The MonsterBuzz debate – Julia Briggs pull no punches and shares her views….

 On the 24th January we’ll be running the first MonsterBuzz debate of 2013. This time the debate will be centred around the topic of “The Candidate Experience – Does it really matter?”.

Our panel of six includes; Gary Franklin (Co Founder of the Forum for In-House Recruitment Managers), Colin Minto (Global Head of Resourcing G4S), Julia Briggs (Founder on HR Interim Group, Interimity), David Henry (VP Marketing, Monster) and Richard Thayer (Founder of the M3 Job Club).

I asked each of them to answer a few questions prior to the event to help shape some of the points we’ll be covering. In this third article Julia Briggs, founder of HR and Recruiting Interim community, Interimity, pulls no punches and shares her views on the topic and I'm sure will be as forthright on the night.

Q- What do you believe we mean when we talk about the "Candidate Experience"?

Good question – looked at from the candidate’s point of view, the big picture is how they feel at the end, irrespective of whether they've been successful or not. Which is a result of their every single contact with the organisation.

From the hiring organizations point of view, the candidate experience should be a subset of the whole employee experience, one that reaches outside of the organisation but nevertheless is consistent with how we treat people (er, employer brand anyone?)  Ultimately it needs to;

  • attract the people we want to hire, both now and in the future (that’s the brand bit of course)
  • allow us to ‘reject’ those not suitable in a way that is respectful and dignified – because we are ultimately good human beings and, because from a business perspective we do not want to alienate anyone who might be a customer, or influence a customer.   The order is deliberate.
  • not absorb unrealistic amounts of time and/or budget (the law of diminishing returns comes into mind)
  • be simple and elegant and easily understood in terms of process

 Q- Is there evidence that it really does impact on candidate behaviour?

I have no research for this, only common sense and personal experience as a candidate.  So, I have walked out of several interviews only to have the hiring manager/agency etc tell me that I am exactly right for the company because I won’t put up with bullshit.  Er, do you think they changed my mind? 

I also go back to the point I made above – behaving like a good human being has an impact on me personally, and therefore those people who work with me etc. So good employee/candidate experience is a virtuous circle, which we can all benefit from.

 Q- Is there a difference between how In-House Recruiters see this is versus HR?

 Firstly - recruitment should be owned by HR. The move to align it with Talent and make it a separate report to the CEO is, although trendy, just plain nonsensical.  I have no idea why it has become fashionable and I have no idea why an HRD would allow it to happen, indeed why an HRD would not be the biggest champion of the importance of recruitment to the whole organisation.  Get it right and the rest of the 'people puzzle' is much easier to manage - retention, engagement, performance, succession planning etc.  Plus, great recruitment is the easiest way for HR to impress their internal clients.  

Assuming you have a switched on HRD, there should be no difference in how in-house recruiters and HR see the importance of the candidate experience.  The HRD's role is to provide an integrated ‘people experience’ (which supports the direction and purpose of the business) not just candidate experience, throughout the whole organisation.

 Q- Is the candidate experience a big statement to mask the fact that the recruitment process is long with a lot of moving parts i.e Attraction, Engagement, Application, Testing, Background Checking, Confirming/Rejecting and Onboarding – and in reality it’s an individual experience and is it realistic to expect to manage the expectations of each of those applying?

 No.  It's simple.  If it doesn't all hang together then you have no integrated 'people' approach, poor processes (including any third or fourth party arrangements) and most importantly, you've failed to convince your clients (the hiring managers) of the importance and responsibilities of their role.  You are not working with them and may not be addressing their needs.  Get onto it. Pronto. This is a leadership issue for you, the HRD.

 The one thing recruitment demands (and the whole CE question) is passion.  Oh, two things. Integrity.

 And some thoughts from the wider Interimity group are that;

  • it really is all about simplicity and thinking from the candidates’ perspective – and automation is OK, but only before interview stage.
  • we should set expectations up front to candidates.
  • ownership needs to be clear – but anyone can be an owner, especially the hiring manager for some elements
  • good candidate experience means good future customers for the hiring companies and for any third parties involved who really focus on positive CE.
  • we should reduce disappointment by reducing volume (the lovely Stuart Spindler says that ‘recruiters are in the disappointment game’ – how true).  Be much better at saying what you really want (this is a great HRBP/Internal Rec Con opportunity to work with their clients. 
  • as Alan Whitford says – it’s not a process, it can be a life altering experience.


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