HR Insights – Candidate Experience

Whether you’re just graduating or you feel like you’re ready for a change, if you plan on looking for a new job this year, you’re not alone— one poll found that 96% of workers plan on finding a new job in 2023. 

Although the job interview process seems intimidating at times, remember that you’re interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. During the interview process, there are things you can look out for that indicate a company respects its candidates.

A good candidate experience is an assurance that the company has a culture you will be happy in and that will help you establish your career. On the flip side, a disjointed or poor candidate experience that leaves you guessing is a good indication that there may be larger issues with the company, which can lead to employee dissatisfaction. 

So what makes a good candidate experience? Here are 5 things to look for from a company in your next job interview: 

1. They communicate

By far, the biggest complaint job seekers have about the job search process is a lack of response. Over 70% of applicants never receive a response after applying for a job. This is not only frustrating, but something many job seekers consider just plain rude.

That said, there are different reasons companies don’t respond to applicants. There is no legal requirement to do so in the US, so many don’t. Other common reasons include: 

      • Lack of systems or processes. While most companies manage the application process with Applicant Tracking Software, it may not include the option to automatically send a response to applicants once rejected.
      • Lack of manpower. Some companies don’t have the staff or time to realistically respond to each applicant. This is more likely in smaller companies or those who are understaffed.

However, there are also many companies that simply don’t prioritize responding to applicants. Or, when someone is hired, they quickly move onto the next role to fill. Companies that ghost their applicants—at any stage of the interview process—should be a red flag. 

On the flip side, companies that take the time to communicate with you, even through an automated response, show that they understand that there is an actual person on the other side of each application.

2. They tell you what to expect at the interview 

Finding out you’ve landed in an interview is exciting, but can also be a bit nerve-wracking. Company recruiters or HR employees who reach out to you directly and let you know what to expect at your interview is a good sign they want to set you up for success. 

Some information they might share with you includes: 

      • List of people you’ll be interviewing with, including their names and titles 
      • Agenda, if you’ll be interviewing with multiple people in one day 
      • Specifications, such as whether it will be a phone call or a video call
      • Anything you may need to bring, such as portfolio of work 

Some recruiters will even go so far as to give you insight into the people or team you’re interviewing with, including what they value. A company that takes the time to tell you what to expect at your interviews will help you be better prepared and confident during the interview process. 

3. They respect your time

On average, the interview process includes 2-3 interviews. Multiple interviews are common and allow you to meet with various members of the team, tour a job site, and help both you and your potential employer get a better feel for your personality and overall cultural fit. 

Your interviews may take the form of a phone interview, in-person group or panel interviews, video chats, or any of the above. At some point, however, the number of interviews starts to become excessive. Some candidates report going through 6 or more rounds of interviews, only to find out they didn’t get the job. 

Employees who respect your time won’t drag the interview process out for months with an excessive number of interviews. During your initial call, consider asking how many interviews the position will require before extending an offer. This can help you gauge how long the process is likely to take. 

4. They keep you updated

Have you ever had an interview end with “We’ll be in touch!” and then never heard from them again? The company should keep you informed during the interview process, including next steps and whether you’ll be moving forward. 

At Pierce Washington, honest and open communication is a priority.  “It is important to me that candidates are informed during every step of the recruiting process,” says Joanne Pall, Talent Operations Manager. “In my opinion, that is a big part of the experience.  My recruiting style is high touch with transparent communication—regardless of the message I deliver. I appreciate that candidates have taken the time to apply and interview with us, and believe they deserve to know what to expect from us, our recruiting process and where they stand in that process.” 

“It is important to me that candidates are informed during every step of the recruiting process… I believe they deserve to know what to expect from us, our recruiting process and where they stand in that process.” – Joanne Pall, Talent Operations Manager, Pierce Washington 

5. They provide a thorough orientation and onboarding experience 

You got the job. Congratulations! Now what? 

While there is certainly a learning curve at every company and with every new role, an employer who is invested in your success will ensure your orientation experience is helpful and informative. As a new employee, you’ll likely have a number of questions about your role, benefits, and available resources. 

Pierce Washington prioritizes this, making sure all employees are equipped with the information they need. 

“I want to ensure all new employees feel welcomed and informed during orientation,” says Patty Griffone, HR and Finance Administrator. “It’s important to me that we connect on a personal level and that they feel comfortable asking questions regarding new hire paperwork and benefits and that they are confident in their understanding of software tools they will be utilizing.”  

Onboarding matters because it sets the stage for your experience in the company. It’s often the first experience you’ll have with the company and its culture, and it immerses you in the company culture right away. Companies the prioritize the onboarding experience know this, and they ensure they create an experience that is welcoming and helpful. 

At Pierce Washington, onboarding begins immediately and provides a comprehensive, immersive experience that sets you up for success.  

“Our onboarding experience begins when the offer letter is signed,” says Karen Watson, People Operations Leader. “Frequent communication, including an agenda with prescheduled meetings with key leaders and team members, helps set the stage for what to expect.  Our onboarding experience is designed to give new employees an overview of our company framework and how their role will make an impact within PW. We spend time sharing our company mission, values, and company culture. It is my goal to ensure employees feel welcomed and embedded into our culture from day one.” 

Finding the Right Fit 

Accepting a new role with a new organization is an exciting time, but before you do that, it’s important you take the time to ensure the company will be a good fit for you. 

Pierce Washington makes it a priority to create a good candidate experience from start to finish, but it doesn’t end there—fostering a positive environment for career growth for employees has been with PW from day one. 

“When Pierce Washington was founded, we wanted to replicate the positive aspects that big consulting firms provide and leave behind some of the negative aspects,” explains John Carey, Pierce Washington Founder and CEO. “In larger firms, there’s often a culture that leads to burnout among consultants, like requiring excessive travel and encouraging long hours. We’re very mindful of our culture and do what we can to take care of our people.” 

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