It starts with the first interaction a candidate has with your company as an employer and encapsulates everything up until they are either rejected or accept a job offer. And more importantly, it’s the part of the recruitment process that can either lead to a wonderful candidate-employer relationship or a pathetic interview experience for candidates

Candidate experience refers to the experience a candidate has when applying for a position with your company. It is their perception of your company — good, bad or indifferent — after having experienced your hiring process.

Think about this – What are the various ways a candidate interacts with your company?

Job descriptions, social media posts and your careers page are often the first experience a candidate has with your company as an employer. From there, they may submit an application and be selected for a phone screen. This may lead to a round of on-site interviews, skills assessments, reference checks and, if you’re lucky, a happy new hire.

These touch points, in aggregate, represent the candidate experience. Each one of them is an opportunity for you to wow candidates or for things to come off the rails entirely. It all depends on how prepared you are.

Why is the Candidate Experience Important?

Half of candidates sever their relationship with a company due to a Negative Experience

A negative candidate experience can cost you more than candidates. It can cost you customers. Nearly half of candidates terminate their relationship with the company entirely after having a negative candidate experience.

72% of candidates share their experience online

3 out of 4 candidates share negative experiences they had with a prospective employer online. There’s no hiding from it these days.

More than half of candidates are deterred by negative reviews

55% of candidates won’t pursue jobs at companies that have negative online reviews. In order to combat these negative reviews, you should always respond to both negative and positive feedback so that future candidates know that you care and are working to improve the candidate experience moving forward.

60% of candidates will abandon a job application if it’s too long or confusing

When more than half of all candidates are abandoning applications due to their length and complexity, they’re sending us a clear message. Try applying to a role yourself to see how the process is, and take a look at your application completion rate metrics to improve this area of your process.

Candidates expect a short and sweet process

The top complaint among more than a fourth of candidates is that the hiring process took too long. To improve the length of your process, look into your time to hire to see how long it takes candidates to get through your overall hiring process.

Candidate feedback is a critical part of the hiring process

Candidates that receive constructive feedback from an employer during the hiring process are 4x more likely to stay in their talent community and apply for a future role. Don’t believe in the importance of candidate feedback? Consider this:

When Virgin Media calculated how much money negative candidate experiences were costing the company, it found it was losing the equivalent of $5.4 million each year. You can also calculate how much it’s costing your company not to provide feedback to candidates.

It’s one thing to understand what a good candidate experience is. It’s another thing to actually create a candidate experience that will leave your top candidates wanting more from your company as an employer.

Here are a few pointers for you to embrace, strategise and implement.

It all starts even before you meet any of the candidates.

1) Job Description
Use simple language. Even if candidates know your industry’s buzzwords, it’s best to keep job descriptions as clear and jargon-free as possible. Many stereotypical job description phrases (like “passionate,” “team-player” and “guru”) are overused to the point of being meaningless

List must-haves (not nice-to-haves) as requirements. Job descriptions with endless lists of requirements turn off candidates (particularly female candidates) who don’t think they meet every single requirement. It’s best to separate your ‘wish list’ traits from ‘must-haves’ to discourage strong candidates from bouncing.
Structure your job description to be easy to read. Job ads follow the same writing rules as blog posts and articles. They’re easier to read if they list the most important information first and are full of bullet points, active verbs and short sentences.

Tell candidates the title of your Hiring Manager, for context. A lot of people leave their jobs because of a bad relationship with their direct manager. It’s best to tell candidates who their manager will be, to help them with their research and give them more context for the seniority and growth opportunities of your open role.
Make management responsibilities obvious. If the role you’re advertising for has management responsibilities, make them explicit. ‘Manager’ job titles are in-vogue and don’t always translate into responsibility for direct reports. If your manager-level employees actually have to manage people, let your candidates know.

Outline your hiring process in the job description.

2) Make it easy for candidates to apply to your jobs
Careers Page: Careers pages are often buried in obscure sections of company websites. Make yours as easy to find as possible. Strcuture the layout of your Careers Page in a simple yet effective way. Select a theme that blends well with your main website and add features as necessary. Your Careers Page is a gateyway to your company culture, so be cautious and make it fun & engaging

Application Process: Keep it short & simple. Don’t make the candidates fret looking at your lengthy application process. It’s just useless.

3) Communication. This is the single most important factor. Your recruiters and hiring managers should be super responsive. Not laid back with a don’t care attitude. This severly impacts your recruitment experience. Respect candidate’s time, acknowledge their efforts and time. Send out regular emails on where they stand in your recruitment process. Even if they get rejected, ensure you send out an email outlining that you couldn;’t consider their application for now. There are umpteen number of automation tools and there is no reason for you to not do this
Always make the candidate feel valued and respected. Follow up with every applicant and inform them if they are moving on in the process or not. There is nothing worse to a candidate than hearing nothing back regarding the positions they have applied for.

When the candidate feels valued and respected, it raises the bar. Additionally, when a candidate sees that you treat them well, they tend to ramp up their performance to meet the expectations and show that the respect was not misplaced.

Many companies (including Fortune 500) are not treating candidates with respect during the interview process. They think they are in the driver’s seat, so they think they can keep a candidate waiting for an hour for an interview, not provide follow up on candidacy, not provide a warm environment, etc.

This impacts their bottom line because, even if the company does not hire the person, they still need to create an amazing experience because otherwise it can ruin the company’s reputation. You want every candidate to be brand ambassadors for your company.

69% of candidates would reject an offer from a company with a bad employer brand, even if they were unemployed (source).

So, gear up and get the ball rolling. Treat everyone the way you would like to be trated. Be the change you want to see. Start with yourself and slowly spread it to your team. Be a treandsetter. Be an awesome employer