Candidate Experience

8 Ways To Guarantee a Positive Participant Experience

A strong participant experience is among the most compelling elements of an effective recruiting strategy.
Yet 60% of job seekers report having a poor experience while applying for work. And they don’t keep those experiences to themselves -- they share them on social media, with employer review websites or with friends.

That means any negative impressions can be deep and lasting. A poor candidate experience can influence as many as 83% of candidates to revise their opinion about a company they once liked.

Furthermore, that damage isn't confined to just your employer brand. For many organizations, their candidates are also their customers. Alienating would-be workers can translate into lost sales.

The good news, however, is: With just a few simple changes you can dramatically improve your recruiting process and applicant satisfaction. Implement these eight essential components into your hiring and selection process to create a positive participant experience.

Communicate Throughout the Process

Communication is the most important component of a positive candidate experience. Job applicants might initially be excited about working with your company, but if they go through the application process without hearing from a recruiter or receiving an automated message, that excitement will quickly wane.

You can avoid this scenario by carefully planning your hiring process to include communication at key touch points. Add chatbots to your career site to answer questions, and use automated messaging to acknowledge receipt of their resume. Have a recruiter reach out over phone or email to share your hiring timeline with applicants, which sets their expectations.
Participants should always know what stage their application is in. Most applicants won’t make it to later stages of the hiring process. Don’t wait until you’ve made a final decision to let participants that you’ve screened out know that they’re no longer under consideration.
Update each applicant’s status in your job portal so they can track their progress. When rejecting candidates at a later stage (post-interview), have a recruiter reach out by phone to let them know.

Focus on building relationships with late-stage candidates. Even if they aren’t right for this role, they may be a good fit for another one. Having qualified talent in your pipeline reduces time-to-hire on future requisitions.

Customize Your Communication and Messaging

Job candidates are more than files and test results. They're individual people with different dreams and aspirations. As much as possible, try to customize your communication with them. This keeps participants engaged while they’re in the running and nurtures your talent pool for future openings.

Technology has made personalized communication easier than ever before, even in high-volume applicant pools. Invest in customizable messaging systems to help keep candidates aware of their status.

Carefully consider the language you use when turning down applicants, too.

These practices can help take the sting out of your rejection letter:
  • Thank the candidate warmly and authentically.
  • Provide a reason for the rejection (e.g. timing, experience, competencies).
  • Let candidates know that you’d love to keep them apprised of future openings. Allow them to sign up for an optional mailing list.
  • Give participants a useful takeaway. Tell them something they did well in the application process or find personal strengths to share with them.
Make sure your communication plan includes channels for maintaining relationships with late-stage candidates. Some organizations design campaigns to maintain a connection with those not selected. This could include developing an applicant community online or awarding loyalty points for referring friends and family members for open positions.

Make sure that rejected participants retain a positive view of the company.

Add Gaming Elements to Your Assessments

Your recruitment process should be engaging, but that doesn’t mean it should be frivolous. You want candidates to perceive the assessment and selection process as professional and fair.

Recently, there’s been a trend of adding games to the candidate assessment process. But participants don’t usually perceive games as an appropriate part of a high-stakes recruitment process.

Instead of including actual games, try incorporating gaming elements into your psychometric testing. This winning formula is engaging for the participant while still delivering reliable insights. 

Our research has shown that the most positively perceived gaming elements in talent assessments are:
  • Completing interactive challenges that unlock different levels.
  • Receiving immediate feedback.
  • Feeling that participants are being taken seriously by the organization.
Seek out these elements when reviewing assessment providers. Make sure that the assessment’s content is still clearly job-relevant, even if the format includes gaming elements. Participants should be able to connect their performance on the assessment to their potential performance in the role.

Offer a Realistic Job Preview

A great participant experience includes a realistic job preview, real-life employee stories and an assessment process that reflects the role and job description. Share videos on your career pages showcasing “a day in the life” of an employee in the role. This shows participants what to expect from the job and offers a glimpse into your company culture.
It’s just as important for the candidate to make their own evaluation of “fit.” A realistic job preview should show both the role’s positive aspects and the challenges participants might face. After viewing the preview, candidates should feel like they have enough information to decide whether the role is right for them. The features of a realistic job preview can also be built into the actual assessment process. For example, you can use situational judgment tests based on real-world scenarios. You can also include sector-specific ability tests and personality questionnaires. Each of these elements empowers participants to either continue or screen themselves out, making your selection decision easier.

Respect the Candidate’s Time

Modern psychometric testing offers the opportunity to gather more information from applicants early in the selection process. The danger is that extending this stage of the process could lead to strong candidates losing interest.

Design your selection process to move along as quickly as possible while still gathering the information you need to make an informed decision. Map out your application and selection processes, and time them from start to finish. Make sure assessment instructions are easy for job seekers to follow and that the data gathered flows automatically into your applicant tracking system.

The following tips can help tighten up your assessment timeline:
  • Adopt psychometric tests that have been developed using technology to make them as short as possible. Certain robust tests can provide an accurate measurement within a few minutes.
  • Integrate your assessments, online questions and candidate data together in your ATS or HR information system. Participants should be able to access everything through a single portal.
  • Choose talent assessments that are mobile-enabled so applicants can complete them at the time and location that are most convenient for them.
Lost time is one of the biggest drags on participant experience. By keeping your assessment timeline tight, you can make the right hiring choice quickly without keeping other candidates waiting.

Differentiate Your Participant Experience

Your candidates are likely applying for jobs at multiple potential employers. If you want to stand out, you need to provide a participant experience that is as unique as your organization.

Here are a few ways other innovative companies stand out:
  • Present robust psychometric assessments in a unique way, such as a messaging app. Deloitte and a multinational engineering company each use this talent assessment format to provide an exciting participant experience.
  • Abandon the paperwork in your assessment centers. Do away with endless printouts of exercises and assessor notes. Nationwide did this, and the candidate feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Consider implementing asynchronous video interviewing. Companies like Ocado Group have adopted video interviewing through Aon’s vidAssess platform to ensure a positive interview experience. With this tool, candidates direct the process by filming their responses to a few key questions.
Implementing processes like these not only improves the participant experience but also sets you apart from your competition. Even rejected candidates will remember you better and be more likely to apply to future opportunities.

Increase Fairness With Transparency

Participants don’t want to go through a selection process without knowing the criteria for being measured or judged. Start with a structured interview process. Let candidates know that hiring managers will ask every candidate the same questions, and what those questions are designed to measure. Help candidates see how you’re making your decision so that the process feels more fair. Assessments must reflect fair criteria, too. Explain throughout the hiring process why you’ve included the assessment and how it will be used to make a hiring decision. Draw a clear connection between the competencies or skills being measured and the predicted success of future performance.

Give — and Request — Feedback

Design your selection process to provide feedback to all participants. Assessments can be “scored,” giving instant feedback to the candidate. Those candidates who do well are encouraged to continue with their application. Use assessment feedback to give candidates who don’t score well suggestions on skills they may want to develop.

This demonstrates respect for the participants and gives them something useful to implement in future roles. Make sure the feedback you provide is constructive and action-oriented so that candidates can use it in future job searches.

Finally, ask for feedback on your own process. Participants appreciate that you’re taking their opinions and experiences into account. When you receive feedback, take action and make changes to continuously improve the participant experience.

Aon | Assessment Solutions

Aon's assessment solutions provides clients with powerful tools and insights to help them make better talent decisions at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This includes pre-hire assessments, identifying future leaders, screening for digital skills and agility, and AI-enabled solutions.

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