Candidate Experience: The Cookie Effect

Everyone loves an unexpected sweetener in life. “Surprise and delight” is a well-established concept in customer service – and it is an equally powerful technique in Recruitment.

I call it the Cookie Effect. It is a metaphor that I used to tell my teams at Google and that I now share with my clients to illustrate the importance of "going above and beyond" to ensure positive a candidate experience. What is the Cookie Effect? It is surpassing expectations, creating a WOW experience... And when it comes to recruitment, it is all about Candidate Experience.


When you go to a coffee shop and ask for a coffee (or tea!), you have unconscious expectations that the basic standards will be met:

  • It is suitably hot

  • It is served in a nice, clean cup

  • You get the correct cappuccino or the latte that you ordered

When those minimum requirements are met, chances are you will be normally satisfied.

If those requirements are not met

  • Coffee is cold

  • The order is mucked up

  • or the drink was carelessly spilt on the napkin, or saucer.

… chances are, you probably won’t come back. And, what’s more, you’ll probably grumble about this bad experience with friends, and recommend them to avoid the place too.

Beyond these basics, there are certain expectations most of us hope for, that we know will increase our level of satisfaction:

  • A short waiting time

  • A clean and comfortable environment, and

  • A smile from the waiter

These will create a pleasant experience, and you may come back another time when you are around the area.


Now, imagine if, on top of the coffee, you unexpectedly get something extra, like a delicious free COOKIE on the side??? You’ll no doubt be impressed, may give a tip or share a pic on Facebook – and chances are pretty high that you will come back, tell friends and even bring them along!


Each time I share this story, people enthusiastically chime up with memories of a place where they were surprised and delighted with that delicious cookie. And not only they come up with the brand name, but they also relate the positive experience they went through, describe the savour and flavour of the cookie, etc.  


This is Branding.


Candidate experience is your best ally and tool in Employer Branding !


So think about it and put yourself in your candidates' shoes. What types of "cookies" could you surprise them with? It doesn't have to be costly, it just has to be spot-on… and you can be as creative as possible (as long as you remain consistent with your Company Culture)!

  • Provide a goodie when candidates come to interview

  • Give them an office tour

  • Send a message for their birthday, wedding or whatever event is happening during their recruitment process

  • Use videos to share information about the company, the culture or even the hiring manager

  • Share interview tips prior to the interview

  • Send a map and/or picture of your building in your invitation

  • Provide information of the dress code

  • Try to incorporate your product into the candidate experience

  • Use phone messaging

  • Traffic update link for candidate driving to the interview

  • …. and anything else that would make a candidate happy, ensuring they remember it and speak about their experience in a positive way!

Your Candidate Experience will build on your overall Branding as an employer. It can be great in case of a positive experience, as candidates will probably share their experience broadly, encourage friends and colleagues to apply, be more inclined to buy your products and services, etc.


On the other hand, a poor candidate experience

  • No feedback

  • No or inconsistent information about the role

  • Rude interviewers

can have terrible impact. On top of hurting your brand, bad hiring experience may also cause the right applicant to turn down the job.


So, take a break – settle down with a coffee and a special treat – and spend some time working out how you can positively apply the “Cookie Effect” to your company’s recruitment process ;-)

#recruitment #employerbranding