Optimizing the Candidate Experience for a Post-COVID World

December 1, 2020 | Shannon Shoemaker

The global pandemic shifted the foundation of work as we know it. Entire organizations moved to remote work within days of the COVID-19 shutdown, and digital employee experience has moved up the list of organizational priorities.

With many companies settling in for long-term remote work — at least through the current viral wave — your candidates are less likely to interact with recruiters and hiring managers in person.

Here’s how to maintain an excellent candidate experience in a virtual, post-pandemic world.


Invest in Early-Stage Automation

Communication is the key driver of a good candidate experience. Incorporating better communication at every stage of the hiring process increases a candidate’s positive association with your brand. But historically, there has been little to no contact in the early stages. Recruiters don’t usually have the bandwidth to be accessible when candidates are on the career page or in the process of applying, especially when employers are operating with streamlined resources during COVID-19.

That’s where automation can help, says Kevin Grossman, President and Board Member at Talent Board. “Most candidates research and apply, and that’s the end of the road,” Grossman says. “That’s their experience.” To make these stages better for candidates you won’t interact with in person, consider adding chatbots on your career site and embedding them in your application to answer candidates’ basic questions. This accessibility increases their positive sentiment and fills a communication gap in the earliest stages of the candidate experience.


Set Video Interview Expectations

Many companies have pivoted to video interviews in the absence of in-person interviews during COVID-19 social distancing measures. But these can be unnerving for candidates, especially if they don’t know what to expect. “Managers should communicate when they’re setting it up, exactly how the interview is going to be conducted,” says Joi White, a Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant and Freelance Recruiter. “Be concise about how you want to proceed with this process.”

Consider creating a video explaining the process and letting candidates know ahead of time that you will conduct the interview via video and share how many people will be joining the call.

In the post-pandemic era, though, remember that Zoom fatigue is very real. Since video interviews lack the energy of in-person interactions, back-to-back video calls can be draining for candidates. “If you’ve done one interview over video and the same person needs to keep interviewing this candidate, tell them they don’t need to turn on their camera,” White suggests. Streamline your use of video to give candidates a better opportunity to be their best.


Maintain High Levels of Transparency

Candidate experience has improved during COVID-19, Grossman says, in large part because of increased transparency. Companies who put hiring on hold had to let candidates in the pipeline know while placing a similar announcement on their career sites. Candidates were more forgiving under these unique circumstances, too. “There was more collaborative empathy in the world of work than we’ve ever seen before,” Grossman says.

To increase candidate experience moving forward, try to carry this level of transparency into 2021. Being honest with candidates is always the best option, and doing so increases their willingness to maintain a relationship with your organization. A positive experience now could translate into employment down the road when business demand returns.

We have an opportunity to learn from this crisis. We’ve seen the power of communication, transparency and empathy in providing a better candidate experience. Thinking of the candidate first and maintaining human touchpoints throughout the hiring process will help us to provide a consistently high-quality experience to all of your candidates, present and future.

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