“If you are unemployed and need an outfit for an interview, we will clean it for free,” the sign said. But what really caught me was the line just below that. The fine print, if you will.
“When times are tough, we’ll help you look your best.”
I start thinking about my unemployed friends. My unemployed family. Their tears. The panic in their voice as the first of the month arrives, and they still haven’t scheduled another interview.
The excitement. The let-downs. The ego blows. Being a job seeker is tough.
Know what I’ve learned in those moments, watching as my friends and family go from job seeker to full-time employee? When life is really hard, it means the most that people say “hey, let me help you out.”
Has anyone ever described your candidate experience as kind?
I can almost hear the smirks. I know. I did it, too.
The candidate experience is not kind. In fact, it’s kind of rude if I think about it. You don’t call, you don’t write, I can’t ask questions, and you surprise me around every corner? No thanks.
We have to stop treating the interview like an obstacle course to win or lose and figure out how we can invest in someone’s ability to succeed. The job search should not be an exercise in humiliation or frustration.
And no, I’m not suggesting you hire the wrong person or someone who is entirely unqualified. I’m suggesting you make it easier for people to figure it out.
While I know, there are a million ways you can approach kindness – from dry cleaning to a digital upgrade – we’re writers after all – so we’re going to stick with content upgrades. I really do believe if we can change the way we talk to people who apply, we can show them kindness they aren’t getting from your competitors, or any other company for that matter.
7 Ways To Bring Kindness To Candidate Experience
- Change the conversation. Instead of telling people you’re looking to eliminate candidates, tell them you’re here to qualify them. Interviews should be about getting you to the next step, not a “test.” [Thanks to my friend @SimpRecSolLLC for that one. Makes sense, doesn’t it?]
- Add an Application FAQ page before they start the application that explains how long it’ll take and what they’re going to do. Setting simple expectations is kind because you’re not just telling them “run that direction, I’ll be there when you stop.” Endurance to finish your job application is not what you should be testing. If your job application is long and it has to be, explain why that is. If they know these parameters, candidates might actually complete the application.
- Live chat. There are few things less frustrating than when you have a particular question, and you can’t get the answer. Create a place where people can contact someone and get their questions answered, even if it’s just to put them in a response queue.
- Say thank you when we say no thanks. It’s more than a little horrifying to me that the “best in class” candidate experience is ghosting. Now you don’t get to complain about candidates ghosting you.
- When you confirm the interview, send an interview guide. Sample questions, outfit ideas, who they’ll be speaking to, a coupon for a free coffee, whatever. Send them all the things you would want to know if you were sitting in their shoes.
- Write better job postings. Picture this. You’re all excited about this job. This could be the one! And then you see it. “We are a Fortune 500 company that…” Boring. Momentum, over. Let’s do better by inspiring and explaining work to people instead of just describing what’s in it for our company.
- Stop judging a book by its cover. Can’t take credit for this one, thanks, Ashley. She said it best: “Your ability to interview well and be super well dressed for the interview does not necessarily correlate to your ability to perform the job well. Still, in the name of time, we find it easier to judge a book by its cover and go from there.”
So let’s stop worrying about making it easy on us, and make it easy on our candidates.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.