A conversation with Amy Finn, Director of Candidate Experience at WinterWyman
As the Director of Candidate Experience at WinterWyman, Amy Finn is an expert at designing and maintaining innovative candidate experience programs. Her company recently received a +80 Net Promoter Score (NPS), measured using Sense, in an annual survey sent to active and placed candidates.
In our experience measuring talent satisfaction, it’s typical to see scores of around +20 NPS. Considering that, WinterWyman’s +80 NPS is an incredible achievement.
When we sat down to talk with Amy, she offered insights on designing a candidate experience program from scratch, the major pain point for job seekers, and more.
Pankaj: What are the pillars of a good candidate experience at WinterWyman?
Amy: There are so many things we do to create and maintain a positive candidate experience and it typically begins with strong relationships and communication—it’s good for candidates, recruiters and clients. Building and maintaining strong relationships always results in placing more candidates in the right jobs.
Part of building these relationships is treating people the way you would want to be treated. Do what you say you are going to do, call people back, don’t keep job seekers waiting, know their names, be prepared for their visits…common courtesy and respect are integral to a positive candidate experience.
Pankaj: You must see hundreds of candidates and resumes, so how do you personalize the recruiting and hiring process?
Amy: It’s about actually getting to know an individual—you might not have time for an extensive conversation with every candidate, but you can still take a moment to listen, learn about their backgrounds, understand their wants and needs and review their resumes. In doing so, you’ll know you’re sending the right candidate to the right position. We would never submit a candidate’s resume to a job without talking to the candidate first to ensure it’s something they would really consider.
Getting to know candidates also ensures we don’t waste their time. If we aren’t the best resource, we want to let them know so they can focus their efforts on activities that will result in a job. And even if we can’t match them to a job, we still like to take a moment to share our expertise and any relevant resources; things like resume review, blog links, or referrals to other recruiters.
We also like to share our recruiter’s knowledge and expertise, and personalize the experience. Being generous with our time and information could mean a referral or the person calling us again in the future – as a more seasoned candidate or even a hiring manager. It’s good for the candidates and our business.
Pankaj: Do you send NPS surveys during the hiring process?
Amy: We do. We regularly send out NPS surveys to active and placed candidates. An active candidate is anyone we’ve spoken to whom we believe we can place.
We have been surveying candidates for four years and the results provide a critical snapshot into what we are doing well and where we need to improve. WinterWyman has been doing a great job with candidates for a long time – there isn’t a glaring issue that once improved, will make our NPS numbers jump. We are looking for steady improvement, and that’s what we are seeing.
Through Sense, we also send NPS surveys to contractors at the 45-day mark. We ask them what their experience was with WinterWyman, if they would recommend us to others, and if not, why.
Pankaj: If you were to design a candidate experience program from scratch, how would you do it? Where would you start?
Amy: We did just that. A great starting point is finding the right person to oversee it. Candidate experience isn’t instant gratification, so you need someone with some patience and perseverance to champion it.
Another key element is reinforcing the importance of candidate experience from the top so it trickles down through the teams. Every manager has to believe in improving CX and allow their team members to devote time to it. They need to be encouraged to avoid cutting corners when dealing with candidates, and to implement programs that improve CX. It does take some time, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Building on that, I recommend creating small committees to talk about the issues affecting candidate interaction and communication. Work on prioritizing the issues and brainstorming ways to address them.
Pankaj: What major problem areas did you encounter when trying to improve the candidate experience? And how did you resolve it?
Amy: One area that was and continues to be a pain point is the “black hole.” That’s where people submit their resume and hear nothing back. At the very least, candidates want to know their resume was received.
We were getting a ton of feedback on that years ago. Believe it or not, automating that is a little trickier than you may think. Now, every person on the contract staffing side of our business receives a response when they apply for a job and submit their resume, and this complaint has virtually disappeared.
Pankaj: How do you see technology and technological implementation affecting the staffing industry over the next five years?
Amy: We like to stay current with technology, but we hesitate when technology could replace human interaction – as I said earlier, our business is all about relationships. There was a lot of discussion with our teams about using technology to supplement candidate communication – people were understandably concerned that it would come at a sacrifice to personalization.
The problem was, the communication we planned was not happening consistently. Through the NPS scores and comments, we were learning that some candidates wanted more points of contact, for example, “I had a great interview, and then my recruiter didn’t call me for six months.”
Thankfully, Sense has been a really good tool for us in addressing this problem. Nothing’s going to replace that first conversation, nothing’s going to replace a text saying, “Hey, how’s your job search going?” or “Thinking about you, give me a call.” But for that ongoing communication, having technology in place when you’re dealing with lots of candidates is invaluable – the blend of both is ideal.
Pankaj: So what you’re suggesting is that as a combination, technology and the human touch would make it easier to do a better job?
Amy: Absolutely. It enhances the job we’re doing and it reinforces to candidates that they matter and that they’re still on our radar. Especially technology that allows communication to be highly personalized. The candidates probably know the messages are automated and we don’t try to hide that fact. But it’s not offensive and we keep the correspondence short and succinct. I’m convinced that the kind of communication we do through Sense is going to be something many more hiring managers and recruiters are going to adopt.
Pankaj: What are some ways that WinterWyman is implementing new technology and innovating?
Amy: We have a Technology Task Force and we are continually evaluating ways to do our jobs better by adding technology. We want to know what’s out there, what’s cutting edge and what will make us more productive.
Pankaj: I love this idea of a Technology Task Force. How long has that been in place?
Amy: It’s a new initiative here. Anyone in the company can suggest a technology to the task force. The team evaluates and if it’s something we want to test, we can bring in the vendor, test it with a small group, and decide.
We involve different people who might have good ideas, might be interested in technology, might be in an area of the company that needs to be more automated, or where there might be pain points that people want to have addressed.
Pankaj: Shifting gears a bit, what book have you read recently that you would recommend to somebody else in the staffing industry?
Amy: I don’t necessarily focus on industry-related books but I find inspiration through books that have strong characters. It’s not a new book, but one I read recently – Unbroken – comes to mind. It’s the biography of a former Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini.
It captures the essence of strong will, determination, resilience, hard work and focus. I’ve thought about Louie floating on his raft in the Pacific, or living in the Japanese POW camps – he overcame so much and his mental strength was enviable.
Pankaj: Last question, a fun one! Would you like to talk about your favorite dog breed?
Amy: [laughs] Is that cheesy? Absolutely, I do love all dogs but I’m partial to the Vizsla. I got home late last night —everyone in my house was sleeping, but of course, my Vizsla, Brewster, came running to say hi. They are gorgeous dogs, sleek, super athletic, playful, full of energy, affectionate, smart and determined. And, they don’t have a bad smell – that’s a plus for a dog who insists on being in your bed.
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