Improving the Candidate Experience With Kevin Grossman

Featuring: Kevin Grossman

The Great Resignation has taught us that employees are now willing to leave a job that gave them a negative candidate experience regardless of the consequences that could result. Now companies are looking to improve their candidate experience, but how should they start?

Today’s guest knows all about how to improve that experience. Kevin Grossman, president and board member at Talent Board, has spent years helping companies improve their candidate experience. To achieve this, the Talent Board has conducted yearly research reports dedicated to the state of the candidate experience and how despite the pandemic, many companies prioritize their candidates’ experience. This report is must read research for any talent acquisition professionals.

His job is “basically, working with employers big and small across industries that are willing to ask for anonymous feedback from their candidates and across a variety of questions that include overall ratings to candidate journey ratings, to just telling the employers about what their experience was like and what their perception of fairness was like, as well,” Kevin says. By collecting feedback from the candidates themselves, companies put themselves in a better position to find the gaps and find solutions to create a positive candidate experience.

At Talent Board, their mission is to help companies enhance the candidate experience. “Our mission is all about promoting, elevating and sustaining a quality candidate experience. And that last part is the hard part for a lot of companies,” Kevin shared.

Tune in to hear about the findings from the Talent Board’s ongoing research project and how Kevin and the Talent Board are using it to help companies step up and improve their candidates’ experience.

Listen to “Improving the Candidate Experience With Kevin Grossman” on Spreaker.

Automated Communication Touchpoints

The basis for a positive candidate experience has to start with communication. Far too often, especially pre-pandemic, candidates would apply for jobs and not hear back from an employer. Or they would advance through multiple interview rounds before being met with radio silence.

Once the pandemic hit, Kevin and his team found that companies started to feel pressure to find a state of full transparency with their candidates and employees because of the uncertainty taking place. That more empathetic communication during the pandemic led to candidates having more positive experiences than before the pandemic.

However, it’s important to also understand that employers can receive hundreds of thousands of applicants at a time, making it difficult to respond to everyone. That state contributes to the negative experience, creating a problem most employers find difficult to solve. However, there are a variety of things that employers can do to address this issue, even with the necessity to automate the front end of their hiring processes.

HR professionals understand the importance of communication for candidates. By automating the initial application process with chatbots or other automation tools, employers can fill that needed role for communication for a majority of candidates. Kevin states, “Conversational AI is at least filling some communication gaps where there were many gaps before.” But it is still not the only answer. When thinking about the candidate experience as a whole and how to facilitate it within your own processes – it pays to use the “golden rule” as a guiding star. By first viewing your decisions through the eyes of your candidates – you can better see the pain points and work creatively to overcome them.

Assessments That Candidates Enjoy Taking

Many companies today have adopted assessments as part of their hiring processes. It’s given them a chance to uncover the best candidates — and here’s the thing: Candidates actually do not dislike assessments as much as is believed. Most candidates appreciate the chance to demonstrate their skills and abilities to potential employers, which helps create a positive candidate experience.

However, to ensure that positive candidate experience occurs, employers must implement job-relevant assessments. For instance, simulated job-task assessments allow employers to measure people and their potential in performing tasks for that particular job.

Kevin shared that there has been an increase in the use of job/task simulation based assessments for employers, which also help candidates learn more about the company and gain insight into the types of tasks expected from them. “What we found this year in the data is that the CandE-winning candidates, those candidates from the companies who have the higher ratings, they’re having to complete simulated job tasks about 25% more often than all the other companies that participated,” he says.

What Do Candidates Want From Their Application Experience?

In considering assessments, automation and other approaches, we have to look at what candidates genuinely want besides a positive experience. Short answer: They want the job, but the hard reality is that not everyone can be hired.

The competitive differentiators for what candidates want differ each year, but Kevin shares that the backbone differentiators that help create a positive candidate experience are consistency and communication through the process — though this is difficult to sustain. The hallmarks are “consistent communication, expectation setting, asking for feedback and providing feedback through the transparency aspect,” Kevin says.

