Inside the mind of a candidate


5 mins, 18 secs read time

Exclusive insights from OPEN 2018 Roadshow’s candidate panel

Have you ever wanted to know what candidates really think about your company’s candidate experience? The reality of today’s Talent landscape is that candidate expectations are changing - and they expect excellence, transparency, and engagement. If you want to land top talent, you’ll need to strategize new ways for not only meeting, but exceeding those expectations.

Greenhouse invited three new hires from three different companies to participate in our OPEN 2018 Roadshow Candidate Panel session. They revealed their personal perspectives and sentiments about their recent hiring experience and what they truly want when it comes to interviewing for a new job. Like all of us in the workforce, these candidates have gone through the hiring process with various organizations and have experienced the good, the bad, and the outright unprofessional.

We’re giving you an inside look into their top tips, expectations and must-haves so that you can stay one step ahead of the game and improve your own candidate experience.

Candidates want: Branded careers pages

Everything matters, even the careers page. If it looks like it hasn’t been updated in 5 years, I won’t apply.

If your careers page looks “vintage” it might be time for a refresh. A recent Talent Board Research Report found that career sites are the most valuable resource for candidates who are researching employers. It’s clear that this is your chance to reel in candidates at a crucial touchpoint. Your site should highlight your visual brand as well as your and brand tone of voice, be intuitive, and make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply.

It’s important to note that simply checking these boxes isn’t going to cut it. You’ll want to both engage potential candidates and make it imperative they apply to your company. Check out these 10 examples of awesome careers pages for some inspiration that will get applicants clicking “submit application.”

Dubsmash careers page

Candidates want: Communication and transparency

Communication is key. If a company isn’t responsive enough, I’ll move on, even if I would’ve accepted an offer.

Candidates certainly want a quick and timely hiring process, but this isn’t always feasible for swamped Talent teams. Something that can be done right, is communication. It’s incredibly frustrating to candidates when they’ve spent time filling out an application, writing a cover letter, meeting with your teams, and then receiving nothing but radio silence. Their livelihoods and professional aspirations are on the line, so at the very least employers should keep candidates informed about their status in the hiring process. If there’s uncertainty about the interview stage or when a decision will be made about the role, be transparent about when you’ll have more information on their status in the hiring process

Greenhouse pro tip: Applicant tracking systems are a great way to send automated, yet personalized updates to candidates at scale. This is an easy way to reassure them that you value their time.

Candidates want: Proposed long term value

I’m looking for longevity beyond the paycheck. I want the company to show me how I will be contributing to a greater mission, and how my personal goals will align with that.

Obviously salary is a factor for candidates deciding on an offer, but many if not most are looking for something much more valuable - an investment in themselves. Whether on your company website, or in an interview, make your organization’s mission and values known. People spend a third of their lives, if not more, at work. Things like employee engagement and work life balance are vital when people consider changing jobs.

Before a candidate comes in for an interview, also make sure you do all the necessary LinkedIn researching so that you’re fully familiar with their past experience. This way, when you ask them what their ambitions are, you’re equipped to propose how your organization can expand their growth and help them fulfill their goals.

Candidates want: Structured onboarding

The organized onboarding process made me feel welcomed even before my start date. All my questions were answered even before I could ask them. I was pretty impressed and it helped confirm that I made the right decision.

Attracting and hiring great candidates is only half the battle. You’ll need to craft a great retention strategy if you want your fresh talent to stay. Onboarding is a key time for making a positive impression. According to SHRM’s recent onboarding report, new employees that were provided with a structured onboarding experience were 69% more likely to remain with the company for more than three years.

Candidates value a sense of belonging, even before their first day. This can manifest in personalized welcome emails (from team members, not just the People team), informational packets, being partnered with a buddy, and of course, branded swag to post on Instagram on their #FirstDay.

Candidate experience red flags

The candidates in the panel have experienced it all when interviewing with organizations, including some less-than-positive moments. Here’s what makes candidates reconsider moving forward with a company:.

Disorganization: “The recruiters were incredibly disorganized [in one of my previous interview experiences]. I had to lead the conversation, and the interview was very unstructured. To me, this seemed very indicative of how the company functioned overall.”

Out-of-date job descriptions: “There is nothing more disappointing than applying for a role, coming onsite, and then being told during the interview that the description was old, and that the job is different.”

Confused interviewers: “If an interviewer doesn’t know how to answer my questions, it makes me question the company’s validity.”

Surprise interviewers: “I always want to be as prepared as possible so I’ll check out the interviewers’ profiles online to learn a bit about them. It throws me off when someone other than who I was expecting shows up to my in-person interview.”

Uncomfortable room temperature: “If at any point I’m uncomfortable in an interview, that’s what I’ll remember and that’s not a good sign.”

Creating a positive candidate experience isn’t difficult, it just requires recognizing that things may not be perfect. Follow these candidate do’s and don’ts and you’ll be on your way to becoming a top rated Glassdoor company that all candidates will want to apply to, and other companies will aspire to emulate.

Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.