angry childLast weekend my wife forwarded me an article that hit her right between the eyes. And to be honest, it did for me as well. It was a parenting piece that focused on one of the rampant problems we deal with in our house: toys. The gist of the piece is that our kids have enough toys and that buying them more just makes them more bored and more hungry for the next thing. It doesn’t satisfy them and provide lasting joy that one would expect from all the advertisement (and the whining that may occur prior to the purchase). The author’s alternative recommendation? Continue reading

Last week I published some new research that frankly surprised me. When we hear about video interviews, assessments, and hiring processes, we expect candidates and employers to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

But it’s not the case. When asked a series of questions, both groups responded similarly, and the priorities for each group matched in terms of ranking, even if not in terms of exact percentages. In short, it was a very interesting set of research. I’ve posted a chunk of it below, but to read the full piece you’ll need to head over to Lighthouse Research.

The Candidate Experience: Perspectives on Video Interviews, Assessments, and Hiring

In some ways, hiring looks very similar to what it did twenty years ago. People search for positions, indicate interest, and are filtered down until the most promising candidate is offered a job. However, the technology we use has upgraded considerably over time. Today employers have tools to increase efficiency and efficacy, including video interviews, automated assessments, and more.

In a recent Lighthouse Research study backed by mroads, we explored some of the key aspects of hiring with video technology from both candidate and employer perspectives. The November 2016 pulse survey reached more than 250 individuals and employers, uncovering some interesting findings that both validated existing beliefs as well as uncovered some new insights. Here’s what we found out.

lighthouse special report

Key Findings

  • Stress Factor: Nearly 8 in 10 job seekers say that video interviews are as stressful or more stressful than in-person interviews.
  • Attracting Top Talent: 61% of companies say that peer interviews and interactions would be the best way to attract top talent with video hiring solutions.
  • Candidate Preferences: Nearly 25% more job seekers said they would prefer a live video interview to an in-person interview.
  • Candidate Assessment Perspective: Just under two-thirds of candidates think the right kind of assessments—those that give them an opportunity to showcase their skills or a work sample—prove their value in the hiring process.
  • Candidate Experience: Candidates believe that resumes are just as valuable as employment tests/assessments (25% each), but half of candidates say that video interviews are the most valuable tool for helping them stand out in the hiring process.

Click here to read the rest of the article (1,600 words total)


Subscribers click here to listen and check out the show

I’m just a little bit excited today. I am part of a set of new hosts joining the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network with a new show, We’re Only Human. It’s a play on words and gives multiple meanings, because for starters, despite the pressure on us as HR leaders, we’re still only human. It also gives me a chance to talk about how, despite automation and other factors, we need to be looking at our people as human beings with needs and desires, not simply data points or engagement scores.

I start off the show by telling a story of how I inadvertently insulted my wonderful wife while she was in labor with our son a few years ago. Yes, and I’m still alive today to tell about it. Definitely check out the show and have a laugh at my expense!

Show Notes

*Note, since this was the introductory episode I included pretty much the entire transcript below. For future episodes the show notes will be a condensed version with highlights, links, etc. Thanks!

Gallup data from summer 2016 says that just under a third of employees are engaged. I’m seeing an increasing focus on this concept of the employee experience. Candidate experience. Customer experience. The natural extension of those elements is the employee experience. This isn’t just about employee engagement or the employer value proposition. It’s a broader look at the collective experiences people have in the workplace. From how their manager coaches them (or not) to how people interact with technology in the workplace, the employee experience is something that is becoming more of an issue for many employers.

Experiences are what separate good employers from great ones. For instance:

  • When new hires start at the company they sit down and listen to an hour of policy edicts and rules telling them everything they can’t do. OR when new hires start they join with the other newbies to act out policy requirements to help cement the ideas while building social connections with their peers.
  • Learning time! The employee clicks into the LMS only to click again, and again, and again. 47 clicks later she is able to access the training she was looking for. OR the employee opens up the LMS and it knows what she is looking for based on previous training, search activity, and other factors, bringing the content directly to her so she can skip searching and start learning.
  • Whee! Open enrollment is here. The employee waits to receive a boatload of documentation from HR about what options are available and how much they are going to cost before hiring a translator to help them understand what everything means. OR the employee receives a video before open enrollment begins offering insights into new choices and options for coverage including high level overviews of costs. When it’s time for open enrollment, the employee already knows what he wants to elect and can take care of it within his own self service dashboard.
  • Performance management month drives managers and employees crazy. Managers save up their “ammunition” for the one true performance conversation they have each year and employees save emails and prepare contingencies and excuses to avoid any nasty surprises. OR managers meet with employees on a regular basis, offering feedback around good and bad performance. At the end of the year, a summary of the recurring conversations is prepared and each party signs off on the summarized version of the entire year’s performance discussions. No surprises.

These are simple, experience-driven changes that can help to retain employees and demonstrate to them that they are valued. And, just in case you didn’t notice, two of these options are tied to technology and two are not. I know that there are plenty of companies that just don’t have the technology on hand or the budget to acquire it. At the same time, there are many technology options across the spectrum, from companies looking for low-cost support that can give them increased capabilities without the major budget line item to those with money to spend who are ready to find the right tool or technology to give them the edge over the competition.