In addition to providing transparency and consistent communication throughout the entire process, ending with a definitive and timely closure can help round out the candidate’s experience.

Timely closure allows rejected candidates to move on to a position that may better fit them, and without delay, Kevin says.

Adopting feedback, job related assessments, and automated candidate communications for high volume roles as part of a company’s hiring process can significantly improve the overall candidate experience. Candidates ultimately want the position they have applied to, but with a stream of consistent communication and transparency, they can walk away with a great experience no matter what.

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Read the Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to Science 4-Hire with your host, Dr. Charles Handler. Hiring is hard. Pre-hire talent assessments can help you ease the pain. Whether you don’t know where to start, or just want to stay on top of the trends, Science 4-Hire provides 30 minutes of enlightenment on best practices and news from the front lines of the employment testing universe. So get ready to learn as Dr. Charles Handler and his all-star guests lend old-school knowledge with new-wave technology to educate and inform you about all things talent assessment.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Science 4-Hire. I have an awesome guest with me here today. Someone I’ve known for a long time and have been able to collaborate with a little bit here and there. And that’s always been super enjoyable. That is Mr. Kevin Grossman from the Talent Board. Welcome Kevin.

Kevin Grossman:

Charles. Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to see you and talk with you again.

Dr. Charles Handler:

I always ask my guests to introduce themselves. They typically do a better job than I can. So Kevin, love for you to tell our audience a little bit about yourself.

Kevin Grossman:

Charles. Thank you again very much for having me. So I’ve been in the HR and recruiting technology space primarily for well over 20 years now, probably 22-plus, somewhere in that vicinity. But for the past six years and counting now, I’ve been running Talent Board. So what Talent Board is, also known as the Candidate Experience Awards or the CandEs, for short, which a lot of people know by that name. Every year we do benchmark research around the candidate experience globally — North America, EMEA, APAC and now Latin America as well.

And basically working with employers big and small across industries that are willing to ask for anonymous feedback from their candidates and across a variety of questions that include overall ratings to candidate journey ratings, to just telling the employers about what their experience was like and what their perception of fairness was like, as well, which is something that is very important.

Since day one, we know that that’s highly subjective, at times, to how one perceives fairness, but we know a lot of things that we’ve learned in the research that we’ve been doing now for over 10 years, that really started as kind of like this volunteer labor of love-driven entity to now, really, even through the pandemic — participation has been down, which is understandable — but we still have really good data and interesting insights every year that we find working with the companies that we work with.

And then we release all that information into research reports, articles, webinars throughout the year. And that’s what we’re doing now, actually, in the process of completing our 2021 research based on this year’s data to then release to the world, to be able to consume. And so that’s a big part of what we do every year. And our mission is all about promoting, elevating and sustaining a quality candidate experience. And that last part is the hard part for a lot of companies.

Dr. Charles Handler:

It is. One of the things, and I’m very familiar with this work, I’ve actually been on, one year, I was on the team that helped compile everything. I read it every year. So this is, for our listeners. This is the true voice of the candidate. You’re basically getting data, which as a data guy, I love because we can all say candidates want this, candidates want that. We’re speaking in generalities, but boy, when we get the data and you guys get a really nice, healthy data set, it’s not like you have four people that you’re trying to extrapolate from, and this is good stuff. So I do encourage everybody to find the Talent Board website, the past research reports are on there.

I use it relatively religiously, especially. I can’t tell you how many candidate experience-related webinars and papers and in our market report, there’s a huge section. And I’m always quoting this research because I believe in it, and I’ve been seeing it for the last decade. So it’s really, really cool to be able — and I think we’re going to get a bonus here — with a little bit of a sneak preview on some of the data you’re crunching right now. Hopefully your head’s clear. I know when I get buried with a mountain of survey data it can be a little overwhelming, but you probably have some elves to help you out with it, too.

