How many of us have had terrible experiences during a job interview? You apply but no one responds. You put in hours of interviewing only to wait weeks for a vague rejection email. Interviewing is hard. And it’s not just hard for the candidate, it’s a tricky thing for any company to get right.

One of the reasons I joined Qualtrics was because of my experience as a candidate. Now that I’m here I’ve learned a few simple things you can do to provide a great candidate experience (after all the bar is high here at an experience management company!)

1) Keep candidates in the loop

Are you going to consider the candidate’s application? How did interviews go? Did they get the job? It’s surprising how easy it is to miss the communication at so many stages when you have hundreds of candidates in play. But keeping a candidate in the loop truly makes them feel cared for, respected and somewhat in control. The top complaint I have heard from candidates is that they never hear back from anyone. A good applicant tracking system can help you automate this, otherwise it’s a good practice to clean out your pipeline weekly to make sure all candidates have an update. At Qualtrics, our team makes it a good habit to set reminders in our ATS to connect with our candidates and be sure they feel they are ‘kept in the loop’.

2) Plan lunch and breaks during onsite interviews.

It almost sounds too simple to make a difference, but scheduling a 15 minute break for a candidate to use the restroom, reply to a text message from their boss, or just take a minute to collect their thoughts can make a big difference in their performance on interview day. At Qualtrics we usually plan for the candidate to eat lunch with someone that would be a peer for the position they are interviewing for. We do not structure it as an interview but more a conversational lunch, usually onsight in our garden, hub, etc. where the candidate can experience Qualtrics for themselves instead of being in constant, back-to-back interviews.

3) Assign a host

When candidates come onsite at Qualtrics, they always have an assigned host from our talent team, or from the hiring team, who is there to make sure they have everything they need. Just last week someone forgot his laptop at the hotel, and another candidate needed aspirin during interviews. Our talent coordinators were quick to solve the issues and make sure the candidates’ experience were as smooth as possible. Playing host can also be a fun way for someone on the hiring team to build a relationship with candidates during the process.

4) Engage everyone in the closing process

My written offer from Qualtrics was followed by personal emails and texts from all the leaders I had interviewed with (up to the CMO), as well as the recruiting team. I sure felt loved! When I received a box in the mail with t-shirts for my entire family down to the correct sizes for each of us, I knew that I’d have to sign with Qualtrics (fun story, the timing wasn’t quite right for me so I reluctantly said no, and then kept the t-shirts in the back of my closet for 3 months until I was ready to join!).

The candidate experience is one of the biggest experience gaps to close as a recruiter, and with these four principles, Qualtrics is working hard to close that gap for our candidates. We’re not by any means perfect, and no company is, but it’s one step closer to making interviews and enjoyable experience.


Sally Clayton is a Lead Recruiter for Qualtrics’ North American marketing team. Prior to Qualtrics, she served as a Talent Partner for Adobe, and Executive Director of Humanitarian Experience, Inc. She received her degree in Government from Harvard University, where she was captain of the track and field team.