Candidate Experience: Expectations Versus Reality

Posted on 02-06-2019
candidate experience

When working with organizations looking to find top healthcare and cybersecurity executives we often share an incredible story of an organization that if graded, would have received an “F” for the candidate experience they delivered.  We council organizations to prioritize delivering an exceptional candidate experience and this story illustrates candidate experience at its worst.

What not to do: A (true) candidate experience horror story

A CIO candidate was interviewing for his dream job. He had been working towards the next level role and was thrilled for the chance to interview with a prestigious, billion dollar organization for a position that was perfect in scale and scope. The organization flew him in to interview, and he went into the day excited about the opportunity. He called us the day after the interviews and we were shocked when he reported that “There is no way I would ever consider working for that organization…”

What went wrong? As the candidate relayed his experience, it became clear that the organization had committed two of the most egregious sins when working with candidates—they failed to show the candidate respect and they failed to serve as a gracious host.

Despite asking, the candidate hadn’t been provided any type of agenda for his day of interviews, so he went into the day unclear about what to expect. He was shuffled into a small conference room and was told that someone would be in to see him shortly. His day entailed lots of waiting and uncertainty and being moved to different rooms several times due to meeting spaces being double booked.

The candidate was told going into the day that he’d be meeting with the CEO and other key stakeholders for the position, but one by one these meetings ended up being canceled due to “unavoidable conflicts” or they were severely shortened. He ended up spending less than five minutes with one key executive who was supposed to spend an hour with him, which not only made it difficult to adequately evaluate the opportunity, but also made him feel the organization didn’t respect him or the multiple days he’d carved out of his busy schedule to travel to their facility for the interviews. Several of the executives he met with multi-tasked throughout the interviews. With their heads buried in their mobile devices, the candidate found it difficult to forge connections.

The organization had also done nothing to make him feel welcome or help him feel connected to their mission and community. He walked away from the day with an extremely negative impression of the organization and no interest in continuing in the process because he perceived that the organization wouldn’t be a positive place to work.

These missteps cost the organization an incredible candidate who could have easily succeeded in the position and thrived in their organization.

Candidate expectations versus reality

Unfortunately, we see problems arise all too often in an organization’s hiring process leading to a less than optimal candidate experience.  We’re passionate about candidate experience and are always eager to find out what the candidate experience really looks like for executives applying for healthcare positions. The Kirby Partners team conducted surveys with leaders who applied for director level positions or above in healthcare to learn more about their experience.  (Important Note: for the purposes of this study executives were asked only about their experiences applying directly with the organization, not through an executive search firm.)

As we expected based on our thirty years of experience in healthcare executive search, significant opportunity exists to improve the candidate experience:

When executives were asked to grade their overall candidate experience, the average rating was a “C minus”. Yikes!

As if that weren’t concerning enough, while most HR executives recognized they could improve their candidate experience, most significantly overestimated how candidates would rate them.  Healthcare HR executives’ average rating of the candidate experience they believe they deliver as  “B”.

Why the disconnect?  Unfortunately, most organizations aren’t taking the time to measure candidate experience ratings.  Less than 20% of HR leaders reported that they regularly request feedback from job candidates about their candidate experience.

The good news? Almost 60% of HR executives report that their organization plans to invest more resources in improving the candidate experience in the next year.  We’re excited to hear that and look forward to continuing to work with our client organizations to help them optimize their candidate experience and attract the best candidates.




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