setup monitoring on AWS SES account

How to set up monitoring on your AWS SES account?

setup monitoring on AWS SES account

The business context

At Impress, we use AWS SES (Simple Email Service) to send out all our transaction emails from our platform. We make use of the boto3 API for this which we’ve got working rather nicely. 

One of the systems AWS has in place to keep bounces and complaints in check is that they monitor the reputation of our mailbox by seeing how many bounces and complaints are there. If there are too many bounces or complaints, they initially put the account under review. Subsequently, if fixes aren’t in place, then they pause sending. You can read more details here: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/DeveloperGuide/faqs-enforcement.html.

We had actually had our account put under review very early on in my journey at Impress when it was just me building things. Back then I’d read https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/handling-bounces-and-complaints/  and set up a system to post a CSV file to our team slack channel with the emails that are bouncing/complaining so that we could act on them. 

However, the above setup broke a few months back when we switched to enabling server-side encryption on SQS/SNS. With other priorities, this got deprioritised to the extent that last week we got notified that our account was under review. This triggered the need to fix our whole monitoring system. In reviewing things online, as seems to be rather normal with AWS, we found a lot of “getting started” instructions and study materials but no single resource that told us “do this!”. So we decided that we should share what we set up in case the next poor soul trying to keep things together in a young startup runs into some trouble.

AWS services and other tools we’ll be using in this post:

We have a couple of things that we will be discussing in this post, so let me define them for those who don’t know.

  1. AWS Services:
    • Simple Email Service (https://aws.amazon.com/ses/) – it’s a service that lets you send emails from your app
    • Simple Queueing Service (https://aws.amazon.com/sqs/) – It’s a message queue system that sort of acts as a message broker between services. Keep hold of things until they can be handed over to someone else. 
    • Simple Notification Service (https://aws.amazon.com/sns/) – It’s a service to send notifications out based on triggers. It’s a sort of glue that links different services together. I wonder if Amazon has done some kind of study on whether putting “simple” in the name helps or gets people annoyed…
    • Key Management Service (https://aws.amazon.com/kms/) – Create and manage cryptographic keys that help you ensure that your data is encrypted at rest on your server at all times. I’m not entirely sure how this could be exploited, but it seems like a no brainer today to encrypt in rest and transit whatever we can.
    • AWS Lambda (https://aws.amazon.com/lambda/) – These are basically “serverless” compute instances. Think of it as AWS letting you run individual functions in the language that you choose and charging you only for the time it runs and the memory it uses. 
  2. Other tools that we are using
    • Python 3.7: We are using python in our lambda functions but I don’t see any reason.
    • Slack: We use slack for our internal communication, so we use Slack and it’s incoming webhooks to post messages as needed on our channel.

First steps in setting up monitoring on the AWS SES dashboard

 We set up three pieces in our monitoring system. The bulk of the post will cover the most technically challenging and useful one, but I would recommend that you definitely have the other two sets up as well as they can prove to be pretty useful as well. 


Step 1: Enable email feedback forwarding. You can enable email feedback. Over multiple pages, AWS explains how you can do this by clicking on the “view details” on your domain/email address and under notification choose the email feedback forwarding option. Note that AWS sends the bounce/complaint notification to your from address or your reply-to address. This can be a complication. So make sure you can receive emails on this or enable step 2 and 3. More details here: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/DeveloperGuide/monitor-sending-activity-using-notifications-email.html

Step 2: Enable getting stats:  You can always check your reputation and your current spam/complaint/bounce/reject count in your SES dashboard. But let’s face it it’s a pain to log in to and you won’t’ end up monitoring this on a daily basis. So we set up something using this to get daily notifications on our reputation over the last 15 days and the timestamps at which issues occurred. I’ve detailed how to send this in the section: Get regular reputation stats on slack.

Step 3: Enable notification on each bounce/complaint:  For us what makes the most sense since bounces and complaints are few and far between is for us to have a system that notifies us of each bounce/complaint. I outline how we do this in the section: Getting bounce/complaint notifications on slack

Getting reputation stats on Slack:

Create a lambda function with the following code:

https://github.com/impressai/SESMonitoringTools/blob/master/basic-stats-lambda.py and use an event bridge to call it daily (or at whatever period you need)
The bulk of the code is just to prettify the message that we get when we use the code that is explained in this. The lambda handler is the function that is called when the lambda is called. This calls and gets the send statistics from boto3’s get_send_statistics API endpoint. The rest of the code then breaks this down into a nicer format, timezone and sorting and then posts it into a Slack incoming webhook. A webhook gives you a unique URL to which you can make an HTTP POST request and Slack will post it to the configured channel in your Company’s slack.

Enabling notifications for bounces through Amazon SNS

This is the rather more difficult task and involves multiple pieces that required me to piece together information from different parts of the Internet to get done. So here’s a step by step process for those who are interested:


1. Create a KMS key. Go to key management service in AWS and create a new Key. You’ll have to follow a few steps in selecting who has access to this. Since this is not being used by anyone other than the services, I gave the minimum access necessary to remove and manage it. Beyond that, you have to add the following to the KMS key access policy for SES and SNS to use it in the below steps:

{
         "Effect": "Allow",
         "Principal": {
             "Service": "ses.amazonaws.com"
         },
         "Action": [
             "kms:GenerateDataKey*",
             "kms:Decrypt"
         ],
         "Resource": "*"
     },
     {
         "Effect": "Allow",
         "Principal": {
             "Service": "sns.amazonaws.com"
         },
         "Action": [
             "kms:GenerateDataKey*",
             "kms:Decrypt"
         ],
         "Resource": "*"
     }

2. Next, go to AWS SNS and create two notification services, once for bounce and one for complaints. At this point, enable encryption and use the key you created above. The rest, use as you see fit. The default access policy is perfectly fine. 

3. Next, go to AWS SQS and create a new queue. Again the defaults worked fine for me, I just enabled encryption using the above key. 

4. Now go to your SES dashboard and choose your queues for bounces and complaints. 

5. Now, if you send emails using AWS SES test email feature, to complaint@simulator.amazonses.com and bounce@simulator.amazonses.com you should be able to see the queue build-up

6. As a final step create an AWS lambda function, create a new role that has permission to read from SQS and also to decrypt using the kms key. Policy attached below for reference. You can get the first two automatically by choosing the SQS polling template policy as a basis when creating your lambda role.

{
 "Version": "2012-10-17",
 "Statement": [
     {
         "Effect": "Allow",
         "Action": [
             "sqs:DeleteMessage",
             "sqs:GetQueueAttributes",
             "sqs:ReceiveMessage"
         ],
         "Resource": "arn:aws:sqs:*"
     }
 ]
}
{
 "Version": "2012-10-17",
 "Statement": [
     {
         "Effect": "Allow",
         "Action": "logs:CreateLogGroup",
         "Resource": "arn:aws:logs:us-east-1:776002636787:*"
     },
     {
         "Effect": "Allow",
         "Action": [
             "logs:CreateLogStream",
             "logs:PutLogEvents"
         ],
         "Resource": [
             "arn:aws:logs:us-east-1:776002636787:log-group:/aws/lambda/sesSlackBounceComplaintNotification:*"
         ]
     }
 ]
}
{
 "Version": "2012-10-17",
 "Statement": [
     {
         "Action": [
             "kms:Decrypt"
         ],
         "Resource": "arn:aws:kms:us-east-1:776002636787:key/39b9493b-40d4-454a-a179-e2a870bf1cb9",
         "Effect": "Allow"
     }
 ]
}

7. Use the following python code in your lambda function: https://github.com/impressai/SESMonitoringTools/blob/master/notification-manager.py  and configure two triggers. One from each of the SQS. The code is mostly self-explanatory. The Lmabda_handler is called as soon as an element enters the queue in SQS. The handler then reads through all the messages in the queue and processes them. What the code does is reads through each message, sees what kind of message it is, converts it to a decent text format and then forwards it to an incoming webhook on slack. 

