9 Proven Ways to Improve Candidate Experience

Think back to the last time you applied and interviewed for jobs. What was that experience like for you? If you’re like most of us, your job search wasn’t easy sailing and you may have even walked away holding a grudge or two.

These resentful feelings, which most of us experience at some point in our professional lives, stem from a negative candidate experience. Before the time of online job boards and company review websites, a negative candidate experience was far less harmful to a company’s reputation as an employer. But today, it’s the employers, not the candidates, who suffer most when their candidate experience is lacking.

If you work in recruiting or HR, or simply want to learn how your company can improve its candidate experience, today’s blog post is for you. We’ll explain why candidate experience is so important, and offer some tips to impress and delight your future candidates. Let’s get into it!

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience refers to a job seeker’s perception of a company and their hiring process.

The candidate’s entire journey, from the moment they submit an application to the moment the open role is filled, factors into the overall candidate experience.

Why is candidate experience important?

Picture this scenario. You’ve connected with candidate through your talent pipeline, but they have miserable experience interviewing at your company and they don’t get the job. They go home and vent about their experience to their significant other. You wouldn’t be too concerned, right?

Now imagine that same candidate voices their complaints into a microphone, to a room filled with every single job candidate who may be interested in working for your company. This scenario is likely a little more concerning.

While that literal scenario is unlikely to occur, it does represent the impact of the Internet on the recruiting process. Before we get into how you can improve your candidate experience, let’s take a look at a few reasons why you should even care about your candidate experience in the first place:

  • Difficulty filling positions: After a negative interview and application process, even the most qualified candidates will hesitate to accept a job offer. After all, the interview process is just as much a time for employers to put their best foot forward and win over a candidate as it is the other way around. If you treat candidates badly when it matters most, why should they expect you to treat them well once you’ve secured their employment?
  • Low application rates: You might be thinking, “One declined job offer isn’t the end of the world. Surely that won’t hurt my company too much.” But, one negative candidate experience amplified through the megaphone of social media is enough to deter candidates from even applying to your open positions in the first place.
  • Loss of business: That’s right, it’s not just talent you’ll lose if your candidate experience isn’t up to par. Sixty four percent of job seekers say that a poor candidate experience would make them less likely to purchase goods and services from that employer (source).

Whether you see it firsthand or not, candidate experience can impact the success of your business in a very big way– from the caliber of candidates you hire to the amount of revenue you earn. If you haven’t paid much attention to candidate experience in the past, it’s time to start!

9 Tips to Improve Candidate Experience

A candidate’s journey includes several different phases. Small errors or misjudgments during any one of those stages can ruin a candidate experience and eventually snowball into to major organizational hiring mistakes.

The following tips will help you optimize every step of the candidate’s journey to ensure a complete and consistent candidate experience.

1. Write clear job descriptions.

You might think you write clear, accurate job descriptions, but we’ve got news for you: your candidates likely disagree. In fact, 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, but only 36% of candidates say the same (source).

Job listings are critical to setting candidate expectations. Imagine a candidate applies for a role, and only after the first interview realizes it’s not the job they initially thought it was. It’s easy to understand why someone in this scenario might feel disappointed or misled— all the makings of a bad candidate experience.

To prevent this, be sure to craft your job descriptions with the following tips in mind:

  • Be specific: 57% of candidates say they’re put off by meaningless jargon in job ads (source). Refrain from using vague, meaningless buzzwords and instead, use specific, direct language to describe each role and its requirements.
  • Be transparent: Don’t mislead candidates by over-glorifying a role and ignoring less glamorous parts of the job. Be honest as you explain what the role entails, even if it means potentially missing out on candidates. This will prevent you from wasting time with candidates who are overqualified for the role.
  • Be comprehensive: Explain how the role fits into the bigger picture of your organization. Provide examples to illustrate the growth potential within your company. Offer specific details regarding your company culture so the candidate can visualize the workplace they’ll be a part of.

For a comprehensive guide on writing strong B2B job descriptions, check out this blog post: 7 Ways to Improve Your B2B Job Descriptions.

2. Optimize your application process.

Internet users expect a smooth, user-friendly experience, whether they’re shopping for clothes or subscribing to a digital service. They have the same expectations when it comes to job applications— but many employers have yet to catch up. In fact, 60% of job seekers have quit an application because it was too long or complex (source).

Take a close look at your application process, and identify any unnecessary or complicated steps. For example, do you ask candidates to fill form fields with the same information that’s on their resume? Do you ask questions that could be saved for later in the hiring process? Do you explain what the candidate can expect next once they submit their application?

Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and fine-tune your application process until it’s smooth and seamless. You’ll avoid starting off on the wrong foot with a candidate, or worse, losing out on qualified candidates because they’re frustrated by your job application.

