Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City felt that the medical jargon common in its job listings was confusing or off-putting for candidates. The hospital got plenty of applications (more than 31,000 in one year for just 1,552 open positions), but the dropout rate in the application process was 40%.

The recruiting team was worried it was missing out on good people, who either gave up on their application or simply applied for the wrong job. To bypass the jargon and help candidates find their fit, the team decided to turn the job search on its head — by getting recruiters to pair candidates with roles instead.

Launched in October 2015, the Introduce Yourself program allows candidates to record a short video interview. In it, they respond to two prompts: “Tell us about your background and experience” and “What would you like to do for Children’s Mercy?”

From there, the recruiting team reviews the videos and recommends roles that seem like a good fit, taking the guesswork out of the search. If there’s nothing suitable at the moment, the Mercy recruiters promise to call candidates when an appropriate role opens up.

When candidates click the link to record their video, one thing immediately stands out. The questions are being asked by children, not recruiters. The hospital’s mission, after all, is to always put kids first.

If candidates know which role they want to apply for, they also have the option to apply in the traditional way. But many embrace the opportunity to share something about themselves that might not come through in their resume.

“Introduce Yourself gives (job seekers) a voice,” Angie Richardson, the hospital’s clinical talent acquisition supervisor, says on their website. “They can tell their story. You can’t do that so much on paper.”

The program has been immensely popular. In the first 18 months, the recruiting team received about 30 videos per day and hired over 200 candidates who applied this way. Feedback has also been supportive. By having children ask them the questions, candidates say that they’re more relaxed and that the experience is more meaningful and personal.

Beyond improving the candidate experience, Children’s Mercy says employees hired through the program are “about 20% higher in the diversity rank.”

Giving candidates the chance to express themselves and to tell their story is a surefire way to boost their experience. Platforms like HireVue (which Children’s Mercy uses) make it easy to gather and view short introductory videos like this at scale. And by suggesting roles a candidate might be better suited for, you can show candidates that your company cares about helping them succeed, even if the job they applied for isn’t the best fit.

2. Kimberly-Clark introduces interviewees to the local area and makes it easy for hiring managers to send thank-you messages

Kimberly-Clark, the consumer goods juggernaut behind brands like Kleenex and Huggies, believes that their candidates are also their No. 1 customers. To make their candidates feel special when they come in to interview, the company has focused on improving the travel experience.

According to Talent Board’s 2018 North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report, Kimberly-Clark provides interviewees with VIP American Express booking options for their travel. Rather than renting a car when they arrive, candidates can take advantage of the company’s car service, with the drivers acting as champions for the local area.

The company also provides candidates with a welcome bag when they arrive at their hotel. Each bag contains maps, restaurant recommendations, and information about nearby attractions, as well as some of the company’s products.

The VIP treatment doesn’t end when the candidate flies home. With the goal of empowering its hiring managers to deliver a better candidate experience, Kimberly-Clark puts reminders on their calendars to send a thank-you email to candidates. These reminders include an email template that the hiring manager can quickly copy, paste, and personalize.

Even if you can’t fly candidates out for interviews, you can always make them feel appreciated. Something as simple as a thank-you email can drastically improve the candidate experience, especially if you take the time to include a personal touch.

3. Yodel uses chatbots to make the application process go smoother and let candidates interact with the company at any hour

To help meet the needs of its prospective drivers, Yodel — one of the United Kingdom’s largest delivery companies — offers several types of employment opportunities. This includes full- and part-time work and the option to be a self-employed driver. While this does help set the brand apart, candidates may be unsure which option is best for them. And with over 1,200 applications every week (a number that rises to 5,500 during the end-of-the-year holiday season), recruiters have struggled to handle the sheer volume of inquiries and phone screenings.

To successfully hire at scale without leaving candidates confused, Yodel worked with engagement technology platform Meet & Engage to build three “Candidate Experience Bots,” one for each of its key driver roles.

When candidates visit the company’s career site, the relevant bot can answer the kind of questions that recruiters hear every day. This helps candidates study the kind of job that would work best for them and understand what the role entails. For example, if a candidate isn’t sure which type of van they would need, the bot will share a picture. It will also ask how they’re finding the experience and provide individual feedback.

The bot also helps screen candidates by asking some friendly questions based on the specific role. Then it lets the candidate know what the next steps look like and tells them that the team will call using a number from the Liverpool area code, so they know what to look out for.

In addition to keeping the candidate informed, the bots also allow candidates to apply and move through the screening process at a time that suits them. As the graph below shows, many interact with the bots well outside of standard office hours.

Launched during peak season, the Candidate Experience Bots were an immediate success. Within the first month, more than 300 people were hired after interacting with the bots, and Yodel’s time to hire dropped by 38%. And 97% of applicants rated the candidate experience as highly positive, with only 9% dropping out of the process.

Chatbots can be a useful way to keep candidates informed, particularly when you’re not at your desk. Giving candidates the option to interact with your company at a time that is most convenient for them can improve their experience and make it easier for them to apply while not neglecting their current job.

4. Kronos goes above and beyond by offering personal touches and career coaching for every candidate

To ensure its candidates feel well taken care of throughout the hiring process, workplace solutions provider Kronos implemented a “100% in touch rule.” According to the Talent Board report, this means the company tries to be transparent and go the extra mile for every applicant — whether they get the job or not.

Even if a candidate isn’t the right fit, Kronos offers career coaching and counseling to help them take the next step in their career. And since the company wants to acknowledge a candidate’s life outside of work, the talent acquisition team will send a personalized touch — like flowers or an edible arrangement — if they hear about something going on in the candidate’s personal life, like a new baby or sick family member.

One recent example of their high-touch approach came when an error by the travel vendor caused an interviewee to miss her return flight. Since the candidate had a young child and had to get home quickly, she rented a car instead.

Kronos’s talent acquisition team kept in touch with her throughout the drive from Massachusetts to Maryland to make sure she arrived safely. They also sent her a thank-you note and appreciation package to make up for the inconvenience. The candidate was so impressed by the thoughtful treatment that she later accepted a job offer from the company.

Providing meaningful touchpoints for every candidate doesn’t have to be difficult and it can radically improve the candidate experience. Beyond simply informing rejected candidates, consider offering something that makes the experience more valuable for them, like helpful feedback or information about applying in the future. And when you do bring people in for interviews, make sure they know where to go — and how to get home safely.

The biggest improvements can happen when you know where your current process is falling short

It never hurts to review and improve your hiring process. And if you know where the biggest pain points lie, making improvements in those areas can dramatically change the candidate experience for the better.

Focus on removing friction, like eliminating or replacing confusing steps in the application process, or reducing the time it takes for your team to respond to questions. Then build more communication into the process, like follow-up emails and thank-you notes. Any steps you can take to make the candidate feel special are always worth taking — after all, they might be your next top performer.

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