8. Please note that you have to set the SLACK_WEBHOOK environment variable to be your incoming webhook in the above code. Also for good housekeeping perhaps create a tag for all the resources you create for this project.

If the set up is all correct, you should already receive a couple of notifications on slack because of the bounces and complaints in step 5. Alternatively, send a few more tests to make sure things are working. 

Side notes and gotchas:

  1. If you want to see the full notification, add a print to see the raw notification when receiving from the queue itself. You can then modify the slack message format to show the information you consider to be important. For example, there is some cleanup still to be done in the “mail” part of the queue notification. 
  2. Set up cloudwatch monitoring and budget alarms to throttle things in case things go wrong. For example, if the code is misconfigured and crashing, then SQS keeps sending the message to Lambda and lambda keeps restarting over and over again and it will probably be costly in the long term if this happens and you don’t notice. 

candidate engagement

Candidate Engagement –Why is it important?

With a tight labour market, the balance of power has shifted from organisations to talented candidates. Recruiters will agree that it is not tough to discover the right talent. The real challenge is in drawing the interest and time from these applicants. In the current scenario, candidate engagement is that magic word which can turn things around.

What is candidate engagement?

If there is one thing that all recruiters will agree upon, it is that recruitment depends a lot on relationships. As the connection between a candidate and the recruiter strengthens, it becomes easier to hire and onboard.

Candidate engagement is the process through which recruiters can initiate and nurture these relationships. It is what prevents promising candidates from dropping out of the hiring process.

Candidate engagement is not about sending a one-off text message to the applicant. It is about being consistent in your interaction with the candidates. 

Is candidate engagement the same as candidate experience?

Although it may seem similar, engagement is a small part of the experience. Candidate engagement is how you interact with the applicants. On the other hand, the experience is how they feel about the hiring process as a whole.

Why does candidate engagement matter?

Gallup found in a survey that 51% of the talent pool is looking for a new job. In this scenario, the opportunity to hire new employees is enormous. However, the window is short as most talented candidates stay in the market for 10 days.

The traditional way of sourcing is not always the best way to tap this talent pool. If the recruiters have to source from square one, it slows them down. 

Besides, engagement drives a good candidate experience. 22% of the candidates say they will inform their circle if the hiring process wasn’t satisfactory. It is the last thing that organisations want – undesirable publicity.

A more successful method is when recruiters identify the right talent and initiate an engagement process. As they build a one-on-one connection with these candidates, they develop a talent pipeline. It becomes easier to hire them when the time comes.

Apart from this, it sets apart the organisation as an employer that invests deeply in finding the right talent. It helps the organisation in creating a proactive recruitment model instead of a reactive one. As it does so, it can hire on time and win competitive advantage.

What is the best strategy for successful candidate engagement?

A successful candidate strategy is the one that fosters continuous interaction with the candidates. It doesn’t imply calling the candidates daily. Instead, it means using a variety of ways to engage with the talent at all the right times.

Recruiters are an essential part of this strategy. They can contribute by becoming the gate-keepers of the plan and streamlining it. They can also add value by dividing the candidates into different buckets. It helps in creating more targeted and value-adding touch-points.

Technology is the next resource that organisations can leverage. It allows them to create workflows and automate emails and texts. Moreover, AI-powered tools can help organisations in understanding candidate behaviours. It can also help in pulling new and passive candidates.

Finally, organisations need to design a process with the end goal in mind. For instance, the purpose could be to engage the qualified candidates who have applied in the past. Organisations can send them newsletters or thought leadership blogs to stay in touch. Recruiters can automate and send emails for new job openings. Such emails will allow them the chance to apply again. It can significantly reduce the sourcing effort and accelerate hiring.

What are the best practices for candidate engagement?

Invest in your careers website

For most candidates, your careers page is the first touch-point. In fact, 53% of them will first visit the page before they apply. It is where they go to seek information and know more about the company. There are multiple ways to leverage it to excite the applicants for a possible career with you.

If you haven’t worked on it for a long time, it may time to revamp it. Use videos to show the company culture and the working environment. If possible, throw light on some exciting projects that are happening currently.

You can also have a feature on your current employees. The first step would be to interview your employees and ask the best part about working with your organisation. You can also shoot a day in office in their lives. As you do it, you give a preview to the candidates about how life will look like, in your company.

Use social media

In today’s digital world, if you are not on social media, you could be losing a huge opportunity. These channels can become a great platform to build your brand and engage talented candidates.

The talent pool in the market consists of both active as well as passive candidates. You can publish the current job openings to attract the applicants looking for a job. However, you will need to do more to engage with passive candidates. 

Your content strategy should be around showcasing your organisation as an ideal place to work. You can share thought leadership blogs or insightful videos to engage with this section of candidates.

Use AI

AI is that reliable friend that can engage potential employees in your absence. Not only can it provide all the right information, but it can also evaluate them for the current openings.

Firstly, an AI-powered chatbot on the careers page can engage the visitors. After understanding if the visitor is a potential candidate, it can show the current job openings as per their interest.

Secondly, the chatbot can mimic human conversations and answer their queries. It can handle a variety of questions related to culture, perks and benefits, job description etc. 

If the candidates are interested in applying to a job, AI-powered chatbot can help them in completing their application. It can also tell them if they have missed any piece of information.

The chatbot offered by Impress does all this and more. It can conduct the first round of the interview and give them scores. The recruiters can look at the results and take it ahead from there.

Share status updates

Candidates find it disappointing when they apply for a job position and don’t hear from the organisation. They would like to know if the organisation received their application and considered it for the job position.

Companies can tackle this easily by automating status updates. By sending an automated email and text after the candidate applies, organisations can solve a significant part of the problem. 

As the process advances, organisations can send similar updates to keep the engagement high. If the candidate is unable to make it to the next round, it will do more good to send communication about it. You don’t have to mention the reason or detailed feedback. It will suffice to say that the organisation won’t be able to move ahead with the application. However, they are welcome to apply again in the future.

The most critical point here to personalise these emails. You can use AI for this purpose. The tool offered by Impress allows the recruiters to send such status emails.

Communicate a clear hiring timeline

Changing a job and picking an organisation is a crucial decision for the candidates. When they are in the market, they are good chances that they are interviewing at other places. 

They will appreciate it if you can share a hiring timeline with them. Tell the candidates if they should expect any personality or aptitude tests. Also, inform them about the number of interview rounds that are likely to happen. It is easy to send out this email when they reach a significant stage in your recruitment process.

As they will remain informed, they won’t feel lost during the interview process. 

Automated interview scheduling

When the recruiters have to call and schedule the interviews, the process becomes ineffective. Firstly, it becomes an operational task with many chances of error. Secondly, rescheduling takes a lot of effort.

The tool offered by Impress allows the candidates to schedule their interviews as per their convenience. They can see the available interview slots and select a suitable time. The tool integrates with the calendar of the recruiters and hiring managers for a streamlined process.

When the control is with the candidates, they will be better engaged.

One to one conversation

When the candidates reach an advanced level in the interview process, it is time for more personal conversations. It is when recruiters need to step in and engage the candidates with one to one emails, texts and phone calls.

In some organisations, it may require making a tactical or mindset change. However, personalised communication can make a whole lot of difference. As the interaction becomes frequent, the candidates will know that the organisation is keen on hiring them. 

Moreover, it gives recruiters a chance to understand if they are interviewing elsewhere. It will allow them to move quickly and make an offer at the right time.

Final Words

In today’s time of talent war, organisations need to put themselves out there. Candidate engagement is the key to ensuring that candidates choose you above the others.

lean recruitment

What is lean recruitment and how can you do it?

lean recruitment

Recruitment is the foundation for organizational success. With the right talent, companies can achieve their goals and much more. It is for this reason that hiring talented employees is a top priority for the CEOs. While businesses have a high dependency on recruitment functions, the methods do not always support better speed and efficiency. Manual and operational tasks often slow down the recruiters. By adopting lean recruitment, recruiters can streamline their processes and ensure higher productivity. 

