Businesses Urged to Treat Job Applicants Like Customers

Businesses that fail to apply their brand values to the interview process stand to lose out on top talent and revenue, according to global research released by Alexander Mann Solutions, provider of talent and resourcing capability.


The research project, which examined the opinions of consumers across the UK, US and China, found that more than half (52 percent) of respondents said a negative interview experience would have an impact on that candidate's willingness to buy products or services from that organisation in the future, presenting  a major bottom-line threat to businesses.


China respondents were particularly sensitive to a bad interview experience, with 47 percent of them saying that a poor or negative interview experience would either 'definitely' or 'probably' have a damaging effect on future buying decisions. A further 37 percent said a negative experience might impact future purchases.


A bad interview experience is also unlikely to stop with the candidate. The old adage that 'bad news spreads quickly' has never been more true, with 77 percent of respondents across the all regions saying they would be likely to share the experience within either their personal or professional network.


In China, 70 percent of respondents said they would share the news with their personal network, while 13 percent would post it on their professional network. In the UK, 87 percent of candidates said they were likely to share their views on both their professional and personal networks, while in the US the figure planning to inform both of these groups was much lower at 64 percent.


"Companies need to give people a consistent brand experience to ensure they don't put off potential buyers of their services by failing them in the recruitment process," says Rosaleen Blair, chief executive of Alexander Mann Solutions. "Customers are potential candidates and candidates are potential customers and as the saying goes, the customer is king."


Blair explains that one bad interview experience can have a serious and long-term impact on a candidate's perception of that brand which they are more than happy to share with their immediate network and through social media outlets.


"Companies must clearly define their brand values and ensure that these are applied across all locations, channels and stages of the recruitment process. Otherwise they risk losing out both on potential talent and revenue - neither of which is an option in the current economic environment," says Blair.


This alignment also needs to be underpinned by an understanding of how candidates interact with each other and with brands online. While many HR decision makers have historically been hesitant over using social media to interact with a candidate and validate their behaviour, AMS's research shows that many candidates welcome the opportunity.


"In Asia, firms may not have yet fully realized how important candidates' perception of their brand is - not just during the hiring process but from a broader commercial perspective," adds Martin Cerullo, Founder and Global Director, AMS Employer Branding team.


Cerullo further says that it is crucial that companies start proactively developing strategies to manage the brand experience of candidates, successful or otherwise.


"This is especially critical as an increasing number of candidates in Asia are sharing their views on personal and professional social networks. The interview experience is a critical step to creating a positive perception about a company for the long term and to drive commercial value," he says.


Nearly 48 percent of China candidates said they had no problems with a potential employer checking their social networking profiles as part of the application process and 38 percent felt it would help create a positive view of that employer, compared to less than 16 percent who said it would have a negative impact on their view of that company.


Blair notes that interacting with candidates on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets gives recruiters and employers the chance to provide candidates with a more profound, engaging experience that gives candidates the opportunity to show off their potential beyond their CV.


"Many brands have been slow to adopt these channels to support their employer brands and talent management strategies but these findings should open the doors for them to be confident in their online interactions and take the candidate experience beyond the one-off interactions that typically happen at interview stage to a longer, more rewarding relationship," adds Blair.






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