The Great Rehire Is Underway: How to Elevate the Candidate Experience

A few team members sit around a conference table smiling and clapping for a candidate

In 2022, many companies are looking to hire at pre-pandemic levels, known as the Great Rehire. Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and Medallia Solutions Principal David Ostberg discusses how in this new market, candidate experience is key.

Some things start before they begin. This is especially true when it comes to employee experience. The first interaction a person has with a company is often as a candidate. If a potential employer doesn’t create a good candidate experience, the applicant may self-select out and the employee experience ends before it even begins.

Now more than ever, organizations can’t afford to lose out on talent. Since the pandemic began, a record number of jobs were shed and unemployment numbers spiked. At the same time, others became accustomed to working from home, and some even opted to resign or explore new career paths, aka the Great Resignation or the Great Exploration.

Welcome to the Great Rehire

As we enter a new year, there’s another shift underway: the Great Rehire. As businesses begin returning to pre-pandemic levels of employment, they will likely be faced with a harsh reality: they are no longer in the driver’s seat; the candidate is. Organizations that place a premium on candidate experience will have a strategic advantage in employing — and retaining — top talent.

To set the stage, consider these findings:

  • The Great Rehire is in full swing. Companies, on average, are making 50% more hires per month than they were at the start of 2021.
  • In the coming months, 33% of new job postings will be aimed at returning staffing to pre-COVID levels after layoffs and resignations. 
  • Hiring will extend well beyond recouping lost headcount, with over 60% of jobs set for new roles and new teams as companies look to expand.

The Impact of Candidate Experience

The first interactions an applicant has with your brand are critical and can be make-or-break. During the Great Rehire, candidates will have the upper hand: they will evaluate employers just as much as the employer evaluates them. Every step — large and small — in the candidate journey will serve as a preview of what it feels like to be an employee and demonstrates how the organization treats and values its people. And that has far-reaching implications, affecting not only the decision to accept an offer, but whether they stay with the organization long-term.

Historically, top candidate complaints involved a lack of information about the hiring process and falling into a “black hole” as recruiters or hiring managers stop communicating and leave candidates in the dark.

To set your organization apart during the Great Rehire, focus on keeping applicants engaged and informed throughout the entire recruiting process. This is especially important in a highly competitive and tight labor market.

Create a Best-in-Class Candidate Experience in the Great Rehire

New Medallia research, conducted in partnership with the Josh Bersin Company, found that companies identified as employee experience leaders are more likely than employee experience laggards to gather feedback throughout the interviewing and hiring process. As hiring competition continues, here are four ways to improve your candidate experience.

1. Get a holistic view of the candidate journey

Candidate experience encompasses every single interaction candidates have with your company, from the moment they’re introduced to your careers page to post-interview impressions. In order to truly understand candidate experience, bring together all candidate experience signals to identify trends and opportunities. Candidate signals can include things like demographics, hiring team feedback, frequency and responsiveness of recruiter-candidate interactions, or feedback from candidate surveys. These signals will help you understand your specific challenges, like why your acceptance rate has declined or why a specific group is withdrawing early in the process.

2. Share clear expectations and timelines

This goes for both your candidates and your hiring team. For your candidates, clearly outline what they can expect from the process, like how many people they will interview with, what the expected time commitment is, and whether they will be asked to complete an assignment. Through Medallia’s own candidate experience program, we found that regardless of whether or not an offer was received, candidates were significantly happier when the recruiter was transparent, timely, and provided real feedback. Internally, ensure your team is properly prepared to interview the candidate and help you sell the job and company.

3. Establish an open, two-way flow of communication

Transparency is vitally important, and opportunities for two-way communication can set you apart in a candidate-driven market. Many organizations are seeing success with two-way text capabilities. In fact, nearly one-fourth (24%) of employee experience leaders indicate that they are using text messaging as a feedback channel compared to just 6% of laggards. 

This benefits both candidates and recruiters by allowing for real-time connection. This could be used to remind a candidate about an upcoming interview or to gather feedback through a mobile-friendly survey. And the ability to follow up, one-to-one and in real time, with a candidate who had a poor experience can save a high-value candidate while protecting a company’s brand reputation, circumventing a negative online review.

4. Democratize action across teams

Once you have established the right channels to capture candidate experience signals, you can begin to understand the why behind the specific challenges you’re facing. Medallia helps organizations bring together all candidate signals to identify trends and route insights to the right stakeholders for action, like IT, talent acquisition, or hiring managers. For example, through text analysis of qualitative feedback from candidates who opted out of the process, you may learn that they felt the process was taking too long or that some interviewers were unprepared. As a recruiter, you can use this as an opportunity to look for ways to streamline the process and train members of the hiring team who are new to interviewing.

At Medallia, our talent acquisition team gathered feedback from offer to no-offer candidates and identified a series of initiatives that improved the process for candidates and for the company. Changes included providing no-offer candidates with clear and constructive feedback at the end of the recruitment process, reducing the number of interview rounds, eliminating duplicate questions asked across rounds, and operationalizing offer writing. Medallia saw a 25-point candidate NPS® score increase and reduced the time from interview to offer by 30%.

Welcome Aboard, or Until We Meet Again

The fork in the road of the candidate journey occurs when it’s offer time. If the candidate is selected for hire, a company must provide a seamless transition into pre-boarding and onboarding — one that is welcoming, informative, and supportive. If an offer is not extended, it’s important to communicate the news with empathy and understanding and provide opportunities for feedback. While they weren’t invited to join your company at the present moment, they are still part of your talent pipeline and may resurface as a candidate — or employee — in the future.

To further explore how to elevate your organization’s candidate experience, we welcome you to schedule a meeting with a Medallia Expert.