First impressions count: The cost of a bad candidate experience

It’s not just in the dating scene where first impressions matter – new research shows that a negative job candidate experience can have a major impact on organisations, both in terms of brands and dollars.

First impressions count: The cost of a bad candidate experience
How closely do you monitor jobseekers’ experiences when they apply for roles at your company?

According to new research by advisory company CEB, 70% of HR professionals thought that a positive candidate experience was important, but only 40% actually monitored it in some fashion.

“That’s a pretty big disconnect,” said Ken Lahti, vice president of product development and innovation at CEB.

“It really matters because there are downstream implications. It’s related to people’s experience of the process itself – their likelihood of continuing in the recruiting process, to the extent that they’re invited to continue, their likelihood of accepting an offer if they make it through – those things are influenced by their experiences and their perceptions of the company that they form during the hiring process.”

And it’s not just the employer brand that can be affected – a negative experience could cut into your bottom line.

“In some research we did in 2010, we found that about half of unsuccessful applicants leave with a negative view of the organisation as a result of their experience during the hiring process and one out of five of those people actually stops being a customer of the organisation, presumably as a result of their experience.

“So this could have real, direct financial consequences. Especially with consumer brands, very often the people who apply as candidates are customers. When candidates are customers, the candidate experience affects not only the candidates and offer acceptance rates and things, but it also affects customer behaviour.

“If you start to think about the lifetime value of a customer, it can start to get into the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Turning away customers because they didn’t have a positive candidate experience seems like a very costly mistake.”

He said the most common mistake employers made was not following up with people after they applied for jobs.

“Employers do a really good job of engaging with the people they’re interested in. Many employers do a really terrible job of dealing with the people who they’ve screened out of the process.

“The simplest fix is to let people know that you’ve made a decision about them, even if that decision is a negative one, as soon as you can. It’s building into your process some form of common courtesy that follows up with people who were unsuccessful to let them know not to keep waiting.”

There were a number of ways in which employers could better monitor candidate experience, including asking questions at the end of the process or putting together a short survey.

“If they have open-ended questions or other ways to provide feedback, they could even get some diagnostics about what specifically people were not happy with if they did have a negative experience.

“Most job applications are happening electronically and it’s relatively easy to attach a follow-up survey, either directly into the process or because they’re registered in your tracking system or your electronic database, you can follow up with an email and send out a survey at some point in the future.”

He said candidates liked communication and understanding where they were in the hiring process and how long it was likely to last.  

How closely do you monitor candidate experience?

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