What is lean recruitment?

The origin of lean recruitment lies in lean manufacturing processes. Large production units require accurate inventory management to manage seasonal demands. They need to have just enough to avoid excesses and reduce expenses.

Apart from cutting costs, they have a high focus on reducing waste. In their context, waste refers to that part of the process that reduces efficiency. 

Lean recruitment uses similar principles to deliver better results with fewer resources. It is a method of continuous improvement where the recruiters implement changes to achieve higher efficiency. It is proactive recruitment, and the recruiters work to build a talent pipeline to fulfil future demands.

Most recruitment departments adopt a reactive strategy. They act after they receive the openings from the hiring managers. The process of sourcing, shortlisting and interviewing can take months. With lean recruitment, talent is readily available to execute new business strategies.

What is the foundation of lean?

Toyota developed a lean production system that focuses on minimising waste while maximising productivity. Many other organisations have implemented and benefitted from their principles.

In essence, it means automating the low-value tasks so that the employees can focus on more productive and strategic duties. When applied in recruitment, it allows the recruiters to contribute to high-value jobs. It could mean more conversations with the hiring managers, building a better pipeline of passive candidates or a deeper involvement in capacity-planning.

What is the need for lean recruitment?

Hiring the right talent at the right time is not just necessary for business operations. It is also vital to maintain the right ecosystem where the employees are not overworked. When the resources are less, the same number of employees have to deliver more. Apart from this, there is also an opportunity cost in terms of lost work.

However, the current recruitment system fails to hire qualified talent timely. The process typically involves the hiring managers stating the requirements to the recruiters. Then begins, the workflow, which consists of taking approvals, and inviting applications. The time taken for screening, interviewing, and serving notice period can be a long one. It can take a few months to get the new hire on board.

A lean recruitment process can forecast the demands and facilitates a closer partnership between HR and the businesses. It is faster and is more efficient in hiring the right talent. As the new employees join timely, the businesses are also more productive and profitable.

What are the best practices to make your recruitment process lean?

It may not be possible to remove the inconsistencies in your recruitment process right away. It may take a few iterations to achieve the optimum level of lean. However, you can start by automating the process wherever you can. 

As the workload of your recruiters will reduce, they will have more bandwidth to focus on high-value tasks.

Here is how you can start. When you complete one iteration, you can begin the process again to identify waste and work towards reducing it.

Know the waste 

The first step is to evaluate the hiring process critically and identify waste. In this context, it could be operational or manual tasks. They take up a significant chunk of recruiters’ time. The recruiting process at any organisation typically has the following activities that slow down the process.

Manual sourcing of candidates or not using the right sourcing ways. For instance, the channels for volume recruitment are different than niche hiring. 

• In the absence of a better method, manual screening can not only slow down the hiring process but also leads to bias and other inconsistencies.

• It takes a lot of to and fro to schedule the interviews if recruiters have to call and set them up.

• Most organisations that have still not automated the dashboards require the recruiters to fill up trackers. This process is not only tedious but also takes a lot of valuable work hours.

• Lastly, manual job offer management is another area that can be automated to make the hiring lean.

Automate to reduce the waste

With automation, organisations can optimise hiring and reduce the workload of their recruiters. When the recruiters have more time to contribute to the strategic aspects of their job, they will feel more engaged and valued.

AI-powered tools take automation a step further and make the process more efficient and productive. For instance, screening software based on AI can identify the most qualified candidates from a large talent pool. Instead of going through every resume manually, the recruiters can look at the final results to take the process further. Since it uses algorithms and a deep-learning model, the tool can also enhance the quality-of-hire.

Impress brings screening software that adds more value to the recruitment process. Apart from identifying talent in a much shorter time, it also engages the candidates from the very beginning. By sharing regular status updates, it ensures that the applicants know whats going on. The chatbot also conducts the first round of discussion with the applicants. As a result, the recruiters can be sure that their interest is real and genuine.

Similarly, job board integration, automating interview scheduling and offer management can result in lean recruitment.

lean recruitment using impress.ai

Encourage the recruiters to add more value

One of the central tenets of lean methodology is respect for people. In traditional recruitment, recruiters have an excessive workload of operational tasks. When the low-value tasks are automated, recruiters can add more meaning to their roles. For instance, they can work on data to identify the best sourcing channels or candidate demographics.

As the recruiters will be able to do what they love, they will be happier. The results will show in their output as they will come up with innovative solutions for better hiring.

Workforce planning

A shift from the traditional model of recruitment will work only when the recruitment function can forecast talent needs. Recruiters can achieve this in multiple ways. 

Firstly, the recruiters need to work closely with the businesses to understand their strategies for growth. If the company is eyeing a larger market share or developing a new product, it will need more resources. If there is a slowdown expected in the coming months, the recruiters can put a brake on actively sourcing candidates.

Secondly, there are a few quarters in which organisations experience higher attrition rates. Typically, these are the months that follow annual promotions and pay-hikes. The recruitment team can analyse the past data to identify such periods and ramp up their work in advance. It will ensure the continuity of work without any loss due to attriting employees.

Finally, organisations can learn more about the engagement of employees to understand their levels of engagement. Disengaged employees are more likely to leave. With the help of advanced tools, this crucial information will be useful in workforce planning.

Engaging passive candidates

Passive candidates are the ones who are not actively looking for jobs. They are happy in their current roles. They constitute more than 70% of the job market. Since they are not in the market, the competition to hire is lesser. 

Recruiters can use professional-networking sites and social media to identify these talented resources. The next step is to start conversations with them. They may not be responsive in the beginning but may warm up after repeated attempts.

There are several ways in which the recruiters can build a better relationship with them. The hiring managers can subsequently call them for discussions as they deem fit. The idea is to have a pipeline ready for the time when the organisation wants to hire. Here are the best tips for hiring passive candidates.

Monitor recruitment metrics

By analysing KPIs, the recruiters can understand the area that needs more focus. For instance, the recruiters could be using ineffective sourcing channels. Or, the onboarding experience could need improvements. It is an essential step for building a lasting relationship with the employees.

With frequent monitoring and reviewing of data, it can result in better processes. As they become more refined, the outcome is lean recruitment.

Final Words

Lean recruitment is a continuous process of improvement. It begins by reviewing the internal processes critically. It entails being proactive for fulfilling future demand. Building a highly-efficient hiring system involves automation to eliminate waste. As it happens gradually, the recruiters feel empowered to add to the organisation’s growth.

diverse workforce with blind hiring

How to build a diverse workforce with blind hiring

diverse workforce with blind hiring

Of all the things that organisations do for strengthening recruitment, removing bias is a crucial one. And for a good reason. Firstly, unbiased hiring provides a level field to all the candidates. Secondly, it promotes diversity. As people from different backgrounds join, they bring more values and talent to the organisation. It is a known fact educating the interviewers is not always enough to remove bias. It is where blind hiring can make a difference.

The main problem is that more often than not, this bias is unconscious. Hiring managers are not aware that they are unintentionally favouring a few candidates. It impedes an organisation’s efforts to hire for talent and skill. When bias comes into play, the organisation starts endorsing favouritism. Although it may be unintentional, in these times word travels fast. It is the reason why blind hiring is gaining steam.

What is blind hiring?

Blind hiring is when the demographic details of the candidates are intentionally hidden. These details can be related to age, gender or educational institutes. Hiding religion and socio-economic background can also make a remarkable difference. You can also remove the year of graduation if you want to hire regardless of the years spent in a field.

When all these items are hidden, what is left is the information about the work experience. It is a way to ensure that an organisation hires for capability and talent. 

