Making a Great Hire During the Great Resignation

Perspectives from a Talent Acquisition Manager and a Hiring Manager


The employment landscape in 2022 is highly competitive. When competing for top talent on a global scale, what can employers do to create positive candidate experiences? We asked two Hippos, Jaime Oetter and Emma Bullen, to share their expertise from the Talent Acquisition and Hiring Manager perspectives.

What is candidate experience and why is it so important?

Candidate experience refers to every interaction you have with a candidate from the second they hit apply up until their first day of work.

When we get to the stage of making an offer to a potential new hire, we’re excited! We want to hire this candidate, and we want them to be excited to join our team – that’s the win-win scenario. But reaching that point requires understanding the complete candidate journey so that when we make an offer, they are as excited to say “yes” as we are to hire them. This is where candidate experience is key.

75% of top candidates already have a job.

These are who we call passive job seekers, or individuals who are already actively employed. Many of them are going to be happy where they’re at, so impressing these candidates requires really stepping up to show them what opportunities your company can provide.

10 days is the average length of time for a top candidate to be on the market.

Most top candidates will only be on the market for less than two weeks. This means that if a top candidate has been on the market for around two weeks, someone else has already had an opportunity to interview them and even make an offer. We need to be prepared to match or beat that offer to make sure we’re getting to that candidate as quickly as other companies are.

60% of job seekers have quit an application due to length or complexity.

According to SHRM, 60% of job seekers will quit an application process if it’s negative or not moving fast enough and 64% reported they would share a negative application experience with friends and family. Even if a candidate doesn’t move forward beyond the interview, it’s important to remember that this may be the only time that they interact with someone from your company. Delivering on a positive candidate experience reduces the likelihood that someone will share a negative impression of your company with their network.

How can we deliver a positive candidate experience?

The candidate needs to be able to see that the complete journey, from application to offer, has their needs and goals in mind; not just the needs of your organization.

Here are some strategies to ensure that your recruitment process is set up to deliver a positive candidate experience.

A positive candidate experience represents the complete journey from application to offer.

Use consistent candidate scorecards.

Evaluating candidates using the same scorecard helps ensure that candidates are evaluated fairly and consistently. It helps you quickly identify when you’ve found that strong candidate because you have the scorecard to back it up.

Examples of candidate scorecards we use to evaluate applicants at Hyper Hippo.

Build in opportunities for two-way interviews.

Recruitment is a two-way street. We need to make sure we’re providing the candidate with an opportunity to interview us as a company, understand the role they’re applying for, and get a sense of the culture they might be joining. This is especially important in a candidate-driven market where the job seeker is really the one in the driver’s seat.

Be supportive throughout the process.

It’s up to us to ensure they understand and feel supported throughout the whole process; not just when we’re interacting with them in the interview. For example, if an applicant is doing an assignment, let them know you’re there to answer any questions they have along the way. Treat them like you would a member of your team so they can understand what to expect if they join you as a team member down the road.

Show, don’t just tell, your company’s values.

Most candidates are assessing whether their personal values align with a company’s values as they move through the process. Make sure that you’ve taken a look at what your company values are, and that they are demonstrated throughout the interview process. For example, one of our core values at Hyper Hippo is Transparency, meaning that we listen and are open with each other even when something is difficult to hear. In an interview context, upholding this value means listening to understand the candidate’s goals and being upfront if we’re not in a position to provide something they’re looking for – even if this goes against “selling” someone on joining our team.

Respect the candidate’s time.

Consider the experience from the candidate’s perspective. How much are you asking of their time? Is it reasonable? Can we cut back on any part of the interview process or combine components of the evaluation? For hiring managers, consider if you can do interviews remotely, or if you can interview as a team to cut down on the number of steps in the process.

Provide regular updates.

The unfortunate reality is that most of us have been ghosted personally or professionally at some point in time. Be proactive about reaching out to candidates in the event of a delay, and make sure they know that you haven’t forgotten about them and that they haven’t gotten lost in the shuffle.

Target a diverse candidate pool.

Audit your job postings to ensure that you’re using inclusive language, and watch for descriptors in your posting that might not apply to certain groups. There are many free online tools that can help you verify that you’re using inclusive language; one of our favorites is Gender Decoder which will highlight instances of masculine-coded and feminine-coded words and calculate the relative gender coding of your posting.

