Candidate Experience: Definition and Realistic Strategies for Every HR Pro

by Sarah Reyes

What is candidate experience? Making the candidate or a job seeker feel welcome and accommodated is no longer just something nice to have for companies, businesses, and organizations. It has now become a requirement that, when not met, will lead to implications far beyond the entire hiring process. This requirement is known as the candidate experience

This article will talk about candidate experience and how it can affect the business in countless ways. It will also touchpoints on the different ways to improve and will provide you with strategies to help you advance and boost the overall applicant experience in your way as an employer. 

Candidate Experience

What is Candidate Experience?

It is pretty self-explanatory. It is defined as the complete perception of a job applicant towards the employers or any company they are perception was built in their experience throughout the entire recruitment process, from the job search to the application mechanism to the interview applying to. This and the onboarding recruitment part. 

To improve its overall employee experience, a company needs to focus on improvement strategies such as an evaluation once the interview process or the onboarding is done. This evaluation will include every step of the recruitment process and would present both the feelings of the candidate and the feedback from the recruiters as well. 

As the recruiting process shifts digitally with the pandemic, human resources have tapped into recruiting technology to improve job seeker experience.

Enhancing this experience is essential as it could drastically affect business with the impact abandonment rates of a company, for example, wherein a number of applicants abandon the whole job application before interviewing, for instance. 

For us to discuss what these strategies of improvement are and why it is important, we first need to look at the key components of job seeker experience. 

Key Components

These 7 critical components to the application process influence a candidate’s experience with a recruiter and the company. Here are they in order from the beginning to the last component. 

Job Search

The first point of interaction is the candidate finding out about a job posting in a business or a company. It could either be from social media from another job search advertisement, a job search site, or through a company or business’ website itself.

An adjustment to do initially with the job search experience is making sure that a company or business website’s career or job vacancy page is easy enough to navigate. Ensuring that these steps are met will make for a positive experience from the start. 

Job Application

Aside from the job posting being discoverable and easy to find, one needs to keep in mind the instructions and requirements posted in the job posting should be concise and easy enough to follow.

This part is especially essential to the applicant experience of applicants finding postings on countless job search sites. Encourage them by making the company’s contact information visible on the postings itself in case the candidates would have questions. 


A thing that could make or break the applicant experience in an application process is that companies and businesses take too much time in responding or even acknowledging a candidate’s application.

A CareerBuilder survey has 81% of their respondents saying that communication between them and employers about job application will definitely add to their job seeker experience. The job seekers would like a simple text or email informing them whether they passed the first screening or if they should move one and find another opportunity. 


If a business or a company has shortlisted a candidate, frequent status updates about a candidate’s application will keep them engaged and excited throughout the hiring process.

Companies and businesses should keep the communication in the frontline. An automated email informing them that a job seeker is shortlisted will be beneficial and add to their experience. Either way, communication is the key to adding or losing business when it comes to experience; it is the cherry on top, so to speak. 

What is Candidate Experience?


An interview will open the window to knowing if a shortlisted candidate is the right fit for the job vacancy in a business or a company. What’s great is that an interview is also a way for the job seeker to know about the office or the firm. A constructive and positive interview experience can land you the best possible candidate for the job. 

Since the candidate will be seeking feedback as soon as the process is over, structured interviews would make the process clear and without any confusion.

The usual practice of repetitive interviews for a potential candidate by multiple people from the employer company would not only be confusing for the candidate but would also add to the cost of the whole hiring process. Speed and structure are crucial to giving a potential a positive experience in this process. 

A practice of informing a candidate and drawing the interview out in advance will help them reach their full potential to acing the interview and give them an idea of what would be taking place during the interview. 

You might also like: 12 Common Interview Questions and Sample Responses


Now that an interview screened out the best possible person for the job, it is time for onboarding. Onboarding is essentially a candidate’s first day at work and the last step in their overall experience. This component is where the company or business that hired him should be able to live up to their words, and this would include the benefits, the pay, the workload, and what have you. 

Bad practices that would potentially lower a candidate’s experience on their onboarding experience would be a mountain of paperwork on the get-go, aloofness and lack of team communication, or unclear and confusing instructions which are essential in this working from home environment.

Like in the interview process, structure in the onboarding plan will lead to a successful hire and a great experience for the best candidate. 


Optimizing hiring practices to improve job seekers’ experience needs objective analysis and insights. One can have this by asking every candidate to answer a survey on how they think their experience could improve. This example of a technique would be efficiently conducted, especially now that we live digitally.

What Makes An Excellent Candidate Experience?

A candidate will have a variety of factors to draw their evaluations regarding their experience in the overall hiring experience. Some of these factors are –

What Makes An Excellent Candidate Experience?

High Engagement

Lack of communication can result in a candidate withdrawing their application from a business or a company.

One could blame the candidate’s cold feet, but it will all come to the culprit of minor to no communication. In order for the company to grow with time, they would have to hire a new employee in the latest generation, and those are the upcoming professionals in Generation Z

If one company has a complex application process, the more applicants expect from a business or company.

The sensible automatic thank you for applying message is there, but if that is only the line of communication, an applicant’s candidate experience will definitely be sour. They would rather have the “you are not the right fit” message than being left without any updates about their communication. 

On the other hand, when a company is quick to reply and schedule even only a phone interview for initial evaluation, it could change a candidate’s overall experience with the company or the organization.

Furthermore, in a study by IBM, they found out that candidates who are not hired the first time will still apply for a job posting in the company because of the overall excellent applicant experience. The same study also found that companies and businesses that utilize chatbots in their hiring process will altogether expect a better experience. 

