Written by:Poul

Date: 9. November, 2023

Are you creating a great candidate experience?

Do you consider the candidate experience when planning a recruitment process?

You should!

Because the experience jobseekers and candidates have of your company’s recruitment process is important.


We share both the good and bad experiences of a recruitment process

On social media, we share what’s going on in our lives – both personal and professional, good and bad.

Our experiences of the recruitment processes we go through are also widely shared. Both the good and the bad examples – and both have the potential to go viral.

There are examples of candidates highlighting good rejections where they were genuinely happy with the company’s response and the way they communicated the rejection. It praises the company for going the extra mile, and it makes for a good story. Here, a “rejected” candidate can be turned into a potential ambassador for your company if they have experienced a good process.

Conversely, a bad story can be detrimental to your reputation and future recruitment opportunities.

Because studies show that how you handle candidates (including acknowledgement of receipt, information during the recruitment process and rejection) has a huge impact on how candidates perceive your company. And for many, it also influences whether they want to buy your products or services in the future.

Thus, a good recruitment experience can lead to more and better applicants, which can result in better hires. Employees and candidates will also be more likely to refer qualified candidates (and potentially even customers).


What is “candidate experience”?

But what does “candidate experience” mean?

“Candidate experience” refers to how the candidate experiences, perceives and reacts to the recruitment, screening, hiring and interview processes. So it’s everyone from the potential candidate who sees the job posting and decides not to apply to the candidate who is offered the job at the end of the process.

In the past, most employers didn’t pay as much attention to candidates’ overall experience of their hiring process, as the cost of a bad experience was lower than it is today. If applicants had a bad experience with an employer, the consequences were highly likely:

  1. They probably wouldn’t apply again
  2. They might not buy from the company again (if they did to begin with)
  3. And/or they told their close friends and family how they had been treated

But the trend is different today.

With the help of social media, candidates now have the power to talk about their experiences – and potentially to a very large audience. And worse, a potentially relevant audience: future graduates.
There are platforms – such as job search platforms like Jobindex – where candidates can rate companies and write reviews of their experiences.

Secondly, social media has allowed candidates’ networks to grow significantly – and at the same time, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow candidates to reach a large number of people quite easily.


Why is the candidate experience important?

You need to think of the candidate experience the same way you would think of a customer experience. If your organization was providing a poor service to customers, this would probably be at the top of the list of things you would change.

Because how you treat your candidates will ultimately reflect how the organization treats its employees; and both have a direct impact on your overall business performance.

Let’s take a closer look at why a positive candidate experience is ultimately good for your organization and business.

  1. A positive candidate experience will make it more likely that talented candidates will want to join the organization
  2. Alternatively, a bad candidate experience can scare candidates away
  3. Candidates (and employees) talk to each other. If someone has a bad experience with your company, they have many platforms where they can share their thoughts and experiences
  4. Potential publicity about bad experiences will ultimately damage your employer brand and make it harder to attract talent
  5. A positive experience gives the candidate a good start and can help them feel like a valued part of the organization and team

The last point is absolutely essential in terms of Understand the immediate benefits of a positive candidate experience. Employees want to feel welcome, supported and part of a team and organization that cares about their well-being and development.

Next, a positive candidate experience can also have direct benefits for the organization and employees, including

  • Strengthened employee retention
  • Increase employee loyalty
  • Improving engagement
  • Help create a strong culture
  • Reduction of costs associated with employee turnover

Beyond these tangible benefits to your business, job seekers simply expect their interaction with a company to be positive. And they’re willing to look elsewhere if it’s not.


Candidate experience impacts your future recruitment opportunities

This is confirmed by figures from the Recruitment Guide’s Candidate Survey. Here, 75% of respondents would not apply for a job with the same organization again if they had a bad experience in the recruitment process. Next, 71% of respondents will share the bad experience with others, which can result in potential future candidates being discouraged from applying for a job with the company. Such experiences can often be prevented with a structured and carefully planned recruitment process.

On the other hand, 91% of respondents would recommend others to apply for a job with the company – even if they didn’t get the job they applied for in the first place – if they had a positive experience in the recruitment process.
As the numbers above indicate, the candidate experience is important. But what are good and bad experiences?

Let’s take a closer look now.


What is a bad candidate experience?

Think of all the things you as a job seeker would expect from a company. This list will likely include: clear communication, friendly conversations and honest feedback.

