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What is candidate experience, and why is it important? In this article, we go through the basics of candidate experience and how you can improve it in seven easy steps.
Four out of five (78%) job seekers feel that their overall experience with a company indicates how a company values its employees.
And yet, quite surprisingly, a large majority of candidates have had poor candidate experiences with potential employers.
More importantly, 72% of these job applicants tend to share their experiences — good or bad — on online employer review forums like Glassdoor.
Needless to say, candidate experience is something that recruiters should pay attention to, especially if they want to attract top talents and keep their employer brand shiny.
In this article, we’ll go through the basics of candidate experience and how you can improve it in seven easy steps! 👇
If you work in HR, it’s likely that you know something about candidate experience. After all, it is an important concept in recruiting and hiring.
Still, it’s good to define what we’ll be talking about, so here goes!
Briefly put, candidate experience in recruitment refers to how job applicants feel about your company after having experienced your hiring process.
It is also one of the most important factors for attracting top talent as it deeply influences a candidate’s decision to submit an application or accept a job offer.
Candidate experience encompasses the job seeker’s whole journey: From initially hearing about your company before or during their job search to the second they’re either hired or rejected.
To be clear, the term ‘candidate’ refers to current job seekers, the people who have previously applied for a position at your company, as well as any future job seekers.
In the ideal world, the experience a candidate gets would be smooth and consistent from start to finish, regardless of their future with a company. It should ideally be the same for every candidate at all stages of the process.
A positive candidate experience will then reflect positively on your employer brand, further attracting quality talent.
This is, however, rarely the case, and the reason why it’s a good idea to focus on improving candidate experience.
In most cases, rejected candidates never even hear back from a company after turning in their application.
Overall, candidates appreciate updates and feedback on their assessment and interview. According to Talent Board’s 2020 EMEA Candidate Experience Research:
As you can see, positive candidate experience does not always equate to employees getting hired.
Job seekers understand that a certain job may not be the right fit for them, but they appreciate honest feedback and communication nonetheless.
Nearly every professional can recall an experience from their past where they never received a reply from an employer, or even worse: Applying for a position and getting rejected by a generic copy-paste email with the wrong information on it.
Or imagine this: Getting the job only to receive a rejection letter a week later. What? Whether they’re actually hired or not, nobody seems to know.
There are surely more bad candidate experience stories out there.
These experiences leave a bad taste in a candidate’s mouth, and for a good reason! These kinds of mistakes are typically due to the HR department being too busy or having too many applications to handle.
Or it could also be that they do not have the best possible tools to handle large amounts of applications.
The point is, when someone (and over time, many people) have this kind of negative experience, it will eventually leave a dent in your employer brand.
Word will get around, and people will tell others about their negative experiences regarding your recruiting process.
However, word about positive experiences will also spread around, and job applicants will be increasingly interested in your brand.
A positive employer brand gives your company a competitive advantage when people actually want to apply and work there.
Here are a couple of our favorite tips that will help you improve your candidate experience right away.
Ensure that your job postings are accurate, whether you’re posting on your career page or on social media.
Use clear, professional language that explains the role and its responsibilities succinctly.
Refrain from using buzzwords or exaggerating how awesome your company is — except if it’s absolutely in line with your branding.
When writing about the responsibilities of the job, try to stick to the role’s must-haves.
A lot of candidates find it discouraging to apply to job openings for roles that are looking for an endless list of skills in one person.
Make management responsibilities clear so that candidates can readily assess whether or not they are interested in managing people.
A lot of companies hire manager-level employees but do not require them to handle teams. Hence, it’s best to be as transparent as possible regarding your expectations of candidates for management roles.
Make sure that the salary range and requirements are clearly displayed. Include the perks and benefits that come with the role, company values, and so on.
Whenever possible, try to include branded elements such as your brand colors, fonts, logo, and the like. This helps the candidates associate your brand with the great experience they will soon have with your company.
Try to explain the hiring process as clearly as you can. For example:
If you’re not looking to hire right now but are instead building a talent pool, be open about it and explain how the whole thing works.
Don’t string your candidates along and make them believe you will hire in the next couple of weeks if you don’t even have an open position available at the time.
Respect your candidate’s time and be open about when you’re planning on getting back to them. A simple message like ‘We will get back to you by the end of next week’ will suffice.
Before applying, job seekers are likely to visit your website to understand what kind of workplace your company is.
