Building an Excellent Candidate Experience

A topic that often pops up in the recruitment world is candidate experience. In Episode 97 of the Talent & Growth podcast we spoke to Mary Strebinger, who is the Global Talent Acquisition lead at Who Gives A Crap?, about how they ensure that their candidate experience is amazing. Read on to find out how Mary’s team is pushing for a great candidate experience. 

How do you deliver on your company’s mission to provide a positive candidate experience? 

Candidate experience is just as delightful for us as it is for the candidates. We make sure each and every touchpoint is absolutely delightful, inclusive and equitable. Everything from our application process to our talent communications is peppered with everything from toilet humour to information on what to expect from us when you start working here. We welcome you to push back. The candidate experience is really about a two way street, so we want to hear what you’re thinking about, what you’re curious about, what you need from us or if you have any concerns. There’s a lot baked in there about expectation setting and transparency. 

We’re all about uplifting the gold standard of what it is to be a good business. We put purpose, the planet and people next to a profit, if not a little higher. We want to do the same thing in our candidate experience, because that’s really what it’s like to work with us. Even the interview itself is really a series of conversations for candidates to get to know us. Most of our team grows with us for years because we have a lot of internal mobility. Our hiring process is a little bit longer, but it’s a really intentional process. Every moment that you have with us is a two-way street where you can get curious with us, meet all our people and peek under the hood to see if it’s a good opportunity for you.

How do you make sure that the candidate is getting the right experience with you?

We have really intentional hiring processes. The standard process is about five touch points. It’s all a series of conversations, not interviews, for you to get to know us as much as we’re getting to know you. We assess everybody at the start, and then the first step is a phone screen with a talent rep who talks about our people and culture. After that we do a hiring manager screen, and they’re going to be diving a little deeper into the function of the role. After that is the middle stage where you meet some peers, whether it’s within a function that you’re going to be working elbow to elbow with, or some hyper cross functional collaboration partners. After that, we have something called homework, which is a paid project. We give candidates anywhere between a week to two weeks to work on it with us. Finally we pull together an offer and give you an executive interview. 

We also have something on our job board called ‘dream job’. It’s an opportunity for you to put in your general application or tell us what your dream job is. Instead of just putting in your resume and a little cover letter saying how much you love Who Gives A Crap?, you’re telling us ‘Here’s what I love to do, and here’s how I think we can partner up’. We look at those and do an exploratory call. We’ll decide what working together could look like, whether it’s a full time or it’s an ongoing role. Sometimes it starts as more of a consultancy, but we’ll design a process together with those dream job candidates. 

What we look for with every application is the intentionality of it and the level of care and curiosity that someone is bringing to the table. That’s something we always reciprocate. 

What does candidate feedback look like in terms of the feedback which you’re delivering to candidates and the feedback you’re gathering from candidates on the experience they’re getting?

I’m at the intersection of feedback from both sides. When you interview with us, we’re training your hiring managers and teammates to be delivering real time feedback. When you’re with me I’ll tell you about what the next steps look like and prepare you for your next interview. I’ll be directly or indirectly providing you with feedback to set you up for success with the manager. I cover some of the questions that we tried to dig into, but we just couldn’t quite understand and help you get more clear and concise with your answers. We’re also offering emails or texts or phone calls in between meetings so that candidates have the opportunity to reach out if they’ve got questions or feedback for us. 

We definitely want to know how your experience was at each touchpoint. We ask ‘how are you feeling? Do you have any further questions? How is that interaction? Was it prompt? Did they show up on time?’ We’re asking it more in an open ended form, but I’d like us to get a little bit more standardised. We do reviews internally with our hiring managers and our teams, but we haven’t been doing that with candidates. I always want to hear from candidates, and I don’t know if I’ve gained a reputation or if what I’m doing is working, but candidates are providing feedback to me unprompted, which I really love. 

We also get a lot of feedback from our rejections. I make sure that anytime we reject someone that we provide really constructive, valuable feedback and let them know what the decision really weighed on. What that does is help someone upskill, puts them back on the job market and gives them a sense of direction. I have definitely provided feedback that’s either changed someone’s job search or helped redirect the career path that they were looking for. It’s helped provide them with interview prep and allowed them to move on in their journeys, even if it wasn’t with us. Our feedback is always based on core skills and behaviours. We get great feedback from candidates who say ‘Hey, you’re right. I could have answered that more clearly. I did feel like it was a bit too senior for me.’ That way it benefits both of us. 

To hear more of Mary’s insights on creating a great candidate experience, tune into Episode 97 of the Talent & Growth podcast here.

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

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