How to create a great candidate experience

What exactly is candidate experience, why is it so important, and how do you ensure you’re getting it right? Check out our guide to creating a great candidate experience to find out.

Why is candidate experience so important?  

Because 69% of candidates will NEVER apply to your company again if they’ve had a bad experience with you.  

It's also likely to negatively affect your reputation as a brand, which could impact the number of candidates you attract for future roles.  

But what exactly is candidate experience, and how do you ensure you’re getting it right?

In this blog post we’ll cover:

  • What candidate experience is  
  • Why it’s so important that it is a positive experience  
  • Our steps to getting your candidate experience right  

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience is defined as ‘how a job seeker perceives a company’s brand throughout the hiring process.’

They key word here? Throughout.  

This includes every single touchpoint and interaction you have with a candidate. It’s your job ad itself, the recruiter’s approach and hiring processes, to the offer stage and beyond.  

The number one thing to remember is that the candidate’s truest reflection of your values and culture is how you treat them during the hiring process!  

How do you measure candidate experience?

The best way to measure your candidate experience is through candidate feedback, either anecdotally or through a questionnaire. Your employee retention rates and number of referrals will also give you a good indication.  

Why is candidate experience important?

As we’ve mentioned, candidates are much less likely to apply for a position with you again after a bad experience. They’re also much more likely to tell their friends about it..  

In fact, 72% of people who have a negative experience will tell others about it, with one in five actively advising their peers not to apply. 9% will even ask others to boycott products! It’s not a good look.  

BUT if you get it right, you can:  

  • Boost long term retention rates  
  • Increase employee loyalty and engagement  
  • Create a strong company culture
  • Reduce costs associated with attrition and employee churn  

What makes a bad candidate experience?

Research shows that a growing number of employers are ghosting candidates – that's radio silence after an initial interview or even after a task stage in some cases. That’s a prime example of what NOT to do. It says more about an organisation and its ethics than any number of interviews or shiny employer branding ever could.  

Here are some other examples of bad candidate experience:  

  • An inability to complete the application on their device of choice (not being able to apply via mobile, for example)  
  • Overly complicated and time-consuming processes
  • Poorly executed interviews with disinterested employees  
  • No opportunity to ask questions or learn more about the company  
  • No opportunity to provide feedback to the company on the process    

How to create a great candidate experience

Here are our seven steps to creating a positive candidate experience when hiring:

1. Invest in employer branding

Before most people apply to a job they will complete some due diligence. It’s important that candidates can easily find information on you, and that the information is tailored towards why they’d want to work for you.  

Here are our tips:

  • Create a bespoke careers page on your website  
  • Optimise your company page on LinkedIn (sharing some BTS content from your team also helps)  
  • Spread the word about the company on third party sites like Otta, Flexa, and Jobs For Good  
  • Check out your Glassdoor ratings and be sure to respond to any feedback  
  • Make sure your employer branding is authentic and aligns with what your employees do and say about you online - don't underestimate the power of social proof!  

2. Make your first impression count

So, the candidate has done their homework and decided your company could be a good fit. Once they get to your open roles you only have a matter of seconds to convert them into applicants, so nailing your ad is key.

Here are some must-haves for your job ads:

  • Clear job titles  
  • Details on why the role and company are exciting
  • Salary transparency (no ‘competitive salary’, we beg)  
  • Inclusive language  
  • Information on progression  
  • A detailed list of benefits  

Check out our blog post on 5 steps to writing the perfect job ad to learn more.  

3. Ensure the application process is easy and accessible

Remove any barriers for potential candidates and make your application process as straightforward as humanly possible. For example, don’t ask someone to upload their CV, then manually list all the same points into a form.  

This also includes making sure:  

  • Your careers page is easy to find  
  • The application questions are super clear
  • Keep the process short and mobile friendly  
  • Don’t ask for current salary

Most importantly, send a confirmation that their application has been submitted and be clear on when they can expect to hear back from you. And stick to it!  

4. Streamline your interview process

Remember, interviews are a two-way street. It’s as much about the candidate interviewing you as it is the other way around.  

You also want to make the process as efficient as possible; It’s important to design a process that balances assessment of the candidate, attraction to the role and company, and speed.  

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Outline the interview process in the job description, or during the initial call (that includes how many stages there will be, what each stage covers, plus an expected timeline to complete the process)  
  • Get organised with question banks for each role and rotating interviewers lined up to speed the process along  
  • Share an agenda along with your calendar invite before each stage and give candidates an opportunity to ask questions prior to the calls  
  • Provide detailed, tailored feedback after calls – this should be delivered 48 hours MAX after each stage!

5. Nail the offer stage

It’s time to seal the deal. An offer is another opportunity to stand out to candidates, so make sure you get it right.  

Here are our tips on making an offer they can’t refuse:

  • Salary expectations should be clarified in the very first interaction  
  • If the candidate’s performance is better or worse than expected during the process, salary discussion should be managed throughout to avoid any nasty surprises at the end  
  • Offers should be made by the hiring manager over the phone or in writing and should include:  
  • Full details of the offer – salary etc.  
  • Summary of feedback from the interview process  
  • Why the company wants to make an offer  
  • How you see their role progressing with the company  

6. Always ask for feedback

This should be built in throughout the interview process, ideally after each interaction with the candidate. Asking for their thoughts once the process is complete is key, whether they were the successful candidate or not.  

As well as anecdotal feedback you can use an online form so feedback can be collated and analysed easily. That way you can spot any trends quickly and learn where you can improve.  

7. It’s onboarding time

Now it’s time to transition from candidate experience to employee experience.

Here are our tips for a great onboarding experience:  

  • Make the onboarding steps crystal clear – let the candidate know exactly what is required of them and the timelines for getting started  
  • Maintain regular contact with them in the time between signing the contract and their start date – you could invite them to a team social, or schedule an informal chat with their manager  
  • Provide an organised agenda for their first two to four weeks in their new role
  • Make sure their first few days are as smooth as possible by providing them with all the equipment and information they’ll need to get started  

Our three key takeaways:

  • Ensure clear, regular communication throughout the hiring process  
  • Set expectations with firm timelines (and stick to them)  
  • Make sure anything you do during the process aligns with your company’s values!