Kevin Grossman:

I have some elves. Yeah. Some very smart elves. And what’s fascinating is that, every year we try to dig a little bit deeper into this mound of data that we have, and look at it and get different takes, different cuts, asking different questions of the data, too. And today, it’s been well over 1.25 million candidate responses, and for a small little tiny engine that could research organization, it’s like, that’s a lot of candidate responses.

And what’s interesting, so you ask, what is going on? Some of the things that we have been talking about this year and last, but it relates to what we found this year, too, is that last year there was this spike in positive experience that we weren’t expecting to see.

And during the pandemic, one of the things that we found that we basically uncovered was that companies were put into this immediate, “we have to be fully transparent with not only our candidates, but our employees” because the world is upside down, we’re in a pandemic now, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. So we’ve got to tell the candidates who are waiting to interview, you can’t interview now. We have to virtualize everything. We had to figure that out. You can’t start on your start date yet, because we got to figure that out. And what do we tell our employees? We’re doing everything we can, month after month, to prevent furloughs and layoffs.

So there was this greater empathetic communication that we saw, and also candidates were more forgiving last year because again, the world was different. And so that was resulting in what we saw in what we call candidate resentment.

So the candidates who tell us that they don’t ever want to do anything else again with a company based on their experience, that actually dropped dramatically last year. And we’re like, wow, that’s interesting. Unfortunately, fast forward to this year, especially in North America and EMEA, we’re back to pre-pandemic resentment levels, as we call it.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Resentment level, that’s an interesting term.

Kevin Grossman:

Think about this, the percentage overall, this year in North America, of candidates who said they will never do anything again with that employer, it was 14% of all candidates. Now that’s up 54% though, from last year, which had dropped dramatically, but that’s what we’re back to. And we know some of the things that we saw globally though: EMEA was climbing again — because EMEA and North America, usually they’re more mirrored. APAC and Latin America are a little bit more mirrored in candidate experience because — we don’t exactly measure this, but we do know, talking with companies who are hiring in those regions — we do know anecdotally that candidates, culturally, are less likely to share negative feedback in many countries in APAC, not all, and in Latin America.

Kevin Grossman:

So that was one of the bigger differences, and we usually see that every year, anyway, that we found, but in North America, North America for us is Canada, the US and Mexico, that’s the way we’ve always partitioned it. But when I say that we’re the loudest and most vocal candidates in the world, we’re talking about the US.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. I hear you.

Kevin Grossman:

We’re talking about America, so that’s unfortunate that we saw that, but that was one of the bigger changes on the resentment level, actually, of that increasing again.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. It’s really interesting that you track that and the cultural differences don’t surprise me at all, having studied kind of different cultures and how they react and how they even are willing to give feedback, right? But overall, the humanistic element, what the pandemic has done for the way employers relate to individuals, be it through pressure of things like, “Hey, we’re going to not work for you anymore and go somewhere else,” which we’re seeing. Or just because they’re basically able to be more empathetic and to really understand the human part of this and understand what people need, that’s a big thing for me, being a psychologist. And I think that it’s very interesting to see that, once that extra amount of communication had to happen because of all the uncertainty and everything’s going wonky, people appreciated that.

And I think one of the biggest things about any candidate experience is communication. It’s been a long time since I’ve sent a resume, but it happened to me even 20 years ago or whatever, you’re emailing it to somebody, you’re submitting it somewhere, and you never hear anything. And that’s pretty typical, and so that’s not good, and it’s difficult on the employer side, because you get 10,000, 20,000 applicants, how are you going to respond to everybody? So there’s no easy solutions.