When organisations practise this, interviews start on a clean slate. There are no preconceived notions or apprehensions. In their absence, the hiring managers may be willing to give a fair chance to all the applicants. On the other hand, they can reject a few due to their unconscious bias.

We are living in times when discriminatory behaviour is creating ripples across the world. Blind hiring is part of this larger change that aims at minimising bias in the workplace. Furthermore, it encourages hiring managers to be more objective while making recruitment decisions. When they don’t know about the backgrounds, they tend to focus more on the capabilities of the candidate. 

What causes unconscious bias?

Our brain is capable of matching patterns. However, this pattern matching does not always give accurate results. Let’s look at an example to understand this better. 

Do you think the birthplace can make any difference while selecting candidates? Most of you would say no. What if you had an unpleasant experience in that city in the past? You may want to refute any connection, but your brain will not. It will coax you into believing that something is wrong with that CV. You may reject the person without giving the candidate a fair chance.

It is these connections that lead the hiring managers to favour some resumes and discard the others.

How can you bring blind hiring into practice?

It is a common belief that screening is the best stage to implement blind hiring methods. However, you can go all-in and make the entire process blind.

As you start, you may find it to be a bit complex and also face resistance. However, this is just an initial hesitation. It is common when people have to do something out of their comfort zones. Once they see the value in this method, you can expect a higher rate of acceptance.

Start with the job descriptions

When you want to hire a diverse workforce, you may want to tweak your job descriptions. Look for any gender-favouring terms that may discourage women or men from applying.


At times, the job descriptions use pronouns such as he/she in the details. It may inhibit the purpose of attracting diverse candidates. Moreover, certain words relate more to males, such as a hustler or superhero. You can replace it with a term like “perfect applicant.” Another option is to use words that define the description of the job. Such as an architect or an engineer.


Lastly, candidates want to know if your organisation appreciates diversity. They want to understand if you will consider their application wholeheartedly. A simple, friendly statement towards the end of the JD can put their concerns to rest.

Screening is the first touch-point when the candidates enter your talent pool. To blind their personal information, you can adopt a recruitment tool. For instance, Impress is a platform that hides the personal details of the candidates. Based on AI, it screens and shortlists the candidates based on their skills and experience.

The qualified candidates are the ones that match the job requirements. Apart from removing bias, the platform also makes the screening more objective. The recruiters can see a final list of candidates that match with the job at hand. You can click here to request a demo.

Blinding pre-employment tests

Pre-employment tests bring fairness into the recruitment process. On their own, interviews cannot accurately predict the performance of a candidate. 

More often than not, the interviewers make their decisions on their gut feeling. Candidates who shine during the conversations are more likely to grab the job. 

Pre-employment tests are a reliable way of predicting on-the-job performance. Skills and aptitude tests are an indicator of the general ability of the candidates. Behavioural tests can effectively predict their reactions in real-life scenarios. 

Most of these tools are based on machine learning. If the vendors do not keep a check on it, these tools can learn from the biases of recruiters. An effective way to avoid this situation is by blinding the candidate information. 

Delaying social media screening

It has become a common practice to screen the social media accounts of candidates. Surely, organisations can collect a lot of information from social media handles. They are particularly useful for identifying the red flags.

However, social media accounts can give more information than required. The interviewers may even make perceptions that may cloud their judgement. 

Instead of removing this step entirely, you may want to move it further along in your process. For instance, you can do it after the first interview. As you adopt this method, you can use social media screening to be more effective.

Can you blind the interviews?

Did you have to reread the previous sentence? Well, it is impossible to completely blind interviews. After all, they are mostly done in person or over the phones.

However, there are a few roles where the candidates can be made to answer queries over emails. It can be a preliminary step but cannot replace the interviews.

Organisations can, however, benefit from structured interviews. It calls for administering the same questions to all the candidates. As this is done, there is a better scope of bringing objectivity into recruitment. Often, hiring managers rely on the conversation to move forward during the interviews. Some candidates may get grilled more than the others.

What are the best practices for blind hiring?

Hide academic information

As you blind the resumes, make it a point to hide every detail that may cause bias. For instance, there is no direct correlation between university scores and performance on the job. A candidate with average scores could be a high performer. Despite this, some hiring managers may use the grades to create an impression. 

Similarly, hiding the year of graduation will help in covering the age. Let the hiring managers know what the candidates studied, and that should serve the purpose.

Pre-interview tests

You may wonder how will you interview the candidates after blinding all the above information. To ensure that the interviews are productive, you need more data. You want more information to get an idea about the abilities of the candidate. An easy way to do this is by conducting pre-interview tests.

Psychometric tests will help you in understanding the behaviours and personalities. Moreover, you may get an idea about the cultural fit.

As you gather this information, the hiring managers will get a background of the candidates. They can ask relevant questions to evaluate the candidates and clear their doubts.

Analyse diversity metrics

Metrics will help you to verify if blind hiring is giving you the desired results. It may help to collect information at different stages of the hiring process. Collect the stats about the candidates after every stage. As you compare this data with the earlier stats, you will be able to tell the difference.


We also advise comparing metrics to see if blind hiring has any effect on the retention. With increasing diversity, your employees may see your organisation as an inclusive one.

Summary

  • With blind hiring techniques, you can minimise unconscious bias in hiring. It is a way to ensure that diverse candidates get a fair chance.
  • You can anonymise several steps. However, eliminating unconscious bias may take a lot more effort.
  • Blinding resumes promote objective hiring where the interviewers assess candidates on their skills.
  • You can use recruitment software and pre-employment tests to strengthen blind hiring.
  • Finally, analysing metrics is essential to weigh the success of your efforts. 
blind hiring using impress.ai
technology in the recruiting process

4 ways technology can improve the recruiting process

technology in the recruiting process

Organisations follow diverse recruitment strategies and processes. However, their goals are almost always the same. They want a cost-effective way to hire new employees. And that too, at lightning speed. Unfortunately, hiring is seldom optimised to achieve these goals. It is where technology in the recruiting process can make a difference.

Recruitment is not a stand-alone function. It gets impacted by several external and internal factors. For instance, it may be tough to hire quality candidates in a tight labour market. Companies with positive employer branding may find hiring to be a tad easier.

For these reasons, recruitment becomes effective when it is an outcome of multiple efforts. Human capabilities are not always enough to achieve them. Moreover, when speed is a concern, quality tends to go on the backburner. Besides, it also gets more expensive to hire. 

If there is one solution to these problems, it is technology.

Leveraging technology in the recruiting process

Gone are the days when the use of technology in recruitment was a question. It is an ongoing process and companies pump a lot of money into hiring. However, organisations need to examine if they are putting their money where their mouths are. After all, everything boils down to that. Isn’t it?

Organisations can hire more recruiters to support their increased hiring demands. However, it is not an efficient solution. Examining the ROI of their investments can lead them to the right answers. 

For instance, hiring more recruiters is a quick fix. It will help in resolving the current problem at hand. What they need is a long-term solution that can create more value for them. Something that can simplify recruitment and help in hiring quality candidates.

It is where technology can make a difference.

How to use technology for a better recruiting process?

The main advantage of using technology is the automation of repetitive tasks. These jobs not only slow down the recruiters but also compromise the hiring metrics. Screening the resumes is one such time-consuming task. 

Each job opening attracts 250 resumes on an average. Due to the time crunch, recruiters give only 6 seconds to each resume. In the process, qualified candidates may get overlooked. Mediocre candidates may get called for the interview. Hiring managers are under pressure to reduce the workload of their teams. In the process of hiring faster, they often make the wrong decision.

Screening software can resolve this situation effectively. Such systems can identify qualified candidates from a pool of resumes.

When manual tasks get automated, the recruiters get more bandwidth. They can contribute to other value-added tasks. They can give more time for building relationships, networking and engaging candidates.

Let’s look at the main challenges of the recruitment function.

