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6 tips for improving candidate experience

Last updated

29 November 2023


Claire Bonneau

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

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Is your company hiring? If so, candidate experience should be top of your priority list.

During the hiring process, it’s incredibly tempting to focus your energy on your organization’s needs. However, if you want to attract and hire great quality talent, you must consider and improve your approach to interviewing and hiring.

Give your potential new teammates a more enjoyable opportunity to learn about your organization. Intentionally creating a positive candidate experience for every person you interview can really set your company apart.

Land the best quality talent and brand your business as a top-tier option. Keep reading our guide to learn about candidate experience best practices and much more.

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience is also known as your recruiting brand. It’s the umbrella term for the impression your potential new hires develop throughout your company’s hiring process. 

The better the experience, the more likely interviewees will want to work for your company. That’s why investing in candidate experience is crucial for brands looking to grow and expand with quality employees.

A good candidate experience is the secret to hiring great talent. It also creates powerful word of mouth and buzz around the benefits of applying to work with your company. And that will help you land higher-quality prospects moving forward.

The importance of a good candidate experience

For most employees, the hiring process is their first opportunity to interact with and learn more about your brand and company culture. This is your chance to make a strong first impression.

A good experience shows new hires that your organization is a great place to work and fosters a sense of community and loyalty to your mission.

Putting effort and consideration into the candidate experience ensures your company will:

Hire better-quality candidates

Want to catch the eye of high-quality employees looking to build long-term careers? Respect your candidate’s time, ask thoughtful questions, and conduct organized, intentional meetings. 

Waste fewer company resources

Empty positions cost money and impact productivity. Being clear about your hiring expectations and process from the beginning means your company will cut back on unnecessary delays and spending while hiring.

Nurture a sense of respect and community

Use the initial interview to give your candidates a glimpse into what day-to-day work on your team is like. Creating an inviting and encouraging environment during your first interaction can demonstrate the amazing company culture the interviewee could be joining.

Build excitement for the role and the company

Who doesn’t want to join a company where they feel welcomed, excited, and valued in the recruiting process? 

Providing an exciting and intentional experience will ensure the candidate stays motivated throughout the process and eager to join your company if you extend an offer. 

If the candidate had a great experience, they’re likely to talk about it with others. These people may be interested in your company as an employee or customer, which is another hidden benefit of improving your candidate experience.

Six tips for improving candidate experience

Your candidate's experience starts when they read your job posting. Don’t wait until the job interview to make a great first impression, as you’ll miss out on valuable time.

Want to improve your candidate experience to convince more quality talent to join your team? Here are a few of our top tips—they make a big difference during the interview process.

Write clear, accurate, and inspiring job postings (including salary ranges)

To get the best talent, you must first advertise the role clearly and accurately. 

As the step of the hiring process that is the most external to you, be sure to take extra time to write and edit your job description to best reflect the position and your company’s values and culture. This helps candidates have a more pleasant and predictable application experience. 

Don’t forget to play up your benefits and why it’s so great to work for your company. 

Here are a few of our top tips for writing a great job description:

  • Use simple, clear language, avoiding jargon and acronyms candidates may not know

  • Structure your job posting with easy-to-read bullet points

  • Include an industry-standard salary or contract range for candidates to assess

  • Play up your benefits and write the job posting to gain excitement for the candidate

  • Understand and articulate what sets your role and company apart

  • Include only the “must-haves” as requirements, and include a “nice-to-have” list of things you have a preference for

Send thank you messages throughout the application process

Showing appreciation at every step of the hiring process is an underrated and super easy way to improve candidate experience. 

Often, you can set up thank you emails with automated systems. Better yet, sending personalized messages after an interview will go a long way to ensure a positive experience.

Showing your gratitude nurtures a feeling of appreciation and respect. 

Examples of times for thank you messages include:

  • After the candidate sends their initial application

  • After they accept the first interview

  • After they complete the first interview

  • After any subsequent interview round

Of course, it’s important not to spam your candidate, especially as they’re likely excited to hear from you. And you don’t want to keep disappointing them if you’re not offering the job in that email. A clear subject line can help here. “Your interview time and date” is much better than a clickbaity “We’ve got big news…” subject line. 

