Improve Candidate Experience: Your Guide to Candidate Experience

by Victoria Mckee

It’s essential to improve candidate experience to win in the competition for exceptional talent. Today, the job market is candidate-driven, meaning an organization won’t pick talent; it’s the talent who picks the organization!

Because of that, it’s crucial for companies to begin improving their candidate experience right at this moment. But what can you do?

We list the best ways to improve candidate experience to attract and recruit top talent. Read on!

What is the Candidate Experience?

The candidate experience isn’t just a passing HR trend. It’s one of the reasons why the ways we recruit changed. What is candidate experience anyway?

It’s a vital HR buzzword in modern recruitment and today’s hottest topic when discussing recruitment marketing.

As the name suggests, candidate experience refers to the candidate’s experience throughout the recruiting process. It’s the candidate’s perception of how an organization would recruit people.

It sounds simple, but candidate experience is a complex notion with ways to measure and improve it.

Candidates refer to current job seekers, past candidates, and potential candidates in the future. Their perception will incorporate all the candidates’ attitudes, behaviors, and feelings experienced throughout the recruitment process.

We emphasize recruitment as a process as it would include various phases like sourcing, screening, interviewing, then moving towards hiring and onboarding. Each interaction candidates have with your organization will affect their candidate experience in these phases. Meaning you need to provide the best experience in every phase!

With all that in mind, here’s the more detailed definition of candidate experience:

Candidate experience is the past, current, and potential future candidates’ overall perception of an organization’s recruiting process. It’s the product of candidates’ attitudes, behaviors, and feelings experienced in the entire recruiting process, from the sourcing and screening to the interviewing and hiring process, finalized with onboarding.

The Importance of Positive Candidate Experience

Positive candidate experiences are crucial for your organization. Here are the ways negative and positive candidate experiences affect you.


Negative candidate experiences may destroy a business

Negative candidate experience may have disastrous effects on your organization’s recruiting process and overall success.

According to various research, organizations that fail to deliver quality candidate experiences can suffer serious consequences. Unhappy candidates will more likely reject the job offer, never reapply for job openings, end even encourages others to avoid applying for your organization. This destroys your hiring process, but it doesn’t stop there.

Negative candidate experiences won’t only cost your organization a few candidates but a lot of money in the long run. Unhappy candidates may boycott your organization’s products or services, telling others to do the same. One prime example is Virgin Media, a company that reported how a bad candidate experience costs them a staggering $5.4 million a year.

According to CareerArc, 72% of candidates who have a negative experience applying for an organization have told others about it, online and in-person. And with the impact that social media has, are you planning to take the risk?


Positive candidate experiences give you a competitive advantage

improve candidate experience

On the other hand, a positive candidate experience can lead to substantial long-term benefits for your organization, whether the candidate was hired or not!

According to various studies and research, candidates with positive experiences during the recruiting process will likely accept the job offer or reapply in the future, even referring others to the organization. As a result, you get to grow your talent pool while improving your employer brand!

Furthermore, your organization will receive more applicants and hires, along with a higher quality of hires. It can reduce your organization’s cost per hire and time to fill.

Moreover, you can turn accepted or rejected candidates into brand ambassadors who advertise your organization for free through social media and word of mouth. The statistics even say so, with 81% of candidates sharing positive experiences with family, friends, and peers, while 51% would share it on social media platforms like LinkedIn or GlassDoor.

How to Improve Candidate Experience

Now that you know how important the candidate experience is, what can you do to improve your current recruiting process?

Each interaction candidates will have with your organization will constitute a touchpoint in any phase. And even before candidates have their first interview with you, they probably already had over 50 touchpoints with your organization!

To help create the best candidate experience, you must begin with the candidate persona and properly craft the candidate journey, focusing on every touchpoint. While it sounds overwhelming, it will have you reap so many benefits in the long run. Your organization can stand out among the competition, so positive candidate experiences need to be the long-term goal.

Here are the best ways to improve candidate experience based on experts and research:

Write clear job descriptions

Writing a clear and attractive job description is the start of finding, attracting, and hiring the best candidates. A report from Talent Board reported that job descriptions are crucial job-related content candidates seek as they search for jobs.

Job seekers want an accurate and clear explanation of the open position and responsibilities. They don’t only want to see a long list of requirements. They also want to know more about your organization’s values, salary range, and the perks and benefits you offer. Most importantly, they want all this vital information in a format that’s easy to read and understand.


Be transparent about the recruiting process

It’s essential to set expectations about the recruitment process, which helps deliver a positive candidate experience. Based on research, 83% of candidates say that employers who set expectations about the process will improve their overall experience.

When a candidate knows what to expect, it can ease their confusion, nervousness, and self-doubt. Not only do candidates feel less stressed knowing what they’re up for, but they will also feel more valued in the organization.

Clearly state the application process steps and make it clear to candidates what the hiring process looks like. Also, let candidates know how long each step would take, who they can contact for any questions, and even offer tips and resources for further help!


Improve the organization’s career website

improve candidate experience

Did you know that 89% of job seekers say the most visited recruiting asset is the career website? You must ensure that candidates find the information they need quickly, which delivers a positive experience.

Once candidates hear about an open job position, they won’t apply immediately. Rather, they check the company’s website. Take advantage of this by making the career page a one-stop-shop, providing all the answers to questions candidates might have. 

Ensure that you deliver all the informational, relevant, and valuable content to candidates in a way that’s easy to digest. Remember, the career page is the top representation of your organization and can showcase the employee value propositions. You can use all of your employer branding ideas here!


