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Focusing On The Customer Experience - In Hiring

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Naima Khandaker, Battelle for Kids Human Capital Specialist, contributed to this post. Naima is a former teacher and current education policy nerd who believes that one day soon, education will be great for all kids.

The ultimate goal of hiring is to bring to an organization or position high performing individuals who are a good fit. However, an organization's hiring practices have a number of implications that should be considered.

A hiring process that is not efficient can cause an organization to miss out on high-quality candidates who have other job offers. I'd even go as far to say that if the hiring process is not repeatable, it's not a process. Similarly, if candidates are not happy with the way they were treated, it may make them rethink their decision to accept a particular position (as well as tell everyone about their experience). This can reflect poorly on the organization as a whole and deter qualified candidates from applying for positions.

It is important to take a customer-focused approach to designing and implementing hiring processes so that candidates have a positive experience, whether they were selected or not. Following are some guidelines to help you establish and maintain good customer service practices during the selection process:

1. Use Your Time Wisely: Inefficiencies that make it difficult to respond to applicants quickly, or otherwise slow down the selection process can cause you to miss out on top candidates. Make sure everyone involved in the selection process (from interview scheduling to document collection and submission) is aware of his or her responsibilities. You may also consider setting, and tracking progress relative to, goals around the selection process (how much time passes from when an individual submits an application to when he or she hears if they were selected or not selected) or various components within it.

2. Be Considerate: Asking candidates back for four, five, and six day-long interviews or meetings is inconsiderate and could be viewed by some applicants as wasting their time. Remember, high-potential candidates generally have multiple options and may look elsewhere if there are unreasonable delays in the hiring process.

3. Make Candidates Comfortable: Measures should be taken throughout the selection process to make sure candidates feel as comfortable as possible. From taking the time to answer all candidate questions to sending out thank you notes signed by the hiring team, there are a number of ways to ensure a positive experience. While the specifics may vary between school districts depending on factors like timelines and number of applicants, it is important to establish certain personal touches to help people feel comfortable.

4. Communicate: Communication is essential throughout the in the hiring process. It is important for organization's to not only follow up with potential hires, but also inform candidates who are not being considered. It can be as easy as a two sentence email. Having people sit for months wondering about the status of a job is unprofessional and can ultimately damage your brand.

5. Upkeep Confidentiality: Candidates should feel confident in the fact that information you gather during the selection process will be discussed among the hiring team and not shared with third parties (except in situations such as court-ordered requests for information). I'd highly suggest having all members of the hiring team sign a confidentiality agreement prior to the selection process, and include confidentiality as a point of discussion when setting team norms.

6. Always Look To Continuous Improve: The best way to know if candidates had a positive experience during the selection process is, simply, to ask them. By distributing brief surveys to candidates, you can have a clear understanding of where the selection process is succeeding, or where it needs to improve, in the area of customer service. You may also set goals related to the surveys (e.g., "80 percent of candidates will indicate they felt comfortable or very comfortable during the interview") to promote continuous improvement.

Remember, hiring is not a one way street. Not only are you (the organization) trying to find great candidates, but the candidates are looking to find great organizations. Having customer or candidate -focused hiring practices communicate that your organization is organized and cares.

How does your organization work to keep hiring practices customer focused?

Have a question? Post it in the comments below or tweet me @EmilyDouglasHC. I will do my best to answer every question, and may feature yours in a future post.

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