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Candidate Experience: The Darkside

Updated: 4 days ago

I don’t know about or speak for ALL of the recruiters on planet earth but I do know the recruiters in my recruitment community, as well as myself – we want to, strive to, and focus our efforts on recruiting successfully.

What does that even mean?

Recruiting is often hailed as the cornerstone of building a successful organization. Recruiting is most often hailed smoke and mirror type work - it is a complex job and expertise that is taken for granted and underestimated constantly. The process of attracting, assessing, and selecting potential candidates is undoubtedly crucial, but there's an aspect to this process that often goes unnoticed or unspoken – negative candidate experience. While organizations strive to find the best fit for their teams, they sometimes inadvertently subject candidates to a disheartening journey that can have lasting effects on both the individual and the company's reputation. Recruitment is a team sport.

The Illusive Communication One of the most common complaints among job seekers is the lack of communication during the recruitment process. Candidates invest their time, energy, and hopes into applications and interviews, often only to be met with silence from the hiring company. This lack of feedback can lead to feelings of frustration, self-doubt, and even anger. After all, a simple acknowledgment of their efforts isn't too much to ask for. It is imperative to ensure you're not leaving anyone behind in the recruitment process. It often begins to go wrong during communication.

The Tick-Tock Tick-Tock of the Candidate Experience Clock Time is a precious resource, and candidates understand this just as well as employers do. Yet, the recruitment process often drags on for much longer than necessary. Prolonged waiting periods between interviews, assessments, and final decisions can lead to a sense of disinterest and disregard for the candidate's time. It's not uncommon for candidates to accept another offer simply because they're tired of waiting for a response from their preferred company.

The Dehumanization of Job Seekers The advancements in automation within applicant tracking systems (ATS) continues to assist employers with streamlining the hiring process. However, it can also inadvertently depersonalized the experience for candidates in many areas when employers and recruiters do not keep candidate experience at the heart of the design of processes to include automation. Receiving automated emails with little to no purpose or effective placement of information speaking to the employers value proposition (EVP) is a huge oversight. This missed opportunity coupled with candidates never hearing back after an interview can make candidates feel like their efforts weren't even acknowledged by a real person. I mean no wonder the trust between job seekers and recruiters is often a dumpster fire. This intentional but most times unintentional dehumanization erodes trust and respect, making potential employees question whether they want to be part of an organization that treats them as mere data points or portrays a purely "butts in seats" mentality. Let me be clear, am all about automation and the ethical use of AI to enhance candidate experience and every stage of the employee lifecycle. To be CRYSTAL CLEAR, while I adore automation and the ethical use of AI, I use it as support to the already invested and intentional human experience I bring to candidate experience. I do not trust such automation to review my applicant's resumes or decided who to reject vs. who to interview. I personally review EVERY. SINGLE. RESUME/APPLICATION that comes across my desk - period. What I am not saying is automation is bad. I am saying like most things, there are positives and negatives to it - when not structured and used intentionally with candidate experience top of mind in it the literal application and use of it. Job seekers deserve better from recruiters and employers hiring as a bare minimum if you ask me - a bare minimum. Employers need to think about their overall brand and EVP (does the EVP line up with workplace reality)! Not only is the employer's brand at stake, it can and will either positively or negatively, impact the personal brand of the recruiters and hiring managers involved. If you're a recruiter or employer hiring, ask yourself, what can you do better today to progress forward? If there is one thing that can be improved today to add to positive candidate experience - what is stopping you?

The Ghost with False Promises Ghosting isn't limited to personal relationships – it's become an alarming trend in the professional world as well - specifically when it comes to job seekers and interviewing. It has picked up further dark-side momentum since 2020. With more and more employers cutting back resources and recruitment teams, teams are often short staffed and under resourced. This is NOT the job market for employers to cut resources and support for their recruitment times. Recruitment and talent attraction has never been more complex. Candidates who have invested time in interviews and assessments continue to report instances of companies suddenly disappearing, without any explanation or closure as recent as today. Some candidates have faced false promises during interviews, only to realize later that the company's claims about the role, culture, compensation, or growth opportunities were far from reality. Such unethical practices can severely damage an employer's reputation and discourage potential candidates from applying in the future. And let us not forget the hiring manager and recruiter whether intentionally involved or not will be blamed and likely take a hit to their overall professional reputation with job seekers. I am still waiting for the CHRO of a local company to me to call me back or return any email I sent her in 2020 after being ghosted at the 5th round of interviews. That isn't even my worst personal being ghosted by an employer story to date.

The Ripple Effect As I've mentioned, negative candidate experience doesn't just impact the individual involved; it can have ripple effects that extend beyond the initial encounter with one candidate. Word of mouth travels quickly, especially in the age of social media and online reviews. Candidates who feel mistreated or disrespected during the recruitment process are likely to share their experiences with friends, family, and even on platforms like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Reddit are just a few on the ever growing list of website's and apps targeting job seekers and employees to review their employer and employers they've interviewed with. This can tarnish the company's reputation, making it difficult to attract top talent in the long run. The negative side of recruiting, specifically candidate experience, cannot be ignored. I am unapologetically obsessed with candidate experience and even with that said, constantly reevaluating, looking for ways to be more innovation, and relooking at my processes to support world class candidate experience.

It is work that is never done - if doing it well and with intention.

Employers need to understand that the way they treat candidates has a significant impact on their brand image, employee morale, EVP and long-term success.

A more empathetic, transparent, and respectful approach to recruitment can help mitigate the negative effects and foster a positive relationship between the company and its candidates. Mistakes and life happen, but if you do not have a solid process coupled with checks and balance, while continually looking to improve and innovate to meet the current job market a job seeker's demands, you're playing yourself and your entire EVP and brand.

Companies are literally leaving themselves set up to be destroyed in the comment sections on social media and in online and app reviews.

After all, a successful recruitment process is not just about finding the right potential employee – it's also about leaving every candidate with a positive impression and safe experience with your company.

You can learn more about how I strive to create world class candidate experience here.

At the end of the day, there are a few ways we can go with candidate experience as recruiters and employers. We can go backwards and cause serious damage to our company's ability to hire and retain top talent or we can do what is best and go forward. We can make sure that every single day we are striving to create inclusive and equitable experiences for candidates while continuing to iterate and innovate to meet the current job market and job seeker's needs. Here is a blog post I wrote in 2021 based on my own candidate experience as a job seeking recruiter. If you have not read it I encourage you to. I wish it wasn't the case but not much has changed over all across the general experience job seeks are being subjected to.

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