They’ll be particularly interested in your career page, so make sure that part is updated regularly with relevant content.
Make sure your career page is highly visible as well. Don’t bury it inside sub-menus or on your site’s footer.
As much as possible, you’ll want to highlight it by placing it on your main menu bar. You’ll want to make it easy for applicants to send in their applications, especially if you’re actively looking for talent for critical roles.
Consider publishing blog posts about working at your company, employee testimonials, alumni testimonials, and the like. These types of content will give candidates an idea about the working environment and company culture at your organization.
Make sure your company values and culture are represented well on the website through good design and quality content.
Also, remember to include content on the recruitment process itself to give your applicants an idea of what the process will look like for them when they apply.
Incorporate other features that enhance the overall user experience of your applicants, as well. Consider the following:
When it comes to candidate experience, it’s better to over-communicate than not communicate at all. If someone comes in for an interview, be sure to explain the next steps right after. For example:
‘We are interviewing other candidates for this position during the next two weeks. After the interview, we will contact each candidate personally about the next phase in the process. You can expect a call/email from us by the end of week .’
And this goes without saying, but keep your word. If you tell a candidate you are contacting them at a specific time, remember to do that.
Research shows that the number of candidates that report great candidate experience rises by up to 52% when:
The interviews themselves are an important part of the process, and it’s crucial to get this part right to keep your candidate interested in the position and your company as a whole.
Ask good and relevant questions. Allow the candidate to ask questions as well. It’s not only about you choosing to hire someone, but also about them choosing to work for you.
Keep the interview relatively short so that you can leave time for a more casual conversation at the end of the interview.
If possible, you can also offer the candidate an office tour or showcase your company culture in other ways.
Another important step is giving honest feedback and asking for it in return.
You can send the interviewee feedback afterward, or reserve some time at the end of the interview for feedback. Let’s recall the statistics we shared earlier about feedback! 🧠
Positive experience reports from candidates rose by 27% among those who were given feedback concerning their job fit.
The number of reports also rose by up to 14% when candidates were given feedback about an assessment or test that they took.
Take note that these numbers don’t automatically equate to good feedback or a positive hiring decision.
The mere presence of a feedback loop concerning the application process makes it more personal and engaging.
Hence, even if the candidate isn’t hired, they might still consider reapplying in the future when a better match comes along.
The unfortunate reality is that you can’t hire everyone. But you can keep up a good relationship with them nevertheless.
You can also have them join your talent community even if they’re not fit for a position right then and there.
Let them know what happened during the process and why they weren’t chosen, and offer them a chance to leave their information in your talent pool for future opportunities.
If you have a newsletter, you can ask them to join your mailing list to get content from you in the future and potentially hear about events and/or job opportunities through there.
When you do hire someone, make sure the onboarding process begins smoothly after the recruitment process.
If you treasure it, measure it! You should always ask your candidates for feedback, preferably at different points during the recruitment process.
Granted, some feedback you’ll get might be negative. However, this is still helpful because asking for feedback provides candidates with a positive experience
Also, feedback helps you develop your process in the future as well. If you don’t know what’s wrong, it’s a lot harder to fix, right?
The easiest way to do this is to send out a survey at different times in the process.
Remember: feedback loops are critical!
Candidate experience is crucial in ensuring that companies have great access to a large pool of talents. Overall, a good employer brand is great for a company’s HR department and hiring teams.
Great candidate experience ensures that candidates have a good impression of the company, whether they are hired or not.
In cases where they are not hired, a good hiring process will still ensure that candidates maintain a good relationship with your company. The goal of a good candidate experience is not to ensure that all candidates are happy.
They likely won’t be, especially those that aren’t hired. The goal, instead, is to leave them feeling that they were treated in the best and fairest possible way during the entire process.
Remember that consistent communication is key. You can optimize communication with candidates by using a mix of tools that can automate emails, notifications, and the like, as well as human interaction.
TalentAdore, for example, is a tool that helps you handle the entire recruitment process.
Everything from job postings to hiring decisions, building dynamic talent communities, and pre-onboarding freshly hired candidates can be done through the platform.
It also ensures a superior candidate experience for every applicant.
TalentAdore uses artificial intelligence and clever automation to create unparalleled communication with candidates.
Although it is an AI software, its main goal is to add the human touch to your recruitment process. It automates parts of the recruitment process, saving time and allowing you to focus on your core work: the people.