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Candidate Experience – Who cares? You should!

Cartoon image of employee Sitting at table being interviewed.

We have all likely been there, dressed to impress; resume in hand; the “About Us” section memorized; anticipated answers planned and of course that sick nervous feeling in our stomach as we head into the strange office to an interview for our next opportunity. Now, after the interview is where the split really can happen

“That was Awesome… I am so pumped to work for them.”


What the hell was that? No wonder they have so many postings, did they even know I was coming?

As an HR professional, we obviously would like the first quote to be true all the time, but far too often it is not. Being on both sides of the table and personally going through the process now, it is apparent that some employers excel at the experience while others do not quite understand the importance of the candidate experience.

Candidate Experience is simply defined as:

The perception of a job seeker about an employer, based on the interaction during the complete recruitment process. This includes all points of contact during recruitment – job search, the application process, interview process and on-boarding.

I have heard the comment “they would be lucky to work here so why do we need to do more.” Maybe they are lucky, but with the number of available jobs and if that is showing the culture of the organization you might be rehiring for that role again in a few months.

Below are a few tips or suggestions for hiring managers when you are going through the hiring process for your next superstar employee:

Application Process

  • ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) – These things are great and can be an asset to an HR team. That said though, consider the candidate experience when implementing. A common process includes register or create a profile; Check our personal email to get the “code”; Fill-out all the contact information; Uploading your resume; Enter employment and education history (which is in the resume you have already spent hours preparing); Reviewing your data and correcting missing information; Answer any work-specific questions (which could be answered by reviewing the attached resume and answered questions); And finally…… Submit and wait. Very repetitive and frankly a little frustrating. Is this the first impression you want to have with a candidate? Try out the system yourself before rolling it out. Also, is AI removing solid candidates from your list? The topic for another day 🙂
  • “After careful consideration” – This has to be one of my biggest frustrations. Spending the time that we talked about above to prepare and submit your application to the “system” only to see you have an email not only confirming your application but BAM! another email within minutes of applying stating that “after careful consideration” your application will not be considered. This process should be about my skill-set and not about if I can outsmart the system.


  • Prepare – As a candidate, we are expected to know what the organization does, in fact, “What do you know about us” is generally one of the first questions asked, basically it is asking “how good are you at memorizing our website”. If we expect that of candidates, we should take the few minutes to review the resume prior to the interview, have questions prepared, show that you have also invested in then.
  • Remove Distractions– This likely should go without saying but silence your phone, close your computer and if you get easily distracted by that squirrel outside, maybe sit on the other side of the table not facing the window.
  • Be present – Straight out of effective communications training. Being present is being engaged, listening, following-up. I am sure what you are having for dinner or lunch is important, but remember, you are representing your organization and why would anyone want to work where they didn’t feel that their opinion is valued

After the Interview

  • Follow-up – Whether working with a third-party recruiter or directly with the candidate, providing feedback is important, whether it is an automated email if your not interested to a personal quick note to update on the process, let the candidate know where they stand.
  • Small details matter – It is natural to be nervous heading into an interview and we tend to get hung up on some of the small details. As a recruiter, I know that I have always tried to provide those little details. From things like maybe suggestions on what to wear to the interview, address and any driving instructions, what to do when they arrive and who they are meeting with, these little details are just one less thing to worry about.
  • On-Boarding– A first day is the first real impression that an employee gets from an organization. There are many articles on what works and what doesn’t work but overall you want to create an experience where someone feels involved, part of the team, not overwhelmed and included. My worst experience was not knowing where to go, sitting in a dark office to do training for three days and the manager not having a clue where I was going to sit. All things that could have been avoided.

Remember, this is not an inclusive list and really this is all about providing a solid candidate experience. A good experience improves the odds of securing and retaining top talent and a bad experience could not only result in failed recruitment activities but could also lose your edge in being an employer of choice for candidates.

Feel free to share your experiences and good luck in your search!

This is a guest post by Mike Taylor, originally seen on LinkedIn and posted with permission.

Mike Taylor, Human Resources / Operations / Events / Policy / Employee Relations / Leadership / Policy / Motivated Professional
Mike Taylor
Human Resources / Operations / Events / Policy / Employee Relations / Leadership / Policy / Motivated Professional