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What is candidate experience? - A recruiter’s guide

Digital AssessmentCandidate ExperienceFuture of WorkHR TechnologyPsychometric Assessment
calendarJuly 12, 2022
calendarChanté Frazer
What is candidate experience? - A recruiter’s guide

It is a common misconception that candidates first impression of a company starts in the interview. But prospective employees first get a sense of professional culture long before a face-to-face meeting. From ease of finding the role to accessibility of the application, the recruitment process as a whole creates a narrative that informs candidates of the business and their ethos.

This guide will help you to understand not only how to recognise good candidate experience but also the resources you can use to make the process easier for candidates and yourself.

What does candidate experience mean?

Candidate experience in recruitment refers to the perception of a prospective employee about a business that is formed during the job application process. Every touchpoint through the recruitment process where the candidate interacts with the business, builds an opinion of the company. For example, overly complex application processes are often elements of poor candidate experience. On the other hand, friendly and inviting job descriptions can create a good candidate experience.

Why is candidate experience important?

The importance of candidate experience in recruitment cannot be overstated. The quality of candidate experience affects everything including number of applications, quality of hire and brand awareness. A streamlined hiring process allows for the highest amount of applications possible while also placing your business above companies who ignore candidate experience. This leads to high quality hires choosing your job application over your competitors. You will also build a reputation for accessibility and your brand will grow alongside the positive candidate experience.

What is a good candidate experience?

While talent acquisition candidate experience varies, the qualities that make this a positive process are the same. Each point of the application has the opportunity to constitute good candidate experience. These aspects include setting realistic expectations with honest job descriptions, smooth transitions between each stage of recruitment and cordial communication, especially when rejecting applicants. Any part of the process that is made easy, pleasant and treats candidates with respect helps build a positive experience.

How can I improve my candidate experience?

The first thing to understand is how many touchpoints a candidate has when they apply. From the initial vacancy advertisement all the way to setting up a new starter for onboarding, each point is an opportunity for you to improve the experience. Once you know how many points of contact there are you can assess each stage individually.

1. Job Description

Often the initial stage candidates go through, this is your first impression. Be clear in your description by avoiding buzzwords and vague phrases to build honesty between you and the candidate. Use inclusive and accessible language to appeal to a broad and diverse candidate population. Linkedin found that 28% of candidates are interested in company culture at the start so show don’t tell what kind of employer you are. Be clear, be concise and be friendly.

2. Provide a timeline

The job hunt can become a blur of applications with candidates forgetting who they’ve applied with or worse, waiting to hear back from someone indefinitely. 83% of job seekers think that a schedule would improve the process greatly. Provide a clear timeline for your recruitment process so that candidates know what to expect and when to expect it.

3. Let them down gently

Only one person can get the job, so make sure you’re providing rejection communications to your candidates that are pleasant, helpful and that offer developmental feedback. Acknowledge the work and time they put into their application and tell them to keep an eye out for other opportunities within the company. Very few companies provide any kind of rejection notification or feedback and, by setting yourself apart, you can ensure that your candidate experience is a good one, regardless of the outcome.

4. Make the application process simple

Clevry states that 60% of candidates do not finish applications due to lack of accessibility with another 64% who would share their negative experience with others. This means an overly complex application process is limiting your candidate pool. Those with the best experience and skills know their worth and will not waste their time. Take a look at your application from the perspective of a prospective employee and ask yourself what puts you off.

5. Communication is key

Something as easy as automated email system can be the difference between keeping an applicant happy and the same person losing interest. Remember that one of these applicants will become a member of your team. Set the tone for them, and anyone who will apply for a different role or talk about the process, by communicating openly and often with updates during the process. 

6. Ask for feedback and give it back

Your candidates know what it is like to apply for a job with you, so ask them about it! Find out if your application process is too long or if you could change the focus of your job description. This helps identify areas of improvement outside of digital data.

94% of talent want to know how they can improve but only 41% get it. A candidate is four times more likely to consider your company for a role in the future when you provide feedback. Let them know what you thought about their application or interview to improve your candidate experience.

How do you measure candidate experience?

Digital innovation makes it much easier to measure candidate experience. By having clear metrics and statistics you can identify the areas in your hiring process that provide good candidate experience and the places you can improve. Sova Assessment not only makes assessing candidates simple but it also allows for you to tailor an immersive online candidate experience that is fair, accurate and engaging.


What is candidate experience? - A recruiter’s guide