7 Steps to Creating a Great Candidate Experience

Improving the job candidate experience leads directly to attracting and retaining top talent. Learn best practices for hiring in the digital age to improve your recruitment efforts.

Thuy Vi Nguyen
Thuy Vi is the Marketing Lead at Puck and has worked in the SaaS industry for nearly a decade. Outside of marketing, she can be found at concerts, trying new restaurants, and journaling.

How candidates search for and find jobs today is vastly different from forty years ago – just take a look at the availability of jobs found online today compared to then! The digital age has altered the hiring landscape, and this has affected everything from employers’ recruitment processes to the job candidate experience. 

For more on how job postings have been revolutionized with the advancement of technology (specifically, audio clips), check out this blog post (and, don’t forget to come back and check out Puck and learn more about how we can help you do the same!).

As an employer, you may be wondering how to improve your hiring process. Or, better yet, what candidate experience best practices can you implement to attract top prospects to your company?

Whether you’re trying to fill retail positions or you’re looking for the next tech specialist to join your team – regardless of whether you’re looking to hire hourly workers or salaried employees – creating a positive candidate experience can make all the difference in your recruitment efforts. 

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into what the candidate experience is, what its positive and negative effects are, the impact on your bottom line, and how you can create a more positive candidate experience.

What Is the Candidate Experience?

The candidate experience is the sum total of what an applicant goes through in the process of being hired – from job search to job acceptance, and even beyond, such as onboarding and training.

When employers get the candidate experience right, they are more likely to become an employer of choice and job seekers are more likely to want to work for them.

When you’re hiring, you want to present an accurate, positive picture of your company and build genuine excitement for your brand. By creating stronger relationships with job candidates from the start, you boost your chances of finding someone who’s a perfect fit for the role and someone who is motivated to work for your company. 

Why is this important? Company culture is a huge driver of business success and is key for employee engagement, performance, and productivity. Employees who identify with their company are happier, more committed, and perform better – and are more likely to stay with their organization and experience better job satisfaction. 

Having a good understanding of what the candidate experience is and what you can do to make it better is important because it enables you to be more proactive in the hiring process. Instead of waiting for a great candidate to stumble across your listing, you can take decisive action to attract the types of candidates you want to hire. If you’re able to create a process that helps identify candidates who fit this mold from the start, you’ll have a higher chance of not only standing out amongst the crowd of employers, but you’ll also have a higher chance of finding the right kinds of candidates.

How to Create a Great Candidate Experience

Creating a great candidate experience can mean a lot of things (because companies vary in terms of resources, time, and culture), but at the very minimum, here are some crucial requirements:

  • Clear communication so that candidates know what to expect
  • Respect for the candidates’ time with timely feedback and follow-up
  • Smooth application process that is informative and easy to follow

But how do you put this all together? Here’s a quick guide on seven ways to start creating a more positive candidate experience that enhances your employer brand and gets more top talent through your door: 

  1. Make it easy for job candidates to learn about your brand. 
  2. Put candidates at ease.
  3. Write job listings and descriptions that are crystal clear.
  4. Be inclusive.
  5. Simplify the application process.
  6. Make it easy to schedule an interview with you.
  7. Provide feedback in a timely manner. 

Let’s dig into this a little more.

Steps to Creating a Great Candidate Experience

1. Make it easy for candidates to learn about your brand.

It’s not enough for you to drive candidates to your website. You must make your brand clear so that candidates understand your company, your culture, and your values. This information should be available on your website, be apparent in your job postings, and in all of your communications with them.

Here are some ways you can make it easy for your candidates to learn about your brand:

  • Create clear messaging across your website and job postings
  • Use strong visuals (or audio!) to tell your company’s story – social media is a great tool to use to do this
  • Invite candidates to attend your company events, such as open houses or career fairs
  • Connect with candidates on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites

2. Put candidates at ease.

Make your candidates more comfortable during the hiring process by being friendly and approachable, providing clear and concise information so they know what to expect during every step of the process, and be respectful of their time.

Here are some best practices:

  • Create an interview guide that keeps the candidate engaged and informed throughout every step of the process
  • Avoid using jargon or company-specific acronyms that the candidate may not understand (they may be too nervous to ask you, so it’s best to make sure your language is clear and understandable)
  • Be patient and understanding if the candidate seems nervous

3. Write job listings and descriptions that are crystal clear.

In addition to making it easy for the candidate to understand what the job entails, this step is crucial for making sure the candidate understands the company culture, which also helps them determine whether the role and your company are a good fit for them.  

Here are some tips for writing clear job descriptions:

  • Be specific about job duties and responsibilities so that the candidate knows what to expect – use bullet points to differentiate between tasks or create a list of expectations for what you’d like to see from the person who fills the role
  • Describe your company culture and values – what’s it like to work for your company? What should they expect if they join the team?
  • State the required qualifications and experience so that they know what’s essential for the job – this not only helps you identify who is a good fit for your role, but also helps the candidate understand if they actually qualify for the role.
  • Use a strong call-to-action that tells candidates how to apply

4. Be inclusive.

It’s important to create a hiring process that is fair and equitable for all candidates, regardless of their background, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. – you want to make sure you are creating a welcoming workplace for all your employees from the moment they first apply.