Have your job descriptions reviewed by a diverse group of people from your organization and provide opportunities for input. When asking for referrals from your team, reach out to specific people to ensure that your referrals aren’t always coming from the same few team members. Sending a simple, “Hey, I would love to know if you can think of anyone who might be a good fit for our positions that we’re hiring for,” can go a long way toward reaching candidates you might not have connected with otherwise.

How can we foster diverse talent within our teams?

Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, “oh, there is no diverse talent in this particular job, or at this particular level” and it’s important to remember that as employers, we can actually create and build our own diverse talents.

Recruiting is a key factor in an organization’s ability to attract and retain diverse talent.

Focus on competencies over qualifications.

Build your job descriptions around core competencies rather than specific qualifications, such as years of experience or education. Your core competencies can be task-related but they can also be your company values. Think about how you want your team members to express those core values and what you’re looking for to determine if someone goes the extra mile. Build out a job success profile for the role that outlines where these competencies are demonstrated, and what you need the individual to accomplish during the first six months of the role.

Diversify your candidate screening process.

If your applicant tracking system allows, use a blind resume review process that blacks out any personal identifiers. If blind resumes aren’t available, consider doing a text-based interview screening by email (instead of going straight to a phone or video call). This allows you to remain bias-free when selecting candidates to interview further. It’s more difficult to remove personality and bias when speaking with candidates on the phone or via video call, which makes text-based screening a great option early on in the interview process.

Demonstrate your commitment to diversity.

Attracting and retaining diverse talent requires clear and consistent messaging across your company’s platforms and processes. State what your organization is doing to create a diverse workforce on your website, social media, and job boards, and share examples of how you found success by having a diverse workforce.

Offer internship and co-op roles.

Internships and co-ops are an amazing opportunity to grow diverse talent within your team. These positions allow you to hire candidates with diverse skill sets and backgrounds who can bring a unique perspective to the role, while supporting them to develop the competencies needed for success at your organization.

How can hiring managers support a positive candidate experience?

It’s important to remember that hiring managers have an active, not passive, role in the recruitment and hiring process. However, it’s often unclear what the expectations are of a hiring manager beyond providing input on the competencies required for the role.

Here are some strategies to help you, as a hiring manager, understand how you can be an important part of creating a positive candidate experience.

Be realistic about what level of experience you need.

A job posting may put off talent if candidates feel that they are not being set up for success. When tailoring a job description to your needs, be mindful that you’re still aligned with industry standards. It’s fair to say that if you are asking for a candidate to take on responsibilities in multiple subject areas, you might actually need more than one person to do the job. Always start with some research and build out your job descriptions from what the rest of the industry sees as acceptable.

Be objective in your decision-making.

In a candidate-driven market, being able to make quick and objective decisions is essential to gaining that top talent. Your core competencies, when defined and weighted, are a tool that can help you accomplish this. For example, say that two competencies for a role are the ability to produce 3-4 game ideas per year, and strong organizational skills. If you have two candidates who demonstrate both competencies but at varying levels, how do you decide who to pursue? Weighting your competencies can help you evaluate candidates consistently and fairly, and be able to see, at a glance, who stands out by comparing the competencies that are rated the highest.

Support a recruiter today.

Operating in a candidate-driven market means that your recruiters are under an incredible amount of pressure to seek out and attract top talent in the short time they’re on the market. As a hiring manager, we can (and should!) express our appreciation for our recruiters – but there’s a lot more that we can do to support them.

Start off by establishing a cadence for communication. How often should you check in? Should you communicate with them through email or Slack?

Think about how you can amplify the posting’s reach. In addition to sharing it on LinkedIn, are there other social groups and networks that you’re in (for example, Women in Games) where you can post it?

Set aside dedicated time to review resumes on a daily basis and follow up with your recruiter while the information is fresh in your mind. After an interview, get your notes to them quickly so that they understand your thoughts and can plan a next move.

Finally, remember that interviews are often the most influential part of the candidate experience. A candidate can go on your website. They can look at glassdoor reviews, and maybe watch a recruitment video about what your company can offer. But the reality is that candidates get the most insight about whether they want to work for you from actually speaking with you.

As recruiters and hiring managers, it’s our responsibility to set the tone for that positive candidate experience that will make someone as excited to say “Yes!” to working with you, as you are to have found them.