Ethical and Culture Driven 

Company culture is a top precedence of every job seeker but more so with applicants that are Generation Zers who as data shows will hold 27% of jobs in the workforce.

Their voices are only becoming stronger that since this generation is more skeptical in the ethical practices of the tech industries, the tech sector is finding it challenging to hire and attract potential Gen-Z talents. 

Chances are, companies have no choice but to make sure that their ethics and values written in their goals and objective would reflect it in reality by the way they treat their potential hires or current employees.

What a company or organization could do as a solution to this problem is to standardize the application process by giving everyone a chance, as it has been shown that fair and formalized hiring practices will help with overall excellent candidate experience. 

Ethical and Culture Driven


To avoid 60% of job applicants quitting midway in the hiring process, a company, a business, or an organization’s hiring process should give value to the applicant’s time by speeding up and not overcomplicating the hiring process. The focus of speed in this process is hardly new. 

In order to improve in terms of speed, you can focus on the first and second components, which are the job search and the job application. Aim for the complex-free application method in your website by timing it to be completed in 5 minutes or less. 

Challenges in Cultivating a Positive Candidate Experience

Improving the experience of candidates in a hiring process is a priority of every employer and every human resource department. As sometimes, some hindrances and barriers need to be tackled first before improving upon them. Here are some of the challenges: 

Construed Processes and Expectations

Misaligned expectations would come from the candidate wanting to be informed or notified if they were cut or are still in the running for the vacant position in a company or business.

Although it was found that only 31% of employers send rejection texts or emails to notify that a job seeker was not accepted.

This loop of being unable to inform the candidate would eventually result in a bad experience. It would often be why they would not apply for a job in that particular company or business again. 

There is high demand for top talents, but studies have averaged that they are only available in the job market in ten days. Compare it to the 25 days hiring for the tech company and the 41 days hiring period for other industries, and you will see the disconnect. 

Lack of Awareness Amongst Recruiters

Lack of awareness would come from the employer not being aware that experience will impact their company, business, or organization—both positively and negatively.

Studies have shown that about 82% of employers think that a negative experience would not matter in the long run. The reality is, in fact, much different. 

Poor treatment will lead to a negative experience and can sometimes result in candidates not buying from a company that ignored their job applications which are 58%.

That number will move up to 65% if they haven’t heard back from the company after an interview and 69% are less like to buy from a company due to a bad interview experience. 

High Workload 

The ratio of open requisitions to recruiters is 40:1 or sometimes 30:1. This number shows the workload that would make it virtually impossible for a recruiter to give every single one of the job seekers a personalized candidate experience. 

To remedy this, companies and organizations hiring in larger varieties should provide tech tools and software for the HR or the recruiting department to meet the demands and give a great experience. 

Tools to Improve Candidate Experience

With all of the logistics in place, how can a company, a business, or an organization improve on their experience? 

Applicant Tracking Systems

ATS are technologies used to streamline and accelerate the recruitment process. They can include site integrations to make it easier for a job seeker to apply anywhere a company or a business’ posting is visible.

Take it a step further with your Applicant Tracking Systems and invest in chatbots and adopt a mobile interface for your posting to make it possible for job applicants to apply straight from their mobile phones.  

Candidate Relationship Management Systems

Candidate Relationship Management or CRMs are automated forms of communication, whether active or passive, that would keep an applicant engaged in your hiring process by offering continuous communication.

CRMs should be integrated with Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS. This technology will be able to send job seekers personalized messages, guides in their application and will answer their questions throughout the entire candidate experience. 

Interview Tools

This pandemic has made face-to-face interviews more or less extinct, and many applicants take into consideration the method of the interview when deciding on going forward with the whole hiring process.

Video interviewing options should always be available for a complete and cohesive experience for this time and age. Not only is it safer for both of you, but it will also show a company’s value in their applicants. 

This could also be a better option over a simple phone interview as it would add the personal touch needed for the interview process. A recruiter can easily evaluate a candidate objectively and fairly in their skills and capabilities when opting for video conferencing over phone calls. 

Onboarding Methods

Making the onboarding process structured and streamlined is a way to improve this part of onboarding in the job seeker experience.

The quickness of conducting background checks, the agility in offering and providing feedback and salary offers, and the straightforward signing formalities will benefit a candidate’s positive experience in the onboarding component.

Onboarding that will feel like a hassle with the mountain of paperwork will not contribute to their experience. Instead, allowing them a look at the company or organization’s workings will make the difference. 

Induction Processes

An onboarded candidate is now an employee, alas! However, induction and orientation of the employee-in-paper would still take a few months. Such processes will see to it that everything a recruiter, a company, or even an organization promises a former recruit should be met. 

This is the window of time where an employer should make the new employee feel welcome to integrate them into the company or organization’s culture and workings. See to it that this is when the employee will know that their experience is only a taste of the overall positive employee experience. 

Final Thoughts

Candidate experience directly influences everything from the company or organization’s talent attraction to recruitment to its overall reputation and could even directly impact its sale.

There are many ways to improve upon a company or an organization’s candidate experience, and simply touching points with job applicants can make a huge difference. 

Simple things like evaluating a company or organization’s recruitment practices then improving upon or tweaking what it is practicing could make a difference. Identifying what component of recruiting practice you should change will mend the gaps that are missing in your ability to give a candidate a positive experience in your recruiting methods overall. 

What do you think are the best practices to improve candidate experience? Tell us in the comments. Finally, sharing is caring! Share this post on social media and help fellow HR professionals do better recruitment today!

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