The importance of the ‘candidate experience’ - and how you can get it right | BMS Performance

The importance of the ‘candidate experience’ – and how you can get it right

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The importance of a positive candidate experience cannot be understated, particularly when it comes to recruiting new sales people to your team. When you’re looking for the best talent, you need to give them the best experience. After all, how the candidate progresses through your recruitment stages and the perception they have of your company could impact their likelihood of taking the job.

According to LinkedIn’s 2015 Talent Trends report, 83% of candidates say that a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they had previously liked, whereas 87% say a positive experience can change their mind about a position or organisation they had initially doubted.

Ensure you secure the best sales people on the market and keep your employer brand intact by making your customer experience as positive as possible. Here’s why it’s so important – and how you can improve it.

The experience has started before they’ve even applied

It’s no secret that jobseekers have more resources to hand than ever when researching potential places of work. These days, this extends beyond simply browsing through a company’s website. We know that 36% of candidates search the web and social media to find out what other people are saying about a business, yet four in ten companies don’t know what’s being said about them online. This presents a key opportunity for organisations to strengthen their employer brands, particularly on social media and career pages.

Ask your current sales people to provide testimonials on their time with your company, publish blogs on sales and employee success stories and film informal videos showcasing not only the work you do, but also what it’s like to work for your company. You need to show candidates what it’s really like to work there in order to get them excited about the role and the opportunities it might bring.

This strategy should extend to social media, where you can post photos of fun days and events in the office, along with short quotes from current sales people on what they like most about their jobs. Another approach could be to ‘open the doors’ for a morning and invite candidates to observe your sales team at work in order to get a feel for what the daily environment is like. Ask friendly and outgoing sales staff to meet with potential new team members to help answer questions on company culture and act as an ambassador for the team.

Show your professionalism

Demonstrate your high levels of professionalism throughout the candidate experience and you’ll likely improve the chances of someone joining you.

Part of this comes down to how you present yourself online. Just under 80% of candidates believe that the professionalism of a company’s career portal (website) is important to their decision to apply, according to the iCIMS Candidate Experience Playbook. Look closely at the careers section of your site and make sure it presents your sales team in the best possible light. Edit and proofread all sections, ensure photos are inviting without being too stuffy or corporate, and make sure all communications regarding the advertised position are not only written in an appealing and professional way, but also formatted and designed appropriately too. Are you using the content you’ve created to get across your culture at the right points throughout the candidate experience?

Professionalism also extends to a candidate’s first impression of you in an interview situation. Any touchpoint a jobseeker encounters should be considered, from their first welcome at your office through to their interactions with staff. When you interview, you need to consider how you present yourself, your language and your punctuality, as these will all impact on how a candidate sees you and your company.

Provide feedback to everyone

One of the biggest bugbears of any jobseeker is radio silence after an interview. This is especially true of sales people, who often put in a great deal of company and industry research – not to mention preparation of pitches and presentations towards the latter end of the interview process. While you may have several candidates to consider, it is still vital that you respond and provide feedback to all those sales people you interview.

From a long-term brand perspective you need to make sure everyone – even the unsuccessful candidates – have a positive experience. For starters, a candidate who may not be a good fit now could be perfect for another role in the future, so you want to ensure they would consider applying again. After all, 95% of people tell others about a bad customer experience, according to zendesk, so why wouldn’t an unhappy ex-candidate tell others about their poor candidate experience? Navigate this by implementing a policy where all interviewees receive constructive feedback on their application within a designated timeframe.

Don’t make it complicated

As said time and time again, if your process is too long, there are too many interview stages or you give vague timelines, you will likely lose potential stars along the way. When sales candidates start looking for a new role, they tend not to stay on the market for long – 25% have had at least one interview within the first week of looking, according to our Sales Index – so you need to be able to get up to speed. If you have too many stages your best candidates may be off the market before they get anywhere, so you should make the application process as simple as you can so you don’t lose your stars along the way.

Evaluate your process and look for areas where you can reduce steps and waiting time. This may mean eliminating one round of interviews for more junior-level positions, having second and third interviews close together and ensuring all appointments are booked in advance for all staff who need to be involved.

Put it all together

The above steps should help you to dramatically improve the candidate experience for your future sales superstars. For more advice on recruiting and retaining the best sales talent on the market, check out the advice on our Performance Hub or contact us here.

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