Low level of unemployment prompts managers to expand their viewpoint on the role of Mystery Shopping in businesses.
The low level of unemployment is the current hot topic in all sectors of the Czech economy. Let´s have a short look at its consequences within an industry where we would not normally expect any real impact – the measurement of service quality through mystery shoppers. For the purposes of this article they should really be called mystery candidates.
The most common objective of Mystery Shopping is to monitor the behavior of employees, who provide service to customers both personally at the point of sales, or over the phone. However, the saturated employment market has offered us a new and unexpected opportunity – using “Mystery Shopping” to oversee the recruitment process of new employees.
When there is a large demand for employees in the market, a well-tuned and smooth-functioning recruitment process becomes all the more important – starting from when the candidate first reacts to a job ad until their first day on the job. Candidates can, more than before, choose between a selection of positions, and then share their experiences of the prospective employers between themselves.
Many of our clients therefore approach us with commissions to test not only their service staff, but also run mystery research on their HR personnel, who are specifically responsible for recruitment.
Product and service adverts have been replaced by position and salary adverts.
Remember a couple of years ago? Every paid ad was almost always selling products or services. How has the situation changed now? When we look at ads, there is a substantial number of campaigns communicating recruitment of new employees or the current salaries. Often, within the Czech market especially, the ads contain hidden conditions, written at the end or in small type.
Companies invest substantial financial resources into these campaigns and it is in their interest to continuously check that their recruitment process is functioning as it should and that their finance is sensibly invested.
How to correctly run the Mystery Candidate project; the key to success is a believable mystery candidate.
How do we carry out the testing? It starts with a detailed description of the Mystery Candidate project objectives. Sometimes the term ´Mystery Recruitment´ is also used. The agency most often has to find a fictitious candidate whose real professional profile however ideally corresponds with the client´s advertised position (e.g. shop assistant, driver, broker, or warehouse staff). It is crucial to select candidates who have had real experience in a similar position to be best suited for the monitored position. Should the agency want to use just ´anybody´ for this type of research, the candidate is liable to fail at the beginning of the process. The whole project then loses its purpose, because the candidate is in the majority of cases rejected in the first round of the recruitment process.
As well as the description of the recruitment process, the “Candidate Experience” is of enormous importance today.
Selected people usually send their real CV to a specific ad published by the research client on the internet or personally bring it to a specified place (branch, central office). What happens next? On a daily basis we monitor all communication and activity related to the recruitment process.
For example, we are interested in how long it takes for the company to contact the prospective employee, either via telephone conversations or interviews, and in later phases in the personal interviews or visits to assessment centers. The whole process usually ends naturally, i.e. our candidate is either not hired or is hired, but rejects the final offer.
We usually divide the obtained information in two levels. One level is the process, i.e. if the recruitment process of our client is set correctly and effectively. For the second level, we ask the mystery candidates for their subjective impressions and feelings regarding the entire recruitment process, which we call the Candidate Experience.
Corrective measures can be implemented in real time.
The client is now able to continuously monitor and flexibly react to the situation on the agency´s online platform, which has updates on the specific recruitment process. After each stage of the recruitment process the Mystery Candidates give detailed description of the process in an on-line questionnaire, while adding their valuable experience, both positive and negative.
When the project is analyzed we frequently find the pitfalls of the process or specific human errors. The consequences may be the failure to contact the candidate without any apparent reason, or the rejection of a suitable candidate for the advertised position.
In the end, it is up to the client to adjust the recruitment process so that the return on investment in recruitment marketing campaigns is as high as possible, and the speed and quality of the recruitment process as well as new employee satisfaction is maximized.
Market Vision, Czech Republic
Director of the MSPA EA Board