An app designed to help job candidates, and employers, feel connected every step of the hiring process.
My Role: UX research, Design Strategy, UI
Team: Individual, Capstone project
Duration: Oct - Dec 2022, Eight weeks
Tools: Figma, Adobe Illustrator
Designed For: Android (Mobile)
Yup, this is what over 75% of job candidates experience after an application or interview. Just silence, dot dot dot, and nothing else.
We know how tedious the hiring process can be for recruiters and employers, and possibly you - who's reading this right now. Looking through hundreds of applications isn't the most exciting, which is why a range of hiring software exist nowadays to help companies hire faster and better. But the question is - what about the candidates?
The employer-employee relationship has transformed dramatically. The power in recruiting, which has historically rested with employers, has now shifted to the candidates. Yet, tools for job candidates are scarce and none tackle the problem of inadequate communication in the hiring process.
Using the diverge-and-converge technique in UX, I conducted thorough research and synthesis on improving the candidate experience. With these findings, I finalized my solution with a hi-fidelity app design that aims to provide job candidates consistent communication throughout the hiring process.
Hiring is a two-way street.
We've all been in the shoes of a job candidate. What was your experience like?
Some may be good, some probably not as much. In fact, 39% of job candidates stated lack of communication is a common frustration they experience in the hiring process, causing them to withdraw their application. Further research also showed that:
wanted consistent status updates to be communicated
expected to hear back within a week about their job application
rated transparency as an important factor when choosing an employer
Setting my research goal
Redesigning a company's entire hiring flow is not the goal here. But what if I can find a way to improve communication in the hiring space, so candidates can feel good, and employers can look good?
"I almost gave up on this current job because of how long it took to hear back!"
Job seeking can be a very daunting experience. I talked to three participants in their 20s or 30s, all of whom have looked for a job within the last twelve months, to understand their thoughts and behaviours surrounding their candidate experiences.
Lack of communication was brought up several times as a common pain point. And within that, I discovered a theme around consistency and responsiveness that is shared among the three participants.
Not knowing what was going on when there’s no or a lack of response
No expectation of when I would hear back from the company
Missing out on job opportunities due to long turnaround times
No timeframe on when they will get back to me
Some form of touchpoint and explanation about delays
Consistent communication to set expectations
Not likely to reach out to companies first before having any prior contact
Assumes that they didn’t make it to the next stage due to no response
How might we establish consistent and timely communication with job candidates, in order to reduce drop-outs during the hiring process?
Persona & Experience Map
Get to know my users through storytelling
This is Hana Lee. She may not be real, but she's the key to my solution.
"Hana is a fresh graduate who has been actively looking to land a job in Marketing. But she's been struggling with hearing back from companies and employers in general. Inexperienced with job seeking, she feels lost and doesn't know what to do."
Anxiety from long turnaround times
No idea who to reach out to
Updates about her status in the process
Knowing if she got rejected or not
"Hiring is just exhausting. It goes both ways."
- User Interview Participant #1
Thinking like a job candidate without forgetting the employers
I want my solution to be realistic and practical. Hiring is exhausting, not only for candidates, but for employers as well. So by taking into consideration the employer's workload and burden, I chose to focus my solution on actions a candidate can take to fulfill their goal of feeling reassured in the hiring process. What can I do to encourage them to take action? What can I provide candidates so that they stay in the process?
Core Epic: Communication about their hiring progress
As a job candidate,
I want to...
see where I’m at in the hiring process
receive real-time status updates on the process
be notified when there is a delay in response
see who I can reach out to about my hiring status
get in touch with the recruiter or employer
give the employer a “nudge” when it’s taking too long
be given a guide on what to say to the employers
be given an estimated time of when I’ll hear back
I can feel more motivated to complete the process
I feel assured knowing who's following through my application
I don’t move on too quickly and miss out on a job opportunity
I can get my questions answered as soon as possible
I can have a point of contact to reach out to for questions any time
I can notify them in a less intimidating and more casual way
I can communicate with the employers more professionally
I don’t feel anxious about not hearing back for too long
What impact do my task flows have on my users?
Job candidates find it frustrating when they don’t hear back from companies. At the same time, they're not likely to reach out to follow up about their progress. (It's scary, trust me.) Hence, one of the goals of my task flows is to make this initial contact with work professionals as easy and less intimidating as possible for candidates. I do this by providing them clear information on who to contact, what to say, and what to expect next.
The key objective is to take away any hard work and guesswork that a job candidate may have about their hiring status. This way they can feel that they have more control in the process, and make well-informed decisions on what they can do next.