With that in mind, I want to talk a bit about the new show and what you can expect.

The broad focus of the show will be on the changing nature of work and how technology impacts that. Over my working life I have seen an incredible number of changes in how we work, and I think that is an incredible trend that HR leaders need to be plugged into. Not only are we more flexible than ever, we also have a bigger focus on mobile, social, and collaborative work. We have technology that knows us almost as well as we know ourselves. We have this dynamic pull between a technology-enabled workplace and a desire to be more targeted toward a personalized, individual approach. I think that’s fascinating and want to focus on it more. In the coming months there will be interviews with practitioners, discussions with vendors, and other episodes to bring you the information you need to be at the top of your HR game.

If you have listened to the HR Happy Hour show for a while you probably caught me with my nerdiness in full swing. I do a lot of reading and book reviews and Steve occasionally would have a review on the show. I’ve known Steve and Trish for a long time and still remember the first ever episode of HR Happy Hour way back when.  With the new shows on the network from Madeline, Mollie, and George, this is an exciting time for all of us at HR Happy Hour HQ.

Other episodes will feature interviews with practitioners, discussions with vendors and other content, but I know that this first episode is the obligatory “about me” conversation to introduce me to the world. Hopefully this helps to show you where I’m coming from and what you can expect from the show.

I live and work in Huntsville, Alabama. My career so far: lighthouse, BHG, practitioner. upstartHR, Part time consulting locally to stay plugged into the HR practitioner point of view. HRevolution.. Volunteer on my local SHRM board, which I think is important for helping to connect with and drive grassroots change within the profession. I’m certified and have my SPHR and SHRM-SCP. I love reading, writing, running, and spending time with my kids. Baby on the way.

As you can see, when I’m not making dumb comments to my wife, I’m doing a wide variety of things that I think make me a better HR pro and analyst. I wrote a piece recently called “why we need to break HR.” You can find it at upstartHR.com In it I explored one of my earliest interactions in the HR space with someone that told me that I would soon be another dead-eyed zombie shuffling HR paperwork. I vowed never to follow that path, and to this day I have never given in to the dark side. Chances are if you’re listening to this, you are one of those people that still holds out hope that this HR thing can bring value to our organizations and help people.

To get an idea of what I believe in, you need to check out the last few things I’ve published. They have titles like How to Analyze Source of Hire Data to Validate Recruiting Efforts, It’s Time to Break HR, How to Win Friends and Influence People: HR Edition

I think we have more of a chance than ever to bring some true value with the work we do within the HR field, especially with the increasingly fluid nature of work and how things get done. So, with that out of the way, I hope you join me for further discussion in future episodes and also check out the other shows on the network to get a better overall picture of this industry and how it is evolving. Thanks for listening and I’ll catch you next time.

One of the most common terms around recruiting these days is candidate experience. If you’re late to the game, it’s basically a look at how candidates are treated as they enter your recruiting funnel all the way to getting an offer, if they move that far. It’s comparable to the customer experience: how they are treated, how they feel about the organization, etc. I’ve long held that candidate experience is seen as unimportant not because it doesn’t matter, but because companies just don’t know how to make it stick.

Think about it. If I told you starting today that you had to treat every candidate with the same reverence you offered your customers, you would have a hard time making it work among your other job duties. In addition, you’d probably be unsure just how to make that a reality. I recently wrote about how to revolutionize candidate experience (here). The gist:

  1. Measure it continuously
  2. Make it automatic
  3. Make it part of recruiting performance
  4. Make it more important than something else
  5. Make it a business priority, not an HR one

Those are good, helpful pieces of information, but I’ll do you one better. My friend Jane, the HR leader for a startup technology company in Boston, left me a comment that was worth sharing. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because she has authored a few previous guest posts here (How to Select a Third Party RecruiterThe Struggle Between a Caring Work Environment and Talent Density. and Applying Marketing Principles to HR). Here’s Jane’s take on practical ways to impact candidate experience:

It didn’t seem to push through, but figured I’d share on your candidate experience article:

Ben, great article. My experience is that the candidate (and employee) experience becomes acutely important when in a highly-competitive market where you want to hire people better than the job criteria … but so does everyone else.

I’ll give you an example – in one of my positions, we posted on craigslist, got a bunch of applicants, handled them the average HR way, and hired people who met our criteria – most of whom were fine. In retrospect, many (but not all – I worked with some really great people) were looking for a less-bad job than their last.

In another position, we wanted the cream of the crop (without being able to pay Google money). To win those candidates, it became much more important to give them access to our CEO, mission and strategy. To woo them by meeting members of the team. And to actively court them. Unless we were in love with a candidate, we weren’t extending an offer. And if we extended that offer, we really wanted a yes.

Ultimately, you need buy in from the top-down because hiring (and the way candidates are treated) needs to become more important than everything else on people’s plates. The pay-off? Spectacular talent. A competitive advantage in the market. Awesome referrals. And people who leave for greener pastures, but want to return.

