Rule #1: The Candidate Experience

The Candidate Experience

There are more than enough arguments, books, articles and blogs out there with advice and opinions about which “priority” should sit atop the executive recruiting process as “Rule #1”. I’ve read many of them. Maybe you have too. But, if you ask any of our firm’s clients over the past 15 years, they will tell you that I’m a consistent and vocal advocate for nothing being more important than The Candidate Experience.

And here’s why.

When it comes to making an impression on candidates – particularly finalists – everyone thinks that their brand is coolest. Their location is the most desirable. Their comp plan is the most attractive. And that their career-path is basically unbeatable.

And maybe that’s true. Every bit of it. For every company. But, those attributes aren’t the best ways to truly show off your organization – and leave every candidate with a good gut-feeling about your shop.

Side note: Every candidate? Yup. Every one. Remember how great it was of Al Gore to create the Internet for us? (Or was it Brian Williams?) Well, there are stats from 2013 telling us that nearly 50% of candidates rate their company interaction/interview experience as POOR – and nearly 70% of all candidates say something on social media about it. And with the increased saturation of “TwitASnapBook” in our culture, those numbers are guaranteed to climb. Which means that the one sure-fire way to have a needless, self-inflicted black-eye for your brand, is sloppy candidate handling.

✪ ✪ ✪ Which brings us to this. The top two factors for handling the recruitment of candidates for your organization’s next management/executive opening: People and Pace.

Rule #1a – People: 

Every company has stars. And duds. And steady Eddy’s. And you all know who’s-who and what’s what within your own walls. So, if you’re truly invested in closing your top-chioice candidates, you and your recruiting team should be aware of who will do more in the interview than just provide a monotonus data dump. You need to consider which of your employees will be more than just a smile and a handshake and who from your ranks will contribute more than just asking stale, canned interview questions.

This means that when you select the group to speak with and meet with your candidate slate, you’re looking for interviewers who are conversationalists and communicators – who also know your business cold.

Building this list of staff, managers and leaders from within your organization with solid, real, personable and successful communication talent, is the first part of your interview process – which should be complete before the first candidate is even identified: Why start so early in the game? Because it takes effort and thought to blend a diverse group of your best players with one collective goal: Give a better Candidate Experience than the other guys.

This awareness – and the time that it takes to carefully choose these people – will result in the right mix of personalities and knowledge base being in the equation when your company is face-to-face with finalists (and even in the initial candidate contact with HR/Recruiting). It’s the first – and most critical – component in selling candidates to make the move to your organization.

Rule #1b – Pace: 

Now that you’ve put together an All-Star group to interview your selected candidates, the speed with which you move forward becomes your top priority. Which means that no matter how strong your internal executives, managers, staff and HR might “show” with your candidate finalists, if the readiness of your process doesn’t match the quality of your interviewers, you’re leaving candidate(s) to wonder. And no matter how well intentioned you are, that vacuum of activity and information can spell disaster.

And here’s why.

Remember those survey results? Well, 40% of candidates felt that there was an unacceptable lapse in time between interviews. Four in ten. This inactivity can be seen by candidates as indifference, arrogance and detachment. And since most likely you aren’t the only game in town for candidates, a gap in the process like this kills any compelling motivation for your candidates to move away from their current status quo – or no even worse, leaves the door open for your competitors.

Please don’t take away from this that I’m a proponent of you flying haphazardly through your process like a bat-out-of-hell. Let’s be clear, Pace is defined as “consistent and continuous speed in walking, running, or moving.”

And when applied to your hiring process:

  • Pace means matching the Candidate’s time investment.
  • Pace means being responsive with feedback (thumbs-up and thumbs-down).
  • Pace means showing your people and your company as decisive, athletic and aware.
  • Pace means treating your Candidates like you treat your customers.

The Candidate Experience: Give ’em great people – at a great pace.

It’s Rule #1.

Bruce Martin
About the author: 

Bruce Martin is the President of Broad & Pattison, Inc., the leading management recruiting and executive search firm serving the U.S. automotive industry.  His career includes executive assignments with DaimlerChrysler, GE Capital and Adecco, NA. Mr. Martin is a member of the Board of Directors for the Career & Networking Center, a Not-For-Profit based in Naperville, IL, and he serves on the industry Advisory Board of motormindz, an automotive Think-Tank based in suburban Detroit, MI. Follow Bruce on Twitter and LinkedIn