2023 Candidate Experience Report

CareerPlug’s annual Candidate Experience Report sheds light on what job seekers are looking for in a hiring process so that employers can overcome their biggest recruitment challenges. 

Download the 2023 Candidate Experience Report

Learn what job seekers want from a hiring process so that you can improve yours and make more of the right hires!


Does the candidate experience matter?

The candidate experience can be defined as the experience a candidate has with a potential employer throughout the hiring process, from job posting to job offer.

Many businesses have faced a slew of hiring challenges this year including lower applicant counts, changing expectations from job seekers, and competition for talent from large companies like Amazon and Walmart. 

When it comes to overcoming these challenges and making the right hires for your team, how important is the candidate experience? 

We surveyed 500 people who’ve applied for jobs within the last year and analyzed their answers about their experiences during the hiring process to answer one basic question: Does candidate experience actually matter? 

The bottom line: yes. The experience a candidate has with a company’s hiring process ultimately impacts a candidate’s decision to accept or decline a job offer. 

In the video below, CareerPlug’s Shelby Palmeri explains some of the key findings from the 2023 Candidate Experience Report.

How important is the hiring process to job seekers?

how important is the hiring process

We asked job seekers to rate how important the hiring process is to them. The overwhelming majority rated the hiring process between 7 and 10, indicating that most candidates pay close attention to how a company carries out its hiring process. Very few job seekers reported that the hiring process was of low importance to them.

What are the impacts of negative candidate experiences?

We found that 48% of job seekers have had at least one negative experience in the hiring process in the past 12 months. And 49% of job seekers had declined a job offer due to poor experience.

Consider all the hours your business spends on hiring and recruiting. Then consider that when an offer is made, if you’ve created a negative candidate experience, nearly half of your offers will be declined. Because of this, employers must often settle for their second or third choice for a role. This results in the number one challenge facing businesses today: making the right hires.

What makes a negative candidate experience?

When we looked at the reasons job seekers classified those experiences as being negative, here’s what we found:

reasons job seekers decline offers

The top two reasons candidates turned down job offers were “the compensation and benefits not meeting expectations” and “a negative experience with people in the interview process.”

What are the impacts of positive candidate experiences?

The majority of people surveyed are currently working at companies where they had a positive candidate experience during the hiring process, with 81% of job seekers reporting that it influenced their decision to accept the offer. 

How does candidate experience impact your employer brand?

The impact of poor candidate experience extends beyond the disappointment of a rejected job offer — it has serious implications for your employer brand, or your business’s reputation as a place to work. 

  • 28% of candidates said they’ve left a negative review online after having a negative experience.
  • 57% of candidates said they’ve left a positive review online after having a positive experience.

This is significant since more than half of job seekers abandon their pursuit of a company after reading negative reviews on employer review sites like Glassdoor and JobSage. Don’t miss out on the best candidates by letting negative candidate reviews define your employer brand. 

jacob rios employer review site expert

Candidate ghosting 

Candidate ghosting refers to the all too common problem employers encounter when a candidate disappears at some point during the hiring process. This may look like someone not showing up to a scheduled interview or ceasing all communication after you’ve been in contact with them. It’s a frustrating experience anytime a candidate ghosts during the hiring process, but we found the majority (50%) of candidates that ghosted did so after interviewing. 

employer ghosting stats

However, we can’t talk about ghosting without also considering that employers have been doing the same to candidates. 45% of candidates said that they have been ghosted by an employer. 

Employer ghosting, of course, creates a negative candidate experience and could do damage to your employer brand. Even if you don’t want to hire someone, the experience you create for them could impact your ability to hire other top candidates in the future. 

How to improve the candidate experience

Here’s what we found when we asked our job seeker respondents to identify what employers could do to improve the hiring process that would have the most impact on candidate experience. 

how to improve candidate experience

1. Create more transparency in the hiring process about compensation and benefits.

Job seekers want to know more details about a role earlier in the hiring process so they can make informed decisions. For example, 27% of respondents expected to be informed about compensation in the initial job post. This is a huge – and easy – opportunity for employers to improve candidate experience while also creating a win for their applicant screening process, as job seekers will self-select out of consideration if your offer is not a good fit. 

information job seekers want about a role and company

2. Provide clearer and more accurate information about the job and responsibilities.

Take the time to ensure that your job posting is thorough and accurately reflects the responsibilities of the role. Candidates look to your job posting as their guidepost when envisioning themselves working for your company. If they find out later that it’s not accurate, they’ll feel like you wasted their time.

3. Improve communication between the interviewers & job applicants.

Applicants consider prompt and frequent communication with their potential employer to be a major positive factor in the candidate experience. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the hiring process with all you candidates, not just those you choose to move ahead.

Here are some tips to improve communication with candidates:

  • Respond to all applicants immediately after they apply – You can automate this by creating email templates or using text recruiting
  • Communicate the hiring process steps and timeline upfront – 41% of candidates expect to learn about next steps in the hiring process during the initial interview. Give candidates a sense of what to expect. 
  • Keep candidates updated on their status in your hiring process – If a candidate reaches out to you for an update, that’s a sign you need to be better about communicating. Remember that candidates are often pursuing multiple job opportunities at once and you could miss out on your favorite candidates by keeping them in the dark.

Remember: Regardless of the state of the job market, the best candidates will always have the ability to be picky about where they want to work. If you understand what candidates want out of a hiring process, you can put your business at a significant advantage in any job market.

To read more of our findings from the candidate experience survey, click the button below to download the report. 

Learn more about what job seekers are looking for!

Improve your candidate experience with insight from real job seekers and get more candidates to say yes to your job offers. Get your copy now to read all of our findings from the 2023 Candidate Experience Report.


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Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.


Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

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