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Virtual Candidate Experience with a Data-Driven Approach

By Universum on 31/03/2021

By Jason Kipps Managing Director for Universum Canada

2021 is officially a “candidate’s market.”

We are now in a buyer’s market, so it is critical that companies offer an efficient, effective and compelling virtual candidate experience. According to IBM, a positive candidate experience makes candidates 38% more likely to accept a job offer.

With the challenges in employment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, those candidates that thrive in uncertainty and are willing to forge ahead with new career transitions can find new opportunities in the chaos. Young talent, who are accustomed to virtual communications and well-equipped with digital skills, are not scared to navigate the new all-virtual recruitment process – virtual events, virtual interviews, virtual on-boarding, and virtual meetings. But how can employers ensure that they offer an outstanding virtual candidate experience?

1. Don’t undermine your employer brand with a sloppy candidate experience

If your company has taken the plunge and invested in developing an Employer Value Proposition or EVP, it is mission critical that you ensure that your virtual candidate experience reinforces your EVP. A poorly planned or unmanaged candidate experience can end up undermining your brand promise and can negate the investments that were made in a well-defined EVP.  

Take the time to plan and implement a positive candidate journey by taking into consideration every step of the recruitment process, from the application to the on-boarding of a new hire. Every step should reflect your EVP, be aligned to your employer brand and favor a candidate-centric approach.

2. Make your process consistent and predictable

Most candidate experiences are not as much bad as they are inconsistent. Companies that have not measured or inventoried their candidate experience typically end up offering a wide range of experiences. 

According to Universum’s 2020 report on the World’s Most Attractive Employers, 77% of large companies actively apply their employer brand to their candidate experience. Whereas the remaining 23% of large companies are leaving the candidate experience to the whims of individual recruiters and hiring managers. These are companies with well-defined and well-funded employer value propositions that are leaving this final critical step to chance.

What 77% of the World’s Most Attractive Employers know is that a consistent process enables leaders to zero-in on challenges and build on strengths across the enterprise whereas an inconsistent process is difficult to adjust in any systematic way.

A comprehensive inventory of your candidate experience will allow you to see the good, the bad and the ugly of what you are offering. It also helps companies to leverage their strengths and address the challenges in the experience that may be turning away the great talent they are seeking.

To test the effectiveness of your virtual candidate experience, the most efficient way is asking for feedback and then following through with a thorough data analysis of the results. According to Talentegy Candidate Experience Report, 75% of candidates are never or rarely asked for feedback after applying.

3. What you should be asking your candidates

Make sure to incorporate surveys during the different stages of the recruitment process, including both accepted and rejected candidates. To keep candidates engaged and ensure the completion of surveys, include only key questions that are relevant for each candidate’s stage and for your talent acquisition goals. Examples of questions:

  • Was the scope of the position explained thoroughly during the process?
  • Would you refer your friends or family to apply for a job at Company X?
  • How would you rate your virtual interview experience?

4. Understand why you are losing candidates / Is your bias showing?

In the recruitment process, unconscious bias can be a systemic issue or can appear when the hiring manager forms an opinion about the candidate based solely on first impressions. Your organization’s bias could lead to losing great candidates. To avoid unconscious bias, ask yourself:

  • Do you know why you are losing candidates? 
  • Is the impression your recruiters are leaving on your candidates consistent with your values as an organization? 
  • Is your candidate experience accessible?   
  • Is your candidate experience biased toward visible minorities?   
  • How does your candidate experience compare with the experience being delivered to your candidates by your recruiting competitors?
  • Does your candidate experience treat your candidates like future or current customers? 
  • Does your candidate experience inspire your candidates to build their skills and experience before applying?  
  • Does your candidate experience provide the impression that you adhere to health and safety guidelines, as well as being a COVID-safe environment?
  • Does your candidate experience make prospective recruits want to join your candidate pipeline or community? 
  • Do you have a candidate pipeline? 

5. Measure it. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Peter Drucker  

Universum’s Candidate Experience Research helps companies develop a comprehensive and systematic understanding of their candidate’s experience. This goes from the application, selection and offer process to orientation and on-boarding of new hires. Our process focuses on recent hires and their perceptions, as well as the perceptions and feedback from candidates that our clients attempted to recruit but did not land. These insights can include: 

  • Candidate’s perceptions of the employer pre-hire versus post-hire.
  • Candidate’s perceptions of the employer’s recruitment process.
  • Candidate’s experience with the employer’s career site and impression of the company EVP.
  • Candidate’s experience with the offer process.
  • Candidate’s perceptions of the employer’s recruiters and interviewers and their knowledge of the employer’s recruitment and selection process.
  • Candidate’s perceptions of the recruiting competitors hiring and selection process. 
  • Candidate’s experience of the employer’s on-boarding process. 
  • Perceptions from candidates that were not successfully hired, including their perceptions of recruiting competitors.
  • Recently hired employees’ perception of the company and their role and how the job advertised in the recruitment process aligns with their actual experience of the job.
  • Candidate’s perceptions of recruiters’ response time, benchmarked against other employers considered by the candidate.
  • Analysis of Glassdoor reviews and benchmark against relevant industry competitors.
  • Candidate’s perceptions and evaluation of the interview experience.
  • Other recommendations based on the feedback collected with actionable points for improvement.

6. Leverage your career site and job descriptions

Your career site is the digital focal point for your hiring strategies and efforts, so keep it up-to-date and easy to navigate. According to Universum’s talent survey, for early talent in the U.S. and Canada, a company’s career site is:

  • The #1 online channel used to learn more about an employer.
  • The channel checked first.
  • The channel where talent spends the most time on.

That is why 56% of leading companies in the U.S. are increasing their investment in career sites as they believe this channel has a significant impact on a company’s ability to attract and retain great talent.

In the same regard, a high-quality job description can increase the efficiency of your hiring process, set clear expectations and help your new hires to have a clear idea of their future professional path. Ensure that your EVP is the focal point of your job description and reinforces the key elements of your brand that you are putting out in the market.

7. Make sure you understand which channels your candidates are using to learn about you

Universum’s 2021 candidate survey shows that 46% of Canadian early talent consult a company’s LinkedIn page in their search process regarding job opportunities when attempting to learn more about a specific employer. Indeed is also a popular source of insight amongst 45% of Canadian early career candidates. In the U.S., 51% of early talent go directly to LinkedIn, followed by 40% that prefer to consult Indeed.

8. Use different strategies for different channels

When it comes to social media recruitment, one size does not fit all. It is important to note that not all candidates want to hear about the same career topics on social media. Take Universum’s 2021 talent survey in Canada as reference:

  • 61% of business students consider topics about advancement opportunities as extremely important, contrasting with 45% of natural science students.
  • Only 31% of natural science students consider topics about Diversity & Inclusiveness as extremely important.

A great virtual candidate experience can lead to reduced costs, better fit, shorter time to hire, better retention, avid fans, loyal customers and greater profitability. If you are not measuring your candidate experience, you may be missing out on your organization’s greatest low hanging fruit.  It is now a buyer’s market for those looking for the next step in their career. Don’t miss out on the great talent you need due to a poorly understood candidate experience. Start by going through your own application process and begin measuring your experience now so you can build on your strengths and address the challenges that may be causing you to miss out on your next great hire.


Jason Kipps

Managing Director for Universum Canada

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About Universum

Universum is a data-driven, insight-led employer branding agency. Founded in Stockholm, we are now active in over 60 countries, with key hubs in Canada, Paris, Berlin, London, New York, Singapore and Shanghai. We provide our clients with the research, strategy and creative solutions they need to compete more effectively for talent.