Candidate Experience – what, why, how?

Remember the saying that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression? Your recruitment process is your first impression. The candidate experience is everything that happens between a potential new recruit engaging with your organisation in a way that leads to them becoming a candidate (most often, seeing a job advertisement) through to the conclusion of the process. For some, this might be the day that they join your organisation as an employee. For others, it will be the point at which you conclude their application with a thank you but no thanks communication. 

Candidate experience includes your employer brand; the external perception of your organisation as a place to work. It encompasses all of the processes, from application forms to psychometric tests to the interview itself. Each and every communication and interaction. At its most simple, candidate experience is the way that you make people feel during recruitment and selection. 

Why is candidate experience so important? There are several reasons. 

Firstly, candidate experience is about your company reputation. In an age of increasing transparency, candidates, successful or otherwise, will share their experiences on review sites, or simply talk about it on social media. Today, most candidates don’t just respond to a job advert and then head off to an interview when offered. They will peruse employer review sites, they will check out the social media feeds – they will do their research way beyond the corporate website. They will form an opinion of an organisation from this vast array of data – and the interview process will either confirm or deny those first impressions. 

Of course, for many organisations, job applicants may also be consumers, linking inextricably the consumer brand and the employer brand. Even unsuccessful candidates can be an advocate for your brand if you provide them with the right kind of experience.  

But it’s not just about reputation. It’s also about engaging talent in a competitive market. The second reason why candidate experience is so

important is that, for the successful applicant, the candidate experience is the start of the employee engagement process. The experience of the recruitment and selection process is a window into your organisational culture; its overall experience provides an insight to an applicant on what it will be like to work for you every day, should they accept. A poor candidate experience may directly impact on whether someone chooses to accept or reject a job offer. When they do accept, the steps before their actual start date can either reaffirm that decision – or call it into question. Put simply, poor candidate experience is a missed opportunity for businesses.

Finally – providing a good candidate experience is the right thing to do. Can you remember the last time you were looking for work? Talk to many people and they will describe job hunting as a fairly miserable experience. Unanswered applications. Ignored requests for feedback. Ghosting. All too often, the effort required of a candidate is vastly disproportionate to the time taken to consider their application.  How you treat your job applicants says much about you as an organisation. Where people take the time and trouble to apply for a role with your organisation, so too should the organisation take the time and trouble to make this a human and fair process, with the experience of the candidate right at its heart. 

Recruitment is too important for it to be undertaken poorly. It’s time to focus on the candidate.

You can download a copy of our book on Candidate Experience with a free 30-day trial here.