Today, the candidate experience begins long before an interview–and it isn't limited to the interview process. From the first touchpoint an individual has with an organization, candidate experience should be considered, especially since it’s a candidate’s market, employers need to reciprocate a positive impression. The candidate experience comprises every touchpoint an individual has with an organization when considering a job opportunity. It’s not limited to the interview process; in fact, it begins long before the first interview. According to one talent acquisition professional, “Candidate experience starts with a potential candidate’s very first exposure or interaction with a new potential employer. That might be an online job posting, the careers section of a company website, or it might even be a candidate researching target companies to apply to. Every touchpoint is important in shaping a candidate’s perception of an organization.”

Given the many opportunities for a prospective employee to interact with an organization, it’s important for HR and recruitment professionals to examine all aspects of the talent acquisition and hiring process to ensure a positive candidate experience. This is particularly true in healthcare recruiting, where there is a shortage of talent and a need to compete heavily for qualified candidates. Healthcare organizations can deliver an exceptional candidate experience by taking some specific actions that will make the hiring process more efficient and dynamic. Here are eight healthcare recruiting tips to help you deliver a more positive candidate experience.

Develop a Strong Employer Brand

Today’s candidates have more chances than ever to learn about a company besides visiting the careers page. Thanks to modern technology, word of mouth spreads rapidly, and candidates can access online reviews and ratings of almost any employer. Before even interviewing, most candidates already know quite a bit about a company. According to one study, 74 percent of candidates conduct their own company research during a job search.

Companies can provide even more helpful information to candidates by developing and communicating their employer brand. Strategic partnerships and relevant career content shared via social media are great ways to illustrate what makes an organization a special and rewarding place to work. Employer branding not only helps candidates to see what’s different from one health system or hospital to another, but it also gives them more information to help them understand where they’ll fit in. One large health system partnered with a local university to offer co-branded certification and professional development courses. When they developed an employer brand that focused on opportunities for employees to learn and grow, the organization found that “the university [served] directly as an internal recruitment pipeline for the health system.”

Ensure Regular Candidate Communication

Regular communication throughout the interview and selection process helps candidates know where they stand and how seriously they’re being considered for a position. Research shows that when candidates receive feedback, they’re more likely to have a better candidate experience. One survey of job-seekers found that one-third of respondents favored more communication during the hiring process and said it would improve their candidate experience.

Healthcare organizations can improve candidate communication—and, therefore, the candidate experience—by:

  • Managing candidate expectations by explaining the timing and steps of the interview and hiring process
  • Conducting frequent check-ins to keep candidates “warm” and interested
  • Leveraging different communication methods in addition to phone and email (one growing urgent care center implemented text messaging in recruiting and realized an increase in their candidate response rate as well as a reduction in their time to hire for key positions)

Streamline the Job Application Process

An efficient application process will almost always be more appealing to job candidates than one that feels overly long. Although most candidates can appreciate the need for interviews that provide different opportunities to get to know a company and its culture, they’re less likely to have the patience for an application process that either asks the same questions over and over again or allows long delays between different stages of the process. One study found that more than 68 percent of applicants who have abandoned a job application have done so because the application process was too long or required too much information.

You can improve the application process by making it shorter, more automated, and easier for candidates to complete on a variety of devices. For example, instead of asking candidates to complete a paper application or background check authorization, it makes sense to put both documents online and make them accessible via mobile device. You can create additional efficiencies by ensuring candidates only have to enter certain information—such as a home or email address—once, rather than having to enter the same information in multiple places.

Here are 10 ways healthcare organizations can ensure accurate and efficient  background screening programs.

Track and Improve the Time to Hire

If there is too much time between the point at which a candidate expresses interest in an opportunity and the moment they are actually hired, candidates can become weary and possibly lose interest in an opportunity. This is especially true in an environment of low unemployment, where there are plentiful job opportunities and candidates have plenty of available options. In healthcare organizations, the time to hire is also influenced by the shortage of talent in areas such as nursing, making it harder to attract qualified candidates in a timely fashion. A recent survey by Health eCareers found that nearly half of healthcare organizations have experienced an increase in the time to fill positions. 

