Recruitment startup

4 advices: How to create a great candidate experience in a startup



This year, I started my journey in HR at Archii, an AI software company on a mission to remove manual involvement from document handling. We are (as many other tech companies) building a great product and – at the same – we are building and growing an amazing team. Lots of talents and completely different backgrounds, both in terms of education, experiences as well as nationalities. It’s fantastic – but it poses challenges that we have had to learn from. Hence, I wanted to share my experience with other managers and HR professionals. Hope you’ll find it helpful – happy reading.

But who am I? I am Nina. I am a person who likes to explore new ways of doing things and improve on what I do.  I’m Psychologist, and I hold a master’s in Philosophy. Working with people has been a core attribute that crosses my working experiences. I also have experience working with projects – which many times included international teams – communication, marketing and finally HR. For me, reflecting about my work in HR is truly important. I continuously ask myself if what we are creating makes sense both for employees and employer. In my daily work, I want to make sure that we are creating a work environment where people feel encouraged and bring their best.

In this blogpost, I’d like to share my experience on how we’ve been creating our candidate experience in the recruitment at Archii. As a starting point, everybody will probably tell you that recruiting the right team is key (and they are right!) but in start-ups, we unfortunately often have so much other stuff to do that recruitment from can become a secondary or last-minute thing. To avoid this, it obviously pays off to have a structured recruitment process – not only to ensure quality but also of pure respect to the candidates and their time. In this respect, a personalized approach is one of the best strategies to create a great candidate experience in the recruitment. Here I present my best 4 advices on this topic:

  1. Templates can make your life easier but do not let your personalized approach die.
  2. When doing interviews, have a questionnaire. But always remember that people are different.
  3. Keep your candidates updated about their status during the recruitment process.
  4. Rejections are never nice to receive. But a call can make the difference.

 

1. Templates can make your life easier but do not let your personalized approach die.

Templates for different purposes in recruitment, such as for inviting for interviews, rejecting and hiring can save you a lot of time when communicating with candidates. However, in many situations writing “dear candidate” instead of having proper names, or not having something tailored to the specific person can sound so impersonal that it hurts the motivation of the applicant. Why should this person even consider to work for you if you don’t have the time to even write a proper e-mail reply?

 

2. When doing interviews, have a questionnaire. But always remember that people are different.

It’s a good idea to have key questions for interviews prepared in advance, taking into consideration the specific candidate and tailored to the position. However, when undertaking interviews, it’s nice to remember that maybe your questions don’t sound as obvious to every candidate and you need to rephrase from time to time. Always remember that every interview is unique, each individual is unique, and questions will never be answered in the same way (it may sound basic but trust me – I’ve seen people interviewing being surprised by these “basics”).

Even though you come prepared with a set of questions for the interview, also keep in mind that some answers require more “digging” to really assess the candidate. Questions such as “could you give me an example of what you are saying?” or “could you elaborate more on this?” gives you the opportunity to really understand the answer. Also, sometimes more personalized questions that you come up with at the heat of the moment can bring a whole new perspective to the interview. In short, well-prepared questions can never be just a checklist that you need to get through – remember that you’re actually interviewing to get information – not just interviewing for the sake of interviewing.

 

3. Keep your candidates updated about their status during the recruitment process (obviously!)

It’s important to keep candidates in the loop about what’s going on in the recruitment process. If you’re taking more interviews, it’s good manners to let people know that there are more candidates in the process and it’s always nice to inform when you expect to get back to them. In case something happens, and you’re delayed, simply let the candidates know as there is nothing worse than being left in the dark (also taking into account that each candidate often has a lot at stake!). Basic information allows the candidate to know where they are and shows the respect and transparency that you ultimately want the candidate to feel – especially is he/she is actually hired.

 

4. Rejections are never nice to receive. But a call can make the difference.

I’ve had the experience of hiring an intern who was rejected in a previous recruitment process. At the end of the internship, I undertook an exit interview, and asked him to his experience in the recruitment process. He named the previous recruitment, where he got rejected, but the fact that I called him and explained why he wasn’t hired at that specific moment was something he really liked and made him apply again after some time. This was a learning for me and it shows why it’s important to take time to call candidates with rejections – even though it is easier to hide behind emails. Always consider that there is a person on the other side who might feel the consequence of your rejection.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the candidate experience starts from the moment that the candidate gets to know your company. It can be through the website, company events or even a company ad. And it never really ends. The recruitment process is an important part of it, and it sends a strong signal about your company values. It gives an idea about how the workplace is, who are the people you will potentially work with, the work environment and a glimpse of the culture.

Now that you have been through these steps, take the time to reflect how much “impersonality” there is in your “people approach”. It can be quite surprising to realize that after some time in the same position, doing – for example – interviews endlessly, we end up not caring too much to one of our most important abilities when working with people: to comprehend empathetically another human being. Thankfully, there is always time to go back, reflect and improve the way we work.

Do you also agree that we need a more “personalized approach” in an even more automated world?  I would love to hear your thoughts.