Allow a more straightforward application process

The typical candidate can spend around 3-4 hours preparing and submitting one job application. It comes to no surprise that 60% of job seekers would quit while in the middle of filling out lengthy and complex job applications. This is particularly true for passive candidates and A-players who show interest but aren’t entirely sure about changing jobs.

Lengthy job applications would convince job seekers that it isn’t worth their time and effort. As a result, they have negative candidate experiences.

Test out your job application process and see how easy or difficult it is to apply. That way, you know what parts to cut and how to make the process less complicated. Furthermore, it’s recommended to allow candidates to apply from any device, which adds convenience.


Respect all your candidates’ time

Candidates want a brief hiring process with timely communication from employers. When candidates apply for the job opening, they will research, prepare resumes, apply, and interview. Not to mention the traveling, which costs time, money, and effort!

It can take 2-3 months on average for candidates to go from the application to the hiring process. This is concerning, given the fact that top talent would only stay on the market for ten days!

In a candidate-driven job market, candidates now have more opportunities, especially if they have in-demand skills. If it takes more time to hire someone, the more competitive offers they’ll receive, lessening the chance of accepting the job and having a positive candidate experience.

If presented with two equal offers, candidates are more likely to get the first one rather than risk losing both. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to respond! Most candidates would say 3-5 business days is an adequate time frame, so stay within that time or make it shorter without negatively affecting the process.


Always communicate efficiently

The top frustration job seekers experience is how employers respond slowly or never at all. 81% of candidates say that the one thing that can improve their candidate experience is for employers to communicate status updates continuously.

No one wants to be left in the dark, especially candidates, so make sure you communicate with them regularly. We recommend creating email campaigns to keep candidates engaged and interested. Have personalized campaigns based on the various recruiting and hiring process stages.


Become the interview guru

The interview is a crucial point in any candidate’s job search journey. When you get the interview right, you can win top talent. Get it wrong, and it can hurt your organization’s recruiting efforts and overall candidate experience.

Regardless of how well you will pitch for a job, almost all professionals are unsure about the position and company when showing up for the interview.

Furthermore, 83% of talents say that negative interview experiences can change their mind about an organization or open position they once liked. However, 87% also say that a positive interview experience can change their mind about an organization or open position they doubted.

We recommend improving the interview itself by asking insightful and relevant questions. Furthermore, keep the interview period short and give the candidate an opportunity to learn more about the company culture and open position.

You can do this by inviting candidates for office tours, lunches, or open houses, making it a part of the interview experience. Walk around the office after the interview and have a leadership meet, giving candidates an idea of the culture. Furthermore, make sure that you follow up with the candidate with feedback, which boosts the interview and candidate experience.


Provide and ask for feedback

Feedback will help candidates improve as professionals, with almost all talent wanting to receive it. A LinkedIn survey shows that 77% of professionals prefer receiving the good news via phone call and bad news via email.

Be sure to provide feedback to all candidates, even those you didn’t hire. If you provide constructive feedback to rejected candidates, they are more likely to still consider your organization for future job opportunities.

Also, recruiting is a two-way street. Don’t only provide feedback; ask for it as well, which can help improve the candidate experience.


Maintain good candidate relationships

Contrary to popular belief, candidate experiences don’t end after deciding not to hire someone. If candidates don’t make the cut for a particular position, they may be a suitable fit for other future openings.

Continue to keep in touch and engage high-quality candidates, reducing the recruiting and hiring cycle. It’s why candidate relationship management is a critical HR metric to measure recruitment marketing’s success.

Build a talent pool for future job openings so when you need to fill a position, you can refer to your pool for the most suitable candidates. You can keep candidates engaged and interested by letting them know they were great candidates, acknowledging that you’d like to stay in touch.

Build a professional relationship and connect on LinkedIn, among other social media accounts. Also, add them to recruiting email campaigns and organize talent networking events, inviting candidates from the talent pool.


Create and post engaging recruitment content

improve candidate experience

Lastly, we recommend inbound recruiting, which refers to proactively and continually attracting candidates, aiming to have them choose the organization as their next employer.

Companies can easily connect with active and passive job seekers, satisfying candidates during the application process when you have an inbound marketing approach to recruitment. Inbound recruiting can help mold an excellent candidate experience from employer branding content. It will also help organizations build relationships with high-quality talents.

We recommend using recruitment content to give relevant and helpful information about the organization. Also, showcase your employer brand on online and offline channels that tarter candidates likely use. Include engaging employee stories and testimonials, film company videos, and offer career advancement and interview tips so potential candidates will be interested in having you as their employer!


Measure Candidate Experience

One of the first steps to improve your current candidate experience is measuring and analyzing where you are now. To gain insight on what parts of the candidate experience journey do well and what require improvement, you must get feedback from the candidates themselves.

Send candidate feedback surveys to candidates exiting the recruitment process, whether hired, declined, or opted out. Such surveys can include open or close-ended questions, measuring their experiences and pinpointing any problems and improvements you can make.

Furthermore, you can track candidate experience through checking social media. Some tools enable you to monitor social media platforms that mention your organization, as well as offer features to analyze and create reports based on data received, particularly candidate experience metrics like:

  • Career site conversion rates
  • Application form abandon rates
  • Time to hire
  • Hires per source
  • Offer acceptance rates
  • Email response rates
  • And more!


Wrapping It Up

Hopefully, our ultimate guide on how to improve candidate experience helped you out! Don’t wait any longer, and set your organization up for success by providing the perfect candidate experience for all applicants. Good luck! 

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