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When HR and CX collide: Why candidate experience is also customer experience


There is an ever-increasing need to think of employees as 'internal customers'. For this reason, customer experience leaders can be a big help to HR leaders in their quest to improve internal CX - and nowhere more is this true than with the interview process. 

16th Aug 2022

There is an ever-increasing need to think of employees as customers as well, i.e. internal customers.

Retention rates in major companies have been dropping for years, for a variety of reasons: more flexible work options, people pursuing their own ventures or teaming with startups, bad management, etc. When employees leave — and they often leave because they don’t feel invested in what’s happening around them 10 hours/day — it becomes a major cost to the organisation. Hiring a new employee, getting that new employee up to speed, and everything associated with that? It costs money.

I want to touch on hiring here in the form of “candidate experience.” Many people within organisations don’t see “candidate experience” and “customer experience” as the same. The former is the domain of HR, and the latter is the domain of a CCO.

The CCO and HR might speak periodically but it’s not necessarily a consistent relationship (again, this is in most companies; in some those roles might speak every day).

But it really is important to think of candidate experience the way you discuss customer experience. It matters a good deal.

Business2Community has previously written about this dichotomy, noting some of the worst aspects of candidate experience:

  • Resumes were sent for posted positions, and the candidates received no acknowledgment of receipt of said resumes by the targeted potential employer, not even an auto-response;
  • Interviews were had with companies, but there was no follow-up or feedback from corporate recruiters or hiring managers;
  • Thank you notes and inquiries about position status were sent by candidates with no response or acknowledgment;
  • Candidates were pursued/recruited by the company with no subsequent follow-up communication to close the loop and set an interview time (or just to say “no thanks”);
  • and more.

I have known people on the job market, and many of them report the same. One study even says that, 48% of the time, companies don’t contact people who’ve expressed interest in working there. There are entire discussions online of “the candidate black hole.”

Here’s where all this comes home to roost: 23.8% of survey respondents stated that a positive candidate experience with an employer made them more likely to increase their relationships with employers’ respective “brand alliances, product purchases or networking.” 25.4% were encouraged to continue to maintain a relationship with an employer even after applying for a job.

This is from one study, admittedly. But … if you can simply have a better candidate experience, those candidates may come back to your brand as customers. This is one major reason why candidate experience needs to be thought of as diligently as customer experience is.

How could we make candidate experience better?

The main way would be to automate the top of the hiring funnel (resumes coming in), which is where HR is the most busy. This could free up HR for more value-add tasks like interviewing, although there are limitations. Automating a hiring funnel means resumes need to be stacked with the right keywords to get through the system, and that’s not necessarily good. But it’s certainly an improvement on most candidate experiences today.

Just as customer experience is a series of touch points along a journey, so too is how all your employees relate to your company. That begins with their experience as a candidate. You need to apply both science and empathy there to make sure it’s working.

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