Candidate experience is also customer experience

I have said this over the years, and recently, several of my podcast guests have also discussed it: there is an ever-increasing need to think of employees as customers as well, i.e. internal customers. Retention rates in major companies have been dropping for years, for a variety of reasons: more flexible work options, people pursuing their own ventures or teaming with startups, bad management, etc. When employees leave — and they often leave because they don’t feel invested in what’s happening around them 10 hours/day — it becomes a major cost to the organization. Hiring a new employee, getting that new employee up to speed, and everything associated with that? It costs money.

I actually wanted to touch on hiring briefly here in the form of “candidate experience.” Many people within organizations don’t see “candidate experience” and “customer experience” as the same. The former is the domain of HR, and the latter is the domain of a CCO. The CCO and HR might speak periodically but it’s not necessarily a consistent relationship (again, this is in most companies; in some those roles might speak every day).

But it really is important to think of candidate experience the way you discuss customer experience. It matters a good deal.

Business2Community actually just wrote about this dichotomy, noting some of the worst aspects of candidate experience:


  • Resumes were sent for posted positions, and the candidates received no acknowledgment of receipt of said resumes by the targeted potential employer, not even an auto-response;
  • Interviews were had with companies, but there was no follow-up or feedback from corporate recruiters or hiring managers;
  • Thank you notes and inquiries about position status were sent by candidates with no response or acknowledgment;
  • Candidates were pursued/recruited by the company with no subsequent follow-up communication to close the loop and set an interview time (or just to say “no thanks”);
  • and more

I have known people on the job market in the last 3-5 years, and many of them report the same. One study even says that, 48% of the time, companies don’t contact people who’ve expressed interest in working there. There are entire discussions online of “the candidate black hole.”

Here’s where all this comes home to roost:

23.8% of survey respondents stated that a positive candidate experience with an employer made them more likely to increase their relationships with employers’ respective “brand alliances, product purchases or networking.” 25.4% were encouraged to continue to maintain a relationship with an employer even after applying for a job.

This is from one study, admittedly. But … if you can simply have a better candidate experience, those candidates may come back to your brand as customers. This is one major reason why candidate experience needs to be thought of as diligently as customer experience is.

How could we make candidate experience better?

The main way would be to automate the top of the hiring funnel (resumes coming in), which is where HR is the most busy. This could free up HR for more value-add tasks like interviewing, although there are limitations. Automating a hiring funnel means resumes need to be stacked with the right keywords to get through the system, and that’s not necessarily good. But it’s certainly an improvement on most candidate experiences today.

Just as customer experience is a series of touch points along a journey, so too is how all your employees relate to your company. That begins with their experience as a candidate. You need to apply both science and empathy there to make sure it’s working.

Anyone have any background with candidate experience and have some thoughts?


2 comments to " Candidate experience is also customer experience "

  • Lisa

    In my company I am responsible for the customer experience and training my team. A portion of my responsibilities was to interview all candidates being considered for employment. The purpose of the interview was not to gauge their ability to do the job, but rather to gauge how well they would fit with our team and culture. Additionally, I looked for signs which told of their authentic self when interacting with internal and external customers. Unfortunately, we had a change in HR Management to someone who did not believe that this type of interview brought value and no longer supports the program. The feedback from the hiring managers has been that they were given a tool to evaluate the candidate regarding their technical abilities as well as their soft skills abilities. Several instances occurred in which the hiring manager did not pay attention to the soft skills evaluation only to find later that the person was not a good fit either internally or externally. Those who ignored the soft skills evaluation and later had issues with a new hire later acknowledge that had they paid attention, they would not have hired the individual. One particular case happened in our HR Group in which the hiring manager received the soft skills report which noted the candidate to potentially bring issues down the road, they chose to believe they could move this person along and avoid any issues. Today, they are faced with team issues, a formal complaint recorded and a team incapable of working as a cohesive unit. Candidates who were included in the soft skills conversation always commented that this was the first time a company had taken an interest or the time to educate them on what the company expected but more importantly took the time to ask what the candidate wanted and needed ensuring a good marriage between the two. Candidates were excited and hopeful that they would receive the job – sending follow up emails and letters expressing their desire to join our team.

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