The candidate experience during the recruitment process can potentially make or break your employer brand — it also impacts a company’s ability to attract top jobseekers, especially in today’s employee-centric market.

In Japan, local skills shortages, combined with an aging society, have created a fierce competition for top-tier professionals, but providing a positive candidate experience can give companies a competitive advantage in the war for talent.

According to a report by WilsonHCG, 44 percent of Japan-based Gen Z workers said that recruiters had the biggest impact on their decision to either accept or decline a job offer.

This further confirms how critical it is for companies to make their recruitment process as clear, smooth, and structured as possible to improve their chances of securing quality hires, particularly when it comes to younger generations.

Improving the recruitment process

Examining the recruitment process from the candidates’ perspective will shed light on the experiences companies need to refine. Each step in the candidate journey is a chance for companies to showcase their values and competencies.
Here are five steps companies can take to bolster the candidate experience throughout the recruitment journey:

1. Establish your brand

Contrary to popular belief, a candidate’s first impression of a company is formed before their interaction with a recruiter. Initial opinions are likely to form based on information from the employer’s website, social media posts, and other public content. Keep in mind that employee reviews and customer testimonials can be highly influential on a candidate’s perception of your employer brand.

In fact, Japanese candidates often consult popular online review boards such as Kaigi, Glassdoor, Openwork, and Tenshoku to find out whether a prospective workplace is suitable for them. Companies need high ratings on these review boards in order to maintain their recruitment viability.

Here are a few ways to build a positive and attractive employer brand to attract new recruits:

  • Communicate a clear and impactful message based on your company’s core values and culture.
  • Stay on top of metrics like engagement, quality of candidates, and the net promoter score.
  • Keep tabs on online mentions, interactions, and conversations related to your company.
  • Encourage employee advocacy as part of branding efforts.

When appealing to the brand-oriented Japanese market, smaller organizations need to find ways to level the playing field. The prestige that may be associated with working at larger enterprises can be countered by emphasizing how much an employee’s contribution is valued in a smaller arena.

2. Refine the application process

A great way to start the recruitment process on the right foot is to make the application process clear and concise. A negative experience can leave candidates feeling uneasy, making them question their future with the company.

Anything from a drawn-out hiring process to a poor interviewing experience can lead to candidate withdrawal, resulting in additional costs for the company.

Communication is one of the most important factors during this stage. It is crucial that recruiters clearly convey the following items from the get-go:

  • Step-by-step application process
  • Expected timeline
  • Schedule, compensation, and other job expectations that come with the position

Clear communication will contribute to a more productive process and a better candidate experience overall. This also means promptly informing candidates of your final decision, whether it be in their favor or not.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Expediting the recruitment process without sacrificing the quality of the candidate experience is a balance many companies should aim for to minimize the risk of losing sought-after talent.

3. Improve the interview experience

The interview process is an opportunity to further nurture a positive candidate experience. From the types of questions to the tone of the interview, there are several factors that come into play. A strategic and guided approach will reveal key information companies need to properly assess each applicant.

Aside from gauging the candidate’s understanding of the role and the company, make sure to ask questions that test the technical skills required to fulfill the job. Software developers, for example, can be presented with a theoretical coding problem.

It is also important to adapt the interview process to local customs. When recruiting Japan-based candidates, for example, recruiters should always be mindful of the following:

  • Punctuality is highly important.
  • Formal greetings are the norm.
  • Respecting candidates’ privacy is crucial when asking questions.

Giving candidates ample opportunities to ask questions will not only improve the interview and application experience, but it will also give the interviewer the chance to showcase the company’s values. At the same time, the candidates’ questions can provide insights that would otherwise be overlooked if the meeting were one-sided.

4. Provide a thoughtful onboarding

The candidate experience doesn’t end after the selection stage. Onboarding plays an important role as it gives potential employees a glimpse into how the company works. A poor onboarding process may take a toll on a new hire’s morale and affect employee engagement levels. New hires may also develop a lack of trust in the company and perform poorly. At worst, a negative onboarding experience can eventually lead to turnover.

On the other hand, an excellent onboarding process can mitigate legal risks, build team confidence, improve retention, and cultivate community and employee engagement.

Here are a few recommended steps for a seamless and positive onboarding experience:

  • Conclude pre-boarding duties (setting up their company email, collecting paperwork, completing administrative tasks, etc.) before the new hire’s start date.
  • Cover the basics and provide any necessary software tools and equipment from day one.
  • Schedule introduction meetings.
  • Provide an onboarding “buddy.”

Making sure that the hiring process is compliant is also essential to a positive candidate experience. This requires a deep understanding of local regulations.

For instance, when onboarding Japanese employees, companies need to register them with the appropriate authorities and submit required documents within their deadlines. Pension and health insurance forms, for example, are due within five days of an employee’s start date.

Also, while the Japan Labor Standards Law does not endorse a specific format for employment contracts, employers in the country are required to provide employees with the terms and conditions of their employment in writing. To fulfill this requirement, companies can provide a written employment contract, a copy of the company’s “work rules” (shuugyou kisoku), or both.

5. Evaluate the candidate journey

Finally, it is equally important to always look for innovative ways to improve the recruitment process. Issues and areas for improvement may not be readily apparent, but here are a few common metrics companies can use to evaluate their talent acquisition strategy:

  • Time to fill
  • Quality of hire
  • Source of hire
  • Cost per hire

Companies can gather insightful feedback from interviews or conduct surveys. This information will reveal the company’s pain points from the candidates’ perspective, which, in turn, will help improve recruitment efforts in the long term.

Candidate experience matters

Improving the application process will result in more informed, engaged, and enthusiastic candidates and potential hires. To do this, companies need to nurture their employer brand, be clear and upfront with jobseekers, streamline the application process, ask the right questions, and gather constant feedback.

If you are planning on hiring in Japan, candidate experience is especially vital. Local jobseekers are particularly selective when applying for positions and like to make sure the company will provide a positive work experience.

If you’re looking for candidates in Japan for mid to executive-level appointments, particularly in the technology sector, HCCR’s multi-disciplinary talent solutions team can help you find the right fit. To ensure a positive experience for those candidates, turn to Globalization Partners (G-P) for expert advice and support. G-P helps companies build and scale global remote workforces by managing employee onboarding as well as all payroll, taxes, and HR-related matters seamlessly and compliantly.

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