Article: Humanizing candidate experience in a virtual hiring environment

A Brand Reachout InitiativeTalent Acquisition

Humanizing candidate experience in a virtual hiring environment

The great resignation of 2021 is real, and the onus is on employers to present a favourable environment and cater to candidate expectations.
Humanizing candidate experience in a virtual hiring environment

The pandemic changed the hiring scenario with a medley of hiring slowdowns and speedy ramp-ups. This combined with the rise of virtual working has forced organizations to refine their technology adoption while retaining the human touch. Virtual work has opened windows to a more diverse team constitution because the entire globe has become the talent pool. Moreover, it has shifted focus from the competencies of candidates to the characteristics of candidates. Thanks to virtual referencing and conversations, assessments are now happening based on values, character and culture fit and not just on the role fit. 

The Changing Role of TA

The rise of virtual hiring is changing the role of Talent Acquisition specialists and hiring managers. It is becoming critical to take newer hiring decisions such as when to use virtual versus when to use in-person and how to optimize the candidate experience leveraging the speed and efficiency of virtual. Hiring has become all about the experience, both at the hiring entity and candidate ends. This is especially true in APAC markets like Singapore where candidates have multiple opportunities and. As Kartik Krishnamurthy, VP APAC, Paradox says, “Candidates are also consumers, so the way companies treat candidates is the way candidates treat them”. So, companies need to be cognizant of the candidate journey. Ideal hiring starts 4-5 months before a candidate becomes an employee and should translate seamlessly to when they become an employee. As Dr. William S, Group Head-HR and IT, Chasen Holdings Ltd. shares, “Candidates expect technology to be the norm. As we hire younger generations, they can adapt faster to this trend. We must make collaboration available, both in-house and with external parties to ease the business as usual”. 

This experience-first approach is the future of talent attraction. Unfortunately, TA continues to be the last bastion of technology adoption, according to Karthik. Companies need to ease the time TA spends on mundane activities like scheduling, rescheduling, creating resumes. Technology adoption must go hand in hand with building a bond and relationship with candidates and adding the human touch. 

How to Balance Tech versus Touch

In the APAC region, the majority of companies are growing exponentially, and the great recovery has ushered in the great resignation. While speed may deviate one from focussing on the quality of hire, it also presents an opportunity to create advocates and ambassadors in the marketplace who can share their positive experiences, to create a ripple effect and build brand equity. This can help attract other right-fit candidates, especially through social media. Here are some ways to create this pull: 

Curate an engaging hiring experience: Share snippets on social media to reflect the company’s values. HR must start by outlining what are the desirable character traits and defining them clearly. As Charlie says, “Walk a mile in the candidate’s shoes, remember one’s own experience” 

Meet people where they are: Quoting an example of millennials, Karthik shares the generation is glued to their mobile phones, so providing a digital-first experience is mandatory. Expectation setting with candidates before they are in the process, explaining the roadmap is important. Interviewers must take time to get to know the person, to understand what he or she is looking for, beyond the skills. 

Organize, define and document the ethos: Leaders need to ask the right questions, “Who are we?”,  “How do we work?”, “How and where do we want to grow?”, “What are our values?”. “In the midst of pandemic-induced change, we revisited our vision, mission, values as per the new paradigm of operating”, shares Charlie. HR must revisit the ethics and core foundation, then start to build the job descriptions for the experiences they want to share with candidates. William shares how candidates are interested in jobs beyond mere perks and are making comments questions like “I want to be able to choose, where I work and when I work”, “I want to work with purpose and meaning”, “ I want to be able to access training and information anytime I desire”. (ADP research). Organizations need to gain an understanding of these perspectives and build a story and a legacy around them. 

Balance speed with quality: According to research by Korn Ferry, 25% of mission-critical positions remain vacant for months. One way to avoid this is to ask the candidates themselves i.e. listen to the voice of the customer. Candidate surveys and conversations about what they think about the process can greatly help identify areas of improvement. “Candidates will tell you what is important, organizations must listen to that”, says Charlie. 

Make a great impression: TA must proactively pinpoint where the candidates will learn about open opportunities and provide them with the best impression when they interact with the organizational brand. During interactions, interviewers must help candidates be themselves by being more open and engaging, just like an ice breaker. 

Responsiveness: TA must always take time to respond to candidates. Giving even rejected candidates a tacit understanding through elaborate, personalized feedback will make them an advocate and they will refer other people from their networks. 

Create unique experiences: Hiring involves interactions with different people of different types. Karthik shares, “We need to know who they are, what makes them tick, to create roles, conversations, and experiences suited to diverse individuals”. Also, providing candidates visibility and transparency during interactions with the organization can help hone in the human and empathy part.

72% of top companies keep the qualified applicants for the next consideration.
42% of companies use social media to get in contact with positively potential candidates.
30% will stay connected with applicants who narrowly missed the job.

Creating this high-touch-high-tech experience means that the role of the TA specialist and hiring managers should evolve too. William talks about how they have expanded the role and requirements of their in-house recruiters, building their skills i.e. hiring skills and tech skills for future readiness. Most importantly, recruiters must understand that technology is a tool, not a panacea. It is not meant merely to make tasks efficient and valuable; if properly designed, technology can enhance the experience. Hence, before starting on digital transformation pathways, HR leaders must work closely with business leaders and understand how to rethink the organization. The great resignation of 2021 is real, and the onus is on employers to present a favourable environment and cater to candidate expectations. 

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, #Hiring, #EmployeeExperience

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