How to transform HR by focusing on candidate experience

Charles Hipps tells us how the police are embracing better recruitment techniques. 

Candidate experience needs to be ‘the number one priority for recruiters looking to transform their recruitment approaches and hire the best candidates’ is an anecdote known to many recruiters – but is it the secret to landing the envisaged ‘perfect fit’ employee?

I recently found myself asking this to Morag Gardner, Director of Operational HR and Payroll at Shared Services Connected Ltd delivering services to the Metropolitan Police.

She was adamant that it really does make all the difference. “Getting to the end of application forms to join the police force can feel really tough to candidates because they are long and ask for a lot of information.

“We could see that more needed to be done to keep candidates enthused and so made candidate experience a core focus of our work helping to modernise and transform the Met’s recruitment processes,” she explained.

More education is needed, starting with identifying best practice for a great candidate experience.

Gardner explained how the Met Police have focused on simplifying the approaches used in online application forms to be simplified and standardised into one user friendly candidate interface.

“From the linguistics that we use to ask questions to the layout of the pages we ask candidates to fill in. Our approach to online is all about moving away from the old application packs and having a clean, simple, modern and transparent system that offers candidates great engagement throughout their application journey and provides hiring managers with the key information they need.

“This attention to candidate experience should be a recruiter’s number one priority,” Gardner remarked.

The transformation of Met Police recruiting seems to have paid dividends with 100% of candidates rating their experience as good to excellent and a number of people sharing the application pages using social media to encourage others to apply. This echoes success with other forces such as the award-winning Warwickshire & West Mercia Police Authorities.

Hiring managers also realise the benefits, reporting a reduced time taken to create vacancies, lower costs for time investment in recruiting and more interest in dedicated events to help build talent pools and ensure great candidate experiences.

The key to delivering better candidate experience lies in the ability to configure huge datasets that police forces gather from old manual approaches. This data is loaded into a shared searchable candidate pool rather than carry the risk of input errors corrupting decisions and providing skewed outcomes.

Candidate experience should then be measured at every step along the way and has always shown marked improvements.

Once the application is completed, more needs to be done to ensure that the high percentage rates are not turned into negatives. Assessments needed to be better explained and candidates needed to be fully engaged in what they were attempting to join, in order to complete the process and not renege for better offers in the private sector or feel rebuffed based on centrally created standards.

Talent pooling and banks would only work to hire ‘silver medallists’ or those with an interest if they felt previous unsuccessful applications were suitably explained to them and advocacy was not lost in the process.


There is a line to getting this right. More education is needed, starting with identifying best practice for a great candidate experience. One challenge emerging in retail for instance, was that when candidates were arriving at flagship stores for interviews they were finding it hard to navigate their way to the interview room often making them late.

Candidates coming in need to be immersed with the employer and first impressions count so it needs to be simple for candidates to find a place to report to for an interview, and managers should follow standard interview etiquette to make them feel comfortable.

To speed up the hiring process various approaches seem to work well for different sectors – Situational Judgement Tests can help to sift candidates more quickly before candidates come in for interviews, whilst for others on-the-floor assessments are better, allowing employees to experience the role first-hand and know which areas they thrive in and enjoy.

Employers can then hire the right people for the right roles more effectively, ensuring staff morale remains positive.

To become more effective, developing recruiter toolkits is recommended. Recruitment marketing and the need for stronger employer value propositions are also useful, alongside investing in ‘train the trainer’ programmes and ensuring you ask for feedback from candidates at every stage so the process becomes better with age!

Improvements in technology are providing more options than ever before to be able to prevent crime and respond quickly and effectively to incidents when they happen. It is right that forces act to ensure they can predict and adapt to change and adopt technology that supports them in protecting people from harm.


About the author

Charles Hipps is founder, CEO, and chairman of WCN Plc and has worked with large and small organisations across a wide variety of industry sectors on e-recruitment. He may be contacted via e-mail at


Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *