The Candidate Experience Playbook

Click here to explore the page

A great candidate experience is indispensable. In brief, the candidate experience refers to how someone feels about your company after going through the hiring process. A smooth hiring process plays a significant role in a candidate’s decision to accept a job offer – especially if they have multiple offers on the table. In today’s market for talent, job seekers hold a lot of power. The current hiring climate is competitive; therefore, creating a great candidate experience should be one of your prime concerns.

You should consider every interaction as one with a potential customer. Each applicant will come away from the process with an opinion of your organisation. It is crucial to ensure that every person going through your hiring process (regardless of the outcome) leaves with a positive impression of your company. There are a few steps you can take to develop your candidate experience – if you partner with a recruitment agency, they attend to a large portion of this.

Initial stages

Make it simple for candidates to apply and provide clear instructions on the process. This can help avoid people dropping out of your application process due to a lack of clarity. Also, don’t mislead or confuse candidates by posting ambiguous job descriptions. Be concise and clearly state salary expectations, responsibilities, and the experience/skills required. As candidates progress through to later stages of the hiring process, it is vital to ensure you have a structured interview process in place.


It is imperative to communicate with applicants at each stage of the hiring process. You should make candidates aware of timelines and when they can expect to hear back from the outset. Offering constant communication can reassure candidates that you value their time and lets them know that they will be updated on the status of their application, whatever the outcome may be. This can include sending thank you emails, reminders, responding to queries, or feedback emails.

These small steps will work in your favour and ultimately keep top talent engaged throughout the hiring process. Candidates are building a picture of how your business operates throughout each stage, and your ability to communicate effectively and highlight your company culture and core values impacts how candidates perceive your business. For successful candidates, communication should not cease once they have accepted their offer. Continue to keep in touch in between offer acceptance and onboarding and create a great candidate experience straight through to their first day joining your company.

Why it matters  

There are countless benefits to providing a better candidate experience. First and foremost, it significantly impacts the calibre of candidates you attract to your organisation. In addition, it influences the number of candidates who move from offer to hire. A positive experience can dissuade candidates from accepting counteroffers from competitors.

It only takes one bad experience for your brand reputation to take a hit. Suppose one candidate has a poor experience and tells their network about it. Your brand will subsequently have a poor reputation amongst a group of people who have not yet directly interacted with your organisation. There are many sites where discontent candidates can give real-time feedback on their experiences, which can negatively impact your employer brand.

Opinions and views are readily shared online and through word-of-mouth – a great candidate experience can reinforce a positive employer brand. Making the candidate experience an operational priority will give you a competitive advantage and limit the long-term reputational damage that can happen as a result of unsuccessful applicants who were let down by your hiring process.

It is also extremely important because even if an applicant was not the right fit in the current moment, they might be in the future. You may have had one role to fill, but a handful of strong candidates who were fit for the position. The experience that this pool of candidates has with your company will impact whether or not they decide to apply again in the future.