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Extending CX strategies to job candidates and business suppliers

March 31, 2022

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(Photo by Waseem Farooq from PxHere)

While interviewing a client for a whitepaper about recruitment last week, the concept of “candidate care” came up:

“Your reputation as an employer is critical, so it’s also important to be practising ‘candidate care’ throughout the recruitment process. That means treating your unsuccessful candidates just as well as you treat the successful ones. A bad experience is more likely to be shared than a good one, or that candidate might end up being your customer one day.”

That resonated strongly for me, for a couple of reasons.

One of my close relatives had a very poor recruitment experience applying for a job at a major supermarket chain. After completed two rounds of interviews and then a medical, he didn’t hear anything further in relation to his application. I thought that was odd for a couple of reasons.

First, why make him undergo a medical if you are not going to be offering him a job?

Second, why was there no notification at all that he was unsuccessful?

Anyway, that didn’t deter him, so he applied for another job opening at the same company again a month or two later. Once again, he completed two rounds of interviews and then a medical.

Apparently, in the second interview he was told that the reason that he didn’t hear back the first time he applied was due to the area manager who interviewed him leaving suddenly. That’s not a good sign about the processes in place to effectively manage recruitment.

Despite all of this, he was unsuccessful again. At least this time he was notified – via an automated rejection message.

So, once again, why put him through a medical if there is no intention of hiring him? And where is the sensitivity in managing the rejection given the poor recruitment experience he had the first time around – let alone the amount of personal time and effort expended in going through the interview rounds and medical, twice.

Now, I don’t think this is a one off. Another close relative just had an almost identical experience. This time, it was for a graduate position at a large technology company. She made it through two rounds of interviews, then to a third interview – a “coffee catch-up” – as one of the final three candidates.

After that, crickets. So she assumed that someone else was offered the role. I told her that wasn’t good enough, and she needed to call them out on it, so she contacted them to confirm that she had been unsuccessful.

The company was effusive in its apologies – apparently, there was an automated system to inform unsuccessful candidates, and there must have been an error.

An automated system to let one of your top three candidates know they had been unsuccessful? After meeting your team face-to-face over a coffee? It’s astounding.

Even if the process had worked, and she had received that automated rejection email or SMS, it’s still a lousy way to close off the interaction.

If your recruitment process is based on an interpersonal connection between your hiring panel and your candidate, there’s a jarring dissonance when all of a sudden it’s switched to an automated response.

As an employer, you just need to think about the cumulative impact that has on your brand. Imagine that same negative recruitment experience, replicated hundreds if not thousands of times by unsuccessful candidates for job roles at your organisation. These are people who are already or are likely to be working in the same industry or field as your business; they might not just be your potential customer in the future, they might also be a potential future candidate, business partner or supplier.

Looking at it from a classic customer experience (CX) perspective, as a customer if you’ve engaged with an organisation via one channel, you expect that you will continue to engage that way.  Automation is fine, but only if you as the organisation have set the expectation that you will be using it for any response.

CX is just as applicable to business suppliers

At the start of this post I said this resonated with me for two reasons.

The second is my own experience as a provider of marketing services. Most of Explore Communications’ work is through industry word-of-mouth, recommendations and referrals, so potential clients generally approach me first. I rarely make any ‘cold’ approaches or respond to tenders or general requests for proposal. In those instances, I’m OK with someone ignoring me, or sending an automated response – I do the same when it happens to me!

Most of the people who approach me will call, send an email or a LinkedIn message, which then leads on to an introductory meeting and chat, usually followed by a quote or a proposal. I’ve had a few instances lately where, despite that initial interpersonal engagement, and despite a few follow up emails and calls, I never receive a response back at all.

To me, that’s just as damaging to your brand as giving an unsuccessful job candidate the brush off. I’m OK with the fact that Explore Communications isn’t always the perfect fit and you choose to work with someone else – I’d just like to know, so I can move on.

Your corporate brand is reflected in everything you do, and it can be either strengthened or weakened by the way you engage with your wider business community. That includes your prospective candidates, partners and suppliers – and it’s just as important to show respect to those you say ‘no’ to as those to whom you say ‘yes’.

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