What is candidate experience? And why does it matter?

More than just a trivial task to tick off, candidate experience encompasses the entire hiring process.
Candidate Experience
September 3, 2022
What is candidate experience? And why does it matter?

What is candidate experience?

From department budgets to burning skills gaps, recruiters already have so much on their minds. However, they need to add yet another item to their list — candidate experience.

More than just a trivial task to tick off, candidate experience encompasses the entire hiring process, informing recruiters of who and how to hire going forward.

Candidate experience is the entire experience of a job candidate, from awareness of an employer to the application, interview and post-interview activities.

Despite what most people think, the candidate experience doesn’t always begin with an application as it can start long before a company even creates a job ad. Job seekers are always prospecting employers, which also forms part of the entire experience.

When the candidate experience ends is also hazy. In theory, the candidate experience is over when candidates either receive word that they weren’t successful in their application or were chosen to fill a position and agree to become an employee. But it isn’t always so easy to draw the line.

Candidate experience can stem far into the future and include post-interview feedback, communication around the contract and pay negotiations. Depending on the length of a specific notice period and the proposed start date, the candidate experience can go on for many weeks after an offer has been made and formally accepted.

Also read: 7 Ways Your Interview Process Might Be Broken

Candidate experience is also strongly linked to employee experience, at least in the short term. So, even when the candidate experience is over, you can feel its effects for some time after the event.

One in four employees leaves their job in the first 90 days, with 43% of them stating their departure was due to their expectations not matching the job role. Much of how a new team member feels about their role and how likely they’ll be to stay post-probation is controlled through candidacy, proving the two are closely interlinked.

Candidate experience is much more than an individual’s experience of a 20-minute interview or a frustrating five minutes filling out a form.

What factors influence the candidate experience?

Candidate experience is less about an individual’s perception of a job role and more about their perception of the employer and their interactions during the hiring process. Most importantly, candidate experience relates to how they feel and how positively or negatively they would rate the hiring process.

Candidate experience is influenced by a broad spectrum of factors, from:

  • The employer brand as seen online and heard through word-of-mouth
  • The usability, length and uptake of applications
  • The clarity and detail of job descriptions
  • The accessibility of contact details before the interview stage
  • The arrangement of interviews or notification of an unsuccessful application
  • The inclusivity of interviews
  • The quality of interview questions
  • The difficulty and objectivity of interview assessments
  • The availability of feedback and the quality of feedback given
  • The frequency and format of communication throughout the entire experience
  • The approach to pay negotiation and contract discussions
  • The experience of an individual between acceptance and onboarding

Every candidate experience is unique to an organisation’s recruitment strategy, so it’s impossible to list every influencing factor. However, anything that happens between the time it takes to apply and interview for a role has the power to change how a candidate feels.

Also read: Remote Hiring Tips

Why is candidate experience so important?

Candidate experience is vital to recruiting managers because it impacts short, medium and long-term hiring strategies. It can also have knock-on effects outside of recruitment affecting revenue and reputation.

Candidate experience is essential for several reasons, often impacting:

Job satisfaction

Linking to that all-important retention rate, candidate experience has some sway over how engaged an employee will remain — at least in the short-term. It gives an individual an initial impression of the organisation they eventually work for.

Recruitment ROI

As positive candidate experiences create more engaged employees, they also improve recruitment ROI by making sure you don’t have to spend money twice hiring for the same role.

Company culture

Positive candidate experiences make sure new hires are a good culture fit and that individuals are already enthusiastic about joining the team. Existing employees with positive candidate experiences are also more likely to endorse the brand they work for, maintaining morale all-round.

Fair hiring

Unconscious bias never seeps into a wholly positive hiring process. This means hiring is fair and all candidates are presented with an equal opportunity. As a result, teams are skilled, diverse and free from discrimination.

Customer loyalty

Candidate experience can impact the personal as well as professional lives of individuals. Bad candidate experiences can put people off organisations from life as they vow to never buy from a brand again or recommend it to others.

Team performance

As candidate experience impacts company culture, it also affects team performance. Positive, skill-based hires bring expert knowledge to the team and engaged people who are willing and ready to work well with others.

Brand reputation

Candidate experience is by and large linked to your employer brand, which impacts your brand reputation. If you’re a bad employer, you’re in part, a bad brand. All recruiters should know how internal hiring can affect external relationships on a larger and more serious scale.

Creating an engaging candidate experience every time you hire

Candidate experience isn’t just a concept — it’s a process every applicant goes through. If you’re currently hiring or planning to in the future, your organisation will need to account for its impact on everything from recruitment to revenue, reputation and beyond.

It’s a big deal and likewise, it should be high up on your agenda to improve it. To help, we've put together a comprehensive checklist to create a more engaging candidate experience. Although easy to read, it doesn’t skip over any details and breaks down the candidate experience through all stages, pre and post-interview.

Best of all, it’s free and you can access it with just one click. Download your copy now and refine the way you recruit starting today.

screenloop candidate experience checklist