Case study: Nationwide's candidate experience revamp

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The business used candidate and new hire feedback to identify areas for improvement and investment

Nationwide is designing a new recruitment plan to improve the experience candidates face during its job application process.

The building society sought feedback about its entire application management process from more than 1,000 candidates who applied for jobs with Nationwide over a six-week period during November and December 2016. It also involved recently recruited members of staff and hiring managers.

Candidates expressed their preferences on how the application process should run. This included being able to quickly and accurately access information about Nationwide, receive personalised feedback from hiring managers, and interact with a person during the process rather than receiving automated messages via digital channels.

Nationwide aims to use this feedback to help determine areas of investment for a technology ‘roadmap’.

Nationwide’s head of resourcing Katrina Hutchinson-O’Neill said this candidate experience research was carried out in response to a skills shortage in the market, caused in part by a fall in EU migration.

“There is increasing demand across the labour market for skills, both at entry level and for a range of specialist roles. It’s also conceivable that at the volume hiring end of the labour market reduced EU migration to the UK has caused some companies to ‘up the ante’ in their proposition to market, which is resulting in competition even between employers who may not have previously seen high numbers of non-UK applicants.”

Hutchinson-O’Neill highlighted the benefits of improving the firm's application process, including staff retention, greater engagement, and recruiting the best candidates.

“Every year we get about 100,000 applicants and simple numbers mean around 90% will get a 'no thank you.' As a result, if we don’t design our feedback for those rejections, they may walk away with a feeling of Nationwide that doesn’t line up with who we really are as a company.

“Many workers are taking a more transient approach to their employee commitments, seeing jobs as an opportunity to develop their skills but then looking to move on and develop in their careers. For organisations like Nationwide that will generate a higher turnover cost," Hutchinson-O'Neill told HR magazine. "Ultimately we want to compete for the best talent and any organisation that doesn’t invest in its retention strategies will realise the decrease in competitive advantage.

"We have looked more holistically at our application management process and this has allowed us to examine every aspect of our recruitment journey and find out what matters to them in terms of their experience of the candidate process."

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