How to Improve Candidate Experience

Practical advice on how you can improve candidate experience for your business.

10 Mar 2023

How to improve your candidate experience

First impressions are absolutely everything when it comes to hiring. A great candidate experience will attract the most talented and passionate people to your team and strengthen your employer branding. Yet a bad one will damage your reputation as an employer and make it tricky for you to attract top talent in future. So, if you’re wondering how to improve candidate experience for your business, keep reading.  

Firstly, what is candidate experience? 

If you’re unsure on what candidate experience actually means, here’s a brief overview.

Candidate experience refers to how a job seeker feels about your company, based on their interactions with you throughout the whole hiring process. This includes all interactions – from their initial application, right through to the interview process and feedback.

How to improve candidate experience 

Here are a couple of things to help you create an excellent candidate experience. 

Define the role 

First things first, you need to start by properly defining the role before you even contemplate advertising it. Make sure you’ve considered the scope of the role, key responsibilities and how it fits into your existing company structure. We’ve seen plenty of cases where employers have started the hiring process before nailing this down, only to discover they need to start again from scratch. If you fall into this trap, you risk wasting a candidate’s time which could deter them from applying to future roles with you. 

Once you’ve done this, you need to be clear on what the role involves in your job ad. By letting prospective applicants know exactly what you’re looking for, you can drastically improve your chances of finding the right person. 

Simplify the application process 

Make it easy for applicants to apply by keeping the process simple. By giving clear instructions on how to apply, you can also manage expectations and stop applicants from dropping out halfway through the process. Remember that lots of applicants will be searching for opportunities on their mobile, so mobile accessibility is a must!

Top tip

Audit your application process and make note of any potential barriers that could prevent people from applying. Once you’ve completed your audit, you can optimise your application process – remember to test it yourself to make sure it all works exactly as expected. 

Communicate clearly and consistently  

Communication is key when it comes to keeping candidates engaged throughout the hiring process and it can help you build trust with your applicants from the get-go. To get the best out of your interactions, you can start off by evaluating all of the touchpoints where a candidate will come into contact with you. Then you can develop each touchpoint and use it to your advantage to build strong relationships. On top of the application and interview, key touchpoints include:

Job post

Treat this as the gateway to your recruitment process. The best job posts clearly and concisely communicate the responsibilities of the role, so you need to avoid anything misleading here. This is also your opportunity to showcase your company values and benefits, beyond salary. 

Post-application communications

Let your applicants know that you’ve received their application and give them an estimate on when they can expect to hear more from you. If you don’t have time to contact each applicant individually then you can set up an automated email to let them know you’ve got their application. 

Interview invitation

You should send interview invitations as quickly as possible to keep top-tier candidates engaged. Include information on the date, time, location, interview panel and any tasks or presentations they’ll need to complete. Ideally, there would be a selection of dates and times to allow for flexibility. This is also your opportunity to get candidates excited about the opportunity. 

Be honest

Candidates deserve honesty throughout the hiring process, in the same way that you deserve honesty from them. But we’ve seen cases where employers have promised hybrid working or other attractive (but unrealistic) benefits to get applicants through the door, to then go back on themselves down the line. This type of behaviour is a waste of time all-round and will likely leave the candidate with a really poor opinion of your business.

Offer a positive interview experience

How you treat interviewees is one of the most important factors when it comes to candidate experience. Even if you’ve done a ton of interviews and are getting fed up of asking the same questions, your interviewee deserves your full attention. Using a structured interview process is a great way to contribute to a good candidate experience and will ultimately help you to compare contenders. Remember to give interviewees the option to ask questions but be respectful of their time by not overrunning. 

Top tip

Consider making part of your process remote to allow for candidate flexibility. It can save the candidate time and might mean they don’t have to book so much time off work – which they’ll no doubt appreciate. 

Provide feedback 

Feedback is an essential part of the staffing process. As an employer, it’s easy to overlook this bit as it’s not necessarily of value to you. But it’ll certainly be of value to the candidate, which is important when it comes to building a great candidate experience. Whether a candidate is selected for the role or not, you need to give feedback to help them understand how they can improve for future opportunities. 

Top tip

Remember that feedback works two ways, so you need to be open to receiving feedback too. Consider setting up a survey to provide candidates with the opportunity to leave their thoughts on your recruitment process. Then use their responses to drive your future candidate experience strategy. 

Avoid “ghosting” at all costs

You’ve likely heard of ‘Ghosting’ in recruitment. And if you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s the concept of abruptly cutting off contact with your candidates during the hiring process. It’s essentially a fairly new name for what is a very longstanding behaviour. If you ghost a candidate, you almost certainly risk leaving a bad taste in their mouth which is the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to improve candidate experience. 

Reduce your time to hire

If you invite a candidate to interview, but can’t see them for 2 weeks, don’t be surprised if they’re no longer available when the time comes around.  Most hiring processes are completed within a maximum of 2 weeks, from start to finish, and that usually involves 2 interviews plus a task. If your hiring process takes longer than this, your applicants could favour an opportunity with a slicker process that’s left them feeling engaged every step of the way.

Need help with hiring?

Now that you’ve got some tips on how to improve candidate experience, it’s time to find some talented and ambitious people to join your team. We’ve got bags of experience and know exactly where to find the best people out there. If you’re looking for someone to complete your team, contact us today.

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