The single most important component of the recruitment process

The “candidate experience” has gone from buzz phrase in the recruitment industry to now becoming part and parcel of every recruitment discussion. You can head along to Candidate Experience Workshops to learn how to really make candidates feel loved, and we even have Candidate Experience Awards.


There is a lot of reference material available on what you need to consider when creating a great candidate experience: employer branding (social networking sites, external ads and job postings, career website), interviewing and hiring (giving a great experience, asking open ended question, “selling the role”, full office tours, meeting multiple managers), personalising the process (making the candidate feel unique, special, wanted), honest feedback (even unsuccessful candidates should still have a great “candidate experience”) and onboarding (having great onboarding software, meet the CEO in week 1, have a team lunch).


The above list is so important. It’s a great summary on what the best employers are doing to create a great “candidate experience”. Organisations that are ticking off the above list will be able to attract and employ talent far better than those who don’t. Yet there is a key component that can either make or break the candidate experience. If understood this component adds more value to the recruitment process than any other factor. If misunderstood and not respected, this component will unravel even the best planned candidate experience strategies.


This component, the single most important component of the recruitment process is simply being responsive. That’s it? Yes, that’s it. Being responsive throughout each step of the recruitment process really impresses candidates. Being slow to respond detracts massively from the candidate experience.

By definition, being responsive means being “quick to act or respond”. It sounds so simple, so easy to understand and yet it is by far the most constant difficulty recruiters face when given a recruitment assignment by their clients. The notion of using a recruitment agency to add to the candidate experience is well and good, however even for agency recruiters there is only so many times we can reassure a candidate that “we’ll have an update soon” before the candidate loses interest.


A recent real life example highlighted the importance of being responsive. One of our large clients (Company A) has been working hard and spending a lot of money on improving their candidate attraction strategy and experience. This large blue chip company started off the recruitment process by acknowledging the resumes put forward and “aimed to get back with some feedback within a week after speak to the other managers”. Within a week? A week to review 4 resumes?


On that same Monday I submitted resumes to another client (Company B). Being a very responsive client all resumes were reviewed that day and first round interviews were scheduled for Tuesday (“wow, that was quick, great news!” said the candidates). On Wednesday, interview feedback was provided and second round interviews were scheduled for Thursday (“the company seems so responsive, it’s a great sign” said the candidate). Reference checks were done on Friday morning, the role was offered at lunch time and the candidate signed their contract on Friday afternoon.


Meanwhile, Company A still hadn’t given me any feedback. And the best candidate from the shortlist provided had advised me she had taken a job elsewhere.


If being responsive isn’t the single most important component of your candidate experience strategy than it’s time for a rethink.


James Witcombe

The Candidate Coach

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