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Employee Experience

How to identify and close candidate-experience gaps at your organization

Get the insights your organization needs to not only pinpoint experience gaps at every touchpoint in the hiring process, but also identify the actions you can take to close them.

I recently needed to hire a new employee and went through the usual process of advertising the role, assessing applications, and conducting interviews.

Two candidates made it through the entire interview loop. After we finalized our decision, I asked the recruiter to set up a call with the unsuccessful candidate so I could personally thank them for their time and plan to keep in touch.

My motive was not entirely altruistic. I recognized that this candidate had invested a lot of time in our opportunity, and I wanted to leave them with a good impression of us as an employer, as a platform, and a solution.

During the call, the candidate told me that in their job search (which had been longer than ideal due to the pandemic) they had received no response at all from a number of their other applications. Overwhelmingly, they’d had poor experiences. Qualtrics – and the company they are now working at – were two exceptions.

And in that story lies why those organizations that provide a good experience are going to be more successful at hiring talent.

And the timing to provide a good candidate experience couldn’t be more pertinent. We are likely about to enter into what SHRM calls the “Turnover Tsunami” with over 50% of employees in North America planning to look for a new job in 2021. Now is the time for organizations to not only work on retaining talent, but on how they can scoop up the best talent about to hit the market.

Measuring the candidate experience isn’t just about hiring the best talent, however. My potential hire also said there were a couple of well-known brands they applied for that they now had a reduced opinion of, due to the poor experience. And this is what many organizations miss: overwhelmingly, your candidate experience is your rejection experience.

You won’t hire the vast majority of people you interview. But that majority of people will nonetheless talk to their family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers on the internet about their experience interviewing for your company. They may have not been important to you, but you were important enough to them to apply and their perception – and how they talk about you – will be altered forever.

Not only that, but what if this candidate is also a customer of yours? Research shows that a customer is less likely to stay with a product if they have a poor candidate experience for that brand.

To that end, we’ve taken a closer look at the importance of the candidate experience, what drives a positive candidate experience, why now is the time to take action to close experience gaps, and how to get started doing so, below.

What is the candidate experience? 

The candidate experience is the journey a candidate takes before joining your organization. For most, it will be their first experience of the company.

The candidate experience has four stages:

  1. Application
  2. Screening
  3. Interview
  4. Offer

Each of these stages – and the experiences within them – will leave an impression with the candidate of how they were treated. To attract and hire the right talent in the right way, it’s critical that these stages are designed in the right way, and are continually improved.

Read more: Four XM practices that can propel the candidate experience

What drives the candidate experience? 

No matter the stage, we’ve identified six key drivers that lead to a positive employee experience:

  • Clarity: The candidate understands what was happening throughout the process and why.
  • Fairness: The candidate feels they are given a fair opportunity with their application.
  • Attractiveness: The candidate has good interactions with people at your organization.
  • Timeliness: Follow-ups and updates happen promptly throughout the process.
  • Personalization: The candidate feels valued throughout the process.
  • Technology: The systems the candidate uses to apply, interview, and communicate with your organization are seamless.

When candidates have positive experiences across these categories, they are more likely to come away from the process feeling like their expectations had been met – or better yet, exceeded – and viewing your organization as a good place to work, regardless of whether they got the job or not.

How to get started closing candidate experience gaps

While every organization’s hiring process is slightly different, there are common gaps that you can get started addressing today.

Here are five ways to get started closing gaps in your candidate experience:

  1. Invest in your applicant tracking system (ATS) setup. A good, well-maintained ATS is key to creating a superior candidate experience. This means choosing a good tool, training recruiters on how to use it, and taking care over your templatized messages, allowing you to provide a scaled, yet personal-feeling experience. Once you set up the system, your recruiters need to keep it up-to-date! This will enable automated communications and feedback requests.
  2. Empower your recruiters. Recruiters need to balance relationship building with high volume management. Giving them information on their candidates’ experience will help them understand a) where they may need a new working habit that will help at scale, or b) where a preferred candidate may have had a poor experience and needs a friendly phone call (ask one of our sales reps about how our solution can automatically flag poor experiences!).
  3. Set clear expectations with candidates. Feeling prepared for the process and knowing what to expect helps candidates feel like they had a positive experience, even if they’re not successful in getting an offer. Recruiters can support this by setting expectations ahead of time regarding how long the process will likely take, how many people they’ll interview with and who they’ll be meeting with.
  4. Provide timely updates to candidates.  Recruiters who practice consistent and prompt communication help drive positive candidate experiences. Cater your automated communications (such as your rejection templates) to make them feel personal. And always (always!) get back to unsuccessful candidates as soon as you can.
  5. Know what your current candidate experience is. In order to take data-driven action, you first need reliable data, gathered at scale, that points to where the gaps are in your candidate experience. Only then can you take action to start closing them.


Get started closing experience gaps in your candidate experience