How to Create a Positive Candidate Experience According to Job Seekers

One of the most important aspects of running a business is hiring and retaining the right people. As you may know, this isn’t always easy! 

While you may be thinking about how to get an open position more visibility online or how to move applicants through the hiring process quickly, here’s something else to consider: the candidate experience. 

At CareerPlug, we define candidate experience as the experience a candidate has with you throughout the hiring process from job posting to the job offer, and we believe that a positive candidate experience is absolutely essential for attracting job seekers and getting the best talent to say yes to your job offers. 

Because of this, we survey job seekers every year to get their perspective on the hiring process and to find out what they liked or didn’t like about recent candidate experiences. We want to share what we’ve learned with you so that you can create a candidate experience that’s exceptional. 

Why candidate experience matters

You might be wondering why the candidate experience is so important. Our data reveals one very big reason: 52% of job seekers have declined an offer due to poor candidate experience. 

impact of negative candidate experience

This means that no matter how much time or effort you’re putting into the recruitment process, if you’re giving candidates a poor experience, over half of them will decline your offer for a job! 

The good news? Providing a positive candidate experience will help you improve your ability to make better hires for your team. 76% of candidates said a positive candidate experience influenced their decision to take an offer. 

A poor candidate experience can also negatively impact your employer brand. You can think of this like your reputation. Job seekers are curious about what others have to say about their experience with your company, and candidates are often eager to share their experience with others on employer review websites. 

35% of candidates said they have left a negative review online after having a poor candidate experience. This is important since over half of job seekers say they wouldn’t apply to a company with a bad reputation. 

The data is clear: Creating a positive candidate experience is important for getting top talent to say yes to your job offers. So how do you improve your candidate experience? We’re glad you asked!

Let’s dive in. 

How to create a positive candidate experience 

We asked job seekers to get specific about what employers should focus on to improve the hiring process. Here are the answers we received:

how to create a positive candidate experience

This data is useful because it shows what job seekers want. As an employer, the power is in your hands to make the changes that will help you improve your candidate experience. Let’s break down each response in further detail. 

Be transparent in the hiring process about compensation and benefits 

When talking to job seekers, the desire for more transparency seemed to be a recurring theme, starting as soon as the initial job posting. Our survey showed that 38% of respondents expected to be informed about compensation in the job posting and that 24% of job seekers wish for more transparency in the hiring process about compensation and benefits

when job seekers expect to learn about compensation and benefits

We also found that “the compensation and benefits not meeting expectations” was the number one reason candidates declined a job offer.

We think this is a great and easy opportunity to improve your candidate experience by putting benefits and compensation in the job description. Outline exactly what you are willing to offer for the role and job seekers that aren’t the right fit will self-select out of the process. This saves you time and effort.

It’s also not a bad idea to bring up compensation and benefits in the first interview with candidates to make sure that everyone is on the same page. We do this at CareerPlug, and our research suggests that candidates appreciate the transparency early in the hiring process. 

Provide clear and accurate info about the job and responsibilities 

Your job posting should be detailed, accurate, and honest. An applicant that finds out the role is different from how you described it either during initial interviews or after accepting an offer will feel like you deceived them. One job seeker we surveyed had this to say: 

“I think many employers ‘sugar coat’ the job — this may get employees in the door but they may quit soon after starting if you are not transparent about what the job is really like [and] what is actually expected.”

As an employer, you probably have a pretty good idea of what the role entails. Be sure that you are portraying the role accurately in job postings and in interviews to avoid misleading or disappointing applicants.

Improve communication with candidates during interviews

The job seekers in our survey also shared that employers should improve communication between the interviewers and job applicants.

We think a phone screen interview early in your hiring process is a great way to kick off a strong first impression with candidates. During the phone screen, give candidates the opportunity to ask any questions they might have about the role. Communicate what next steps in the process look like and what timeline they might expect. Give them all the information they need to feel prepared for those next stages.

Continue the positive interactions with candidates through the later stage interviews. This includes asking appropriate questions, creating a welcoming environment, and being present and respectful in all interactions.

Show that you’re a great place to work 

Workplace environment and atmosphere is also important to job seekers. At CareerPlug, we try to let our values and culture shine from the very beginning of the hiring process. Consider creating a branded careers page that highlights your company culture and gives job seekers insight into what it’s like to work at your company. 

As the hiring process goes along, remember that candidates are paying attention and making judgements about your company. Share your company vision, values, and impact of the position throughout the recruitment process to help job seekers determine if their values and mission align with your own. 

Optimize your hiring process 

Speed and organization of the whole process plays a big role in overall candidate experience. Many of our respondents cited frustration with how long employers took to get back to them through various stages of the hiring process. 

Think about it from the job seeker’s perspective: Candidates are usually motivated to find their next great job. It can be disheartening and frustrating to go weeks without a response after sending in an application. It can be nerve-wracking to have to wait to hear back after completing the first interview. 

Keep candidates in the loop throughout the hiring process. Having a standardized hiring process can help ensure that all candidates are moved through the pipeline quickly and effectively. Using an ATS like CareerPlug can also be useful for organizing your hiring process, automating interview scheduling, and communicating with candidates quickly through text messaging.

Other things to consider 

It’s worth taking the time to improve your candidate experience because it will help you attract more high quality applicants and turn those applicants into employees. The responses to our survey give employers actionable steps that they can take to create a positive candidate experience. 

Make sure you’re providing job seekers with clear and accurate information as early as the job posting. Stay transparent throughout the hiring process and take steps to ensure you’re conducting great interviews. Being a great place to work is important for current employees and can help you attract new ones. Lastly, consider using a hiring software, like CareerPlug, to organize your hiring process for speed and efficiency. 

Doing these things will have a positive impact on your employer brand and help you make the right hires with more ease. 

Want more tips for improving your candidate experience?

Get your copy of the 2024 Candidate Experience Report for more information about what job seekers are looking for in the hiring process and to get a free candidate experience checklist.


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