Everything you need to know about candidate experience

Applicant in the middle of a positive candidate experience

After our recent report on how California startup Whisper fixed its candidate experience, we realized that we might need to take a step back and define what candidate experience is.

After all, candidate experience is a phrase that comes up a lot for small business owners, hirers, and HR professionals – and with good reason. It’s an intrinsic part of the process.

Candidate experience isn’t a recruitment tactic or a hiring tool – although it can certainly help (or hinder!) in both these areas. Candidate experience is something that will happen every single time you make a hire, whether you pay attention to it or not. And, not paying attention to it can do some serious damage to your growth as a company.

Here is everything you need to know about candidate experience.

What candidate experience is

Candidate experience includes every point of contact a job seeker has with your company throughout the recruitment and hiring process, from reading of the job posting to receiving an offer (or rejection).

Every interaction that a candidate has with your company is part of their candidate experience. And they all can play a huge role in making that experience positive or negative.

A positive experience

A positive candidate experience leaves the candidate feeling respected and valued – and, most importantly, excited to work for your company. A candidate that had a positive experience found the process easy to follow.

They always knew what the next steps were and received timely communications every step of the way. They felt like the company was setting them up for success throughout the application and interview process.

A negative experience

A negative candidate experience, on the other hand, leaves the candidate feeling like they never want to interact with the company again.

A candidate that had this kind of experience was frustrated by the confusing application process or impossible-to-find information about the company as an employer. They were left waiting weeks or even months to hear back. They found their interviewers rude, cold, or snobby. They felt like they were being tricked into failing every step of the way.

Why candidate experience matters

While there may have been a time when a rude, condescending attitude toward workers was commonplace, it’s certainly not the case now. It’s a seeker’s market, and top talent is increasingly hard to find.

Companies big and small are in fierce competition with each other to fill virtually every role, and when a company treats their candidates poorly, it sends the message that they treat their employees poorly too.

According to research by Software Advice, 63 per cent of seekers will likely reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience. But it can also have a harmful impact on your company as a whole. 83 per cent of seekers that have a negative candidate experience will likely never apply to the company again, and 52 per cent are likely to boycott the company’s products. And, according to CareerArc’s 2016 State of the Candidate Experience, 72 per cent of seekers that had a bad experience told others about it, either online or in-person.

A positive experience, on the other hand, makes a candidate more likely to accept your offer, reapply in the future, or refer other to the company. According to the 2016 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report, 81 per cent of candidates will share a positive experience with family, friends, and peers, and 51 per cent will share their positive experience on social media sites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn.

How to offer a positive candidate experience

When it comes to improving a candidate experience, a quote from cosmetics giant Mary Kay Ash comes to mind: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says ‘Make Me Feel Important.’”

She was talking about sales, of course, but the sentiment rings true for hiring as well. In fact, treating every job candidate like a valued client is a great way to ensure your process is positive and respectful every step of the way.

Be clear in the job posting about what you’re looking for. Be respectful of their time and skills in the interview. Let every single candidate know, in a timely manner, if they got the job.

It’s these simple practices that will make the biggest impact on candidates – and, unfortunately, it’s these practices that are so often overlooked in the hiring process.

See also:
How Shopify finds and fosters talent
Why you absolutely must call every candidate back after an interview
How the world’s most popular anonymous social app fixed its candidate experience


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