What Makes an Impressive Recruitment Experience?

Impressions formed by a candidate throughout the recruitment and selection process can play a key role in whether a successful applicant accepts the position—and can ultimately influence their behaviour once they are employed. How can employers take advantage?

What Makes an Impressive Recruitment Experience?

16 Jun 2017 by  Dr Jeff Brown

Selecting a new employee is often viewed solely from the perspective of the organisation. However, this fails to adequately acknowledge the role of the candidate, who is a key decision-maker and stakeholder in the recruitment and selection process.

Impact of the selection process

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards exploring the selection process from the candidate’s perspective. Research has identified how negative experiences and perceptions have implications throughout the selection process and even throughout a successful applicant’s tenure. For example, when a candidate perceives the selection process to be inappropriate, attraction to the organisation is reduced to the point where some of the best candidates either withdraw or do not apply to the organisation at all.

Compared to those who perceive the process to be fair and valid, successful applicants with negative perceptions of the recruitment process potentially develop less satisfactory work attitudes, work behaviour, and performance after being hired. Furthermore, candidates who perceive the selection process to be unfair may be more likely to file complaints or initiate legal proceedings.

Consequently, there are an increasing number of compelling economic, legal, and psychological reasons for organisations to acknowledge and understand candidate experiences of selection processes.

Despite this, it appears that organisations still have a way to go in improving their recruitment processes. Recent research estimates that up to one in four employees have negative experiences during the recruitment process, yet it is often quite difficult for employers to address candidates’ negative recruiting experiences because most candidates are not asked to provide such feedback.

Creating a positive candidate experience

So what can organisations actually do to maximise the features and benefits of their selection processes?
A number of key and consistent themes have emerged from the research (Anderson, Salgado & Hülsheger 2010; Hausknecht, Day & Thomas 2004) into candidate experiences of selection, many of which can be addressed in the design stage of the recruitment process:

  • Ensure that selection processes are job relevant—one of the strongest predictors of candidate perceptions of selection is job-relatedness. If candidates can’t clearly see how a selection method is related to the job they have applied for, they are more likely to view the process negatively.
  • Give candidates sufficient opportunity to perform and demonstrate their ability—in any selection context, we would generally recommend using activities such as structured interviews, cognitive ability tests, personality assessments or simulation activities.
  • Ensure consistent administration and interpretation of all selection processes and procedures across all candidates—while we’d generally advise organisations to apply the same benchmarking criteria across all candidates, applicants sometimes feel that a highly standardised process does not allow them the opportunity to differentiate themselves. This can lead to frustration and ultimately a negative experience.
  • Provide timely communication—with increased reliance on online delivery methods for selection assessment, candidates now expect more frequent and efficient feedback from organisations. Timely communication serves as a signal to candidates regarding how they might be treated if employed.

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Dr Jeff Brown

Dr Jeff Brown has extensive experience in both the corporate and consulting environments in Australia and internationally. His experience and qualifications enables him to provide professional, client-centric and practical solutions. He joined Aon Hewitt in 2016 and is a senior consultant in the Leadership and Assessment Practice in Australia.

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