Kevin Grossman:

That’s the uphill battle, Charles. Because in every candidate’s defense, for most candidates — and we call everybody candidates, so even whether you’ve applied yet or not, everybody’s a perpetual or a potential candidate — but for most candidates who do end up applying, it’s a very limited experience for them. It’s mostly all automated, and that’s about as far as they’re going to go. In fact, a good majority in our data only about 50 to 60% of the candidates just make it to the point of application — and/or get assessed at that point, too, that’s something that’s part of it. And more companies have been moving assessments up to the application stage, that I’m sure you know, because that’s your wheelhouse and expertise, too. But that’s definitely something that we have been seeing more of.

And the defense of every employer, even with applications being down across many companies and industries, when anybody of any hiring volume and scale, that’s a lot of individuals, and you have to automate. I mean, conversational AI, which we don’t have to dive too much into, is definitely something that’s growing on the recruiting automation side. There’s this tug of war around it because, while candidates definitely want more human interaction, the reality is they’re not going to get it at that early stage. But conversational AI is at least filling some communication gaps where there were many gaps before.

So that said, that’s still going to be mostly automated for most candidates until they move on to start getting screened and assessed further, interviewed. That’s the group that’s going to get the human interaction. And that’s always a much smaller subset.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. And it’s a necessity. So when you talk about conversational AI, I’m assuming you’re talking about chatbots pretty much, right?

Kevin Grossman:

I’m talking about chatbots, but the natural language processing, it’s a little bit more advanced, meaning that it’s more than just binary yes/no answers. And I’m oversimplifying it because that’s way above my pay grade, Charles, but there’s a little bit more intuitiveness to the tech of how it’s responding and how it’s answering questions. And again, it’s a learning algorithm still, and it adapts over time, but it’s a little bit more advanced than just a straight chatbot set of questions and answers that still can benefit people and anybody who —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Annoying.

Kevin Grossman:

It is. FAQs are annoying.

Dr. Charles Handler:

The chatbots I’ve interacted with, I’ve always wondered, and I don’t know if you have data on this, it’s like they’re easily confused and flummoxed into some kind of standard response that doesn’t match what you’re trying to do. Especially what I’ve noticed, when they start to try and screen you, by asking you questions about your job history and stuff. And there’s stuff that just doesn’t fit. They’re not educated enough to know how to deal with a response. And I could see that getting frustrating. Did you guys track anything about people’s feelings, about what happened when they experience it?

Kevin Grossman:

It’s going to be a little bit counterintuitive for you for what I’m about to say, because I agree —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Lay it on me.

Kevin Grossman:

But I agree with you though. My own personal experience with dealing with a simple chatbot and/or a FAQ or something like that, that’s more of a self-service tool. Man, I would rather just talk to somebody to get my question answered than deal with this craziness, right? But what we find in the data, I mean, first I’ll answer it this way: Most job candidates across the board, and any of us out there, any of you listening and even Charles for you and I both, who haven’t gone through research for a while, we don’t care about a company’s recruiting team. And just bear with me while I finish this thought.

I don’t care who the recruiters are. I don’t care what the processes you have. I don’t care what your technologies are. I only care about getting hired, and that is only going to happen for a very small percentage of any of them that are interested in a job at the end of the day. But everything that a company employs and implements impacts my perception of fairness and my experience at the end of the day.

So that said, what our data is showing us for those, because we don’t ask a lot of questions about it because candidates don’t interact a lot with the tech. They are a lot more with chatbots now, I guess, but when we ask them, “Did you get questions answered on the career site, from a chatbot? Did you get questions answered during the application process by that kind of technology?” their positive experience actually goes up, not down. And I think that we’re not accounting for, I’m sure there’s a frustration level there still, but I think the answer to why that is it’s again, because I’m actually getting things maybe answered that I never were getting before, answered.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes, it is better than zero.

