Delight Is a Tool That Can Enhance Your Candidate Experience

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Delight is a powerful tool for building strong connections. Here’s how to use it in your recruitment process to enhance the candidate experience.

Delightful, delicious, icing-drenched candidate experience cake

Delight is the icing on your candidate experience cake. (Photo: Brina Blum via Unsplash)

Candidate experience is usually framed around reducing pain in the recruitment process. Simplifying application forms, informing candidates when they’ve been declined, and making sure hiring managers show up at interviews on time – that kind of thing.

Except pain is only half of the formula. Removing it is an urgent concern; who wants to work for an employer that puts you through a bad experience? But adding pleasure enhances experiences, and is also a major driver in human decision-making – just ask Freud, Bentham, Mill, Epicurus, or heck, Tony Robbins. This idea is not lost on our peers in marketing, customer support, design. There are conferences devoted to the topic.

And while the talent community works to catch up, you have a tremendous opportunity to enhance and differentiate your candidate experience. Something you want to do, of course, because research shows candidate experience positively affects speed and quality of hire, retention, and referrals.

So let’s talk about delight.

What is delight?

Delight generally means to please someone greatly. But let’s flesh that out a little for our specific, talent acquisition purposes. To adapt Intuit founder Scott Cook’s definition of “Design for Delight”, delight in the candidate experience can be defined as:

delight (recruitment)

Exceeding candidates’ expectations and evoking positive emotions throughout the recruitment process, so they say yes to offers of employment and recommend the company to their friends.

A delightful framework

The definition above breaks delight down into three (yes, three) steps:

  1. Meet expectations. You’ve got to do this before you can exceed them! For example, candidates will expect the recruitment process to include at least one interview where they can talk about their qualifications and ask question about the job. Basic, threshold stuff.
  2. Exceed expectations. This is about minimizing pain in the process. For example, if a candidate will be going through multiple interviews during a site visit, you might email them a detailed itinerary a few days before. And maybe the morning of their visit, you text message them with driving directions and instructions for finding parking at your office.
  3. Evoke positive emotions. This is about adding pleasure to the process. Pleasant surprises are a powerful way to do this. For example, you might welcome a candidate to their on-site interview with a basket of company swag and a handwritten note card thanking them for the visit.

These three steps are a helpful way to wrap your head around the must-have, nice-to-have, and totally above-and-beyond components of a delightful candidate experience. This model corresponds directly to the Kano model, a tool used in product development to improve product quality and maximize resources.

Yes, that’s right: strategic use of delight can help you improve the efficiency of your recruitment process. It is, if you’ll indulge me, the icing on your candidate experience cake.

Ways to meet and exceed expectations

Review the research data. Every year, The Talent Board surveys hundreds of thousands of job applicants on their candidate experiences with different companies. The results – available for free – will help you understand the expectations you want to both meet and exceed. You can learn more about the research and get useful insights by reading the Recruiting Social Q&As with Talent Board co-founder Gerry Crispin and board member Howard Weintraub.

Implement a candidate feedback survey. Collect your own research; the only way to benchmark your own specific candidates‘ expectations is to ask them. Check out this feedback survey guide and template.

Build a candidate-centered recruiting funnel. The better you can anticipate what a candidate is thinking and feeling at each stage of your talent acquisition process, the better you can answer their questions and respond to their needs in a timely way. Use this simple recruiting funnel model to start mapping out your own.

Create and use candidate personas. A candidate persona is a fictional representation of your ideal hire for a specific role or area. Assembling a persona can help you hone in on what pains and pleasures motivate your specific target candidate. Use this six-step process to create your own personas.

Ways to evoke positive emotions

Tell stories. You want into the candidate’s heart. As storytelling expert Amanda Marko points out, stories inherently contain emotion. “What if you tell the candidate a story about one employee who was recruited and nurtured by the company, was able to excel beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and is now a vice president? A story like that could be the difference between the candidate choosing you over another offer.”

Plan pleasant surprises. Give candidates little things when they don’t expect it. For example, send the candidate a thank you note before they send you one. Program a personalized welcome message on your reception area leaderboard on the day they come in to interview. Small gestures can make a big impression.

Look outside talent acquisition for ideas. Shake your process up with unconventional (for recruiting) tactics. Customer experience management and user experience are obvious places to start looking. From journey mapping to mystery shopping, the tools and tested practices already exist to help you strategically wow candidates. You just need to find and try them.

Christian De Pape, Recruiting Social’s Head of Marketing and Content
About the author

Christian De Pape is the head of brand experience at Recruiting Social. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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