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1 Interview Question That Will Change Your Whole Candidate Experience

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Working in hiring and recruiting is a surefire way to hear entirely too many interview questions. Whenever Apple or Google goes public with a clever new test for their hopefuls, you get a dozen emails and Facebook tag from well-meaning friends and family asking if you’ve seen it yet. Yes, yes you’ve seen it, in fact you heard that question ages before Buzzfeed picked it up.

So what question could you possibly have missed?

If you’ve already asked them about their past work experience… If you’ve already asked them to tell you about their biggest personal flaw… If you’ve already handed them your laptop and said “Sell this back to me”… And you’ve already quizzed them on their knowledge of your company… It’s time to ask them:

Hows my driving?

Wait, what?

Well, not driving in the literal sense. Think of driving as directing your interview, as well as the application process as a whole. By asking how you’re doing and inviting your applicants to check in and give you feedback, you allow for an open flow of communication that will help you make the experience better over time.

I have a challenge for you. Next time you interview an applicant, at the end of the interview, right before you’d normally wrap up, say, “I have one more question for you.” And then ask them how they felt about the interview experience. Some ways to say this might be:

  • How has your application experience with us been so far?
  • Has your recruiter (or “Have I,” if it’s you) communicated everything you feel you need?
  • Is there anything you wish we had done differently up to this point?

Assure them that these are not trick questions, and won’t actually impact if they’ll be hired or not, and then stay true to that statement. Tell your candidate that you just want to see how they’re feeling so that you can make the hiring process easier.

Candidate Experience

This simple question does so much to improve your applicant experience. Why? Because, as much as you might try to improve your hiring process, you are not an applicant.

You won’t really know how your company’s hiring process feels from the candidate side, and the more time it’s been since you were hired yourself, the wider that gap will grow. Asking for the feeling of your process from the applicants themselves will point out problems you may not have known existed, issues you thought were fixed, and is a crucial step in troubleshooting.

Even if they tell you nothing you didn’t already know, the very act of interviewing your candidates will make them feel respected and valued, which will, in turn, improve their experience. “How’s my driving” is a win-win-win!

Does it seem weird to ask about this during the interview itself? It might feel strange at first, but so do most new ideas before you practice them.

(And don’t worry, if you can’t bring yourself to try, I have alternate suggestions a little later in the article.)

Why the candidate experience matters

If you’re hesitant, all you need to do is look at the evidence.

60% of surveyed applicants have had a negative application experience.

Of those, 72% made public online posts detailing their poor experience.

22% of people who experience a negative candidate experience will warn others not to apply at the company.

Yikes. A negative candidate experience really does make an impact, on your applicants, on potential applicants, and on your company’s reputation. Striving for as wonderful of an experience as possible is a must.

How else to help

I see you out there. The people who are scoffing at the idea of asking how an applicant feels during the interview, or those who think of being that direct and just cringe. I get it. It feels weird because it breaks the norm, and humans really don’t like that.

That’s understandable. If you want to improve your candidate experience in other ways, you can always try a different method of asking:

  • Try a survey. Surveys are great tools to gather a lot of information on a standardized scale. Even better, a survey will let you ask how’s my driving? without ever having to actually say it.
  • Tailor your hiring style. Think of the position. You may want to approach an IT hire differently than a marketing hire, an intern hire different than a high-level hire. Do your homework on approaching different styles. Start with Gartner, where they offer advice for several different hiring processes.
  • Spend more time per resume. Your applicant tracking software should already be doing the heavy lifting of filtering out irrelevant applications, so put a little more time into studying the ones you have. The typical candidate spends three to four hours filling out online applications, but 72% of hiring managers spend less than fifteen minutes reading those applications. Yikes!

Quick tips like these will help you take your candidate experience from meh (or worse!) and turn it into something that doesn’t have to feel like a chore.

How have you improved your own candidate experience?

Do you have a process that guarantees happy applicants? Tell me about it in the comments.

And if you want to know more about how to create excellent applicant experiences, check out these articles next:

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen writes about HR and eLearning at Capterra. She’s a graduate of Agnes Scott College and a TEDx presenter. You can follow her on Twitter @CapterraHalden, just don’t get her started about her zombie survival plan.

Comments

Assessing for job talent before the job offer is made will cure many employee headaches.

Fun read and links! Thanks!

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