What is the candidate experience and how to improve it with these 7 steps

Improving candidate experience has become an important part of the job for recruiters and HR departments. Companies are doing more and more to ensure a pleasant experience for candidates in the hiring process. This is not only to attract the best people but also to keep good people in your talent pool.

Also, candidates are more likely to become engaged employees if they had a smooth and engaging application procedure. This makes it important for recruiters and HR departments to rethink their application process to ensure a positive experience for your candidates.

What is the candidate experience?

Even though candidate experience has no official definition, it is often used to refer to how applicants perceive and react to the recruiting, screening, hiring and interviewing processes. It can be measured by candidate feedback (collected through questionnaires), employee retention rates, and employee referrals.

Most employers didn’t pay much attention to the overall experience of their hiring process in the past, as the cost of a poor experience was low. If applicants had a bad experience with an employer the only consequences were that:

  1. they probably wouldn’t apply again,
  2. they might not buy from the company (if they did to begin with),
  3. and/or they might tell close friends and family how they were treated.

But with the help of social media and the internet, candidates now have power to recount their experiences and express their feelings to a massive audience. Worse yet, a hyper-relevant audience: your future candidates. If a candidate is treated poorly, they can write bad reviews about the company on multiple websites.

Also, due to the pervasive nature of social media, candidates’ social circles have grown significantly. Social platforms like Twitter or Facebook enable candidates to reach a great number of people close to them (and not so close too!) fairly easily. This has the potential to lead to far more damage to the brand than it did before the Internet era.

On the other hand, a good recruitment experience can lead to more and better applicants, resulting in better hires. Employees and candidates will also be more likely to refer qualified candidates (and potentially even customers). Improved recruitment experiences can help lower your hiring costs and time to fill when it comes to open vacancies.

Improving your candidate experience at each step in the process

Improving the overall experience in your hiring process requires you to start out by thoroughly evaluating every step in your hiring process. By doing this, you will be able to identify areas for improvement. Remember: your communication with the candidate in between hiring steps plays a role in the overall experience and should also be assessed.

The hiring process from a candidate’s perspective can be a high-stakes and high-stress experience. Often candidates want the job but are unsure of what it takes to be selected as your next team member. This can cause anxiety. In fact, a survey conducted in the US suggests that as high as 93% of job seekers experience anxiety as a result of interviews. A great candidate experience can be a great way of relieving stress among candidates, enabling them to focus on showing your team their best qualities and skills.

There’s no set recipe for a great candidate experience, but there are a few ingredients you can use to make sure yours is great. Here we’ll cover seven crucial, but often missed, components to improve your candidate experience.

1. Reach out with any delays.

One of the biggest complaints recruiters face is with candidate communication. While great candidate communication forms one of the pillars of a good experience, it can be difficult to keep in touch with candidates when you are working multiple requirements. Additionally, a lack of updates can be both frustrating for the hiring party and the candidate.

Sometimes tracking down an update for a candidate can be out of your control; the hiring manager went on holiday, you’re waiting on paperwork to be processed, or any other number of reasons. However, in the absence of a substantial update (you would like to offer them the position, invite them to the next stage, or reject them from the process) it’s important to inform your candidates.

An email or call explaining the circumstances or delay in the decision can go a long way in promoting a great candidate experience. Sometimes no news at all is good news. Keeping your candidate informed will let them feel you’re still on the case, actively seeking a decision for them.

2. Record important information on your candidate profiles.

When you have so many balls rolling in your hiring process, important information can be missed- especially if the communication happens over the phone or during a meeting. Miscommunications can be particularly problematic when it comes to the offer stage. If information regarding salary expectations or start date were not recorded appropriately, this can lead to a negative candidate experience. Additionally, if you have to ask your candidate multiple times for the same information, this can be perceived as a lack of attentiveness.

Make sure to follow-up any meeting or call by recording any vital information in your ATS. This will help keep you prepared and minimize any miscommunications with your candidates.

3. Outline your hiring process in the job description.

The biggest cause of candidate anxiety stems from the fact that they don’t know what to expect from your organization. There’s a quick and easy fix that can help ease at least some nerves: outline the basics of your hiring process in the job description. This small addition to your job descriptions can help your potential candidates understand what might be required of them.

It’s normal to be hesitant to share the details with your candidates in case they arrive over-rehearsed. But if you provide only the most basic information, this can be avoided. Share only the basic steps so they know what to expect if they are successful in each round. By managing expectations you will automatically be providing a better candidate experience.

4. Share the LinkedIn profiles of the interviewers ahead.

Candidates will inevitably (and hopefully!) do their own interview preparation ahead of the meeting. However, sometimes candidates can be left wondering who their interviewers will be.

For a great candidate experience, send them a detailed interview invitation with the interviewers’ LinkedIn profile links. This can help the candidate get a good feeling of whom they’ll be speaking with from within the business. Additionally, it will prompt the interviewers to have a look at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile.

5. Outline what candidates can expect after each step.

Sometimes this small element is missed in the hustle of the hiring process. Outlining what a candidate can expect after every step in your recruitment process will help keep the process moving smoothly.

With clear expectations, candidates won’t be left wondering if and when they should follow-up or if they need to prepare anything in advance. With next steps clear after every stage, you’ll be well on your way toward a great candidate experience.

6. Keep in touch in between offer acceptance and onboarding.

The hiring process can be very intense. Once a candidate accepts your offer, it’s easy to fall into the trap that they’re signed, sealed, and delivered. However, the radio silence that most candidates receive post-acceptance can be concerning and provoke second thoughts. Until the candidate starts their first day with your company, make sure they’re still having a great candidate experience.

Engaging your candidates during this last stage before they join your company can be a great way to build on a positive candidate experience. Keep in touch, and update them with any changes or information they may need to have before their first day.

We here at Recruitee love taking this as an opportunity to show our new team members how excited we are to have them join us.  During this last step, we send our candidates a starter packet with basic information and resources as well as a fun gif. We hope that this is the cherry on top of a great candidate experience.

great candidate experience with a welcome gif

7. Be open to giving and receiving feedback.

Many companies shy away from providing feedback to rejected candidates, for fear of legal issues. But you can address those fears by carefully structuring your feedback.

The further a candidate advances in the hiring process, the more likely they are to expect specific, personalized feedback delivered. This can help candidates approach their job search more strategically and help them discover whether they’d like to explore more job opportunities with you.

It’s also worth asking candidates to give you feedback too. A candidate experience survey can help you ask the right questions and help improve the overall candidate experience. 


Candidate experience is so important in developing a great employer brand and attracting the best talent. While it may require more devoted attention and assessment, make sure you don’t forget these seven elements. These quick fixes can help ease candidates’ nerves and generate a better candidate experience.

Don’t forget to check out our Candidate Experience checklist

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