What is candidate experience?

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The candidate experience encompasses every stage of the hiring process – from application to interviews to onboarding. It’s essentially how candidates view your company after going through the process.

A good candidate experience can make a great impression on applicants that they’ll likely share with friends, family or even publicly on review sites. But a poor candidate experience can also negatively impact how potential employees (and anyone they share that experience with) perceive your organization.

The importance of candidate experience

Why does the candidate experience matter in the hiring process? According to Liz Corey, Forbes Human Resources Council member and Chief People Officer at Velosio, candidate experience plays a critical role in your company’s ability to attract and retain talent. It also:

  • Shapes (positively or negatively) your employer brand. Through word-of-mouth and online reviews, candidates share their experiences with your company. A good candidate experience can build a strong employer brand to bring in top talent.
  • Boosts retention and employee referrals. Applicants with a better candidate experience who become employees are more likely to engage with your organization... and stay. They may also increase employee referrals, increasing your talent pipeline.
  • Yields higher-quality candidates. Top talent won’t spend more than a few minutes filling out job applications – more than 70% won’t complete an application if it takes more than 15 minutes. Create a candidate experience that’s simple and respects everyone’s time.
  • Increases diversity and inclusion. Your candidate experience builds on your reputation – if you have a reputation for diversity and inclusion, you can attract a more diverse talent pool.

Key elements of a positive candidate experience

Building a better candidate experience starts with putting the candidate at the center of everything. It includes:

  • Making the application process as seamless and effortless as possible – don’t ask candidates to upload their resume and then manually enter it, too
  • Writing clear, realistic job descriptions that highlight crucial skills and expectations for success
  • Maintaining consistent communication along every part of the journey – like sharing next steps and reminder, thank you and rejection emails
  • Implementing the right technology, like Greenhouse, to streamline the hiring process, from applying to automated communication to tech that accommodates candidates of all abilities
  • Designing an easy-to-navigate career page that showcases your employer brand and clearly explains why candidates should work with you

Measuring and improving candidate experience

Interested in improving candidate experience? We’ve got a few tips:

  • Conduct candidate surveys to get feedback – straight from candidates – to understand how to create a good candidate experience
  • Don’t let candidate feedback just sit in the system – continually review feedback and act on it to build a better candidate experience
  • Look at all the data, like the application process, time to hire and communication metrics, to see what it tells you about the points of friction candidates experience

The role of employer branding in candidate experience

Your employer brand plays a pivotal role in the candidate experience – it’s what attracts candidates to (or keeps them away from) your company. Have a strong employer brand with a positive reputation for how you treat employees (and candidates)? You’ll attract top talent.

Align the candidate experience with your employer brand, so candidates know what to expect and are delighted when you walk the walk. If you tout your dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B), but your candidate experience doesn’t reflect that, candidates will catch on fast and move on.

As you create a better candidate experience, put social media to use. By showcasing positive candidate experiences on your social channels, you can leverage word-of-mouth to continue building on your employer brand.

Candidate experience and onboarding

If you have a good candidate experience, you nurtured a relationship with your candidates throughout the recruiting and hiring process. Keep that rapport – and positive candidate experience – going by creating a seamless transition from candidate to new hire.

  • Walk new hires through a comprehensive onboarding process that sets them up for success. It should include your company overview, culture, values, DEI&B and more.
  • Build on the relationship you fostered throughout the recruiting process by keeping the lines of communication open and supporting new hires however you can. An onboarding buddy is a great way to provide guidance and build on the candidate experience.

Want to learn more about gathering candidate feedback and using it to create meaningful change? Catch the “Employee and candidate feedback: Turning insights into DE&I action” webinar.