The Candidate Experience: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

The Candidate Experience: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

According to research done by CareerArc, 72% of candidates who had a bad experience during the recruiting process shared the story with others, either in person or online. We open the article with this statistic to demonstrate the importance of the candidate experience, as it can either build up or break down your company’s brand, not only in the eyes of potential hires but also in the eyes of your customers.

Take Virgin Media for example. A few years back, the company discovered after a candidate’s bad interview experience, that they were losing $5M annually from such encounters. The candidates were telling their friends and family to disconnect from Virgin Media’s services as a response, leading to a 6% loss in revenue.

Providing the best candidate experience during your recruiting process is not just a matter of damage control — it is also a matter of survival. With talent these days being offered so many opportunities, your company can’t afford to lose any applicants along the way. In addition, when providing the best candidate experience, you’ll also decrease the cost-per-hire, time-per-hire, increase your talent pool and attract high-quality candidates.


What is the Candidate Experience?

This term may sound a little broad and hard to comprehend. When talking about the candidate experience, some might think it’s only related to the interview stage, as this is where the applicant gets to interact with the company. However, there is so much more to this — from the very first online application to the offer and onboarding, or, in some cases, the rejection.

So what does candidate experience mean? It includes all of the candidate’s feelings and perceptions of your company, which arise from the recruiting process. And by “candidate”, we’re talking about all of those who apply, think of applying, get accepted or rejected. So if, for instance, you send them an initial email trying to schedule a phone interview and then ghost them because you got distracted, that creates a bad candidate experience. If, on the other hand, you email them even when you don’t have any news, just to let them know that the role hasn’t been filled yet, and you will be in touch soon — that creates a good candidate experience.


How to Improve Candidate Experience – Best Practices

1. Transparency is Key

When people apply for a role, it makes such a big difference whether they will have to go through three interviews or just one, whether they will have to wait months for an answer or will be expected to start next week, whether the role pays according to their expectations — you get where we’re going we this. The idea here is to communicate as much as possible with your applicants, give them all of the information about the recruiting process and when possible, do not withhold any information.

Other things you should consider are emphasizing your company culture and what kind of person you are looking to hire, talking about the benefits of the role as well as the challenges, prepping the candidates for any skills tests they need to take, as well as informing them of the interview structure and the people who will be interviewing them. The best candidate experience includes all of the information to ensure the candidate knows what they are getting into and that they are not caught off-guard.

This also includes follow-ups after every communication, check-ins between stages and making sure candidates are not being left in the dark. As job seekers probably apply to multiple roles at once, if they don’t hear from you for a period of time, they will assume they got rejected. Making sure you email them to let them know they are still in the running, telling them the timeline for your decision, answering their emails in a timely manner — all create the best candidate experience.

2. Keep the Application Process User-Friendly

The job application is the second point of contact you will have with your candidates (after the job description), but if it is not well-constructed, it can be where you will lose most of your best talent. When you’re thinking about how to improve candidate experience, consider if you really need all of these questions in order to screen applicants. CareerBuilder found that 60% of job seekers abandon their online applications because they are too long or complex.

Including a status bar, which informs the candidate how far along they are in the application, will help them with longer forms. Or better yet, try to include everything on one page. More ways to make the applications user-friendly include dropping the mandatory sign-in, making sure applicants can upload their resume from LinkedIn (instead of manually), giving clear instructions and sending a confirmation email after submission. Most importantly, ensure the form is compatible for mobile.

3. Give/Receive Feedback

LinkedIn hiring statistics found that 94% of job seekers want to receive feedback about their interview. This means when you reject a candidate, first of all, let them know as soon as possible, so they can move on. Then, offer a kind, constructive feedback, preferably over email, as this can get awkward on the phone. Don’t forget to thank them for their time and try to say something positive as well, to cushion the bad news. Saying you’ll keep them in mind for other positions is always nice to hear, but only if you actually mean it.

Finally, you can ask for feedback from the rejected candidate. This will not only show them you care about creating the best candidate experience but also help you learn how to improve candidate experience in ways you may have not considered before.

Additional things to consider can be a warm welcome when the candidate arrives at your offices, including a tour around the company and offering a cup of coffee. During the interview, making sure that the candidate gets your full, uninterrupted attention is also advised. Any form of small courtesy can go a long way in creating the best candidate experience.