First off, what does ‘candidate experience’ actually mean? Most HR professionals know it as ‘a candidate’s experience and feelings towards a company’s hiring process’. Whether good, bad or ugly, this experience will influence a candidate’s perception of you as an employer and as a brand.  

In today’s hiring landscape, with a global skills shortage in many industries, businesses continue to label talent acquisition as a core business challenge. As a result, the majority of organisations continue to dedicate time and resources to optimise their hiring processes. These changes are paramount not only for shaping a business’s employment brand, authority and reputation but for the overall candidate experience. 

If you’re still not convinced by the importance of candidate experience, take note of the direct impact that candidate screening had on Virgin Media’s revenue. A poor candidate experience cost Virgin in the region of $5M annually; if you’ve not given much thought to candidate experience, could it already be costing your business?

Embracing a candidate-first mentality when hiring has many benefits that will ensure a successful and long-lasting relationship between recruiters and applicants. Disregarding and overlooking the unsuccessful candidates can inspire unwanted reviews which may cause considerable employment brand damage, as highlighted by Virgin’s hiring case study. 

When we break it down, we are brought back to the basics. If employers cater to the fundamental needs of an applicant, they are contributing towards a positive and seamless process for both companies and candidates alike. 

A major element of hiring internationally is candidate screening, an investigation worth conducting in a holistic way. Let’s consider the following 7 practices for background screening and its specific impact on the candidate experience:

1. Define your candidate experience

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

Many companies set their expectations for candidates, but more often than not those expectations are not defined or thorough. From attracting to onboarding, are your company’s processes clear? To address a candidate’s concerns disclose required background screening information from the get-go. Make sure to mention how many stages of interviews a candidate may expect to prepare for. Tell your applicant that to proceed with their application, they may also expect to sign an authorisation letter for the screening. What documents may be required for onboarding? Ensure that your expectations and processes are aligned with the candidate’s, and if not, inform them. This step helps to prepare the qualified candidates for the next steps, and can also decrease the number of undesirable applicants early in the process.

2. Follow strict data compliance standards

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

It is crucial for a candidate to understand why their data is being collected, where it’s being stored and who has access to it. Applying for new opportunities can be overwhelming and stressful to many, so a clear understanding of what happens to their data can reduce anxiety around the process. Be as transparent as possible about this so that the candidate has one less road-black to worry about. Send authorisation letters or information release permission forms online, so that the applicant can easily sign with an electronic signature, and you’re receiving a credible document with soft data to back it up.  Entering and storing data means that your company follows strict compliance laws. If you outsource this process, ensure that the company you use for background screening is GDPR compliant. Having a high standard of compliance reassures a candidate of the companies values and their priority on data security. 

3. Communicate early and often

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

Consider the applicant’s journey and all touchpoints where they’ll require relevant information, updates or check-ins. Let these touchpoints be known early in the process. It’s a great time to clarify any compliance, data protection or any pre-hiring requirements. By handing this information over to the candidate, it gives them a sense of ownership over the process. This transparency replaces any uncertainty with trust and confidence, as a candidate knows exactly what to expect and when to expect. It’is essential that a candidate feels that their time has been valued throughout and that all communication has been clear and effective, regardless of the outcome. Keep your lines of communication open and clear to boost the applicant’s overall experience.

Following-up with unsuccessful candidates doesn’t go unnoticed. Let them know of any other relevant opportunities that they may be a match for, Strengthen your talent pool, don’t weaken it. 

4. Take advantage of technology

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

HR technology is there to support both employers and applicants during the hiring process. Not only can certain tech enhance communication between the applicant and the recruiter, but the right tools can also simplify processes. If you can streamline your operations without compromising on quality, a candidate’s screening experience will be far more positive. From data entry to communications, increasing automation and reducing human input error is both wise and modern. Use recruiting tools, such as TrueProfile.io Recruiting, or Zoom for communication, to ensure a better candidate screening process for both candidates and employers alike.    

5. Create company-wide standards

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

In essence, practice what you preach. Ensure that your current employees have also gone through the background screening process. Assure the candidate that this process is universal amongst all company employees. Not only does this ensure that your workforce is of an incredibly high standard it also informs your candidates that the company they’re looking to be a part of is made up of highly-skilled, qualified and pre-verified employees. That’s the sort of team that applicants yearn to be a part of. 

6. Outsource for seamlessness

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

The role of a hiring manager is not an easy one. From attracting to onboarding a new employee, the journey contains many twists and turns, repeated processes and dispersed timelines. Often, it makes sense to outsource elements of your process to a company focused on helping your company make great hiring decisions. If your current process is too confusing, that may be reflected in the drop out rate from your applicants. Using a background screening service provider frees you up to focus on other touchpoints with your candidate. 

7. Give more than expected

7 HR Practices for the Best Candidate Screening Experience

If an attractive candidate is unsuccessful this time in your process, suggest other ‘activities’ that a candidate can do to increase their chances of getting hired with you in the future. If you have partnered with an educational outfit that offers relevant training for upskilling within your industry, offer more information on that. It’s a win-win-win as your partnership may onboard a new member, your applicant may upskill their training, and you get to keep a happy applicant in your pipeline for future opportunities. People communicate and review when they feel strongly about something. If you’ve gone above and beyond for your candidate, they may willingly share their positive experience and opinion. 

Due to the principle of reciprocity, receiving value makes people want to return the same. Now is your chance to create a post-screening experience survey. Or give the applicant a chance for feedback. Knowing what you did right (or wrong) helps to optimise your hiring process for future participants and gives your candidates a positive opinion of your company, whether they were hired or not. 

Informing and educating your applicants about your hiring and background screening processes will improve their overall candidate experience. 

Do you want to cut down the hours that you spend on screening candidates? Talk to a member of our team using businesspartner@trueprofile.io or you can get started with a free 7-day trial of TrueProfile.io Recruiting.