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Q&A with a US Talent Leader, Shawn Scott on enhancing candidate experience

Shawn Scott, Director of Talent Acquisition at Vi Living, shares how their new ATS streamlined applications and onboarding, boosting applicant numbers and retention rates.

Content Insights

Implementation of a new ATS reduced application time and increased applicant numbers.
Positive candidate experience linked to improved retention and lower turnover rates.
Talent Scout referral program significantly enhanced hiring outcomes.

Table of Contents

Information

Categories

Author

Interviewer

Aisha Bushell

Content Marketing Manager

Interviewee

Shawn Scott

Director of Talent Acquisition

We recently connected with a key member of our Talent Leaders community to explore the innovative strategies their organization has implemented to enhance candidate experience and engagement in the recruitment process. Shawn Scott, Director of Talent Acquisition at Vi Living, shared insights into their transformative approach, including the adoption of a cutting-edge ATS, the success of their employee referral program, and the significant impact these initiatives have had on hiring outcomes and employee retention. 

Aisha Bushell: What innovative strategies has your organization adopted to improve how candidates perceive and engage with the recruitment process?  

Shawn Scott: Over the past year, we have changed our recruitment process, implementing new technology and processes to provide a better candidate experience. First, we implemented a new ATS last year which has significantly helped with our recruitment and onboarding processes. We scaled down our application to make it easier for candidates to apply, and since implementation in September of last year, the average time to complete the application is around 4 minutes where before it was closer to 15 minutes. This allows recruiters to reach out to candidates more quickly. In addition, with our new technology, our number of applications has significantly increased from around 15 applications per opening last year to almost 50 per opening currently. Candidates want a quick apply process from their mobile devices, and we have seen positive results. In addition, we took all new hire and onboarding documents which were primarily in paper form and made them electronically accessible in the onboarding platform of our ATS. Candidates can complete their onboarding documents before day one and arrive ready for new hire orientation and to start in their new role. 

“We scaled down our application to make it easier for candidates to apply, reducing the average time to complete the application from 15 minutes to around 4 minutes.”
 

AB: In your experience, how has a positive candidate experience influenced employee retention and engagement within your organization? 

SS: When it comes to turnover, we are seeing much better results. Our year-to-date turnover through the end of May is 11%, which is lower than the same timeframe over the last two years, and our new hire retention is better than in the last 3 years. As part of every candidate’s onboarding experience, they receive an electronic candidate experience survey, and overall, the results have been very positive. This allows us to take actionable items almost immediately if we see anything that might need to be addressed not long after starting.  

AB: What are the key changes you’ve observed in candidate expectations in today’s job market, and how has your talent acquisition function evolved to meet these expectations?  

SS: Candidates want a fast, seamless hiring and onboarding process. They do not want to wait weeks or months for a phones screen, an interview, an offer or to start, so we must move very quickly especially with the types of roles we are recruiting for. Our candidates could have another offer by the time they leave an onsite interview and are on their way, so we have some communities who present offers immediately after an interview, and the candidate leaves with the offer accepted and a background check in process.  We have a monthly scorecard that is sent out to all communities that shows the candidate time in process for every step of the hiring process. For example, how many days does it take for the recruiter to contact them, how many days does it take for an interview to be scheduled, and so on all the way up until they are hired.  

“Candidates want a fast, seamless hiring and onboarding process. They do not want to wait weeks or months for a phone screen, an interview, an offer or to start.” 

AB: Can you share some best practices or success stories from your organization where enhancing candidate experience led to significant benefits in hiring outcomes? 

SS: We have a highly successful employee referral program called Talent Scout. About 40 percent of our hires come from employee referrals.  With our program, employees can refer friends, family members, colleagues, etc. and receive points for specific activities (registering, submitting a referral, referral completes application, sharing a job on social media, etc.) which they can redeem for gift cards in the Gift Card store. Of course, if their referral is hired, then they receive cash payouts which can be very lucrative for employees. Happy, successful employees refer others to come work with them, and we have seen great success in our metrics. We are able to fill jobs faster (our average time to fill has decreased from 69 days to 49 days since we implemented).  

“Referrals stay longer, with termination rates from referrals at only 33% compared to 67% from other sources.”
 

AB: Could you share what technology tools you and/or your team are using to enhance the candidate journey?  

SS: We implemented a beautifully updated careers site a few weeks ago which is highly engaging. We have new photos and videos to really demonstrate to candidates what it is like to work at Vi. We are very proud of our organization, and the careers site demonstrates that. We have a chatbot on the site, whom we named Viola, and candidates can engage and apply for jobs here. In addition, we have Text2Apply functionality. Candidates also want communication via text, and recruiters utilize our text engagement functionality in our ATS to interact with candidates. 

“Candidates also want communication via text, and recruiters use our text engagement functionality in our ATS to interact with candidates.”

Shawn revealed several innovative strategies that have significantly enhanced the candidate experience and engagement in the recruitment process. The implementation of a new ATS has streamlined applications and onboarding, reduced the average application time and increasing the number of applicants. Digitising new hire documents has further improved the onboarding experience for the company.  

A positive candidate experience has been linked to improved employee retention and lower turnover rates. He highlighted that candidates today expect a swift, seamless hiring process, which Vi Living has met by speeding up their recruitment timeline and providing immediate feedback and offers. Their successful Talent Scout referral program has contributed to faster hiring and higher retention rates.  

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