What I like in particular about their approach is the clear delineation between “what we did” and “what we do now” with regard to how candidates are treated. This is the same approach I took when I was leading the HR function at Pinnacle Solutions. Things like access to the CEO, the opportunity to bring a spouse/SO to the office to meet people before accepting an offer, or even just a private meeting with peers to ask questions they didn’t feel comfortable asking me or the hiring manager are all incredibly powerful tools in these circumstances.

How does your organization make the overall experience for candidates a priority? Has it worked for you? 

Job fairs aren’t for everyone, and they’re not for every company/industry. But if your company happens to participate in them, I wanted to give you a few quick tips to help avoid disaster.

  1. Give a darn about the people who took the time out of their day to come and talk with you about your employer.
  2. And, um… That’s it.

I found out today that I might be participating in a special kind of job fair activity in the coming weeks. We are not in the typical industry for that sort of thing, so I might be a little rusty. I am used to a different flavor of the candidate experience.

However, in my experiences on both sides of the table, if you can handle #1 above, you can stand out among the other employers in the room. I’ve talked before about a major fail in job fair recruiting, but I think companies can still do it well.

A little perspective doesn’t hurt

Job seekers today are (in the best of circumstances) worried about finding a job. At worst they have been out of work for a while and are starting to get noticeably desperate. Have a little compassion. Try treating your candidates like customers.

I used to work with a wonderful, kind lady who did our recruiting at a previous employer. Every single person who walked up to our table ended up walking away feeling better and happier, even if we didn’t have a single job available in their area of expertise. Keep that in mind next time you’re going through the motions at a job fair.

Okay. Even as a minimalist I have to admit that one rule is kind of slim. Anyone else have a suggestion to add to the list? :-)

What The Candidate Experience Means to Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the candidates for our positions. I do what I can to provide a transparent, high-touch process (click here to listen to me talk more about our hiring process and recruiting philosophy), but sometimes it just gets tough to make sure everyone is in the loop at all steps of the game. I also wonder at times just what the candidates really want from me as their main point of contact during the interview/offer process.

The potential solution

So, with that in mind, I’m considering putting together a short, two question survey to send to all candidates we interviewed after the final selection has been made. It would ask these questions:

  1. On a scale of 1-5 what did you think of our recruiting process with regard to ease of scheduling interviews, timely communication, follow up, etc.?
  2. What could we have done to make the experience better for you?

If you recall, it’s very close to the set of questions suggested by the author of 101 Strategies for Recruiting Success. As with all surveys, we are sure to get some varying responses. I’d expect everything from “you should have picked me” to “I would have liked phone updates more than emails.” But the end result, I’m hoping, would be an idea or two to incorporate into the process to help make it more user-friendly on the candidate side of things.

To save some time and effort, I would only send it to the people we interview. Those who apply get the automatic email response when they apply, and I try to make sure and send the blanket “the position’s been filled” email after we hire someone. In my mind we don’t owe those people anything more, because honestly it would become a full-time job responding to each individual person. While I think it’s important to treat candidates like customers, I’m also realistic enough to know that we can’t offer personalized service to the 50+ people applying to some positions.

There’s an award for that

Just as I was finishing this post, I saw a friend mention The Candidate Experience Awards. I’m going to talk with our people and see if we want to participate, because it looks like an interesting process. I already know we do a good job with how to be a best place to work, but are we doing the best on the front end before the candidate ever joins the team? I think it would be neat to find out.

Anyone else do a survey like this with their candidates? Anyone think they might like to participate in the Candidate Experience Awards? I’d be interested in hearing your perspective. 

Can HR learn something from marketing about treating candidates like customers?

When I was at the Hire Minds event this past fall (more Hire Minds Summit coverage), the moderator asked me if I thought the Marketing department should work closely with the HR/Recruiting department at any time. My response was one I’d considered before, and I think it still applies now:

Of course HR/Recruiting should work with the Marketing department if they can. HR is trying to sell ideas internally. Recruiters are trying to “sell” open positions to candidates. Marketing is trying to sell products/services to the public. Why not work together when the opportunity arises?

Since then I’ve started thinking of candidates as customers. Most HR and recruiting pros don’t have a chance to meet customers of the business on a daily basis. They don’t get a chance to make a good impression for the company, provide great service, and do it all with a smile on their face. But they do interact with people looking to get a job with the organization.

What if they started treating those candidates like customers? There would be a little difference in that these customers are not always “right.” They can’t get whatever they want.

But you can offer them a sympathetic ear. You can treat them with respect. You can give them a clear, concise picture of what the hiring process looks like so they are not stuck wondering if their resume disappeared into a black hole.

I’ve learned that even if they are not chosen, candidates sincerely appreciate knowing the disposition of their application. It’s just a small touch that means so much to someone who has been out of work or looking for a meaningful job.

If you’d like to learn more about my philosophy on “high touch” recruiting and what it’s like being the solo recruiter for a small business, click here to hear about small business hiring on my DriveThruHR appearance from HR Florida.