Generally, it’s always better to ensure your emails contain useful information rather than just a quick thank you. Useful information could include their interview time and general details about your hiring process.

Send a pre-interview outline

We recommend sending candidates a pre-interview outline. This small gesture goes a long way to reducing candidate stress and enhancing their ability to prepare. 

Examples of things you can include in your pre-interview outline include:

  • Date, time, and interview location

  • People expected to be in attendance (with job titles)

  • A rough outline of interview flow

  • A few sample interview questions

Block off interview time and give your full attention

During the interview, always provide your undivided attention to your candidate. 

In most cases, the prospective hire has spent significant time preparing and planning for this job interview. It can come across as rude and disrespectful if you regularly check in on work messages, emails, or calls throughout your chat. 

Don’t forget to allow plenty of time for the candidate to ask you questions. Every interview is a two-way street, and you want the candidate to learn more about you and the business. It’s an extra opportunity to sell your company’s role to them. 

If you work at a busy workplace where undisturbed time is difficult, we recommend:

  • Booking a separate meeting room for in-person meetings rather than using your desk

  • Blocking off your virtual calendar with a “do not disturb” reminder for your colleagues

  • Reminding your team about upcoming meetings earlier in the day and directing them to other people to contact should they need assistance during that time

Also, don’t cancel or reschedule your interview unless you absolutely have to. A rescheduled interview requires the candidate to shuffle their schedule, which can harm their experience. 

As an alternative, have someone sit in for you to ask questions rather than cancel or reschedule. You can always do a follow-up if needed.

Cut back on the number of interviews

If you work in a close-knit team, it’s tempting to host multiple rounds of interviews. We get it—you want potential new hires to meet everyone and get a feel for the work environment.

While this practice can be helpful, expecting multiple candidates to attend several interviews before hiring can seem disrespectful to their time.

To prevent this from occurring, we recommend a maximum of two rounds of interviews with a potential hire. Then, you can do introductory meetings with the candidate you hire.

Follow-up as early as possible

Finally, it’s essential to communicate your interest (or disinterest) in hiring a candidate for the role as soon as possible. 

While many factors can delay this process, companies should strive to let all candidates know about their interest in future interviews or employment within two days of the initial interview. 

If this timeline is not possible, we recommend including an estimated timeline for hearing back from your team in your thank you message after the interview. 

This way, the candidate better understands what to expect. They’ll also know when it’s appropriate to follow up if needed.

When you let a candidate know whether you’ve selected them, you can provide feedback. Make sure you’re as helpful as you can be. Actionable feedback can make a huge difference to their career arc—and it shows you respect them. 

Candidate interview best practices

Outside of these helpful tips, you can integrate other practices into your hiring process so candidates have a positive experience. These include:

Only hiring for available positions 

We know, it sounds like common sense, but companies still advertise jobs unnecessarily. 

No one likes having their time wasted, and this rings especially true for people committing their time to interview for a new job. 

Before posting your job opening online, ensure you can afford a new staff member. Do you need to hire externally? Knowing these things can reduce hurt feelings if the opening is closed or filled internally. 

If it’s a future position, clearly communicate this on the job posting.

Encouraging candidates to ask you about the position

Throughout the interview, do your best to share information about the team, company work culture, and work responsibilities and expectations. 

As you share this info, encourage your candidate to ask questions and learn more about specific areas of the role that interest them.

Making the process fun

Interviews are often a high-stress, overwhelming experience for candidates. Whenever possible, do your best to extend an olive branch to reduce tension. You can start with friendly icebreakers or offer coffee or tea before you begin.

Hire great talent by improving candidate experience

The people you choose to hire will directly impact the quality of your products and services, and they also impact day-to-day workplace culture. 

Are you doing enough during the hiring process to entice great candidates?

Ready to invest in candidate experience? You can use this article as your step-by-step guide. It’s an easy way to show respect to your potential new team members and cement your company as a top-tier workplace.

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