  1. The efficiency of the process
  2. Candidate engagement
  3. Unconscious bias
  4. Employer branding

Here is how technology has a resolution to all these challenges. 

How can technology in the recruiting process improve efficiency?

An efficient recruitment process is the one that hires quality candidates. That too, in an agreeable time frame. In reality, one or the other goes for a toss. 

AI is making inroads into the world of recruitment. As a result, organisations no longer have to choose one over the other. 

AI-based tools can screen every single resume and evaluate them. Moreover, recruitment chatbots can have the first level of discussions with the candidates. The chatbots are intelligent to assess the skills and identify the most qualified candidates. 

The most significant advantage is that these chatbots can also rank the candidates. Instead of manually screening the resumes, the recruiters can look at these results. They can reach out to qualified candidates much faster and speed up the interview process.

The Impress chatbot-led recruitment platform is fully customisable based on recruiter needs. It can be designed to suit the requirements based on job families. The recruiters can also look at chat conversations for more information. 

The platform can also integrate with other assessment systems. It can integrate with most third-party video and behavioural assessment tools. In these cases, the system shares the cumulative score for the benefit of recruiters.

Can technology enhance the candidate experience?

It’s a small world and the job market is relatively smaller. Moreover, in the world of recruitment, a lot depends upon relationships and experiences. Most candidates will either have their friends or family working in your organisation. They could also be the customers of your organisation’s products.

Even if they do not get selected today, they may be a good fit for future openings. A sour experience can dissuade them from even considering the role. 

Candidate experience is the perception that the applicant makes about the employer. It is formed during the hiring process and involves several touch-points. It has a direct impact on employer branding as words travel fast. Positive candidate experience can help in attracting more candidates. Also, it can result in fewer drop-outs on the joining day.

Recruitment is the first point of touch for job-seekers with an organisation. They tend to extrapolate their hiring experience to how they will be treated as employees.

Let’s look at some facts and figures about the candidates’ experience.

As seen above, candidate experience is no longer an option. It is essential to not only fulfil the current roles but also to create a future pipeline.

More than anything, candidate experience depends upon communication. 

It is a common complaint that candidates don’t hear after they apply to a job opening. Several others say they receive no communication after rejection.

Moreover, job-seekers often have questions and are looking for information. It is not always possible for the recruiters to handle all such queries. Besides, they may not have the bandwidth to write to every applicant.

Technology can improve this situation by keeping the communication lines open. For instance, automated status updates can keep the job-seekers in the loop. 

At times, candidates have questions regarding the culture or the pay scale. Impress chatbots can address all such queries and offer timely answers. Applicants no longer have to wait for recruiters to respond and can make quick decisions.

What about eliminating bias?

Bias in recruitment can disrupt the efficiency of the recruitment process. When the recruiters or the line managers are biased, it impacts the quality of hire. Also, it can compromise the organisational capabilities. Additionally, such information gets shared fast. 

Bias becomes all the more grave when it is unconscious. Although training can help in minimising it, that is a long-drawn process. 

Unconscious bias is when a person forms an opinion solely on the first impression. This impression is not always made during meetings. Instead, it can be formed by looking at the resume or talking to the person on the phone.

Due to this bias, organisations do not give an equal chance to all the candidates. For instance, a line manager may favour a particular institute. However, as more people from that institute are hired, the diversity gets reduced. And, so do the skills.

Technology is the right way to eliminate bias from the recruitment process. Impress platform is specifically designed to eliminate all kinds of bias in recruitment. 

When such technology in the recruiting process is used, it supports quality hiring. Moreover, as organisations give a fair chance to everyone, they also gain credibility.

Can technology also help in employer branding?

A good employer brand is built when an organisation becomes an employer of choice. It is defined by the way an organisation values its current employees.

Cultivating a good employer brand is a long-drawn process. It is also governed by several factors. The biggest advantage is that it can help in attracting and retaining talent.

However, a reputation is never built on its own. It is the outcome of several factors that leave impressions. Technology can greatly help in this effect.

As seen above, technology can resolve the main challenges of the recruiting process. As this happens and candidates get a better experience, the word starts travelling in the industry. Moreover, AI-based tools such as chatbots can promote organisations’ EVP. They can answer the candidates’ questions and support the organisation’s branding initiatives.

Conclusion

Technology in the recruiting process has surpassed the stage of evaluation. The recruitment function is more than ready to embrace it. With the benefits mentioned above, it can help in shaping recruitment into a strategic function and for the recruiters, more value in their roles.

passive candidates

6 best tips for hiring passive candidates

passive candidates

One of the main challenges that recruiters face is that most ideal candidates already have a job. They are not present in the job market, and the traditional way of inviting job applications is not enough to hire them. These are the passive candidates, and they have become the talk of the town. And for a good reason.

A study found that passive candidates tend to perform better. They also tend to stay with an organisation for a longer duration. 

What are passive candidates?


Passive candidates are the ones who are not actively looking for a job change. They are currently employed and perhaps, satisfied in the current workplaces. They may not be visiting job websites or looking for a job on social media. 

However, they form a major chunk of the talent pool. As per a survey by Linkedin, 70% of the global workforce is comprised of passive candidates. The remaining 30% is not always enough to find the ideal candidates. 

There are some specific instances when recruiters want to look at this category of candidates. For example, when an organisation is trying their hands at something new. In such situations, the best way forward is to onboard experienced minds for higher chances of success.

Passive candidates are also considered to be better hires for leadership roles or mission-critical positions.

How can recruiters hire passive candidates?

Organisations cannot hire passive candidates overnight. It is a long-drawn process which requires a carefully-drawn method and continuous efforts in that direction.

Passive candidates can be categorised into two buckets. The ones who are content in their current jobs, and the ones who are not so. The latter category is more accessible and simpler to hire. Here are 6 tips to hire passive candidates –

1. Build a strong employer brand

An employer brand is the way candidates perceive an organisation as an employer. It may include the way a company values its employees, offers opportunities and invests in their growth. From the organisation’s point of view, it is the set of activities that makes them the employer of choice. 

Building a strong employer brand can deliver exceptional results for an organisation. Apart from attracting talent, it is also instrumental in retaining the current workforce. Thus, it should always be a top priority for the HR departments.

Since the passive candidates are not looking for a job change, they may respond coldly to your calls regarding job openings. However, a strong employer brand may motivate them to listen and consider your proposition. Usually, they would like to associate themselves with organisations that resonate their values and beliefs. 

To begin with, you may want to relook at your mission and vision statements. These two things define your organisation’s working style and the way of doing business. It is what all the employees breathe and talk about when they are in the office.

The next step is to align all the employee-related policies and activities to your mission and vision statements. It may include everything from pay packages to the culture to promotions.

Doing good work is not always enough. In today’s time, it is also crucial to spread the word. Apart from putting up on your careers website, you can use different social media channels to your advantage. However, there are no better message-bearers than your employees. They can help you in marketing your narrative like nothing else.

To get them on board, have your CXO’s lead the message. Apart from bringing better engagement, it will help in garnering more trust from your employees. Make sure certain phrases that reflect your employer branding like integrity, merit, community service etc. become a part of the company’s vernacular. 

Lastly, have your employees speak about you on their social media accounts. Showcase their talent and expertise by encouraging them to speak at conferences and public events. When you do this, they will feel more valued and become more loyal to the organisation. As this happens, they will gradually spread a good word about you in their social circles.

2. Understand your current and future staffing needs

Connections play a crucial role in hiring passive candidates. However, these relationships are not built overnight. As a recruiter, you need to keep a tab on the talent in the market and work on building long-lasting relationships.

The number of passive candidates in the market can be huge. For successful hiring, you will need to adopt a focussed approach to attract the right kind of candidates. 

To do this, it may help to assess your current and future staffing needs. The best way would be to have ongoing discussions with the hiring managers and the leaders to anticipate the skills gap. For instance, your organisation in the technology sector could be planning to venture into digital transformation. In that case, you will need the right talent to carry it on. 

