Candidate Experience

Fast-Tracking Time-to-Fill for Exceptional Candidate Experience

When top talent crosses your desk, you know getting them through the recruitment process and onto the payroll is time-sensitive. Fast-tracking your typical time-to-fill protocols may be needed to assure they become your next new hire, and not the competition’s. The problem is, you never know when that next ‘must-hire’ applicant will fall into your inbox – so it’s a best practice to make sure all your recruitment practices assume time-to-fill must be quick for every candidate you encounter.

How much time do you have?

According to a LinkedIn study, applicants with in-demand skills can be on and off the job market in as little as a few days after beginning their search. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of job openings in January 2024 increased to nearly  9 million. Other data found 1.45 open positions for every job seeker in that same month. The pressure to fill a job quickly, particularly when there’s a well-qualified applicant available, has never been greater.

While the applicant to openings ratio remains in favor of the job seeker, some industries are experiencing quit rates at all-time highs. In accommodation and food services, quit rates have been consistently above 4.5% since July of 2021. Since August of 2023 more than half a million manufacturing jobs have been waiting to be filled. Finding talent that’s qualified, or even trainable, is more difficult than ever. A slow time-to-hire, which can mean a less-than-stellar candidate experience, could make it even more challenging.

Why candidate experience matters

In an applicant market, job seekers are evaluating your company as much as you are evaluating them. Candidate experience is their first look into your organization, and it sets the job seeker up for either wanting to join the team, or moving on to the next interview.

A CareerBuilder survey found 78% of job seekers view candidate experience as an indicator of how a company values its employees. When candidate experience is good, expect a fast hire. When it’s bad, more than half will decline an offer of employment. Recruiters know treating every candidate as though they were the best of the best is critical to hiring quickly, and hiring top talent.

Barriers to excellent candidate experience

The best way to know if your company provides a stellar candidate experience is to run through the process independently. Look for challenges, logjams and difficulties that make it difficult or easy for an applicant. Some of the easiest-to-identify holdups:

Too hard to apply

ATS (applicant tracking software) that makes it harder, not easier to apply is a fast turnoff for job seekers. Your ATS should be user-friendly and fast. If an application is required, don’t ask a million questions – cut to the most pertinent information. If the candidate can upload a resume, don’t ask for an application in addition. SHRM reported 60% abandon an online application that’s too long or complicated.

Too long to respond

A fast response time to schedule an interview is the next way to boost candidate experience. Someone qualified for the job isn’t going to wait days or weeks for your phone call or email. Scheduling software that allows qualified applicants to immediately fill available time slots for the position is an easy fix. It not only puts the candidate on the schedule, it does so without time wasted by busy recruiters.

Too many interviews

Over-complicated interviews are another way to turn off top talent. An initial interview with a recruiter, then a second with the manager is typically sufficient. Does everyone in the department really need to be involved in interviewing the candidate? If you’re hiring for a small group of creatives, possibly: for most other positions, not likely. Unless you’re hiring a CEO who has to be vetted by every member of the board, remember that the longer your interview process, the more opportunities the applicant has to get hired elsewhere.

Too many tasks

Once you’ve decided on a candidate, consider the lag time between making the offer and their first day on the job. If your background screening takes too long, the applicant may be lost. The majority of employers perform some type of background check, generally verifying experience and qualifications; some adding identity and credit checks.

This process can be burdensome when managed in-house. Phone calls and emails to assess a candidate can be low priority for recruiters, and even lower priority for the companies they call. A better practice is outsourcing this function. It can be done faster, and more efficiently by a third party that focuses on background checks as their first priority – not their last.

High quality candidate experience has always been an important business goal. In today’s unbalanced market, it’s key to successful hiring. Take a look at your practices and timelines. Are you driving interest in your company, or turning away top talent? Whatever you can do to improve candidate experience will directly translate into improving your time-to-fill and hiring success statistics.

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