Candidate Experience: What it is, Importance & Strategies

In today’s world of work, an increasing focus is placed on employee experience and engagement. In their efforts to be competitive or survive in this market through the wake of The Great Resignation, companies are coming up with new ways to empower employees to be autonomous. Let’s talk about candidate experience.

Including team members in important decisions, challenging them to grow, promoting interpersonal trust on their teams, and setting everyone up for success is crucial for companies that want to be on top of the game.

At the same time, the boundaries of employee experience are getting challenged, and the data silos between candidate experience, employee experience, and alumni experience are being shattered. Companies that want to stay competitive are looking across the entire spectrum. 

Why? It’s more than the realization that a great candidate experience will lead to increased quality of hire or that starting off with the right foot in the employee experience might carry a certain weight later on when the going gets tough. Increasingly, companies are finding it is important to focus on all candidates’ experience: the ones that are offered the job and don’t accept it, the ones that are screened out in the first step, the promising ones that aren’t made an offer after being selected for interviews, or the ones that are placed on a waitlist because they might still be a great fit but for a different job. 

What is Candidate Experience?

Candidate experience is a job seeker’s perception and interaction with a company during the hiring process. What kind of experience are people who are applying to jobs at your company having? Ask companies, and they’ll say they strive to provide candidates with a good experience. Some will dare to say they do. But a lot fewer will have data to show for it. 

Ask people applying for jobs and they’ll say their experience with the application process for the majority of companies they ever applied to has been neutral at best. In fact, some worrying trends suggest that, on average, candidate experience is getting worse year over year. What gives? 

Why is candidate experience important?

  1. Access to a Larger Candidate Pool

More people will apply to work with you if you’re perceived as a good employer. Sometimes, people won’t know an employee to be able to ask them, but they might know someone else who applied. Not to mention that these days information is available on websites like Glassdoor that provide a detailed view of candidate experience. If that information is not favorable, people will think twice before even applying. 

  1. Hiring the Best and Brightest

The most desirable candidates can afford to be picky. An underwhelming candidate experience will mean you get to hire much fewer of these candidates than you could have, whether they don’t apply to work with you in the first place, drop out of the application process, or don’t accept your offer by the time interviews are concluded. This is amplified not only by the availability of information on specialized websites but also by people talking to each other privately. A lot of times, people with similar backgrounds and characteristics know each other. 

  1. Lower Turnover in the First Year

Increased turnover in the first year is a particularly alarming trend in certain industries that are characterized by high availability of jobs and low availability of talent, such as Technology. Not only can people afford to be picky, but they can also afford to change their minds.

Sometimes, candidates will take a job despite a red flag at the level of candidate experience, and if they encounter another red flag during onboarding, they’ll leave. Imagine someone accidentally being stood up for an early interview or not being sent an exercise that is part of the interview ahead of time, comes to accept an offer despite that, only to be stood up again on their first day.

Even if these are relatively rare occurrences, they can happen when companies are racing to hire talent, confronting both high attrition and high growth targets.   

  1. Brand Advocates Beyond Your Employee Base

Sometimes, business development opportunities can be linked to the hiring process. Someone’s first contact with your company may have been as a candidate, but then they may end up working for an existing client or becoming a prospective client. In these cases, offering candidates an outstanding experience can make the difference between added business success or a missed opportunity.

How to create a great candidate experience 

Candidate experience is best measured during the application process by asking candidates directly about how their experience has been after each critical touchpoint. What is most important to ensure is that the questions being asked are relevant and actionable and that all candidates are being asked. 

Important touchpoints of Candidate Experience

Every interaction a candidate has with your company during their application process is a touchpoint. Depending on the role, department, and how you like to interact with candidates, these may be:

  • Submitting their CV
  • Initial selection
  • Hiring manager interview
  • HR follow-up
  • Technical interview(s)
  • Peer interview(s)
  • Initial offer
  • Negotiation

Each one of these touchpoints is important, and you can gauge how much by counting the % of candidates that drop out of the application process on their own between each round.

Measuring the candidate experience at each touchpoint allows companies to evaluate how candidate expectations are changing over time, what is important for candidates for marketing roles and how that’s different for candidates for product roles, and how each of these relates to employee experience over time, as well as the success of your business. It all starts with measurement.  

Make the most of your Candidate Experience.

Our employee experience solution at QuestionPro Workforce can ensure questions are being sent to all candidates after each touchpoint, complete with reminders so that data is gathered continuously and dashboards with the most critical metrics are available in real time.