Delays in the hiring process can be detrimental to the candidate experience and could risk driving good candidates away. To more effectively manage the time to hire, healthcare employers can take the following steps: 

  • Automate hiring workflows to avoid task duplication and double entry.
  • Establish a detailed end-to-end hiring process that sets timelines for each step.
  • Build a talent pipeline and nurture potential job candidates over time.

Automate and Streamline Background Screening

Background checks are a necessary part of the hiring process nearly everywhere. According to a SHRM study, 92 percent of organizations conduct background checks. Background checks don’t have to be difficult to complete, nor should they create long delays in the hiring process. In fact, when the background screening process is efficient and easy, candidates have a chance to see that their time is valued and that their prospective new employer wants to provide them with the most positive candidate experience possible.

Healthcare organizations are unique in having a range of industry-specific background check requirements, including regulations set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission. However, those added compliance hurdles don’t have to result in a cumbersome background check process for candidates. Hospitals and health systems can make the following improvements to the background screening process to deliver a positive experience for candidates:

  • Automate background checks and drug testing processes.
  • Integrate background screening with the applicant tracking software (ATS) so that recruiters can better manage and understand exactly where candidates are in the background check process.
  • Allow candidates to provide and receive background check information on their mobile devices.

Provide Opportunities to Engage with Your Culture

With the many opportunities that candidates have available, it’s important to provide ways for them to see how your hospital or health system differs from others. Culture is an important differentiator, and when candidates have opportunities to engage with your culture, they have a more informative candidate experience. 

Candidates can get a better sense of company culture by speaking with existing hires, taking part in healthcare training or apprenticeship programs, and touring actual work locations. Those experiences provide candidates with greater exposure to your workplace and can help you stand out against organizations that limit candidate experiences to interviews and career fairs. Providing candidates with varied opportunities to engage with your culture also helps with employee retention efforts later because it increases the chance of attracting individuals who align with your culture and values.

Ask Candidates for Feedback 

Sometimes the best way to make improvements to the candidate experience is to ask for feedback from the individuals who’ve gone through it. By asking existing employees—and even candidates who weren’t offered a position—for their feedback, healthcare organizations can gain useful insights. It’s true that not all candidates have the same expectations, likes, and dislikes, but getting honest feedback will help recruiting teams see activities through the lens of the candidate experience. 

Feedback about the company careers page, job descriptions, and interview experiences can help to uncover inefficiencies or issues with the talent acquisition program that might have gone unnoticed otherwise. One research hospital implemented candidate experience surveys and discovered ways to improve how quickly candidates pass through hospital security. They also used the feedback to make enhancements to the candidate portal, including providing more information about the day-to-day aspects of actual jobs.

Tie It All Together with a Great Onboarding Process

The candidate experience ultimately transitions into the employee experience, with onboarding at the crossroads between the two. Organizations can bring the candidate experience to a positive conclusion by ensuring employee onboarding is comprehensive, informative, and positions the employee well for future success. Some of the onboarding activities that can contribute to a positive candidate experience include:

  • Giving new hires access to information about workplace policies, people, and learning opportunities even before they start
  • Clearly outlining future background check activities to revalidate licenses and other credentials
  • Providing new hires with an onboarding roadmap that explains what they can expect in the first weeks and months on the job

Healthcare Recruiting Tips: A Prescription for Success

A positive candidate experience certainly doesn’t happen on its own, nor is it an outcome that requires a heavy investment in all the latest branding or onboarding technology. By making it easier for candidates to learn about your organization, apply for open positions, and navigate the hiring process, your organization can attract more high-quality candidates and improve the candidate experience at the same time. By following these healthcare recruiting tips, you can develop a recruiting process that is efficient and helps you effectively compete for talent. 

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