Kevin Grossman:

Better than zero, but still candidates, of course they tell us in the comments that we get every year, “I want to talk to somebody, I want to talk to somebody, I want to talk to a human.” And that will always be, for any volume of hiring, that’s just not going to happen for a good chunk of folks. It’s not, but there is a positive bump — again, it’s all about engagement activities and getting things in communication and moving me along and I feel like things are happening. That’s what drives a positive-

Dr. Charles Handler:

Feedback, not a lot of silence where you’re just waiting, twiddling your thumbs. Even transparency about the process you’re about to experience, from the assessment side of things, I have seen the experience with assessments been handled pretty poorly a lot of times where, all of a sudden, a candidate’s parachuted into a test or something that’s really not super-savory without really understanding where that falls in the process or how it’s used. So we work with our clients all the time on that messaging and on the positive spin, because assessments do provide a lot of value. Of course, I’m biased.

But so let’s dig in a little bit to some of the assessment-related results. I will do a quick summary from what I remember off the top of my head from the past research, which is that, a decent number of companies use assessments. It’s pretty much over 60%, I think you could probably even get to 60 to 80 [percent] in my mind. And candidates really don’t dislike assessments as much as people make it out that they do.

In fact, any time a candidate has a chance to display and demonstrate their skills and abilities, especially in a very job-related way, that’s actually a positive experience and they don’t mind that. And then the types of assessments people experience, I think pretty much the usual suspects. Nobody’s getting any en masse, at any great volume, any crazy types of assessments that seem to deviate from what we’ve been doing for the last 20 or 30 years. So that’s my take from past years. Now, you educate me on where we’re at now. What have you found? Am I right with those things? Lay it on me.

Kevin Grossman:

Again, you know that space much better than I. I know from what we do capture from employers, and this year it was 65% of the employers said they’re using some form of pre-employment assessments. And I’m sure you’ve seen numbers that are even higher. And I think a lot of it has varied between taking tests, solving games and puzzles, behavioral and personality assessments, which myself personally, I’m not a fan of, but we don’t have to get into that. But one that I’ve always found more promising, and you can tell me how you feel about it, too, is that we have seen a little uptick in simulated job tasks assessments. And I think being able to measure people, the potential of them performing something in that job, or the job itself, is something that I’ve seen that kind of on the increase.

And what we found this year in the data is that the CandE-winning candidates, those candidates from the companies who have the higher ratings, they’re having to complete simulated job tasks about 25% more often than all the other companies that participated.

You know this, because you know research, you know data, there’s so many variables that we can never control for in this data. If I say that those individuals who took the simulated job tasks, that their willingness to refer increases by X, which in this case, it does, dramatically. That’s not the only thing that’s happening, because we can’t control for that, but it is one of many things, though, that companies are also doing that is proving the overall experience. So that’s one of the things that we found. In fact, their willingness to refer goes up almost 50% and because they’re doing other things, too, along with that. So simulated job tasks are something that I’ve always been a fan of and that I think have definitely been on the rise, as well.

Dr. Charles Handler:

So I’ll tell you I am absolutely excited to hear the data about simulations. I’ve been a big believer in those for a long time. And I really do think they’re the future of assessment. Although, operationally, pulling it off can be difficult. Some jobs are better simulated than others. But at the end of the day, asking somebody to do a miniature replica of what they need to be doing on the job is the absolute best way to get some good data on how they would potentially perform. And I just think we’ll keep seeing that number go up, especially as technology gets better.

And when you talk about the behavioral personality, cognitive, they rule the roost. I think in our research, at least — now we’re looking at vendors that provide them, we’re looking on the other side — but at least half the vendors in our 300-vendor database offer personality and cognitive, most that offer one of them are going to offer both of them. They’re a tried-and-true combination, for sure.

And I think that one of the things where they violate a lot of times, my prime directive of any hiring process at all, but especially assessments, is you never want to have a candidate saying, “Why are they asking me this? This has nothing to do with the job I’m applying for.” When you get into that zone, some of the negative things that you start seeing will show up, some of the things that you’re tracking.

Again, there’s multiple variables, if you pitch it right and hold a candidate’s hand and communicate well and keep them motivated and excited, and then you give them some obtuse personality assessment, they’re probably way more willing to just say, “All right, I’m going to go with this.” But if they’ve not heard from anyone and they don’t really know where they stand in the process, all that good stuff, it’s going to be more of a sore spot, I would think.

