Achieve a Winning Candidate Experience with These 4 Tips

By Anja Zojčeska

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Providing an excellent candidate experience isn’t just another recruiting fad - it’s a business imperative.

The way you treat your candidates has a direct, tangible impact on your hiring success, your company’s reputation, and bottom line.

Neglecting your candidate experience will cost you more than just losing top talent to your competitors. It can also ruin your company’s reputation, alienate your customers, and cost you financially. 

Think I’m being overly dramatic and negative? Let’s look at the data:

  • Software Advice has found that 63% of job seekers will likely reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience.
  • According to CareerArc’s survey, 72% of job seekers that had a bad experience told others about it, either online or in-person.
  • 64% of job seekers say that a poor candidate experience would make them less likely to purchase goods and services from that employer, as reported by Career Arc.

These percentages can easily turn into a big loss of revenue in a real life. For example, Virgin Media found out that a bad candidate experience costs their company a shocking $5M annually! This is the real cost of a bad candidate experience. 

On the other hand, providing a positive candidate experience has enormous benefits. Treating candidates right will ensure that top talent accepts your job offer and stellar candidates who weren’t the right fit for one role reapply again in the future. 

Moreover, happy candidates will serve as your brand ambassadors, encouraging others to apply to your open positions and buy your products. Talent Board’s research has found that 81% of candidates will share their positive candidate experience with family, friends and peers, and 51% will share their impressions on social media sites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn.

Whether you choose to look at the bright or the dark side of candidate experience, the message is clear: You can’t afford to ignore it. That being said, how would you rate your company’s candidate experience? Is it okay, top notch, or best in class?

The majority of North American employers (64%) describe their overall candidate experience as leading or competing, according to the latest North American Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards Benchmark Research Report. On the other hand, CareerArc’s Candidate Experience Study revealed that nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience.

At the end of the day, a great candidate experience comes down to prioritizing providing value for every single candidate. Here are 4 simple to implement but incredibly effective tips for improving your candidates’ experience: 

Tip #1: Communicate, communicate, communicate

Pain point

The most commonly cited candidate frustration is the lack of communication from employers. Talent Management and HR reported that an astounding 77% of job applicants receive no communication from the organization after applying for an advertised position. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that an overwhelming 81% of candidates said that the one main thing that would greatly improve their overall candidate experience is employers continuously communicating status updates to them, according to the CareerBuilder survey.

How to fix it?

  • Set up an automated but personalized application confirmation email.
  • Check in with your candidates regularly even if it's just to inform them that you don’t have a final decision yet.
  • Engage candidates by sending them interesting and useful content, such as your employee testimonials, interviewing tips and tricks from your hiring managers, updates about your company’s latest projects and achievements, etc.

Tip #2: Upgrade your interviewing process 

Pain point

Interviews are a critical part of your interviewing process both for employers and candidates. Yes, you are evaluating your candidates, but they are also evaluating you. And if they don’t like what they see, they’ll say goodbye and accept another offer. LinkedIn has found that 83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked.

How to fix it?

Here are a few ideas that will help you provide an excellent candidate experience at the interviewing stage of your hiring process:

  • Lead a conversation, not an interrogation.
  • Give candidates a tour of your office.
  • Introduce candidates with their potential future colleagues.
  • Encourage candidates to ask questions. 

Tip #3: Deliver rejection in a thoughtful way

Pain point

According to Talent Board research, most candidates get rejected by automated email replies (63%) or personal emails from recruiters and hiring managers (21%). Only 7% of candidates received a personal phone call from recruiters and hiring managers. According to this research, receiving rejection via phone instead of via email can improve candidate experience by 32%. 

How to fix it?

  • Pick up the phone. Make it a rule to call and personally reject every candidate you’ve met in an interview.
  • Explain to them why they didn’t get the job. Be specific and provide constructive feedback.

Tip #4: Stay in touch 

Pain point

Understand that even though your selection process had ended, that doesn’t mean that the candidate experience ends too. Candidate experience is an ongoing process both for your new hires and the rejected candidates. Talent Board found that less than half (46%) of new hires said they received calls from their hiring manager prior to their start date.

How to fix it?

Stay in contact with all of your candidates both your new hires and rejected candidates.

Here are a few great ideas for keeping your new hires engaged until their start date:

  • Give them a welcome call.
  • Send them a welcome gift, video, or a gif.
  • Share your employee handbook.

Here are a few great ideas for keeping in touch with rejected candidates: 

  • Invite candidates to connect with you and your company on social media.
  • Invite them to join your talent network.
  • Extend them an invitation to your future recruiting and company events.
  • Engage them with a company culture newsletter.

Key takeaways: How to improve your candidate experience

To summarize, here are the top 5 tips you should implement if you want to provide an excellent candidate experience at every stage of your hiring process:

  1. Don’t leave candidates in the dark. Continuously communicate with your candidates throughout your hiring process.
  2. Cater to candidates’ needs during the interview. Set up a friendly atmosphere and help your candidates relax. Give your candidates a tour of your office.
  3. Let them down gently. Always call and personally reject every candidate you’ve met in an interview.
  4. Build long term relationships. Invite candidates to connect with your company via your talent network and social media. Keep them engaged and eager to join your company. 

This way, you’ll ensure a steady stream of qualified candidates interested in working for your company. This is the real power of candidate experience. 


Anja Zojčeska is an HR Manager and Content Marketing Specialist at the recruitment software company TalentLyft. She is passionate about researching the latest recruitment and retention trends and happy for the opportunity to test them out in a great company like TalentLyft.