The Candidate Experience in Recruitment & Hiring

A negative candidate experience would discourage 73% of job seekers from applying to the same employer in the future – 83% of which would also discourage their network from applying. The recruitment process directly impacts employer branding. This article provides you with the tools to ensure your applicants have the best candidate experience.

Amber Feitsma

July 2019 · 5 min reading

A positive candidate experience can make a huge impact on your employer brand. The increasingly digital way we communicate is making it easier for applicants to share their candidate experiences – the unfortunate truth is that bad experiences are often more memorable than good.

The growing number of employer review platforms such as Linkedin, Glassdoor, and Indeed is a telltale sign that employer branding means more to job seekers than ever. It isn’t just employees writing reviews – candidates are paying close attention to how the application process, interview, and feedback is conducted. This is why it is important to make sure your candidates feel valued and supported, every step of the way.

The Candidate Journey

Step 1: Brand Awareness

The first part of the candidate journey is more about the steps an employer takes before a candidate considers applying for a position. This is because the recruitment process starts long before an applicant begins customising their CV or filling out forms. It starts the moment they become aware of your brand.

Before a candidate starts to write an application, they have likely already developed an opinion on who you are as an employer.

Ensure that your brand puts its best foot forward at every possible touchpoint. However potential candidates encounter your brand – through social media, a career site, or word of mouth – make sure to leave them with a good impression.

Consider writing an EVP statement so that they know what to expect from you as an employer. Increase employer brand awareness by using employees as advocates and communicating your brand image by using creative channels for recruitment.

Step 2: Application Process

At this stage, a candidate has developed a pointed interest in becoming your employee. They have done their research and intend to impress you. Then why is it that this phase is the most likely point at which you ‘lose’ quality candidates? A lengthy, complex application process does not separate the strong from the weak. In fact, the most sought after candidates have plenty of prospects. Therefore, it is likely that the most valuable candidates will not bother filling out lengthy, multiple-page applications – or tolerate being put on hold for an extended period of time.

The candidate is likely applying to several organisations at once. Often candidates themselves lose track of the positions and companies they have applied for because the application process feels too familiar.

Understand exactly how much effort and time it takes to fill out your application. Give it a careful read through – there are likely elements of the initial application that are not as valuable as others. Simplify it to suit your needs, but make it memorable. Does your application stand out from others? Is it suited to the kind of candidate you’re looking for? For example, applications that allow video submissions are becoming increasingly popular among employers looking to attract youth.

Consider a communication strategy that keeps candidates in the loop while you process their application. Make them feel valued and hold their interest. From there, it’s up to you to decide how to give a quality interview experience.

Step 3: Follow Up

Aside from the highly unlikely event in which you hire all who apply, the majority of your applicants will be rejected. Rejection is never a pleasant experience. Many employers find it easier to not say anything at all, or more commonly, use obviously automated rejection emails as a way to avoid the discomfort. These tactics cause a candidate to feel frustrated, unimportant, and left with a negative impression of the organisation.

Again, it is important to come across as an employer that is personally invested throughout the entire candidate journey. But how does one approach responding ‘personally’ to 200+ applicants, when they all need to hear essentially the same answer?

There is a solution – a study from CompanYoung, with more than 200 respondents aged 20 to 35,  found that the number one reason applicants are unsatisfied after receiving a rejection email is that they don’t understand what it is they did ‘wrong’.

Usually, it isn’t a question of what they did, but more the fact that another candidate was better suited for the job. By describing in the rejection mail specifically why the chosen candidate was best suited for the job, the applicant is left satisfied with a concrete explanation for their rejection – instead of feeling that their application may have gotten lost in a sea of papers.

Creating a Positive Candidate Experience

Getting the recruitment process right can result in a higher quality of hire, better employee advocacy, and more data-driven insights to help you improve your recruitment process, and in turn, your employer brand.

Each step of the candidate journey is reliant on the success of the step before. Your employer brand, or first impression, can influence their decision to apply in the first place. Utilise all available touchpoints in order to build a relationship with the applicant, and nurture it throughout the recruitment process.

The quality of the application will, in turn, affect a candidate’s attitude towards the interview – as well as their opinion on an employer’s competence. Listening to these opinions and collecting candidate feedback will help you discover how to optimise the candidate journey.

Tools for Measuring Candidate Experience

In order to accurately measure the candidate experience, put yourself in their shoes by collecting candidate feedback. Today’s young applicants want to give feedback – make sure it ends up directly in your inbox instead of on the latest employer review site. Including feedback in the recruitment process shows applicants that you are a serious and professional employer. Nearly 70% of applicants believe their candidate experience is a direct reflection of how an employer treats their employees.

It is imperative that as an employer, you have the latest insights on what works for your target candidates. Collecting easy-to-read data can be done automatically by sending out surveys along with your rejection letters – consider implementing a candidate experience work tool. Here at CompanYoung, we use to track and measure our candidate experience. This enables us to efficiently review and measure feedback from applicants – as a result, CompanYoung keeps up-to-date with the latest candidate experience trends and maintain a strong, positive employer brand.

For more insights on how the next generation views the recruitment process, download our free e-book.

Sign up for our newsletter

Join over 2,000 others in HR and administration by signing up for our newsletter, where we focus on the next generation and their education and career choices.

Sign up here

Are you intrigued?

CompanYoung is eager to further discuss the next generation and talent acquisition with you! Let’s chat and find out how we can help you in particular.