Kevin Grossman:

Yeah. Agreed. What’s interesting is that we’ve done some deeper work with some companies, too, over the past couple of years where we’ve done a little bit more of a deeper audit of their candidate experience across the stages. And one of the things, and it’s probably not all going to be surprising to you either or many of people listening to this, but the candidate experience deteriorates when there’s little to no context as to why I’m taking an assessment and how it relates to the job that I’m applying for and what value is it to you, the employer.

And what makes it worse or can make it a lot better is if I understand the context and you give me some feedback from the assessment that I’m taking, so that if I’m not going to move on any farther, then tell me something that I can use going forward. How do I make an improvement? Providing feedback is not easy, there’s a litigious fear.

Dr. Charles Handler:

There is.

Kevin Grossman:

And I know that, but I think that, especially when they’re job-specific types of assessments and ability and tests and simulations, to let somebody know — not only tell them something maybe they didn’t have, but to make a recommendation of what they should do.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes, exactly. So it’s been a big thing for me for years, and I’m always kind of playing in my head, the clip of an employer saying, “Well, Jimmy, you didn’t get the job, because you’re just not enough of a team player.” Looking at some of those results, that can be difficult feedback. And in the US, you’re right. Overseas, in various geographies, in some places, they actually are legally required to be able to requisition your results if you’d like to see them. And I’m going to have a guest on, I don’t want to be too much of a spoiler, but there is a person from Red Bull, a talent leader.

Red Bull has a really, really cool assessment. And they actually do provide the candidates with a really nice — anybody who takes it. And in fact, I got one, I didn’t even apply. You can just go on their website. More on that in an episode coming up. But the bottom line is they have a beautiful, beautiful report that you can take and use for anything you want, that really does a great job, I felt like, of describing who you are and giving you kind of feedback about what situations you thrive in, what situations you might find yourself needing to really dig deeply or work against yourself to overcome kind of thing. And I haven’t seen a lot of that before.

I’ve seen a few times, sometimes on job-matching boards and things like that, where they want you to become part of the ecosystem. Part of the lure to get you in there is to take an assessment and get a free report that you can utilize. But that’s not actually applying directly for a job. And it is very uncommon. And sometimes, you’ll get it once you’ve gotten hired, they’ll debrief you on the pre-hire or with your manager. Unfortunately, that’s kind of a rare situation, and it shouldn’t be, so I agree.

Did you track how many employers said they actually gave feedback from an assessment to their candidates or maybe even just feedback at all?

Kevin Grossman:

It’s very low. I don’t have that specific data point handy, but I can tell you every year that it’s usually less than 25%, if that at all. And so either feedback from the assessment and/or feedback in general, giving feedback. But what’s interesting though, Charles, is that when we find for the past few years, when we look at those candidates who said they actually did receive feedback — either on the assessment that they took and/or just in specific or general feedback for that matter — their overall positive sentiment goes up. And their perception of fairness increases, too, actually, when they feel like they’re getting that kind of information. Now we also ask the candidates, “How valuable was the feedback you received?” and a good majority still say not.

But I think it’s partly to do with the fact, too, that you may be delivering the most positive recruiting, hiring and candidate experience in the world. And at the point of you telling someone that you’re not going to pursue them any further, feedback or not, it always goes south, it always goes negative. And we see that every year in our data. So, it’s a much smaller percentage that find the feedback valuable, but it still drives a higher perception of fairness when they get it. But not a lot of companies do it. Now, the highest-ranked companies every year in our data mostly are giving feedback. That’s one of the things.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, that’s what I would say, because it isn’t very common, and I feel like companies just aren’t trying hard enough. When they say, “We can’t figure out a way or we don’t want to give feedback because there might be litigious results of that,” well, there’s ways to do it, people out there. You just have to be creative and think a little differently. I’m not going to sit here and rattle off ways to do it because I might not even know them all. But I like to challenge people to not just say, “Oh, we can’t do that. Nobody does it. So let’s not do it.”

