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How do you ensure great candidate experience?

This blog post is based on the 5th episode of the data-driven recruiting podcast hosted by CodeSignal co-founders Sophia Baik and Tigran Sloyan. You can find and listen to this specific episode here or check out the video version embedded below.
Good news. Your organization has decided to go beyond resumes. But what does that really mean to your applicants? Will they see this change as a positive? That depends entirely on you! It may be tempting to focus exclusively on your perspective as you implement this new practice. But in reality, the candidate’s experience is just as valuable. Imagine your team puts in all the work to really understand candidates as a whole, only to be left with the same leads you’ve always had. No thank you! Instead, let’s uncover the best practices to ensure a positive experience for your organization and the candidates that may seek to join it.

It starts with the assessment

Before implementing a rigorous assessment, consider the consequences. Such as – a great candidate walking right past your opportunity. Why? Let’s look at Paul. Paul is a sharp individual, highly educated and he’s ready to make a move in his career. He’s already built a solid reputation for himself and within a couple of weeks, he has three interviews lined up. One of them is with your company. Before Paul walks through the door, he’s sent an assessment from your team. He reads through the assignment, which is an at-home project. He correctly estimates that it will take two to three days to complete. But Paul doesn’t have two to three days. He’s already working his day job and juggling other commitments in his off time, including interviews. He can’t afford to invest such a substantial up-front commitment of time and energy to a company he’s not yet being seriously considered for. Instead, he moves forward with the other two companies and decides to pass on the job you’re offering – sight unseen. Let’s get Paul back! The best first step would be an assessment that takes no more than one hour. This is a reasonable request that candidates will more readily participate in. After the first-round interviews, you can request a select few complete an at home-project. Not before.

Set clear expectations

If you’re sending assessments to every candidate and getting none in return, it may be a result of unclear expectations. No one likes template emails. Chances are if they’re not automatically deleted, they’re at the very least making it to the bottom of the pile. Take the time to explain to your candidate in advance what they’ll be receiving and why you’re asking for their participation. Let them know the assessment should take no more than sixty minutes. Next, define the why behind the test. Someone who knows you’re committed to going beyond resumes will more readily participate. When companies set clear expectations with their candidates, we see their participation levels increase to the higher side of the average (95% completion rate). Companies who do not set clear expectations can fall to the lower side of the average, around 45% completion rate. No one wants to settle for less than 50% of anything.

Test and request

An assessment is a valuable tool when it accurately represents the work of the organization. A candidate who has the freedom to complete a project at home then present it to a group of colleagues can experience a real-life scenario they would have as an employee. Both the candidate and the company can evaluate things like motivation, skills and team interaction. But before you implement this type of assessment – or an hour-long questionnaire for that matter – the best first step is to have employees test it. Existing employees have real-life experience of the necessary job skills and organization, which means their input on the assessment is critical. Requesting feedback immediately from any candidate who completes the evaluation is another valuable step. Ideally, the feedback should be included in the tool itself, so candidates can offer unbiased input, before they receive word of whether or not they’ll move on in the process. Let’s be honest, a candidate who gets a rejection letter may be influenced subconsciously to be more critical of the assessment and a candidate who is offered a position more influenced to offer praise. As you incorporate a commitment to going beyond resumes, take steps to understand the candidate’s experience, ensuring you attract and retain the top talent for your company.
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