Exploring in pen & paper
As they always say, actions speak louder than words. With my main task flows in mind, I picked up my pen and began sketching potential screens and features to bring these tasks to life.
Hiring status progress bar & Real-time progress tracker
Suggested message prompts to kickstart a conversation
Tailored contacts information & consistent pop-up updates
Wireframes & User Testing
Iterate, iterate again, keep iterating
The first version is not always the best version. Moving on from sketches to grayscale wireframes, I brought my mid-fidelity prototypes to ten users to observe their real-time interaction with my app. I conducted two rounds of user testing in total, where I identified substantial usability issue with the hiring status screen.
As part of the tasks and scenarios given, users were supposed to find out who to reach out to regarding their status in the hiring process and make a contact. The results, although not what I originally expected, allowed me to revise and improve my designs so it would achieve its initial purpose.
Why was it a failure? Company card and CTA chips on top took attention away from the hiring progress bar and tracker!
Top navigation and emphasis on the progress bar were nice improvements, but the "Last Activity" card felt unnoticeable
The best so far! Repurposing the "Last Activity" section to a reminder card gives users a greater sense of action
Primary Task Flow
Secondary Task Flow
So... what does Ping stand for?
a short, high-pitched ringing sound
"the ping of the oven timer"
to send a signal, usually a brief message or a notification to a person, a person's phone, etc.
"the sales team should ping marketing to set up a meeting next week"
a series of verbal or rapid exchanges between two parties
"that's a ping-pong of absurdist dialogue"
Ping embodies a number of meanings - sending a signal to someone, the sound of a notification, as well as the game of table tennis, or ping pong, that involves the back-and-forth exchange between two parties.
This is relevant given that my app is to provide job candidates consistent update on what’s going on in the hiring process. Essentially this will involve pinging the employer, receiving a notification ping on their hiring progress, and having that two-way communication with employers that resembles a ping-pong game.
Empowering, Friendly, Welcoming
What would a job candidate want to feel when they interact with my app? Perhaps something fun and not serious, but also not too immature. My brand palette is inspired by colours you can find in a typical ping pong game - red and blue paddles, as well as a yellow ping pong ball. You'll find this symbolism in my logo too!
Google Sans Regular
Google Sans Medium
Google Sans Bold
Get the latest update for each job application
Candidates can get a general overview of what's happening with each job they applied to and their progress. Ping will notify them of longer-than-expected turnaround times and important schedules.
Keeping my app inclusive
Ping strives to meet the WCAG level AA standards, a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Every major body text and description have been tested to meet the guideline for accessibility.
"Good communication helps build good relationship from the start."
- User Interview Participant #3
A win-win for both candidates and employers
Benefits for Job Candidates
A positive candidate experience improves the overall well-being of the individual
Being in the know helps take away any anxiety a candidate may have about their hiring progress
Easy communication minimizes barriers to making meaningful connections
Benefits for Employers
A positive candidate experience increases competitive edge over other companies
Good communication attracts more and better talents, which may improve retention rates
A strong employer brand can be built with minimal effort
Same functions, different format
One of the primary goals of Ping is to keep candidates like Hana informed and up-to-date on their hiring progress, which means receiving notifications and tracking their status on-the-go. Taking that into consideration, I expanded my designs to meet the guidelines of a standard Google smartwatch - by keeping elements simple, concise, and on-brand.
Thinking ahead for the future of Ping
Ping has the potentials to be the best, or only, job-tracking app that's designed with candidates in mind. But in order for users to get the most out of it, more improvements and additions can still be made to this project.
Hover over each card to see what thoughts and ideas I have:
What would Ping look like for employers and recruiters?
Web version of the app designed specifically for company-usage
Candidate dashboard for employers to track talents and their submissions
What would using Ping "too much" look like for candidates?
Users can get bombarded by notifications of all the jobs they applied to
Consider adding the option to change notification settings so users have more control over what they receive
What could a "bad user" do with Ping?
Exploiting the chat function with employers is a concern
Adding constraints to the amount of messages a user can send within a period of time can be an option
My growth as a UX designer
Leading a full-scale project alone while still learning the fundamentals was a challenge. I remember stepping into this project feeling overwhelmed by the depth of the UX process, but at the same time, the thought of implementing a solution for something I personally care about was exciting!
As a designer, there will always be this desire to come up with the best and most creative idea. But I’ve learned through this journey that the most unconventional solution may not always be the best fit. Because at the end of the day, we are building an app for our users; our persona. In other words, an app is only valid if it answers and solves the pain points of who we’re targeting.
While there were ups and downs, I managed to trust my peers during the whole process and feel confident about my decisions. I'm happy to say that I'm proud of my work!