Another effective way to identify your target pool of candidates is mapping the structures of your competitors. 

3. Locate passive candidates

This step is perhaps the most significant one in the process of hiring candidates who are not looking for jobs. To source these candidates, you will have to go where they go and do what they do. For instance, you may have to visit networking events and join webinars that they are attending. 

It is best to adopt a multi-pronged approach and make use of other channels to source passive candidates. 

  • Social media channels – Professional networking sites are perhaps the best places to know about and connect with passive candidates. You can take professional packages to source them. For instance, Linkedin offers different packages to help you source the right candidates. Moreover, it is an effective platform for promoting your employer brand. Apart from creating your own employer page, you can also ask your employees to share the content on their personal pages.
  • Employee referrals – CareerBuilder found that employee referrals deliver the best ROIs amongst all other sourcing strategies. 

    Designing and implementing employee referral schemes is not as easy as posting jobs on job boards. It has to be a well-thought process with each step clearly stated for everyone’s understanding. Moreover, it requires approval from senior management so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Technology – As passive candidates will hit your careers website, you will need a stronger way to engage them. They may not be comfortable connecting with a recruiter in the early stages of the hiring process. However, they may still have several questions about the job or the organisation.

You can leverage technology to share the right information and provide answers to their queries. With the upcoming Job discovery bot from Impress, you will be able to engage with the visitors of your careers website. Apart from providing the required information, the bot will also be able to analyse if the visitor is a potential candidate and can also share the relevant job openings with them.

4. Engage the candidates 

It won’t be wrong to say that relation-building is the foundation of hiring passive candidates. These talented people are not looking for jobs, and convincing them is going to take a lot more than attractive pay packages. 

The recruiters need to look at it from a long-term perspective. To start, you can send email messages, send texts or initiate conversations on social media platforms. However, nothing works as well as picking your phone and having a warm yet professional conversation with them. Remember they are not actively looking for a job and could be cold in their response at first. At this point, it is essential to allow them to move at their pace. 

If you are sending emails, try to keep them personal, short and catchy. If you write a generic email, they may shun it as another spam and even unsubscribe.

As you write or call them, remember that a little sincere flattery never hurt anyone. Do not share all the details in the first conversation. Instead, ask them if they would be keen in any upcoming positions that may open up in the next couple of months.

5. Involve the hiring manager

There are good chances that you may have limited knowledge of the role in consideration. If you come across an exceptionally talented candidate, involve the hiring managers for further discussions. The hiring managers may be able to sell the position more realistically. Moreover, the hiring managers may also offer a bigger role as they fit.

6. The interview and offer

Finally, make the application and the interview process easy for the passive candidates. They are not eagerly looking out for a job change, and a sour experience may disengage them forever. 

Similarly, at the time of making the final offer, understand the candidate’s expectations. Try not to offer something that the candidate may decline straightaway. Similarly, do not make the job change sound like a lateral move. Instead, offer something bigger that may be a better move for their career. 

Conclusion

Passive candidates comprise a significant portion of the talent pool. Hiring them is essential for filling the skill gaps and enhancing the overall talent capability.

unconscious bias

8 ways to reduce unconscious bias in hiring

unconscious bias

In these competitive times, organisations strive to stay ahead by building a talented workforce. The recruiters seek to approach passive candidates and onboard the best employees. However, their efforts are often mired by unconscious bias in hiring. If left unchecked, this unconscious bias can paralyse all recruitment efforts. 

There is a lot of talk around workplace diversity in today’s world. And for good reasons. Firstly, a heterogeneous workforce can add to the skills and capabilities of an organisation. Secondly, it can enhance the employer branding of a company. As diverse candidates apply to open positions, the talent pool widens. That, in turn, allows hiring the best of the best. Lastly, diversity boosts innovation and revenue.

However, all the efforts of recruiting a diverse workforce can get wasted due to unconscious bias. 

What is unconscious bias in hiring?

It refers to the judgements that are automatically made when meeting a candidate. One can say that it is the outcome of first impressions and gut feelings. 

More often than not, it is the result of one’s past associations, beliefs, experiences and culture. This bias comes so naturally that people may not even realise what they are doing. For instance, hiring managers often hire a person who they think will be a good fit in their team outings. However, such decisions can lead to grave imbalances in the hiring process. 

This bias in hiring can be two types – negative and positive. In the latter form, the mind forms positive associations. For instance, the hiring manager may prefer to hire from a particular university. However, all the graduates from there may not be equally talented. On the other hand, a negative bias is when the mind dislikes something on the resume. A classic example is not hiring women in certain functions or positions. 

Checking and preventing this bias in hiring is crucial for three reasons. Firstly, to give an equal chance to everyone. Secondly, to be fair and inclusive while evaluating a candidate. Lastly, and most importantly, to stop workplace discrimination.  

How to reduce unconscious bias in hiring?

At times, organisations need to take a step back and relook at the current state of things. Here are 8 ways to remove unconscious bias in hiring.

1. Have conversations around bias in hiring

As the name suggests, people are not aware that they are a party to unconscious bias. To start, organisations need to start having discussions around it. Creating awareness programs and educating the employees about hiring bias is one way of doing this. 

More often than not, people responsible for hiring do not know what biases are. They are not aware of the fact that they are creating irregularities in hiring due to their preferences. Unless there is a conversation, there is no way to contain it. 

One cannot deny the value of first impressions during interviews. However, it is crucial to differentiate it from preconceived biases. The hiring managers need to take chances beyond these first impressions. For instance, an introvert who takes time to connect may be excellent at the job. 

Of course, it will take significant time and effort for people to separate facts from emotions. Talking about it is the first step that companies can take.

2. Mandate structured interviews

Unstructured interviews can often go in undesirable directions. Moreover, they lead to inconsistent interviews. The interviewers may not give a fair and equal chance to everyone. 

To remove bias in hiring, it is necessary to have a standard interview process. The recruiters can design a set of questions for evaluating the candidates. Of course, the interviewers can build up on the answers to probe.

It is also essential to educate the interviewers to focus on KPIs while assessing the candidates. This step can minimise their biases from the process. 

The recruiters can also work on a scorecard to log the performance of the candidates. A scorecard can be immensely useful in removing bias in hiring. As the interviewers score the candidates on various parameters, it will bring in more objectivity. Also, it can help in comparing the performances of multiple candidates and making better decisions.

3. Adopt collaborative hiring

Leaving the decision to hire employees on one person can cripple the hiring process. To recruit people from all walks of life, embrace a collaborative approach. Diversity will breed diversity.

When there are several people involved, the hiring outcome will be more diverse. Inter-departmental interviews can also help in hiring culturally-fit candidates.

However, it is advisable to not over-complicate the interview process. Having too many rounds may put off the candidates. 

4. Relook at the job descriptions

Words have equal power to destroy as they have to build relationships. Most people in the corporate world choose their words and language carefully. Apart from avoiding any confusions, it saves them from unpleasant situations. 

The words in the job descriptions can convey a lot about how an organisation values diversity. Are the recruiters unwittingly mentioning age or gender in the job descriptions? If yes, they could be putting off more candidates than they can imagine. 

It is advisable to make the JDs as inclusive as possible. Proof-read them for any mention of age or stereotypical words that imply a specific gender. For instance, women may not like words such as ‘competitive’ or ‘salesman’. Replacing them with ‘collaborative’ and ‘salesperson’ will make a greater impact.

5. Remove bias from the shortlisting process

One cannot remove bias in hiring if the shortlisting process allows demographic differences. The best way to do this is by blinding the personal information of the candidates. It may be tough to implement if the recruiters scan the resumes manually.

Automating the shortlisting process is a foolproof way of achieving this. When software evaluates candidates, it focuses more on the relevant skills. 