Here are some tips for creating an inclusive candidate experience:

  • Use inclusive language in your communications with candidates
  • Provide reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities
  • Make sure your interview process is fair and unbiased and consider all candidates equally
  • Offer unconscious bias training for your hiring team and involve employees from diverse backgrounds in the hiring process

5. Simplify the application process.

Make the application process as easy and straightforward as possible for candidates to apply for a job. Don’t overcomplicate the process by adding in unnecessary steps or using language that doesn’t make sense to anyone outside your company.

Here are best practices for how you can simply your application process:

  • Make the application process mobile-friendly – did you know that over 70% of jobs as of 2022 were completed on mobile devices? Make sure you’re meeting your candidates where they are!
  • Use text-to-apply to streamline your application process
  • Allow candidates to save their application progress so they can come back to it and set up automated reminders so that they don’t forget to finish applying
  • Provide a clear call-to-action and use pre-screening questions
  • Use an ATS and CRM to streamline the application progress and track your candidates’ progress

6. Make it easy to schedule an interview with you.

Once you have candidates in your pipeline, make sure scheduling an interview is easy otherwise candidates will get lost during this stage of the interview process. 

Here are a few tips for making it easy for candidates to schedule an interview with you:

  • Provide multiple ways to schedule an interview. This could include deciding on an ideal day and time via email or sending them your calendar so they can book directly (which will also save you time and help you automate your hiring process!)
  • Provide candidates with a range of dates and times to choose from and be flexible with scheduling
  • Respond to candidates promptly and make sure to confirm interview times with candidates

7. Provide feedback in a timely manner. 

Lastly, providing feedback to candidates helps you create a positive candidate experience. When you provide timely feedback, you are being respectful of the candidate’s time and showing candidates that you are serious about the hiring process.

Here are some tips on how you can provide feedback in a timely manner:

  • Use a feedback template to make sure you don’t forget any relevant information
  • Get feedback from other interviews so you can get a more complete picture of a candidate’s performance
  • Provide feedback within 24 hours of an interview and be specific and constructive in your feedback
  • Review the candidate’s resume and any additional material they’ve sent over so you can provide more specific feedback 

Stages of the Candidate Experience

Broadly, the candidate experience can be broken up into the following distinct stages and spans across all parts of these processes:

  • Application Process
  • Interview Process
  • Onboarding Process

Your recruitment efforts lead to candidates starting the application process. Here’s a question for you – are you giving strong prospects a good reason to put aside what they’re doing to take the time to apply to your position? If you’re not, you’re losing candidates at the very first stage!

The interview process begins when you’ve identified good matches and invited them to schedule an interview with your team. If too many applicants are declining your invitation for an interview, you’ll need to uncover why and come up with ways to improve the candidate experience at this stage.

Once a candidate has accepted your job offer, you still need to create a positive experience throughout the onboarding process. A frustratingly long, unclear, tedious, or boring onboarding process can drive new hires away, regardless of the fact that they’ve already accepted your job offer. 

Impact of the Candidate Experience

Effects of Positive & Negative Experiences

What happens when you use employee engagement best practices to improve your candidate experience? And, what are some of the effects of not doing so? Here are some examples of what you can expect. 

(And, of course, this list doesn’t cover every positive and negative candidate experience effect, but is a great starting point.)

Positive Candidate Experience Effects

  • Genuine enthusiasm from candidates at the possibility of joining your company and being a part of your team
  • Eagerness to complete the job application and interview processes as quickly as they can
  • Motivation to engage throughout the application, interview, and onboarding stages 
  • Being able to convert your top job candidates into future employees

Negative Candidate Experience Effects

  • Applicants not following through, abandoning the application or interview process midway due to a lack of interest (AKA candidate drop-off and ghosting)
  • A sense of boredom with the application and interview stages, and indifference towards your brand
  • No motivation on the part of candidates to complete the process
  • You end up with few (or no) good prospects to fill your open positions

Impact of the Candidate Experience on your Bottom Line

When you implement candidate experience best practices, your bottom line stands to improve because more positive candidate experiences can help with:

  • Streamlining your recruitment efforts
  • Attracting top talent and strengthening your employer brand
  • Shortening the hiring process (which saves money!)
  • Hiring the right people faster and improving your offer acceptance rate
  • Improving employee retention and morale

Did you know that 77% of candidates that have a positive candidate experience are more likely to share it with their networks and that even if rejected, 65% of rejected candidates will still likely do business with you again? 

On the flip side, 72% of candidates who have a poor candidate experience will share their negative experience with family and friends with 41% of them not buying from the company again and 25% of them actively discouraging others to apply.

The Importance of the Candidate Experience

The candidate experience is more important than ever in today’s competitive job market. In this age of social media and with such easy access to information about companies online (i.e. Glassdoor job and interview reviews), it’s crucial that you create a candidate experience that highlights your company culture and makes you stand out from the crowd. 

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At Puck, our mission is to make hiring more human. We believe that people and their stories should be at the center of your employer brand strategy. Ask us how we can help you find your people below.

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