Candidate experience is an aspect of the recruitment process that we should be constantly refining. You don’t want to fall behind competitors who are rolling out the red carpet for potential hires while you’re taking 2 business days to reply to an enquiry.
A positive candidate experience is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. As a hiring manager, TA specialist, or HR professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that candidates have a positive experience throughout the recruitment process. A poor candidate experience, even for unsuccessful applicants, can result in a damaged employer brand.
In this article, we will discuss how to create a positive candidate experience and provide actionable tips and recommendations.
What Makes a Positive Candidate Experience?
The easy answer is that a positive candidate experience is one that leaves applicants feeling exactly that – positive.
A more nuanced answer is that a recruitment process should help the candidates feel valued, respected, and engaged. A positive candidate experience entails treating candidates with empathy while providing transparent and efficient communication that accurately represents the organisation.
Why Is Candidate Experience So Important?
A positive candidate experience can lead to a higher acceptance rate, increased brand reputation, and better candidate referrals. According to Criteria, a positive candidate experience can increase the likelihood of a job offer acceptance by 38%. Additionally, candidates with a positive experience are more likely to refer others to the company, 86% more likely, in fact. This can also lead to an increase in your brand’s reputation as an employer of choice and opens up a larger potential talent pool within the market.
As you can see, providing a positive candidate experience is much more than a nice-to-have. It’s an essential part of creating a strong employer brand, referral network, and even the onboarding process.
How to Create an Unforgettable Candidate Experience
Create clear job descriptions and requirements
The first step in creating a positive candidate experience is to provide a clear job description and list of requirements. Don’t beat around the bush or conceal certain aspects that you think might be unappealing.
Candidates want to know what they’re up for, and an unwelcome surprise further into the recruitment process will sour the whole experience. This information should be included in the job posting and any other communication with the candidate.
Provide responsive communication
Effective communication is key to creating a positive candidate experience. Just as you don’t want to be ghosted by the candidate, so too do they want to hear prompt responses from you.
Candidates should be kept informed throughout the recruitment process, from application to offer and beyond. Even if things are stalling, continuing to communicate, providing estimated times, and ensuring the candidate knows they are still being considered can go a long way.
One of a recruiter's key responsibilities will be to communicate with your candidates, ensuring they stay excited and engaged in the process.
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Be respectful during the interview process
Show your candidates that you value their time during the interview process. You can do this by providing clear instructions on what to expect during the interview, who they’ll be meeting with, and the nature of the interview.
Interviewers should be well prepared for the interview. This includes having the knowledge needed to ask relevant questions as well as answer them. Keeping the interviews to as few rounds as possible will also help with engagement, as you may quickly find applicants being snapped up by competitors or dropping out as the interview process drags on.
Create an efficient hiring process
To follow on from the last point, a lengthy and drawn-out hiring process can lead to frustration and disengagement for candidates. It can be a bit of a balancing act to keep the hiring process efficient while still maintaining quality.
The benefit is that you’ll make a positive impression on your candidates when they see your recruitment process running like a well-oiled machine. This can be achieved by setting clear timelines, utilising technology such as an ATS, partnering with an external recruiter, or streamlining the decision-making process by automating parts of the process such as application screening.
Communicate with personalised touchpoints
Communication that feels personal can play a big part in creating a positive candidate experience, and helps to differentiate your organisation from other potential hirers. This can include sending personalised emails, thank you notes, video messages or even a small gift after an interview.
These gestures show candidates that they are valued and appreciated while leaving them with a positive and lasting impression, even if they are unsuccessful.
Provide feedback and closure
Providing feedback and closure is an essential component of a positive candidate experience. First impressions are vital, but leaving things on a good note is just as important.
Feedback is an important part of this – both giving and receiving. Candidates will appreciate the time put into providing constructive feedback of their CV, correspondence or interview. Asking for feedback shows that your organisation does care about the candidates and their experience, and is interested in improving things.
As for closure, candidates appreciate knowing where they stand in the recruitment process. Don’t leave an applicant waiting weeks for a job offer that is never going to come. Provide closure whether the candidate is successful or not, offer your appreciation for taking the time to apply, and leave the door open for future opportunities.
Creating a positive candidate experience is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. By providing clear job descriptions, responsive communication, a respectful interview process, an efficient hiring process, personalised touchpoints, and feedback and closure, you can create a positive candidate experience that leaves candidates feeling valued, respected, and engaged.
Remember, a positive candidate experience not only benefits the candidate but also your organisation in the long run.