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Candidate Experience - The role of a recruiter, mindset and tools

NASA attributes its success to its people more than its technology. It has had its share of successes, huge ones, and bigger failures. However, every time they have come out, it is their people who have been at the centre of it all. 

In my last blog, Delivering a great candidate experience – Part I, we looked at the Recruiting Culture, as part of the large components, that helps deliver a great experience. These so-called “small things” are the ones that have a great impact.

Experience in an outcome; none of the 4 musketeers (we discussed this in the previous post) alone would be able to deliver a great experience and having all 4 doesn’t guarantee one; it’s like a machine that needs to work in unison to deliver a fantastic experience. The ones who drive this machine are still the people, and unless we get their mindset and their experience right, we will not be able to deliver a great customer experience.

In this post, we will talk about the changing role of a recruiter. We will also look at some tools and techniques that marketers use that help deliver experience and how to measure outcomes for a recruiter.

Two pillars of recruiting

A relationship game

What has defined great recruiters is their ability to build great relationships.

When I moved to Malaysia to work for this large agency, I met this person from West Bengal, India. He was an IT recruiter who couldn’t speak English well and didn’t know the local language, but that never hindered him. He did struggle initially, the market was small, and IT was the bread and butter of the economy. The job portal that we had wasn’t great either for IT. However, his performance skyrocketed in a matter of a few months, largely because of two things, his knowledge of IT and his ability to build great relationships.

A sales game

When I was learning the trade, I remember this recruiter in the US, who had a heavy accent but was absolutely able to nail positions with just her contacts. The pitch that she wrote to the client about each of her candidates were so accurate and well written that every one of her candidates was interviewed.

A great recruiter has always been defined by the person’s ability to sell, selling the job to the candidate. Particularly, if you are from an agency; you have revenue targets hitting you quarter after quarter. You had to push that candidate every bit to ensure that the person signs the contract. Corporate recruiters have their share of numbers to close. Close, Close, Close; was and is the mantra in many organisations even today.

Roles are dynamic

I met a friend of mine a few weeks back, and we were excellent buddies in college; however, as time as its ways, we lost connect after graduation. As I remember him, he used to be this reckless young guy, a spendthrift, someone who never planned and barely managed to complete his course on time. I remember him spending a lot of his pocket money on college parties and get drunk most of the time. Now he was all changed, working as a professional in the procurement space working for a large corporation, has 2 daughters and has even bought a property in a prime locality in Chennai and has saved up enough to buy another one. How did he change? He said he had to, to be successful!!

As I realised later that roles are dynamic in life, as you move through the stages of life, you tend to change.

Roles within an organisation keep changing too, as organisations move through their lifecycle. Don’t get me wrong; the job titles can still be the same. An organisation in the final stages or say a product in the final stages will require a different set of skills to sell. A 3 times increase in target means the same approach won’t work, even though the position still has the same title. External factors keep changing like the wind.

This is where I think Behavioural Event Interviewing, a 65-year-old interviewing technique might not be relevant these days. At least not for all roles; some roles that we have today never existed then. I will reserve this discussion for now.

Adaptability is a competency becomes key in this ever-changing environment.

The Shift

Somewhere during the 3rd Industrial revolution, recruiting started to see changes come through; more inputs from industrial psychology helped us refine the talent processes.

The scale of impact that the 4th Industrial Revolution is bringing out is mind-boggling. The advent of the internet has practically changed the way we do anything. The way my kids browse the internet is far better than the way I do. They are called the digital natives; the way they go about things is far different from what I did when I was their age. I mean, I bought my first mobile phone when I was about 23 – 24 years old; my daughters learned their nursery rhymes from it.

We have started talking about jobs being lost to automation, so we need to understand the tasks that the job does. It’s a combination of Routine vs Non-Routine and Cognitive Vs Manual tasks that will determine if a job will be taken away by automation. Some of our tasks like sourcing, screening and scheduling are also getting automated. We will discuss this in greater detail in my next post when I talk about talent infrastructure.


“A mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people” – Wikipedia.

In today's experience economy, you will have to develop the right mindset to be successful in your role as a recruiter. Below are 3 that you will require.

Growth Mindset: It’s an experimentation mindset; it’s a “What-if” mindset. Developing a growth mindset is a good way to change some of your biases.

Experience mindset: A good relationship doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good experience always. As in any personal relationship (friends, family, lover), reality sets in (read “expectation gap”) at one point in time, which leads to disappointment. You can’t let that happen in a professional relationship.

An experience mindset is customer-focused; it focuses on creating positive emotions at every step of the way. It is a move from selling your service or product to marketing them based on their needs and marketing them in a way that will address their pain points and provide solutions. It is about designing that solution around your customer.

Process mindset: A process mindset is more internal focused; what can we do to improve the way we work; it focuses on improving quality and efficiency. A process mindset is good, as long as it does not push you to functional fixedness; another bias pitfall.


Now that we discussed the mindset change that will help you think in lines of delivering an experience let’s now look at the tools that will help give a shape to your thoughts. Marketing is all about understanding your customers and targeting them precisely. Recruiters need to start thinking like marketers on how to deliver a great experience by understanding and targeting the right audience. Here are some of the tools that marketers use as part of delivering good customer experience. The Journey Most things in life isn’t an event or a destination; it’s a journey. Your first credit card, it’s not an event, it’s a beginning of a delighted journey (yeah, ask your banker!!). Being a new mom and dad, life after you have lost someone very dear. Will Smith, in the movie “Pursuit of Happiness”, knew he had it in him to make it big. He thinks selling bone density scanners is going to make him rich. Then reality sets in and there is an expectation gap; the scanners don’t sell as predicted. He then realises stockbroking will get him a better life and there starts his journey of becoming a multi-million-dollar entrepreneur—struggle, more struggle, then a glimmer of hope and then success. It’s the same is the case with a candidate looking for a new job. From the moment they realise that the current role they are in isn’t for them, till the time they are onboard in another organisation. A customer journey map is a great tool that can help you identify the path that a candidate takes to fulfil a dream or a goal. A journey map is different from a process map in a way that the former captures the touchpoints, whereas a process map captures what must be done in a touchpoint. A journey map could also capture the pain points that a candidate has during different stages. Start creating journey maps, I know it might not be easy, but with some brainstorming, you should be able to create one. One thing that you have to keep in mind is that the map should be built wearing a candidate’s hat. A great starting point could be your new hires, learn what they did to get that new job. An important component of a journey map is a customer touchpoint. These touchpoints capture the interactions the organisation has with candidates. Viewing your job ad, a call to set up an interview, the email that follows a conversation, interviewing, delivering feedback after an interview, are some examples of touchpoints. Processes should be built around improving the touchpoint experience. Processes can be considered as enablers of experience, while the touchpoints (read interactions) themselves are the drivers of experience. Oh-oh!! Quite a long read already. In my next blog, we will look at creating a candidate persona, relevant content and measuring outcomes. Stay tuned 😊

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