Several years back I had the fortunate experience of managing the recruitment arm of Accenture’s Technology practice in Canada.  Accenture still maintains it’s position as one of the world’s best employers and one of the giants in corporate recruitment.  Last year Accenture hired over 20,000 people worldwide.  Needless to say, it’s a “well-oiled machine” in the global talent management space.

Since my days at Accenture I have gone on to work with other enterprise organizations who have had to tackle enormous recruitment initiatives.  What continues to amaze me is the lack of focus on the candidate experience so many corporations still operate with.  Their large recruitment budgets readily endorse big-ticket resource tracking systems and sourcing options, yet with all that money spent on attracting talent to their doors, the entire recruitment process wains as the candidate engages in the screening and interviewing processes.

I recently went through the recruitment process as a candidate for a major player in the financial services field.  I was shocked at the experience and how it lacked in comparison to its competitors.My first interview with the recruiter was lack lustre and unstructured.  The recruiter seemed impressed with me, but I was not so sure about them.  There was nothing in the experience to get me excited.  No targeted selling messages and unfocussed, aimless interview questions. Nevertheless, the next day I was notified that the company wanted to invite me back for a second interview with the hiring manager, the VP of Recruitment.  Great!  Progress.   The interview was scheduled for the following week.  When the interview day arrived, the VP of Recruitment kept me waiting over 30 minutes before coming to great me in reception.  Unimpressive and frankly, irritating.  I was stunned actually that this was going on and by Recruitment itself!  Once again, that interview resulted in moving me along to the next step but I was losing interest quickly.  For the final step in the interview process, I was scheduled to meet with the executive business partner within the organization that the role would service. The interview was scheduled for the following week, a Friday in the summer.  Like  most city slickers I prefer to hightail my way out of the city on a Friday afternoon to escape the traffic and begin enjoying a precious weekend on the lake, but I had a 2nd interview.  I prepared all morning and got to the office, announced myself to reception and then was notified by the executive assistant that the VP I was to meet did not have me scheduled in his calendar.  “What?  Who does that?  At this level?” were the questions going through my mind!   I was stunned.  I called the recruiter – the corporate recruiter, not an agency recruiter – the one inside the tent, servicing the executive I was to meet, and explained what was going on.  “Oh my goodness!”  She declared, “I requested the time slot from the EA but I never got back to confirm we had booked you in.  My apologies.”    I was livid!  This recruitment process was frustrating and offensive.

The candidate experience speaks volumes to the state of the Recruitment function within the organization and the corporate culture itself.  It is the company’s front-line in brand placement.  Every candidate is a potential customer and spokesperson for your brand.  Implement your corporate principals right through to the management of this experience and it will send a positive message to those in your recruitment pipeline and ensure easy referrals and rehires for future sourcing initiatives.  Great companies start the employee on-boarding messaging  during the closing interviews so the transition is as seamless as possible, and the offer : hire ratio is as low as possible.

A full recruitment review was implemented, at a very high cost, to examine and address the shortfalls of this company’s recruitment process.  Too soon to say whether any progress has been made but ultimately, corporations, like people, should treat others with respect.  Corporate culture and executive mindsets filter all the way down to the candidate experience in the recruitment process.  Recruiters, you are the front lines for your corporate brand so here are the key points to build into managing your candidate experience:

  • Ensure any manager that conducts interviews for your company is aware of the human rights code before interviewing
  • Ensure interviewers are trained in effective interviewing techniques and have a structured interview map to follow
  • Stay on schedule, if an emergency arises, have reception communicate to the candidate and offer to make them more comfortable while they wait (coffee, water, magazines)
  • Always end each interview with key selling messages highlighting the benefits your company as an employer
  • Always followup  after an interview within 2-3 days communicating feedback and next steps
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