Impress offers an effective solution to shortlist qualified candidates while removing bias in hiring. The chatbot uses preset questions to evaluate the candidates to the next round. It is based on the concepts of data intelligence and machine learning. Thus, it only scores the candidates on their skills and experience required for the job.

Moreover, Impress uses a system where it assigns unique numbers to identify the candidates instead of displaying the names. Hence, the chances of aligning with the biases of the recruiters are zilch. 

6. Use work samples and simulations

Interviews can never assess the true potential of candidates. A lot depends upon how the meeting goes. For instance, a qualified candidate could be having a bad day and may not answer well. 

Sample tests allow the interviewers to predict how the candidates will perform in their jobs. Moreover, these tests can bring objectivity into the hiring process and remove all biases. Additionally, hiring managers can compare candidates and make better decisions.

However, it is crucial to use only scientifically validated tests. Unvalidated tests can lead to more biases than the ones in the system. 

7. Make diversity an organisational priority

How can organisations ensure that they have removed bias in hiring? One can always go to the good old route of data cuts to assess the success of diversity initiatives. 

How can organisations align hiring managers and recruiters with the diversity goals? The best way is to give diversity targets. By doing this, one is consciously pushing the interviewers to meet people who do not belong to their preferred circle. They may be uncomfortable at first. However, meeting and talking to a diverse set of people may open them up to a new world of possibilities.

To make it more clear, organisations can give them targets to hire from minorities, women and people of varied age groups.

8. Widen the reach

Organizations need to assess if they are limiting their scope by advertising jobs at only a few places. When recruiters do not diversify ads, they may not be able to achieve diversity in their talent pool. For instance, hiring from universities that they haven’t visited in the past can allow them to meet better candidates.

Recruiters can also educate their managers to hire for transferable skills. It will enhance the overall capability of the organisation. In current times, technology changes quickly. Thus, it may help to hire for agility as opposed to specific skills. When the hiring managers do this, they also create an ecosystem where the candidates can apply for diverse roles. And we all know the benefits of hiring from within the system.

Most companies have similar irregularities in their hiring systems. As organisations think differently and take such steps, they could also enjoy the first-mover advantage.  

Can one truly remove unconscious bias from the organisation?

As the name suggests, hiring managers are not aware that they are biased in making hiring decisions. Giving them targets can get the ball rolling. However, there is no sure shot way to eradicate it from the system. It is important to start somewhere. Have constant conversations and educate the employees. When they acknowledge it, they will take steps to contain it.

digital candidate experience

How to enhance candidate experience during COVID-19?

digital candidate experience

WHO, in a statement, has said that coronavirus is here to stay and we will have to learn to live with the virus. In view of this, several countries are lifting lockdowns and opening up their economies. As everyone is adjusting to a new normal, organisations are also embracing new working styles. However, running their business, as usual, is not going to be as simple. It will come with unique challenges and problems. For instance, a good candidate experience will be a new learning curve for the recruiters.

Several tech giants have welcomed the remote working culture. They have even announced their plans of making it permanent. Most other organisations are contemplating a longer duration of work from home. In this scenario, virtual recruitment is going to become the norm. Due to this, recruitment teams will have to revise their strategies. They will have to work on enhancing their remote working capabilities.

In the past, positive candidate experience has helped the recruiters in attracting top talent. Recruiters have worked hard and deployed tools to ensure a seamless experience to the candidates. If there is one thing that can make or break a candidate’s decision to join an organisation, it is this.

What is the candidate experience?

In simple words, it is the perception that an applicant builds during the hiring process. It is the perception of how an organisation treats its employees, and a peek into the company’s culture. It includes everything right from the job application process to interviews to onboarding. The candidates tend to link their time as a future employee to this experience.

If they are content with their hiring experience, their chances to join the organisation increases. Even if the interaction doesn’t result in a job offer, it leaves a positive impression on them. Linkedin found in a survey that 64% of candidates who had a good experience would take their relationship ahead – despite not getting a job.

Why is the candidate experience important during COVID 19?

These are tough and uncertain times for everyone. Candidates may not be keen on taking chances with their career. They may want to stick with their current jobs where they have proved themselves. They will prefer security over uncertainty. Given the high anxiety and stress of people, recruiters will have to go an extra mile. They will have to work hard to engage passive talent. They will have to work even harder to convince them to join. 

With a seamless candidate experience and frequent communication, attracting talent may become easier.

4 Steps to enhance candidate experience during COVID-19

1. Communicate and keep in touch 

Strong communication was always essential for ensuring a positive experience. It will become even more crucial now and will probably be the single most criteria for getting candidates to join. In these unpredictable times, no one wants to wait to know the hiring status. They want more transparency and clarity. 

Here are a few ways to resolve this.

  • Partner with the PR team of your organisation to ensure that the right communication is sent out. For instance, if your organisation is planning to hire, send out a clear message about it. Moreover, make sure that this is done across channels and media. When the organisation sends a consistent message, it leaves a lasting impact.
  • Ensure there is a strong communication plan to keep the candidates in the loop. It means informing them even if they are not selected for the position. They will appreciate your honesty much more than waiting and chasing you for status updates. 

    Secondly, be thoughtful about the candidates and express your empathy. Try to engage them with conversations beyond work. For instance, you can ask them how they are dealing with the COVID situation. 
  • If you are a large organisation or are planning to recruit in large numbers, you will need to automate the communication. It may not be possible to share the updates manually with all the candidates. Secondly, the team of recruiters may not be able to send out a consistent message. 

Technology can help in resolving this situation. The chatbot offered by Impress can enhance the candidate experience by manifolds. Firstly, it can answer all kinds of candidate queries in real-time. It can become one common resource to provide all kinds of information. For instance, it can provide the right answers relating to work culture or the job position. 

With the presence of this feature, candidates won’t have to wait for the recruiter to answer their phone call.

Secondly, it can share regular status updates with the candidates. This feature will ensure that the candidates know what’s happening instead of waiting for the recruiters to get back. They will receive the communication directly in their mailbox.

2. Change your recruitment process for candidates’ safety

In the near future, the old tradition of face to face interviews will not be feasible. All organisations will have to revamp their hiring process and move to digital hiring. It will ensure the safety of both the employees as well as the applicants. 

As crucial as it is to adapt to a new life, it is equally vital to inform the candidates about this change. Firstly, they are not used to digital interviews. Even the tenured ones may feel anxious before their video interviews. 

To alleviate their concerns, share the complete details of your interview process. Send a list of dos’ and don’ts’ to win brownie points. They will appreciate your efforts and even learn some crucial aspects of video interviews that they may have missed. 

The platform offered by Impress can conduct the first level of screening. It can interview the candidates and ensure that only the qualified ones move to the next round. It helps in improving the employer branding as there are no chances of mismatch between the candidate’s skills and the job. Moreover, it can be integrated with all the leading video interview platforms to provide a seamless experience to the candidates.

3. Empathise and add a human touch to the hiring process

The world needs more empathy at this point. Your applicants are no different. The best way to empathise with them is to think like them. Be empathetic if they want to postpone their interview dates. Maybe their anxiety is getting the better of them. As recruiters, you may have to become more flexible to accommodate their requests.

The best way to build a human connection is by talking to them on the phone. Emotions can get lost in emails and text. Let them know when you will be available so that they can call. Send out a positive message and encourage them to ask questions. They may have fears about job security in the current times. This simple act from you will go a long way in delivering a positive candidate experience. 

4. Make onboarding effective

During these virtual times, onboarding new employees can be challenging. Earlier, face-to-face meetings and casual conversations would give employees a taste of the company culture. Moreover, they could walk up to their colleagues and get instant resolutions to their queries. Due to remote working, understanding a company’s processes and way of doing things may become more difficult. Make it your priority to resolve these challenges.

Collect all the pictures and videos that you have of team meetings, outings and events. You can also ask your employees to share this material to make an interesting deck for the new employees. 

