Welcome to the new world of hiring, where candidates have more power than ever before. They’re the food critic at your new restaurant, and you can’t afford for them to leave a negative review that might drive people away from your business. With so many organizations competing to win top talent, you need to ensure you’re creating a candidate experience that’s memorable, positive, authentic and five-star.
We caught up with Carolyn Trotman, People Operations Manager at Gimlet Media, an award-winning narrative podcasting company, to learn how the org provides a positive candidate experience at every touchpoint. As a company that aims to help listeners better understand the world and each other, its values are clear: diversity of thought helps create the best work possible, and that starts with hiring the right people. Let’s explore how the Brooklyn-based group attracts top talent by executing an authentic candidate experience.
GH: Why do you feel it’s important to create a winning candidate experience?
Carolyn: While a candidate may have used a company's product or is familiar with its brand, the interview process is likely the first chance they have to develop a meaningful relationship with a company and learn about its values. Designing a thoughtful candidate experience is a wonderful opportunity to showcase what your company is all about in an individualized way.
Additionally, the job search can be daunting and super time-consuming! It's crucial that companies optimize the candidate experience with an eye toward respect, transparency and responsiveness.
GH: What challenges have you come across when attempting to create a positive candidate experience?
Carolyn: Speed and prioritization! It can be tough for hiring managers to put their searches at the top of their priority list when they're juggling both their work and the duties of the vacant role. This can slow down the process and create lag times for next steps and updates, which leaves candidates wondering and sends them a mixed message.
As a startup, our teams are frequently learning and experimenting in real time, so there can also be shifting criteria or misalignment on what gaps an open role is filling. When this happens, we do our best to sync up quickly and be transparent with existing candidates about any potential updates to the role, and then change our strategy for vetting others.
GH: What techniques are you using to keep your hiring teams engaged so you can win at every candidate touchpoint?
Carolyn: Our kickoff meetings get hiring managers engaged in the search process from the jump. I make sure to walk away from kickoffs with a thorough understanding of the role and what I need to screen. This way, candidates who progress can have more meaningful conversations with the hiring manager, rather than wasting time on surface-level questions.
For the most part, our hiring teams have bought into the scorecard feedback system (particularly when they know they can't see others' feedback until they leave their own). They enjoy sharing their POV and seeing how they compare against other interviewers. We always have a thorough debrief where everyone involved in the search weighs in. These tend to be some of the most engaging meetings of the week!
Finally, whenever we extend an offer, we always share candidate contact information with the entire hiring team so everyone can personally congratulate the finalist and offer to answer any questions. It's a nice touch and helps candidates remember why they're excited about the team they are about to join.
GH: What advice do you have to help recruiting teams make candidate experience a company-wide priority?
Carolyn: Consider rolling out interview training. If you already do this, make sure to get buy-in from the executive level so that they attend and encourage their reports to attend.
You can build a “best interview practices” guide, and send it to interviewers around the time that you are adding them to the open job in Greenhouse. Also consider informally sharing your company's recent Glassdoor reviews with interviewers to encourage them to maintain your positive reputation, or to help improve mixed feedback.
GH: How are you tracking and measuring candidate experience initiatives?
Carolyn: We make use of Greenhouse's survey, and currently send it to all candidates who have reached the testing stage or beyond. We send onboarding surveys as well, where we request feedback on the recruitment process.
We also look at anecdotal data – how frequently are past candidates who have interviewed re-applying, getting back in touch and/or recommending other candidates? We've just scratched the surface, and there's much more to explore in this arena!
It’s definitely getting tougher and tougher to stand out from the crowd, but you can use Gimlet Media’s best practices to stay ahead of the game. When you’re connecting with candidates in a personalized, honest and organized way, you’re giving them just one more reason to accept your offer, stay and truly believe in your organization.
Think that you’re creating a winning experience for your candidates? Get a look inside the minds of recent candidates to find out about their top tips and expectations.