And the fairness that again, from a psychologist perspective, fairness in the hiring process, it has such long-lasting impact on people’s, not only their employee journey with a company, but even in their brand recognition, even if they don’t work there later on down the line.

So building that psychological contract, that psychological bond, where the employer and the employee have a symbiotic relationship, they’re each getting important things and they’re both profiting from it in their own ways — that’s the ideal. That’s where I want to see and encouraged to see the world of work kind of heading in that direction, the pandemic, the power that candidates are now getting.

So do you have any bead on with the labor market, where it is now with people essentially withdrawing themselves or saying I can do something better, and employers clamoring the staff people, what role is the candidate experience playing? We talked about already the core of the pandemic, which hopefully is over. We saw that increase in communication had an impact, but what else are you seeing necessarily about the job market, the labor dynamics and candidate experience, right now?

Kevin Grossman:

You want to talk about the context of attracting and retaining. I think the candidates still want more transparency — across job types, for that matter. While a lot of money and incentives are being thrown at candidates where companies have struggled to hire — from restaurants to manufacturing, the list goes on — but it’s the flexibility of work. Not necessarily the remote hybrid flexibility, just overall. But if I have children that I have to take care of in school and all those things, then the flexibility is something that candidates are looking more for in the benefit side of it.

And they do want to know more about the culture and about the diversity and inclusion initiatives, because inclusion has been a theme that we are seeing a lot more, even in the comments this year and the candidates. And it’s interesting, this was the first year that we’ve ever asked the candidates to self-identify by race and ethnicity. But then we asked this year for race and ethnicity. And what we found was that younger candidates, people of color and females all had a much higher positive candidate experience and a higher perception of fairness than older candidates, Caucasian candidates, male candidates.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Interesting. That’s really interesting.

Kevin Grossman:

And we were assuming that we would see some difference there. And I think part of it is that, I mean, obviously since last spring and summer, there’s been a big emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace and with all the social unrest that we continue to experience, too. And I think that the perception, at least, from the candidates. And I’m not going to take away, because there’ve been a lot of companies who are really trying to do a lot of really good work on their DE&I.

I think there’s a lot of work to be done still, but the perception of the candidates has been such that you are talking to me, to be more inclusive of who I am, and showing me that you have employees that are representative of my group, not the homogeneous view that unfortunately, that we’ve had for a long time. I think that’s one of the reasons why we saw their perception and their positive ratings so much higher than what we assumed they would be. Now, we’ll see if that holds true in years to come.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Well, hope it does.

Kevin Grossman:

So do I.

Dr. Charles Handler:

We’ve been on that trajectory, right? If you think about what you might have seen in a careers page 10 years ago and what you see now, I think it’s probably vastly different in terms of how companies are recognizing. And I think it’s also, come on, we know that they haven’t been doing this 25 years, whatever. Early days it was, you go see a sensitivity training video about how to get along with others that are different from you. And that’s your effort to try and increase inclusion and all that kind of stuff. And while that’s not a bad thing, it certainly doesn’t get the job done on its own. So I think we’ve come a really, really long way. And I think in the assessment world, we’ve always been concerned about bias and fairness and all that. And so we continue to represent those things, I think in our work. And while we’re regulated to do so by the government, there’s more to it than just that. We’re not reacting out of fear, we actually care.

Kevin Grossman:

One bigger asterisk, actually to that, what we’ve been finding though, one theme that has been growing, unfortunately too, is ageism has been a theme that has definitely been increasing in the candidate comments. And that is something we’re going to continue to look more at. It is something that, I think, a lot of older candidates across different types and races and ethnicity, gender, et cetera, are feeling that. Although I think more companies are trying to address that now. But that’s definitely been a growing theme in the candidate commentary that we’ve seen.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Got you. So as we kind of wind it down here a little, I’m going to ask you a couple of things to kind of close this out here. Tell employers, talent acquisition folks that are listening here, what do candidates today want from the experience? Summarize that, help them walk away with a talk track in their head that’s simple enough to act on, somehow.

