Feedback during a recruitment process is a problem. Why? Because there often isn’t any.
In e-recruitment, the most popular form of recruitment, where companies post a job on a jobs board and applicants reply either via the jobs board or directly to the employer, feedback usually comes in two forms.
Firstly, no feedback. One of the main reasons for this is that it’s practically impossible for recruiters (whether internal recruitment teams, or external recruitment consultants) to give feedback to every applicant due to time constraints. This means applicants are left with the feeling that their application has simply disappeared into cyberspace. Some companies may offer feedback by way of displaying a ‘policy’ stating that if applicants don’t hear back within a certain number of weeks, then they can consider their application unsuccessful.
A second type of feedback is when a company uses an Applicant Tracking System. Assuming the functionality has been set-up, applicants might receive a message from an Auto-responder to let them know that their application has been received or whether they have been shortlisted etc. In today’s technology savvy society, most people can recognise when they are being dealt with by a human or by a bot. Although auto-generated messages are infinitely better than nothing, they still lack the human touch.
The main problem with the above scenarios, is that being told that you have made the next round, been invited for interview or that your application has not been successful, isn’t even real feedback. It’s a status update.
Feedback is actually defined as “information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement”. The key part of this is “used as a basis for improvement”.
Companies are increasingly judged by the way they interact with customers as well as their own staff, this is a huge opportunity being missed to increase positive brand image by giving applicants constructive, actionable feedback that actually help their job search? If we agree this is the case, then how could this be put into action?
Technology may offer a solution. As ATS providers and other HR Technology companies become increasingly sophisticated, the application of data science across these services will become far more common. Even if larger ATS providers are slow to offer more personalised and insightful feedback features, there is hope that HR and recruitment teams might still have the opportunity to integrate a complimentary platform to an existing ATS system.
However, as always, Technology can only provide a solution if there is buy-in from the organisation. No technology wins without broad adoption. In this case, this starts with HR managers and Heads of Recruitment recognising the value of providing feedback.
A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 69% of job seekers say they are less likely to buy from a company they had a bad experience with during the interview process. This would certainly indicate that investing in making an interview process a more pleasant experience for applicants has a far greater strategic value.
Away from recruitment, Zappos, the US headquartered online shoe and clothing retailer is an example of how to be creative in providing a positive user experience. They proactively try to engage users in community style forums. Later, if the company has job openings, they are able to promote these opportunities in the relevant forums, knowing that the participants are already highly engaged with the Zappos brand. Away from recruitment, Air BnB sends a discount code to every user regardless of whether they book immediately or not. Although not directly related to recruitment, they are also pursuing a strategy of building up goodwill amongst their potential customer base which at some point will be acted upon in the future.
Perhaps the biggest challenge then is for Human Resources teams to adopt a longer term view and recognise the value of building a brand image that over time generates an increasingly large pool of potential talent that not only identifies with the company but might also aspire to build a career with you. Giving personalised, actionable feedback to each and every applicant can only aid this mission.
If this can be achieved at reasonable cost in a way that integrates with existing solutions, then feedback failure will truly be a thing of the past.
This is first published in Hiring Screen