Candidate Experience is Built on One Great Big Lie!

Tim Sackett Audacious Ideas, Candidate Pool, HR, HR & Marketing, Tim Sackett, Video Interviewing

I recently traveled down to Sydney, Australia to speak at HR Tech Fest. I was asked to do a couple of sessions, and because I spent twenty hours on planes getting there, I thought, “What the hell is another hour on stage?!” My first sessions was on HR Technology 101.  My second session was called “Candidate Experience is the Biggest Lie Being Sold Today!”

First, I need to set the table. I DO NOT HATE Candidate Experience. This is always a problem because some folks lose their minds when I start dumping on it—there’s a reason why we give awards for this type of stuff!

Okay, now to the good stuff.

You’re being buffaloed, bamboozled, swindled. You’re buying snake oil, and you’re buying in bulk—the big five-gallon pale-sized snake oil.

Candidate Experience is built on one big lie. That lie is your candidates are your customers, so you must treat your candidates like your customers or you’ll lose business. That makes sense if you’re a major retailer like Walmart or McDonald’s. What if you’re some software firm building apps for tweens you like pop music in Omaha? Your candidates are not tweens. They’re software developers in Silicon Valley that have never been to Omaha.

What about Ruth Chris’s Steak House? Are their candidates their customers? No. They need to hire cooks and servers and managers. Not people who normally buy $100 steaks and $300 bottles of wine. The examples are endless. Candidates are not always your customers.

The second premise of this lie is that you’ll cost your company business if you don’t treat candidates as well as your customers. Again, this doesn’t hold water. I will agree that if you treat a candidate like crap, you’ll probably lose that person as a customer, and they might even tell friends. But, if you treat candidates like normal people, you will not lose them as customers.

I will go as far to say, even if you treat candidates poorly, but you have a great brand, you still won’t lose them or their business! You think Apple or Nike is really concerned about losing business because they didn’t tell a candidate they didn’t get a job quickly enough? No.

The theory of Candidate Experience is built on a model of fear. Making HR and TA pros fear they might hurt their organizations if they don’t jump through hoops with candidates. The reality is, it’s just not true.

If you treat candidates with respect, respond back when you can—in an appropriate time and manner—you’re fine. You don’t need to win awards on how well you treat candidates, you just don’t need to treat people poorly. That’s a huge difference in what you’re led to believe about Candidate Experience.

I say this not to dump on people trying to make their Candidate Experience better. I’m all for you making that better. I’m not for it if the rest of your HR and/or TA shop is on fire! Candidate Experience should only be a priority if the rest of your shop is running on rails. I see companies, today, that are treating their candidates better than they treat their own hiring managers! That’s a problem.

Want to see me rant some more!? My friend Dawn Burke, fellow FOTer and Candidate Experience Lover, will be on my Weird Science videocast next week as I try and convince her she’s wasting her time! It should be great fun! Check it out.

FOT Note:  We here at FOT like to think we get talent and HR at a different level. At the very least, we are probably going to have a different take than the norm. That’s why we asked  HireVue to be an annual sponsor at FOT, where they’ll sponsor posts like this one, allowing FOT contributors to write, without restriction, on all things related to talent and predictive analytics and how it impacts our organizations. Most of us will never get the science behind all of this, and to help, HireVue is also signed up to sponsor a FOT video series aptly named “Weird Science.” Be on the lookout for latest episode of Weird Science later this month with my guest Steve Boese!