Earlier this month, budget airline Ryanair  announced it would be focusing on improving its customer service to build on its negative brand image and meet the growing demand for quality service in the modern world. Here at a&dc this comes as no surprise to us. We believe that a high level of service is valued in all disciplines, not just the air travel industry. HR professionals have an additional challenge.  As guardians of the ‘employer brand’ they have to ensure that this is in line with the customer brand and that it also communicates the right messages to prospective and existing employees about the company. Research shows that the job search process now resembles a consumer buying process with candidates using many forms of media to research prospective employers. Statistics from the 2012 Workforce Planning and Talent Acquisition survey show that 70% of job seekers research employers on Facebook, and ratings sites such as Glassdoor and Yelp.

This is why we believe HR teams have a unique role in ensuring that the company is marketed in a way that is attractive to potential candidates and that care should be taken to ensure all candidates receive a top class experience when they come into contact with the company. We’re living in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment where individuals are more discerning and better informed than ever before. Applicants are demanding more from potential employers and it’s no longer acceptable just to provide a decent salary or some form of career progression; you’ll need to do more to attract potential employees at the outset. During a recruitment process, it’s crucial to get your candidate experience spot on.

The applicant of today could be a future customer, client or may even be suitable for a different role in your organisation in the future. The gap between employer and customer brand is shrinking and a bad assessment experience could put an applicant off using your products or services in the future. So how do you create an enjoyable and worthwhile candidate experience?

Firstly, you should make sure you’re getting the right people in for assessment. An efficient screening process, potentially featuring self-selection tools and realistic job previews, can prevent taking forward candidates who aren’t suitable for the role, saving both you and them time, effort and money.

Some organisations are using Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) as part of the screening process. SJTs present the candidate with a series of scenarios and ask the candidate to rate the effectiveness of a number of actions they could take in these situations. They can be tailored to reflect the company values and environment, giving a good indication of cultural fit between the candidate and the organisation, while also presenting the brand.

The first interview is possibly the most important stage of the recruitment process, giving both you and the candidate the opportunity to meet each other face-to-face for the first time. Effective interviewers recognise this is a two-way process and understand the need to present the company and the role in an attractive, yet still realistic, way to the candidate. Using a trained interviewer, you’ll be able to accurately assess the individual and gain a clearer idea of whether they’re suitable for your organisation. As with any stage of the hiring process, candidates should also be offered the chance to ask questions of their own. Research has shown that structured, competency based interviews are much more predictive of future job performance than unstructured ones.

Many companies are recognising the significant benefits of using assessment centres in making the assessment process more efficient and engaging for candidates. This will provide you with the opportunity to observe a candidate’s behaviour when responding to work-based situations so that you can gain a detailed insight into their potential. It will also give you an opportunity to clearly present your company brand as well as its main objective – to assess a candidate’s behaviour within the framework of the role they’re applying for. It can and should be a realistic, engaging, interesting and stimulating experience for the candidate, where they should also have the opportunity to get valuable developmental feedback whether they are successful or not. After all, these people may be prospective or existing external customers.

So, as companies such as Ryanair strive to enhance their customer brand, they would do well to remember the importance of the employer brand, and how the two are inextricably interlinked. Perhaps we will see more collaboration between HR and Marketing teams in the future where more forward thinking companies seek to capitalise on this.

How do you provide a valuable candidate experience? Let us know by commenting below.

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