Job Candidate Experience: First Contact: #TChat Preview

Some things get better with time, some things get better with technology, and some things resist improvement. The hiring process should be in the second category, but far too often it’s in the third. As HR and leadership professionals we don’t always put the best foot forward in the hiring process. While HR automation tools have streamlined some aspects of what’s being called the ‘candidate experience,’ there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Truth is it’s been on my radar for a long time. Anyone remember this topic from last year?

Steven Spielberg fans will recognize the significance here of Devil’s Tower, the image to the upper left and the physical backdrop for much of his 1977 film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” First contact can be stressful. Unprepared, nobody quite knows what to expect. With space aliens, the ramifications are many and profound; with job candidates, the ramifications are almost as many, and almost as profound. The first contact we have with employee prospects is where first impressions are made. You’ll never be able to ensure employee loyalty and commitment, two key TalentCulture dimension, if you bungle the first interaction.

In many cases, first contact happens on the careers page of the company website. You’d think, well into the information age, we’d have the whole website thing sorted out, but it’s not. I visited the career pages of several Boston-area employers while thinking about this post and found a lot to criticize. Poor site navigation, clunky search tools, vague job descriptions and lengthy application processes appear to be the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps it’s a way of managing expectations; after all, most companies don’t have many job openings, and it’s not unusual to receive 100 resumes or applications for a single job. But surely we can do a better job of managing interactions with job applicants.

Since we’re all looking, at some level, for the perfect job, we thought the topic of candidate experience was a good one to tackle for this week’s #TChat. Here are the questions we have to ask:

Q1: We’ve talked a lot about employee loyalty and commitment recently – but how and where does that all start?

Q2: At a minimum, what should job candidates expect from the employers they’re interested in and why?

Q3: Why does it still take 50+ clicks to apply online? And does that really prevent candidates from becoming customers?

Q4: Managing the candidate experience for a few positions is one thing, but how does HR/recruiting leadership best scale to thousands?

Q5: How does outplacement handling affect candidate experience on the back end going forward?

As always #TChat comes to you via Twitter, on a Wednesday, at 7-8 pm ET (6-7 pm CT, 4-5 pm PT, or wherever you are). Our moderator this week will be Sarah White (@ImSoSarah), founder & CEO of Sarah White & Associates, LLC, and former analyst for Bersin & Associates. This Wednesday’s topic is a fitting tie-in, by the way: In 2012, Sarah became a board member at TalentBoard, whose Candidate Experience Awards deadline was just extended about a month’s time, to Friday, July 13.

Kevin W. Grossman (@KevinWGrossman) and yours truly (@MeghanMBiro) will be there, too, as Sarah tweets the questions. And the #TChat Tweet Team At-large will round out our posse to field and respond to your ideas: Sean Charles (@SocialMediaSean), Salima Nathoo (@SocialSalima) and Brent Skinner (@BrentSkinner). Think like an employee prospect, and bring your observations to the discussion. We’re looking forward to it. Join us this week as we look at the beginning of the employee/employer relationship: the hiring process and candidate experience.

Image credit: Devil’s Tower 05-15-09, by Geoffrey Plauche