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What is Candidate Experience, and How Can You Improve It?

4 min read
From application forms to interview feedback, find out how to give employment candidates a great first impression and a positive experience, whether or not they take the job.

Candidate experience is the sum of many parts – it includes all of the touchpoints involved in applying to work at a company. That’s the job ad, job spec, interview process, how candidates are received if they visit in person, and how feedback is given afterwards.

Why is a good candidate experience so important?

You might be thinking that candidate experience affects a small number of people, not enough to make a big difference to your business. But there are a few reasons why you should invest some time and energy in making candidate experiences positive.

  1. You’ll be more attractive to high-quality candidates
    There’s no denying that the employment dynamic has shifted. With increased visibility of jobs, a normalisation of job-hopping, and emerging skills gaps, particularly in the tech sector, the best candidates have their pick of employers. And no matter how high the starting salary is, they’re likely to be put off taking a job offer if the candidate experience was poor or they’ve heard bad things from others.
  2. You’ll strengthen your employer brand
    Yes, the number of people applying to work for you is relatively small, but each one of them has friends and family, colleagues in the same sector, and possibly recruitment consultants who will hear how it went. Job interviews are memorable events and people will be telling the tale of your good (or bad) candidate experience long after the event is over.  
  3. You can hire faster
    Hiring is expensive, as any business owner will tell you. The resources needed to advertise jobs, select candidates, complete paperwork and conduct interviews equate to time and money that isn’t being spent on revenue-generating activities. Having a smooth and efficient hiring process doesn’t just benefit candidates, it takes a load off you too.

What does a good candidate experience look like?

Here are some hallmarks of great candidate experience.

  • Clear communication
    There’s nothing more disheartening than putting time and effort into a job application, only to receive nothing but silence in return. When someone’s prepared for and attended an interview, not hearing back from a potential employer and having to chase them up is even worse.

For a positive candidate experience, it’s essential that applicants receive a clear signal from you about their status in the hiring process, whether that’s ‘yes’, ‘thanks but no’ or ‘we’re working towards a decision’.

  • Frequent feedback
    Offering feedback after interviews is a great idea. But why stop there? Ask candidates to tell you about their experience during the hiring process, and follow up with them to find out more if answers suggest that it was less than good. Not only does it make them feel valued and heard, it will help you continue to improve your hiring process and deliver better candidate experiences in the future.
  • Above-average efficiency
    Bureaucracy, confusion, mixed messages… they all add up to a terrible first impression of your company. As we mentioned before, an efficient process and reliable infrastructure doesn’t only make the candidate experience better, it can save your company time and money too.

If you’re not sure where the pain points are in your current process, gathering candidate feedback with a short survey can shed light on what you can improve. One fresh pair of eyes is helpful, but a whole set of high-quality data from many candidates is priceless.


Learn how candidate experience is the first step in the employee lifecycle