The key features of a great candidate experience

Research from our recent survey of the founder-led consulting industry, BenchPress, shows that only 37% of consultancies are highly confident that their recruitment process delivers talent that will perform and stay in their business.

At a time when candidates are in the driver’s seat, demanding higher salaries and support for flexible and hybrid working, this is putting added pressure on consultancy owners trying to grow their teams.

BenchPress also found that 30% of consultancies do not use a structured interview with consistently-asked questions in their selection process.

“A structured interview is a no-brainer – this should be a standard part of your selection process,” says Caroline Boston, MD of New Minds. But perhaps what baffles her more is what else isn’t included in consultancies’ strategies to find and select the best candidates for their growing firms.

30% of consultancies do not use a structured interview with consistently-asked questions in their selection process

What to include in your selection process

“As well as conducting a structured interview, consultancies have a range of selection activities at their disposal,” says Caroline, “including case studies or role plays, psychometric testing and simple informal interactions with multiple team members.”

Less than half of consultancies include a case study in their selection process. This will shine a light on their ability to perform in a real play scenario (as opposed to just talking the talk), and most candidates will view the inclusion of a case study very positively. It provides them with a real example of work they might do in the role and an opportunity to showcase their capability. Likewise psychometric testing, used by only a small proportion (16%) of consulting firms, affords the opportunity to have a richer discussion around behaviours and preferred ways of working, and will only be viewed positively by candidates if used correctly.

“As well as conducting a structured interview, consultancies have a range of selection activities at their disposal”

The value of candidate experience in the consulting sector

“Only 27% of consultancy owners are actively thinking about delivering a great candidate experience,” notes Caroline. “The recruitment process offers the best opportunity for you to showcase your business, ways of working and culture. And smaller firms have a real opportunity to stand out here. Without the bureaucracy and complex sign-off processes of the larger firms, you can invest time in delivering a highly personalised and engaging experience for candidates.”

According to Caroline, the features of a great candidate experience also include:

Only 27% of consultancy owners are actively thinking about delivering a great candidate experience

  • Being responsive: follow up promptly to applications and after interviews.
  • Providing feedback: if a candidate has taken time to interview with you but is unsuccessful, explain why. They may have a friend who is exactly what you are looking for.
  • Listening to what the candidate wants: if they have reservations or concerns, spend time discussing these with them. If they are considering multiple opportunities and need to move rapidly through the process, try to accommodate this.
  • Ensuring relevance: think about the ways in which you interview and assess candidates and ensure they are relevant to the role you are considering them for. Avoid unnecessary steps in the process and assess only the experience, skills and behaviours required for success in the role. Two or three stages should be enough.
  • Offering opportunities to meet you informally: get a better feel for your team by inviting candidates to visit your office and meet with potential peers alongside the structured interview process. This is a chance to observe the candidate in a less formal setting when they won’t necessarily think they are being assessed.

“Of course, getting the right balance between ‘test’ and ‘sell’ is complex,” explains Caroline.  “In trying to deliver a great candidate experience, you should be conscious of not creating too many stages and hoops to jump through.”

To find out more about Caroline, click here.

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Article | Talent

Written by

Ali El Moghraby

Head of Marketing

The Consultancy Growth Network