Candidates – the forgotten stakeholder in a fast-changing world
Monday, December 4, 2017

In the last five years we have seen a lot of change within the early talent recruitment space. Going back as recently as five to ten years , a ‘traditional’ recruitment process consisted of: a CV/ application form submission with some competency questions, some form of psychometric testing,  sometimes a telephone interview and it would end with an assessment centre or final interview stage. –In terms of delivering quality hires, it worked – and it still does today.

However, it is hard to ignore the driverless bullet train we call technology. Video interviews, gamification, neuroscientific testing and artificial intelligence are just a few of the interventions that are changing the way recruitment is done. Manual processes such as screening are being replaced with clever algorithms, artificial intelligence is able to match a CV against a job description, and applicants are often auto-processed through the early recruitment stages based on them meeting pre-set benchmarks.

Indeed, automation has become a double-edged sword. As recruiters we often embrace anything that can speed up the process or send an email out on our behalf to groups of candidates. Innovation is the name of the game and we are competing to come up with new ways to make the process more efficient, with fewer staff. How do we get candidates from point A(pplication) through to O(ffer) as quickly as possible, without blowing the budget? How do we create a process that is so impressive we will be at the vanguard of early talent recruitment for years to come?

Yet with all of this innovation occurring in our market place, something occurred to me. Every time we take one giant leap for recruitment-kind, do we ever actually communicate this to the one stakeholder that really matters? And no, I don’t mean your board members or your hiring managers who you had to convince to get the money for the innovative process in the first place. I mean the candidates who will be ones most impacted by these changes. To add to this, now that your recruitment process is fully automated, when does a candidate first speak to someone from your organisation? At your assessment centre nine weeks after they have applied? And are you still expecting all of them to be fully engaged by this point?

At TARGETrecruit we conducted research to find out just how engaged candidates really are. Surprisingly, 59% of the 1,099 students that we surveyed said that they found video interviews less engaging than a telephone conversation with a recruiter. So, more than half of the candidates surveyed found talking to someone more engaging than talking into a camera! The ISE 2017 annual survey found that 53% of its members now use video interviews as part of their process and the expectation is that this will increase year on year. Now, as a recruiter, I know that there are many benefits of using video interview platforms, but have we as an industry ever really communicated this to candidates? Have we given them the guidance and advice on how to best prepare and perform in what is a much more intrusive type of assessment?

Our survey also revealed that only 27% of candidates ever received a phone call from a member of a recruitment team, a further 27% were lucky enough to have ever received feedback and 35% said they were not given enough information to prepare for each stage of the recruitment process. I think it is fair to say that candidates are looking for more engagement rather than less.

So, what to do..? (Spoiler alert: If you are looking for something revelatory here I’m afraid you are about to be disappointed.)

The advancement in technology has generally been viewed as a positive evolution for the human race and I think the use of innovative recruitment approaches and methodologies using technology should be viewed the same way. In recruitment the commodity that we tend to have the least in abundance is time. Automated processes, video interviews and smarter selection tools can be used to give us back some of that precious time we often so desperately need. 

What we do with that clawed-back time, however, is important. I would recommend using it to re-engage the life blood of our industry: our candidates. And how do we do that? Well, there are lots of ways. You could begin a dialogue with the candidate through a dedicated candidate phone line to answer their questions, maybe by organising open days or insight events for candidates to meet the business, or perhaps utilising bespoke technology to create interactive, branded portals to engage candidates virtually, but in real time. Alternatively you could invite them to briefing webinars that explain what to expect in the process or personalised emails that make candidates feel like more than just an ID number in a large recruitment pond. Keeping them engaged will ultimately lead to a stronger talent pool and happier candidates and, as recruiters, using that emotional intelligence to really understand our candidates and their drivers will ultimately lead to better hires for our businesses and clients.

Isn’t that what it is all about anyway..?


To receive a copy of the TARGETrecruit candidate engagement survey, email us at:

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