How to Strike Gold with your Candidate Experience

Monday, March 20, 2017

If you’re thinking about your employment brand correctly, you know that it’s more than just a public façade used to attract and retain talent; it’s a part of a larger business strategy that has a direct impact on your bottom line—either positively or negatively. Virgin Media, a brand well known for its innovative thinking, recently put this concept to the test, and as a result, scored a new revenue stream of over $7 million, proving once and for all that it pays to treat your candidates like gold.

How did they do it? By taking a closer look at their employee experience, defining what it means to be a Virgin Media employee and translating that into their interview process. With nearly 150,000 applicants and only 3,500 positions to fill, there was a high risk that candidates who were not selected would cancel their consumer contracts, leading to huge revenue losses. So they posed the question: “What if the candidate experience was so positive that it created new customer acquisition opportunities from the people we engaged with?”

Virgin’s goal was to ensure that every applicant, even those who were not hired, had an experience that embodied their culture and values—one that left applicants with a feeling of loyalty rather than resentment. By making the connection between candidate experience and customer loyalty, Virgin Media was able to acquire new customers and build a formidable group of brand ambassadors who would recommend their brand in any capacity, including employment. Undoubtedly, their strategy paid off in more ways than one!

The lines between consumer and employment brand are often blurred, but the lesson learned from Virgin Media is crystal clear. A candidate’s interaction with your company leaves a lasting impression with much broader financial implications than most HR departments realize. Unfortunately for many companies, this part of their recruitment strategy—the candidate experience—is often underestimated, or worse, ignored entirely.  

What is the starting point for companies like these to build a better employment brand strategy? As Virgin Media demonstrated, it begins with creating a candidate experience that truly represents the employee experience.  In other words, treating every candidate in a way that is representative of what it’s like to work for your company, without over-promising or under-delivering. Interviews must accurately depict what the job and the culture will be like; otherwise, you risk high turnover and damaging your employment brand. (We’ve all heard those stories about the interview that did not match actual job; they never have a happy ending.)

When a company delivers a positive candidate experience that truthfully reflects the culture, values, and employment experience, it gains the following cost saving:

1)  Higher retention rates. Candidates will be more appropriately matched with the company and opportunity. A positive and transparent exchange during the interview process will almost always lead you to “the right fit.”

2)  Enhanced employment brand. Positive candidate experiences will create brand ambassadors who share their stories via social media, blogs, employer review sites, and personal and professional contacts. These individuals wield the power to enhance or tarnish your brand reputation by positively or negatively influencing others.

3)  New revenue streams. In many cases, prospective candidates are also prospective customers who make buying decisions about your products and services. Even if they are unlikely to become customers, they will still be much more likely to recommend and speak highly of your company in any capacity if their candidate experience is a positive one.

What kind of impression does your company make during the candidate experience? Is it helping our hurting your bottom line? To learn more about employment branding and other talent acquisition strategies, contact