As you can imagine, bad candidate experiences do exactly the opposite. In particular, negative candidate experiences typically involve:

  • Lack of communication or response from the hiring party
  • An overly complicated and/or time-consuming application process
  • Inability to complete the application process on the desired device (e.g. mobile phone)
  • Uncomfortable interviews with unfriendly or uninterested interviewers
  • No opportunity to ask questions or learn more about the company
  • No opportunity to provide feedback on the process
  • A mismatch between what is promised in the hiring process and the reality of the job

The costs and consequences of a poor candidate experience can range from missing out on great talent to potentially losing valuable employees due to a mismatch between what was promised in the hiring process and the reality of the job.


How do you improve the candidate experience?

To improve the overall experience of your hiring process, you need to start by thoroughly evaluating each step of your hiring process. By doing this, you will be able to identify areas for improvement. Remember: your communication with the candidate between hiring stages plays a role in the overall experience and should also be assessed.

From the candidate’s perspective, the hiring process is often a stressful experience with a lot at stake. However, if candidates experience a good hiring process, it can help reduce stress.


8 tips to improve the candidate experience

Of course, there is no single recipe for a great candidate experience, but there are a number of measures you can implement that can help candidates feel good about your recruitment process.
Here are 8 crucial – but often overlooked – tips to improve the candidate experience.


H3: 1) Make sure you’re hiring to fulfill a real need

A good recruitment process – and the candidate’s experience of it – is one that has a clear purpose. This starts with making sure you’re clear on what you need – and what “type” of candidate can fulfill those needs.

Therefore, before creating a job posting, you should create a job and person profile that clearly describes the company’s needs and requirements. Next, the job posting should include clear job requirements that match the job and persona profile.

If you don’t start your hiring process with this in mind, you increase the likelihood of having to change direction or reassess your needs during the process. This can ultimately lead to delays, poor communication or wasted time for candidates.


2) Make it easy for the candidate to apply for the position

In the initial part of the process, our goal as a hiring company is to make it as easy as possible for qualified candidates to find and apply for the position.

Everyone is busy, and most people won’t be willing to spend excess time figuring out how to apply for a position that’s hidden behind a cumbersome application process.

To do so, you need to:

  • Make sure your application page is easy to find
  • Provide clear instructions for each step of the application process
  • Eliminate unnecessary steps in the application and screening process
  • Send confirmation email when application is received


3) Draw attention to any delays

One of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to the candidate experience is communication – or lack thereof.

While good communication to/with candidates is one of the cornerstones of a great candidate experience, as a recruiter it can be a challenge. Additionally, missing updates can be frustrating for both the hiring party and the candidate.

An email or call explaining the circumstances or delays in the decision can go a long way towards a good candidate experience. Keeping candidates informed will make them feel seen and important.


4) Describe the recruitment process in the job posting

The biggest cause of poor candidate experience is due to candidates not knowing what to expect during the recruitment process.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution: outline the basic process in the job posting. This small addition can help potential candidates understand what is expected of them and how much time and resources they need to dedicate to the process.


5) Outline what candidates can expect after each step

Outlining what a candidate can expect after each step of your recruitment process will help keep the process running smoothly. With clear expectations, candidates won’t wonder if and when they need to follow up or if they need to prepare something in advance.


6) Send rejection letters to all candidates

Is it really necessary to send rejection letters to all candidates?

The short answer is: Yes, it is!

However, there should be a difference in the type of rejection the candidate receives depending on when in the process they were rejected. The further a candidate is in the process, the more detailed and individually justified the rejection should be.

You can send a standard response to the candidates you screen out in the screening process – as long as they receive a response. The traditional “Thank you for your application. We have moved forward with […].” is fine. But the rejection should always be written with respect for the recipient and the fact that they have spent time and energy writing the application for you.

The candidates who have been interviewed (both 1. and 2nd conversation), have a telephone rejection! It’s not enough to just send an email. They need a justification and preferably in-depth feedback explaining why you have chosen to move forward with another candidate. Tell us where there may have been some areas of uncertainty, what the candidate did well, and what the candidate may need to work on. It’s useful feedback that they can take forward with them.

Although time-consuming, it’s necessary – especially if you want to leave a good impression on the candidate.


7) Be open to feedback

What’s the easiest way to learn about your candidate experience?

It’s natural to ask for feedback from candidates who have just been through the recruitment process.

So don’t be afraid to ask candidates for feedback and input on what you could have done differently or better to improve their experience of the recruitment process.


8) Stay in touch between contract signing and first day of work

The candidate experience doesn’t end when the recruitment process is finalized with a signed employment contract.

Because the period between the final candidate signing the employment contract to the first day of work is also part of their candidate experience. And here, many candidates experience total radio silence.

During the preboarding period, make sure they still have a great candidate experience. One way you can do this is by staying in touch, updating them with any changes or information they may need before their first day.



This article is translated and edited from “How to measure and improve your candidate experience with these 10 tips”.

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