When viewed from a commercial perspective, the recruitment process is not much different from the purchasing processes that occur in business. Essentially, it involves “someone wanting to buy something.”
This process can be lengthy and consists of several stages, sometimes even a dozen or more. The “buyer” is required to “prove its suitability,” and despite investing time and effort, they may ultimately be unsuccessful. That’s why many candidates apply to multiple universities and then make a final decision.
The mention of the commercial purchasing process was not accidental. In this article, I will focus on the recruitment process as a “customer journey.” I will attempt to demonstrate that the “customer experience” associated with it can be of significant importance both for prospective students and the university.
“Customer Experience” in the recruitment process
Recruitment processes can vary greatly depending on the university, field, and level of study, citizenship of the candidate, and many other factors. Regardless of formal differences, it is good to ensure that the process is as friendly and understandable as possible from the candidate’s point of view. Negative impressions accompanying recruitment may result in the abandonment of further activities and the final choice of another university.
When a candidate enters the recruitment platform of a university, it is often his first contact with the academic reality. In most cases, we are dealing with representatives of the generation used to carry out quick online purchase and registration processes. This does not mean, however, that they are people who deal with all formalities flawlessly – the commercial approach to creating forms that support registration and purchasing processes usually assumes the maximum shortening and automation of the “purchase path”. In the case of recruitment for studies, such shortening of the process may be impossible (formal aspects), but making it friendly for the candidate – definitely yes.
The recruitment form should lead the candidate “by the hand” and require only the data that is necessary at a specific point in the recruitment process.
Candidate self-service assists the higher education institutions
The solution should allow candidates to self-service the process as much as possible, without the need to involve employees of the recruitment office. Handling recruitment fees with online payments also streamlines the entire process.
Thanks to the option of submitting documents in an electronic version (of course, at the end of the process, some of them must be delivered in the original anyway due to statutory requirements) the verification and qualification of candidates is faster.
Very good results are obtained by “transferring some of the duties” to the candidate, e.g. by providing the possibility of submitting applications online, or booking interview dates and qualifying exams on your own (using the schedule prepared by the university). These solutions significantly reduce the number of direct contacts between the candidate and the recruitment office.
Communication with candidates through an online recruitment system
Candidate self-service in the recruitment form is one thing, but what if a potential future student needs to contact the recruitment office? Of course, you can write an e-mail to the general office address or call. However, the question remains, how are these communication channels supported by the recruitment system?
- Is the office mailbox integrated with this system and incoming messages are automatically associated with the candidate’s account?
- Is the handling of incoming calls supported by an appropriate CTI application, enabling, among others, managing the waiting queue, and monitoring the activity of callers and employees?
- Has an IVR solution been implemented, allowing the caller to interact with the system and automatically redirect to an employee responsible for recruitment for a given field of study or communicating in a foreign language?
- Are modern, naturally chosen communication paths such as Messenger or WhatsApp included?
- Or maybe the university offers the possibility of a quick conversation in writing, directly from the level of the recruitment form, e.g. thanks to the Live Chat tool?
The candidate will appreciate the ability to communicate through a channel that meets personal preferences.
Regardless of how many contact options the institution provides, the recruitment office should be able to handle them all from one place (the console), in direct connection with the candidate’s file and a view of the person’s interaction history with the office.
Solution flexibility and automation
The student recruitment software should have the capability to handle various process variants. Ideally without the constant involvement of programmers when introducing new processes or modifying existing configurations.
To achieve this, it is crucial to implement tools that empower recruitment office staff to configure individual parameters. This includes the visibility and requiredness of steps within a particular process: defining document requirements based on majors or candidate’s citizenship, setting boundary conditions for specific majors or groups (such as credit thresholds or language certificate requirements), customizing messages displayed at different stages of the process, enabling automated personalized email and SMS notifications for candidates, and numerous other parameters.
Automation of the process is designed to relieve recruitment office employees from activities normally performed manually. An example may be changes in some application statuses (e.g. marking the application as expired, when the candidate started but did not finish completing the data or did not send his application for verification after a certain period of time).
The subject of automation will also be the generation of documents (e.g. contracts, decisions) and communication with the candidate, based on personalized e-mails and text messages, informing, for example, about the need to supplement (or correct) data or documents.
The recruitment system can also incorporate advanced functionalities, such as facilitating remote contract signing between the candidate and the university. With the growing digitization of formal processes and the recurring limitations, implementing e-contracts is becoming increasingly necessary. In one of my university projects, we thoroughly analyzed the legal aspects of such a solution. Importantly, to ensure the validity of the e-contract signing, the candidate is not required to possess a Trusted Profile or a Qualified Signature.
If you are wondering whether the handling of recruitment processes conducted by your university can be improved, please contact me – let’s talk about the possibilities.
Adam Czeczuk, Head of Consulting Services