To provide a smooth onboarding experience, you will have to move your onboarding online. Did you have a one-day induction program that introduced the new employees to various policies and processes? You can make it a virtual program with live video sessions. Make sure that you keep it as interactive as possible. 

Of course, you can share all the necessary documents but letting the employees explore may spoil their onboarding. Instead, assign a successful team to walk them through and answer their queries. Assigning a buddy will also be helpful in the current scenario. Also, give them a virtual tour of your office to make the bond stronger. 

Finally, encourage the current employees to have informal conversations with the new joiners. It will foster a healthy environment, and they will get to know each other. If your onboarding process involved a team lunch, ask them to have a virtual lunch for better integrations. Ask them to dedicate the last five minutes of their calls for an informal talk and personal updates.

The goal is to make the welcome special so that the new employees feel valued from day one.

Final thoughts

The coronavirus has disrupted our usual way of doing things. While remote hiring is new for everyone, all organisations are trying their best. While some initiatives may fail, several others will succeed. A few companies are sharing their learning for others’ benefit. You can pick up clues from what others are doing to give candidates a positive experience. 

How to digitise your graduate recruitment program?

Graduate recruitment is a crucial part of a firm’s hiring strategy. As employees move to higher positions or leave, several roles become vacant. Organisations prefer to fill these roles with young graduates for several reasons.

Why is graduate recruitment important for organisations?

Young blood helps organisations stay relevant and connect better with the new-age customers. Fresh graduates inject vigour and new ideas into their system. Moreover, this young workforce is enthusiastic and ambitious. They are eager to start their careers, participate and contribute. 

Graduates are adaptable. Organisations can mould them as per their culture and requirements. They are savvy and have spent a long time learning the latest technology and skills. As they blend into the existing workforce, they can pass their knowledge to others.

Organisations are perennially seeking leaders. With a long term view, organisations can groom promising graduates and prepare them for future roles. Graduates who get the right opportunities tend to stick with their first organisations. 

Lastly, filling the vacant roles with fresh graduates is a cost-efficient hiring strategy.

How do organisations hire graduates?

Most firms have an elaborate graduate recruitment program. It comprises of campus visits and exhibitions at career fairs. These visits are followed by the selection process, which generally includes case studies, group discussions and interviews. 

Graduate recruitment plans also entail campus branding strategies. Large organisations normally have a separate team to manage campus recruitment. This team engages promising students through a host of activities during the academic year. Campus talks, competitions and internship placements to engage the students.

The new age workforce is a demanding segment when it comes to choosing their employers. They have strong opinions about the way they view their career. They want to associate with organisations that have a similar vision and mission.

To click with these young minds, companies have a separate onboarding program for the graduates. It often includes outbound and inbound activities. Meetings with business heads, buddy programs and a comprehensive training plan are some of the initiatives of graduate onboarding.

How has the COVID-19 impacted graduate recruitment?

The current pandemic of coronavirus has brought the world to a grinding halt. With restrictions on mass gatherings and movements, there seems no end in sight. At least, until a cure is made available to the masses.

With the financial disruption caused due to the current pandemic, one may expect graduate recruitment to slow down. However, an analogy with the 2008 recession reveals that it may not be the case. Sectors like retail, supply chains, IT, and healthcare will still want to hire young employees. 

Moreover, most companies are putting out statements that they do not view any imminent changes in their graduate recruitment numbers.


In this scenario, graduate recruitment in its traditional form, will not suffice. It is also not known if classes will resume on the campuses. Even if they do, there are fewer possibilities for companies visiting colleges.

Given the situation, adapting to a digitalised hiring process is the need of the hour.

What are the best practices for digitising graduate recruitment?

In the wake of COVID-19, employers have been agile and swift in their response. With almost all functions working from home, we are witnessing a significant transformation in the working style. 

Most organisations have already moved to digital recruitment and selection processes. However, graduate recruitment requires a specific focus on certain areas. Here is how to go about it.

Virtual Screening and shortlisting


Meeting the students in person makes it easier for visiting managers to make the hiring decision. Group discussions are also a crucial part of the campus hiring programs. It allows the managers to assess candidates on skills like communication, leadership, conflict management and negotiation. Moreover, case studies help in understanding their technical expertise and problem resolution capabilities.

In the current scenario, HR teams can use tools like recruitment chatbots to screen and shortlist the candidates. Impress is one such AI-powered tool that comes with several features. Let’s look at them in detail.

  1. Impress allows the recruiters to set their selection criteria. Moreover, they can give weightage to different aspects such as GPA, industry projects and various other aspects. The chatbot can evaluate the students based on their answers and filter the qualified candidates.

  2. The recruiters get an option to move the candidates to the next evaluation stage if they meet the qualification criteria.

  3. Impress can connect with third-party tools for behavioural and sentimental assessments.
  4. Impress can also connect with third-party automated video assessment tools. These video assessment platforms allow the recruiters to feed the interview questions. Some of them also evaluate the candidates on their body language and communication skills. 

  5. Lastly but most importantly, graduates often hesitate in asking direct questions related to salary, roles, culture etc. Impress chatbot can resolve this problem by answering such sensitive questions. Candidates will be more comfortable to direct these queries to a chatbot rather than a recruiter.

Virtual interviews

The shortlisting process can be followed by video discussions. However, it may help to take an empathetic approach while evaluating the graduates. A video interview is a new practice, and the pressure of fewer jobs may make them nervous. Organisations can send communication regarding video interview etiquettes to alleviate their fears. The recruiters can set the tone of the interview by addressing their worries at the start of the interview. Such little things can go a long way in enhancing the candidate experience.

Onboarding

As the graduates will be joining the virtual workforce, HR teams will have to change their induction programs. Full-day classroom training will become a thing of the past. So will a multi-week induction program.

However, the HR teams will still have to ensure that the new joiners get an elevated experience. One way is to provide free access to all information and policies. Secondly, buddy programs will allow the graduates to observe the culture and workplace practices more closely. Lastly, virtual tours of the office spaces can create a sense of attachment. Gamification of the induction process is also an idea worth exploring. 

Making them a part of the daily meetings and regular check-ins can help them come up to speed. Cross-functional webinars will help them understand the organisational structure and interdependencies.

Connecting the employees on an internal social platform will allow them to ask questions. The new joiners can discuss their problem statements with the more experienced colleagues.

The candidates will have a myriad of questions regarding their joining dates and confirmation of jobs. Constant communication will engage the candidates and send a message that they are being taken care of.

Employer Branding

With a limitation on campus visits, organisations will find it hard to create a buzz amongst the students. Here is how HR teams can attract students through a virtual strategy. 

  1. Large scale virtual contests can engage students and expose them to the corporate world through real-time case studies.
  2. Video footage of the existing employees about their experience can leave a lasting impression on young minds.
  3. There will be a surge of video interview practise tools. If the organisation has such capabilities, they can offer such platforms or products to help the students.
  4. Organisations can offer their internal library and knowledge resources to enhance students’ learning.
  5. Companies can team up to organise virtual career fairs to attract the students and inform them about their roles.
  6. In a normal situation, candidates get to meet the recruiters who can address their queries. Impress platform that can manage these aspects in the current scenario. Recruiters can enable the platform to take questions about culture, growth prospects and career trajectories. 

Imparting skills

Onboarding is generally the time when new joiners learn and pick up skills from their colleagues. Due to the physical distance between employees, it will become tougher to bring the new joiners up to speed.

To accelerate this process, organisations can partner with virtual academies. They can offer courses relevant to their roles and positions. Apart from this, several Ivy League colleges are offering free courses at this time. The HR teams can work together with the hiring managers to identify the right courses for this segment. 

Conclusion

Graduate recruitment in 2020 is going to witness a significant transformation. It will be challenging for organisations to attract the youngest entrants of the workforce. 

However, digitising graduate recruitment can be a way for organisations to ensure that their graduate programs are not on lockdown in 2020.