Kevin Grossman:

Well they want the job.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. OK. Good answer. Wasn’t thinking about that.

Kevin Grossman:

They want the job.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes. They want the job, but they can’t all have the job.

Kevin Grossman:

No, they can’t. So the competitive differentiators, these are things that even with the fluctuations and different insights that we find every year, the things that are backbone differentiators, that are the hardest things to sustain year after year, are just consistent communication from pre-application to onboarding or as far as I can make it. And not only that — and that’s going to be a mix of technology and human interaction, depending on how far I get — but consistent communication, expectation setting, asking for feedback and providing feedback and through the transparency aspect.

And then closure, definitive closure and timely definitive closure, actually. Regardless of the job that I’m interested in, that I’ve applied for, those are the things that always make a difference every year in the data and that we see, and the closure is really important. Because a lot of times at the point of application, there’s some companies, there’s the school of thought the hiring managers are doing this, too — we’re going to disposition, i.e reject everybody when we fill the rack, when we fill the job, but which could be weeks later. And our mantra is timely closure because if you know somebody is not qualified — and for the most part we know today with our screening that we employ out of the gate somebody is not qualified — and there’s not potential that we find to move them onto any other hoops to jump through, then tell them.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. I get it. The other thing is, job seekers are not just applying to one job, they’re applying to a whole bunch of jobs. Sometimes they have choices to make, and maybe you’re their first choice, but they haven’t heard from you in two weeks. That can be frustrating, for sure. I think that’s a golden rule. That’s the other thing, is, I just default to the golden rule, what would you want if you were looking for a job? OK, well, why don’t you give your candidates that same thing? Nobody wants to be ignored and strung along and any of that stuff. So that’s kind of where I go.

Well, awesome. So I appreciate your insights today. I really encourage our listeners. You got to check out the Talent Board. Their research is fantastic. If you want to tell folks how they can find you, how they can find that great research and what they can expect, maybe coming up soon, I’d love to give you that chance.

Kevin Grossman:

So you just go to thetalentboard.org and you can access all of our research, our articles, other resources on that site. Lots of great information on that site about recruiting, hiring and the candidate experience. The 2022 program year begins by the end of January. So companies that are interested in benchmarking anonymously and confidentially their candidate experience in our program can do so then. And again, you can learn more about that at thetalentboard.org. And this year’s aggregate research reports will start to be released before the holidays and right after, and then you can start consuming the latest research, too, but everything’s at thetalentboard.org.

Dr. Charles Handler:

That’s something, I think, I forgot to really say at the beginning. And I think it’s important for our listeners to know that the product that you’re putting out, you’re essentially engaging with employers and having the employers allow their candidates to complete a survey. And then you’re collecting data from the employers, as well. So this is very employer-driven, right?

Kevin Grossman:

Absolutely. Yeah. This is very much in our research. Oh yeah. This is all about the employers, and it’s anonymous and confidential for them, because we actually ask them a lot of questions, too, about their recruiting and hiring process, as well as for the candidates. But it’s the way that it works, is the employers are asking their own candidates to participate in this benchmark research together. So there, it’s definitely direct through the employers to do this.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. And employers, if you’re listening out there, do yourself a favor and join with these guys and girls and get the data from your candidates into the general population here and get a better understanding of where you fall, because everybody out there can do better. Even if you’re doing great, you can do better.

Kevin Grossman:

Agreed.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, thanks Kevin. I really appreciate it. Great conversation. And I look forward to digging into the research when it comes out this coming year.

Kevin Grossman:

You got it. Thanks, Charles. A pleasure talking with you.