Just a few of the candles I bought from Anthropologie While I do adore online shopping and its convenience, I don’t think I could give up an afternoon of walking into physical retail shops – feeling the clothes, smelling the perfumes, or testing out make-up – it’s part of the experience that stimulates the senses.

Part of what makes me enter into some stores and not others is the physical experience. Some stores have thought of everything, and I get a warm feeling when I go into them. That’s just what they want. You make judgments and form opinions on the experiences you have when you eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, or go to a football game. Candidates are making those same judgments and forming those same opinions when they enter your offices for a day of interviewing.

The candidate experience has many different components – I’m just going to focus this post on the physical candidate experience - the experience a candidate has when he/she visits an office for interviews. It’s the first face-to-face, physical contact they likely have with your employer brand, and it’s an important one.

Back to my shopping analogy – a great example of experiential shopping is Anthropologie. The very first thing you see are the window displays –unique and elaborate. You’re instantly intrigued. The moment you walk through the doors, you’re hit with the powerful smell of their scented candles, a sweet- but not too sweet- floral, feminine scent (I even bought one so my apartment could smell like the store). You feel like you’re in someone’s living room with the way the products are displayed. They don’t appear to be set out to be purchased, rather they are casually draped on tables like a cozy blanket thrown over the back of a couch.

This store isn’t for everyone. Some people hate the smell and would not dream of owning quirky measuring spoons or $200 satin shorts, but it’s appealing to a certain demographic--just like great recruiting should. The shopping experience reflects the brand. It’s selling a lifestyle, not just products.

It’s proven that brand experience increases customer loyalty. That same notion can be applied to the candidate experience. A candidate walks into your building, nervous, unsure what the day will bring. Every step he takes inside your building… every person he interacts with…every gesture that is given to him…he is making a judgment on whether he would fit in at your company. If that’s true, does it reflect your employer brand and the culture you live everyday?

I once heard of a college admissions office baking chocolate chip cookies right in the office to give to applicants who were interviewing. Genius idea! A nervous 17 -year old kid who is about to experience one of the most important interviews of his life walks into the admissions office…and smells chocolate chip cookies - the quintessential food and smell that oozes comfort. That’s just the emotion you want to evoke in that situation – you want them to feel at home.

Think about treating your candidates like customers and stimulating their senses when they enter into the doors of your company to reflect your brand.

Editor's note: for more information on how to strengthen your candidate experience, consider learning from applying for the Candidate Experience Awards.

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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