The Ups and Downs of Virtual Recruiting in Creating a Positive Candidate Experience

by Tim Plamondon

candidate experience in virtual recruiting

The COVID-19 pandemic has made companies turn to virtual recruiting. The Acceptance of HR professionals to the changes is mixed. Pam Verhoff, President of Advanced RPO, pointed out, "Some clients are adapting better than others." While Jennifer Cooper, Senior Vice President at Hueman RPO, reported, "Most clients have quickly adapted to the virtual world."

The question is whether virtual recruiting will create a positive candidate experience. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) providers are subject matter experts (SMEs) on virtual recruiting as they are some of the early adopters of this approach. In this post, RPO leaders express the positive and negative effects virtual recruiting has on the candidate experience. These leaders also provide strategies to ensure your virtual recruiting program gives candidates the best experience possible. 

What are some of the benefits of virtual recruiting to the candidate experience?

1) Opportunity to experience the role before deciding

With virtual recruiting, candidates can take an experience-it-before-you-decide approach. Cooper said, "Companies have the opportunity to roll out the red carpet to candidates and allow them to explore the opportunity before they even step one foot in the building."

Cooper emphasized, "We can offer virtual tours, a virtual day in the life, video testimonials of employees who work there, have the managers introduce themselves and describe what they are looking for in their next team member."

2) Less intimidating process

The interview process will always cause stress levels to rise, but "Virtual recruitment seems less intimidating for the candidate. While interviews can still be nerve-racking, taking a phone or video call from the comfort of one's home can definitely help alleviate some of the interview-related stressors for the candidate," Cooper said.

3) Employer brand can be expanded 

More candidates can experience the employer brand of an organization virtually than when limited by a geographic location. Cooper observed, "More and more clients are becoming open to interviewing and hiring remote candidates. This opens up the door for candidates across geographies and provides additional options for the client." 

4) Streamlined hiring creates convenience, flexibility, and speed

With virtual recruiting, "Scheduling of interviews has become more streamlined and (generally) candidates and clients have become more flexible," Cooper said.  The "Process is [moving] faster. It’s more convenient for the candidate,” observed Verhoff, and as a result, “Time to fill has improved.”

What are some of the negative impacts of virtual recruiting on the candidate experience? 

1) The Human Touch

A major drawback of virtual recruiting is limiting the ability to provide the human touch to the process. RPOs, however, pride themselves on bringing authenticity to the candidate experience. 

We [RPOs] just have to work a bit harder to ensure candidates are receiving that personal touch we are known for," Cooper pointed out.

To ensure a genuine candidate experience, "We are also making sure to stay in touch with our candidates and let them know where we are in the process. This ensures they are in-the-know and are aware of what they can expect. Ultimately, creating a positive experience," Cooper said.

2) Hiring Managers Reluctant to Accept Change

Many people are hesitant to accept sudden changes. For some hiring managers, the struggle is real. Verhoff said, "Some hiring managers have struggled a bit with acceptance." And "Some hiring managers are still uncomfortable making hiring decisions," she added.  

And Cooper said, "Some of our client's still want to conduct in-person interviews which often causes delays or concerns for a candidate who might not be comfortable with an in-person meeting." 

3) Ghosting and Increased Fall Out Rate From Offer to Start

While the process is more convenient for the candidate, Verhoff said, "It's easier for candidates to simply no-show." And there's been an "increased fall out rate from offer to start," Verhoff added.

4) Entry Level Candidates Lack Access to Reliable Technology ​​​​​​​

Most entry level candidates only have a phone to do video interviews. Verhoff said, "Video interviewing can be done using a phone, but the quality of the interview is better using a larger device – ipad, laptop, desktop, etc." A candidate not having access to better technology won't stop companies from hiring them. "It’s not a show-stopper, but can add some additional challenge for candidates that are concerned," Verhoff added. 

5) Onboarding Problems

Not all candidates are enjoying virtual onboarding. "While technology has enabled [onboarding] to be a seamless process, it is impacting the candidate’s ability to ask questions on the spot and completely experience the culture and environment (such as a warehouse)," Verhoff said.  


How can RPOs improve the candidate experience?

RPOs are always proactive so that they can anticipate changes in the hiring landscape. One proactive approach is Hueman's WebChat Wednesday. Cooper said, "This allows for the meet and greet, creates a more relaxed, exploratory opportunity to engage and allows those that were interested to inquire more about the opportunities available."

At Advanced RPO, they're helping clients with "Re-working the onboarding process to optimize a virtual process and provide appropriate guidance and support for candidates," Verhoff said. 

Creating positive candidate experiences is a core value of RPOs. At Hueman RPO, they are "Coaching candidates on being camera ready, reminding them this is a professional interview and helping them test the technology that will be used for the interview," Cooper said. 

Virtual Recruiting Strategies to Improve Your Candidate Experience

When it comes to virtual recruiting strategies, RPOs are best suited to put them into action. 

Here are five highly recommended strategies.

1) Virtual hiring days/career fairs

Cooper at Hueman recommended virtual hiring days/career fairs. She said, "They have been incredibly effective as far as candidate turnout and client participation. Offering virtual hiring days allows candidates to explore various employment opportunities and allows the clients to interview in a safe environment."

2) Strengthen Your Career's Website

Cooper said that it's more important now than ever "to provide enhanced information on their career's website, including video testimonials from current employees and information about their culture and what it's like to work for the company."

3) Addressing the Elephant in The Room

The most critical advice RPOs can give their clients is addressing the changes themselves. Cooper said, "We always recommend addressing the 'elephant in the room' from the start of the interview. It makes candidates feel more comfortable knowing that we are all in this together and learning through this experience. We all realize this is a new normal and it helps to relax the conversation and be able to see a candidate's true personality."

4) Multiple Platforms for Interviewing and Onboarding 

Many RPOs recommend using multiple platforms for interviewing and onboarding. Many of Hueman's clients, Cooper said, "[Are] offering virtual hiring days, virtual onboarding and offering multiple platforms to interview - FaceTime, Zoom, Chime, Microsoft Teams, etc." These strategies Verhoff says, "[Provide] more touches throughout the process."

This strategy is having a positive impact on candidates. "Most candidates really like the full onboarding process being online so they can complete the training and paperwork at their own pace," Cooper said. But, "We have had a few candidates who are not as comfortable with the online interview, hiring and onboarding process; however, they are understanding of the situation," Cooper added.

Strategic Sourcing

Verhoff has observed, "The current employment market provides a huge opportunity to identify and engage exceptional talent, so taking a strategic approach to sourcing is more essential now than ever."  Strategic sourcing zeroes in on top talent. "Rather than simply casting a wide net, [RPOs] work closely with hiring managers to understand the ideal profile and strategically target the best talent. We analyze and measure results which enables us to refine and continuously improve." she added.

Patty Silbert, President of Newton Talent, echoed this advice, "Sourcing is one of the most valuable services an RPO can provide a hiring organization—in good economic times and bad."

To make sure your virtual recruiting programs create great candidate experiences, an RPO partner is your best strategic choice. Get free and insightful information about RPOs and virtual recruiting at our RPO Academy.

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