Think about how a candidate interacts with your company.
Job descriptions, social media posts and your careers page are often the first experience a candidate has with your company as an employer. From there, they may submit an application and be selected for a phone screen. This may lead to a round of on-site interviews, skills assessments, reference checks and, if you’re lucky, a happy new hire.
These touch points, in aggregate, represent the candidate experience. Each one of them is an opportunity for you to wow candidates or for things to come off the rails entirely. It all depends on how prepared you are. In this article, we’ve broken down what candidate experience is and why it’s critical to your recruitment efforts. We’ll end with tips from seven experts on how they create a positive candidate experience. Click on the links below to skip ahead.
Table of Contents
- What is the Candidate Experience?
- Why is the Candidate Experience Important?
- How 7 Companies Create a Positive Candidate Experience
What is Candidate Experience?
Candidate experience refers to the experience a candidate has when applying for a position with your company. It is their perception of your company — good, bad or indifferent — after having experienced your hiring process.
It starts with the first interaction a candidate has with your company as an employer and encapsulates everything up until they are either rejected or accept a job offer. And more importantly, it’s the part of the recruitment process that can either lead to a wonderful candidate-employer relationship or end in a slippery HR scandal.
While the concept of candidate experience may seem a bit abstract, there are several recruitment metrics you can use in order to track and measure a candidate’s experience, such as application completion rate, time to hire, offer acceptance rate and employee retention rate. For more direct feedback, there are also a host of employee review sites that allow candidates to anonymously share their experiences with others.
Why is the Candidate Experience Important?
Now that you have a better understanding of what the candidate experience encompasses, we’re going to dive into the importance of creating a great candidate experience.
half of candidates sever their relationship with a company due to a Negative Experience
A negative candidate experience can cost you more than candidates. It can cost you customers. Nearly half of candidates terminate their relationship with the company entirely after having a negative candidate experience.
72% of candidates share their experience online
3 out of 4 candidates share negative experiences they had with a prospective employer online. There's no hiding from it these days.
More than half of candidates are deterred by negative reviews
55% of candidates won’t pursue jobs at companies that have negative online reviews. In order to combat these negative reviews, you should always respond to both negative and positive feedback so that future candidates know that you care and are working to improve the candidate experience moving forward.
60% of candidates will abandon a job application if it's too long or confusing
When more than half of all candidates are abandoning applications due to their length and complexity, they're sending us a clear message. Try applying to a role yourself to see how the process is, and take a look at your application completion rate metrics to improve this area of your process.
Candidates expect a short and sweet process
The top complaint among more than a fourth of candidates is that the hiring process took too long. To improve the length of your process, look into your time to hire to see how long it takes candidates to get through your overall hiring process.
Candidate feedback is a critical part of the hiring process
Candidates that receive constructive feedback from an employer during the hiring process are 4x more likely to stay in their talent community and apply for a future role. Don't believe in the importance of candidate feedback? Consider this:
When Virgin Media calculated how much money negative candidate experiences were costing the company, it found it was losing the equivalent of $5.4 million each year. You can also calculate how much it’s costing your company not to provide feedback to candidates.
How 7 Companies Create a Positive Candidate Experience
It’s one thing to understand what a good candidate experience is. It’s another thing to actually create a candidate experience that will leave your top candidates wanting more from your company as an employer. To better understand how companies are actually walking the walk, we talked with seven experts across the US to learn more about their candidate experiences.
ALWAYS BE TRANSPARENT WITH CANDIDATES
“We have a very friendly and open company, and we try to make sure that the culture is replicated in the interview process. Candidate experience is always top of mind; we go to extra lengths to make sure each person has a positive experience. By being transparent about the process, as well as remembering the small things — a glass of water for their in-person interview, walking candidates to and from each interview, etc. — we are constantly looking to make the process as friendly and open as our culture is.”
Tabitha Upton, Recruiter at Datadog
MAKE YOUR TEAM AWARE OF UNCONSCIOUS BIAS
“One thing that I didn’t realize before coming on board was how thoughtful Eave is about the interview process. Our team ... has done a ton of work to minimize unconscious bias, focus on diversity efforts, optimize for candidate experience and keep diversity top of mind daily. This includes things like referring to candidates using gender-neutral pronouns in our analysis and writing up our analysis of our interviews before we talk with each other to ensure we don’t influence others’ perceptions. It also includes equally weighing technical skills questions with culture fit questions. We focus on things like collaboration, leadership, craftsmanship and communication skills.”
Miana Campbell, Market Development Relationship Manager at Eave
HUMANIZE YOUR CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
“Yello's software enables the world’s largest brands to humanize the candidate experience. We strive to uphold these same principles during our interview process, by treating every candidate with respect, transparency and incorporating our technology at every possible step. After a recruiter phone screen and conversation with the hiring manager, the candidate is invited to the office. Candidates tour our collaborative, open space and take in our Lake Michigan views before meeting several members of the team. Through every step of the hiring process, the candidate is in touch with a member of the talent acquisition team who is available to answer questions, provide updates and share next steps.”
Heather Redisch, VP of Talent Acquisition at Yello
ESTABLISH CLEAR COMMUNICATION AMONG HIRING TEAMS
“I’ve done a lot of interviews in the past year. I’ve been involved in two specific ways: aligning the question areas to be consistent across all candidates and positions, as well as improving the candidate experience.
"We have lots of open roles, and sometimes we get candidates applying for one position only to realize they are a better fit for a different role. So we shored the process of moving candidates from one path to another through clear communication. We also decided to align interview themes with our company values. This creates a consistent experience centered on our core values and ensures we are comparing apples to apples.”
Liz Yuhas, Director of Technology at VillageMD
GET CANDIDATES EXCITED ABOUT YOUR COMPANY
“Whether a candidate is hired or not, we want them to walk away feeling equally excited about the experience as well as the company. Our Senior Recruiter ... does an incredible job ensuring candidates are treated thoughtfully and have a comfortable experience. Rather than looking for a 'culture fit,' we operate by assessing across the same core values we hold our team accountable to. We look to hire people who will contribute to, and complement, the MeUndies team in their own authentic way.”
Ellen Sweeney, Director of People Operations at MeUndies
UTILIZE HR TECH TO ENSURE A SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE
“A lot of changes are taking place in HR tech. The use of intelligent bots in HR and recruiting is a very hot topic. While the applications are still in a nascent stage, several innovative companies have already begun implementing them to improve candidate engagement and enhance the information gathering process. This significantly reduces mundane, time-consuming tasks and facilitates better communication between the job seeker and recruiter.”
Ian Jaffrey, co-Founder at Wade and Wendy
INCORPORATE A DIVERSE RECRUITMENT TEAM
“Our interview process consists of three things that make it unique: a culture interview, a hiring committee review and post-interview feedback. All events are designed to focus on a great candidate experience, reduce unconscious bias and to expose candidates to the rich diversity of perspectives at Newsela. The first interview involves a call with our talent team, where we learn more about a candidate’s skill-set, employment history and career goals.
"The second interview is a call with the hiring manager, where they share details about what success looks like and dive into what’s important to each candidate. In the third interview, the candidate meets the team they’d be working with. The onsite interview gives the candidate an opportunity to speak with a diverse panel of interviewers, including leadership.”
Q Hawkins, Senior Technical Recruiter at Newsela