3. Be accomodating.

Most qualified candidates are already employed in full-time roles. This means they have to take time off for interviews. And, often, they have to do so without informing their employer they’re looking for a new job.

Given these challenges, it’s important for hiring teams to be flexible and understanding of each candidate’s schedule. You’ll alleviate a significant amount of pressure and anxiety by tailoring your schedule around the candidate’s.

4. Train hiring teams before interviews.

Not every employee is a naturally gifted interviewer.  And, unfortunately, all it takes is one unprepared, distracted, or rude interviewer to ruin a candidate’s experience.

Before each round of interviews, we recommend you sit down with each hiring team and go over some guidelines and plans for each interview. Every interviewer will have their own style and line of questioning, but make sure you establish a consistent tone and message for the entire team.

5. Create a stress-free interviewing experience.

Did you know, 47% of job seekers say in-person interviews have the biggest impact on their impression of an employer (source)?

For many job seekers, the in-person interview is a source of dread and anxiety. Alleviate some of this stress by providing each candidate with clear expectations of the interview process. Let each candidate know how long the interview will take, who they’ll meet with, as well as any other general expectations they should keep in mind.

Following this debriefing, take interviewees on quick trip around the workplace. Introduce candidates to teams they may work with, show off any cool perks of your office, and provide an overview of your company culture.

6. Communicate often.

Research shows that poor communication is the most common complaint from job candidates. Consider these statistics:

  • 52% of job seekers cite lack of response from employers as their biggest frustration.
  • 75% of applicants never hear back from employers (source).
  • 81% of job seekers say employers continuously communicating status updates would greatly improve their candidate experience (source).

Avoid communication breakdowns by following strict follow-up procedures. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t go a full week without reaching out to a candidate and providing an update.

It’s also important not to keep candidates waiting even if you’ve disqualified them from the role. As soon as you fill a position, reach out to every candidate who applied and thank them for giving you their time and let them know you’ve decided to move forward with someone else.

7.  Provide a timeline of your hiring process.

We often forget that starting a new job is a significant life change. A new hire may need to give notice to their current employer, restructure their daily schedule, or even relocate to a new home.

For these reasons, candidates benefit from knowing how long your hiring process will be. In fact, 83% of candidates say it would greatly improve their overall experience if employers provided a clear timeline of the hiring process.

Set clear expectations at every stage of your hiring process. When a candidate submits an application, tell them when they should expect to hear back from you. If they progress to the interviewing stage, give them a more detailed timeline of events. Tell them how many rounds of interviews they may go through, what each round entails, and how long it’ll take for the hiring team to come to a decision.

Most importantly, be clear and transparent when discussing your planned start date for the position. For example, if you need the new hire to start within two weeks of accepting the role, don’t string along a candidate who can’t start until the end of the year.

8. Personalize your candidate communications- including offers and rejections.

The last stage of the candidate journey is as crucial as any other. How would you feel if you got the job you were hoping for, but the offer came in a bland, formulaic email?  

Once your team has chosen a candidate, extend the offer via a congratulatory phone call. This is far more personal and will help the candidate feel valued and excited to join your team. In fact, your method of extending an offer might be the deciding factor for a candidate who’s still on the fence about your company.

On the flip side, your rejection notices should also have a human touch. Throw out the boilerplate email templates and send each candidate a personalized message thanking them for their time and politely explaining why they weren’t chosen for the role. Your feedback might be just what they need to succeed later on in their job hunt.

Of course, if you have thousands of candidates applying for a single role, this level of personalized feedback isn’t always feasible. But as a general rule of thumb, try to reserve automated rejection emails for those who don’t make it past the resume screening. Anyone who takes their time to meet with your team deserves a more thorough response.

9. Collect feedback from candidates.

The only way to assess your candidate experience is to ask candidates directly. But, believe it or not, only 1 in 4 employers regularly request feedback from candidates about their experience (source).

Use surveys to gain better insight into your candidate experience. Allow some time to pass once a candidate exits your hiring process, and then follow up with a survey asking them about their experience. Identify common issues, sources of frustration, or areas for improvement. Track and measure candidate experience as you would with other key recruitment metrics.

Key Takeaways on Candidate Experience

Several times throughout this post, we’ve asked you to look at your hiring process from a candidate’s perspective. That was no accident: looking at your hiring process from the candidate’s eyes is the best way to provide a great candidate experience.

Job hunting can be stressful, emotionally taxing, and often discouraging. The best employers recognize this, and go above and beyond to make their candidates feel understood, accommodated, and appreciated. Devote some extra time and resources to providing a stellar candidate experience, and the positive effects will reverberate through your entire company.

For more information on how to improve your recruiting strategy, get in touch with our sales team today. ZoomInfo is the leading B2B contact database solution and we provide the tools you need to find and engage with high-quality job candidates!