Candidate experience: The holy grail of recruitment

“If you are not taking care of your candidates, your competitor will.” – Bob Hooey

We’ve all seen a myriad of articles on how HR professionals can strengthen their candidate experience, but many of these forget to discuss the basics. What is candidate experience, and why does it matter?

So before worrying about how to improve the experience, let’s go back to basics and look at why you should.

What is the candidate experience?

Put simply, the candidate experience refers to how your candidates feel about your company when they experience your hiring process. It is impacted by every interaction a candidate has with you, from direct communication and dealings with your team to your brand messaging and technology.

These interactions aren’t limited to those explicitly in your application process. They occur across all your platforms, including:

  • Your corporate career pages
  • Social media pages
  • Job listings

Almost 4 in 5 candidates (78%) say the overall candidate experience is an indicator of how a company values its people, which can make or break your recruitment process.

Why is improving the candidate experience important?

At the heart of it, a poor candidate experience can lead to everything from candidate attrition during the process to rejection of your job offer. And this can cost you time and money, lose top talent and, ultimately, impact your brand and future recruitment efforts.

With the stakes so high, it might seem like the majority of companies strive to get it right. But the statistics tell a different story. According to Linke[MM1] dIn, 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and 72% of those have shared the experience publicly on sites like Glassdoor.

Here are just some of the reasons it’s a good idea to revisit yours.

  1. A positive experience builds your brand

With such a high number of candidates believing your hiring process reflects how you treat people, a positive experience says a lot about your brand. Remember, just as you are evaluating candidates, they are evaluating who you are too. So make sure your hiring process aligns with your brand values. You never know when today’s rejected candidate could become sought-after talent or even a valued client, so maintaining a positive impression of your brand is key.

  • Your experience can improve the quality of hires

In today’s competitive market, the best talent likely has many opportunities. Delivering a positive experience can keep them engaged with you and more likely to consider your role. Speed is critical here. A timely and responsive process will reduce candidate attrition and likely keep your best candidates interested.

  • A poor experience can leave a lasting impact

As the statistics above show, candidates feel strongly (and remember!) negative experiences. Of course, not every candidate will be successful in every role, but how you handle rejections contributes to your experience.

A rejection doesn’t have to leave a bad taste in a candidate’s mouth. In fact, it can leave them with a positive impression. Whether you are rejecting an application in the early stages or after interview, responsive communication is key. This can be about broadcast communications in the early stages, but these communications can still be timely and polite, recognising the effort candidates have put into applying. 

In the latter stages, personalised and direct communication is key. Your technology can still do this for you, but in a way that acknowledges the time the candidate has given you.

  • It can decrease time to hire (and save you money!)

A good candidate experience isn’t just about the candidate, it delivers a raft of business benefits too. A positive experience is likely to be one that is efficient, and that’s a win for your team. It helps you find the right hire faster and uses less resources, meaning you can focus on more strategic activities up the chain.

So, how can you improve your process?

So we know what is and why it’s important, but what can be done about it? Here are just a few areas it’s worth investing in.  

  1. Writing clear job advertisements and descriptions
  • Use everyday language rather an industry jargon or business buzzwords.
  • Be concise when listing your requirements. Job ads with lengthy requirement lists lose engagement.
  • Present information in a clear structure. Start with the most important information and use bulleted lists and active phrasing to deliver it in an engaging way.
  • Don’t rely on the job title to provide information. There are such a wide variety of job titles in the market today, so nothing can be assumed. For example, if the title includes ‘manager’ don’t assume your candidates will understand whether this means managing projects, resources, people, or all three.

2. Making sure your application process is easy

In a competitive market, lengthy application processes that involve clunky technology, hard to find information or data duplication are a turn-off for candidates. Some things to look at here include:

  • Making sure your career pages are easy to find within your website. Consider providing an easy-to-remember vanity link, such as
  • Giving clear instructions. Long, complicated instructions can be confusing and result in candidate dropout. In fact, 60% of job seekers report having given up on an application due to length or complexity[MM2] .
  • Take applications via LinkedIn profile or offer resume parsing that makes it easy for candidates to apply with no duplication of their data.

3. Being responsive and communicating regularly   

A lack of communication is one of the most common complaints about a recruitment process, and it’s easy to see why. Nobody wants to be left hanging on, wondering if they are still in contention when the decision has already been made.

Essential communications include:

  • Confirmation of application receipt
  • Reminder emails if something needs addressing
  • Thank you emails when an action is taken
  • Prompt responses to candidate enquiries
  • Timely and polite status notifications – including rejections
  1. Preparing your team for successful interviews

Most of us can attest to awkward interview experiences where panel members are not prepared and/or can’t answer basic questions about the role. It doesn’t create a great impression. So, get your team together before the interview to prepare, and remember that interviewing is a skill, so some inexperienced members might need training.

  1. Considering how you can surprise and delight shortlisted candidates

Think about how you can use your candidate experience to surprise and delight shortlisted candidates and ultimately stand out from the crowd. Some ways we’ve seen this done well include:

  • Organising a car to bring candidates to face-to-face interviews
  • Providing a “candidate concierge” that supports the candidate remotely and when they are on-premises for an interview
  • Sending preparation resources to candidates for remote interviews
  • Assigning a ‘buddy’ – a current employee who can answer questions (and address any doubts!)
  1. Challenging top candidates

Top candidates will appreciate being challenged and asked different interview questions, such as those that involve critical thinking or creativity rather than just reeling off prepared responses. It will show that you have set the bar high and drive home the point that you are serious about hiring great talent.  

In conclusion

Your candidate experience can and will leave a lasting impression, so it’s worth investing in. Today’s technology can help you deliver a winning experience, finding the right candidate while freeing up HR and internal recruitment resources.

Talk to today about how our leading AI-driven technology can save you time and money and help you stand out from the crowd.

Key Insights:

  • 78% of candidates say that candidate experience reflects how a company values its people.
  • 60% of job seekers reporting quitting an application due to length or complexity
  • 72% of candidates will post a review of a poor experience
  • Candidate experience can impact your future recruitment efforts and your overall brand reputation.
  • A positive candidate experience will improve the quality of hires
  • Your application process, response times and communication are key areas to revisit
  • Investing in your candidate experience is essential. The right technology can help you streamline your process, save time and money and find the right hires fast.

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