Retail Candidate Experience

Focusing On The #RetailCandidateExperience

LinkedIn just recently released it’s “Global Talent Trends 2015” report. It shared some very interesting information about active job seekers and the passive candidate pool in various countries. It is an exceedingly worthwhile read for anyone who sources, recruits, hires, or interacts with candidates in any capacity.

Candidate Experience is something that is not discussed with any frequency, especially as it relates to the field teams in retail. But it is the first exposure to company culture that candidates will have and it is frequently different than the experience that the candidate has as a customer of your brand.

Some the most important points of this report I found to be:
-87% of talent says a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted
-49% of talent wants to hear from the company periodically, even if there is no update
-94% of those surveyed want feedback, and those that receive it are 4x as likely to consider the company for a future opportunity
-Buzz-word based recruiting and conversations were a frustration for candidates
-83% of global talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a company they once liked

Understanding the position responsibilities, opportunities specific to this opening, and team dynamic you are looking find a fit for – have a list of competencies needed in the ideal candidate. Using these five to eight top competencies, ask your peer group, network, team members who they know who, likely, possess those qualities. Employee referrals are the #1 source of quality candidates.

If you are posting to a job board make sure you create a dynamic job description that stands out and conveys the following:
-Title of the job & role seniority
-Position objectives and responsibilities
-How that position interacts with other areas of the field & corporate team
-Specific criteria and competencies that are non-negotiable to the role
-Specifics for the candidates to review
(a) Salary range
(b) Bonus plan/structure
(c) Schedule expectations including average hours per week (be honest)
(d) Benefits overview
-Summarize Company History, Company Mission, Company Culture and Company Values
-Timeline for interviewing process

The Candidate Experience starts from the first communication received. Every conversation, email, video interview, in-person interview should give the candidate an idea of the company culture and brand identity. As much as you hope the candidate will be a fit for the job – they, too, want to be a fit for the culture and the role. Be authentic. Be transparent. Be human.

The interviews should clearly convey the details of the role and seek to ensure there is alignment and compatibility with the candidates qualifications.* You should explain to the candidate the development they can expect to receive and their expected contribution, both quantifiable and to the workplace culture.

Candidates want to speak directly with the person(s) they will be working for and the people/departments they will be working with. Candidates expect answers to their questions so the person(s) they will be working directly with and for should be accessible and a presence during all stages of the interview process.

Other important factors to consider:
-Ensure you are on time for any/all interviews (phone and/or in-person)
-Ensure that you have allocated ample time to interview the candidate without having to rush through an interview to get to the next one
-Ask the candidate during the initial interview – if they are not selected, would they like to receive feedback (most candidates would)
-Make sure you schedule time to touch-base with your top candidates via telephone on a consistent basis throughout the process (the average time to fill a job opening in the US is 29 days [as of September 2015]) – you will need to keep your candidates engaged and interested during this period
-Be accessible – your candidate may be looking elsewhere or possibly recruited by another retailer – you want them to feel comfortable communicating with you
-When you extend a job offer make it HUGE for the candidate once they verbally accept – send flowers, send company swag, send a congratulations card signed by the people involved in the interviewing process – make it personal

For the candidate selected for the role – the experience they had during the interviewing process should match their onboarding experience and day-to-day work environment. According to the Aberdeen Group “90% of employees make their decision to stay at a company within the first six months”. You cannot leave anything to chance. If there is a disconnect between their Candidate Experience and their new hire experience – that is a very risky prospect as far as a retention outlook.

Finally – do follow up with your other candidates that were not job offered. Let them know you appreciated their investment of time and their availability. If they are viable future candidates and they are open to feedback – share your thoughts with them on where they stood out as really qualified and also on areas of development. Don’t just disappear on them – they deserve closure to the process and a sincere thank you for their participation. Leaving candidates in limbo will, likely, result in a negative Candidate Experience and in a lost customer and tarnished reputation to anyone they share their experience with. Not to mention, you’ve permanently lost a potential future candidate.

For additional information please visit my post on Hiring For Job Fit and Culture Fit.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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