Why candidate experience matters

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Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. – Leo Buscaglia

This article is somewhat inspired by the fact how little we pay attention to details in our daily social interactions which are detrimental to how someone else will perceive us in the future. We are rarely aware of how a simple word or statement can affect someone’s thoughts or influence their future actions. How candidates experience a selection process and companies’ brand is highly similar to that. Imagine a recruiter and a hiring manager being in a situation in which they have to close a position as soon as possible because their planning wasn’t done right and now their MO is sped up, hurting the process and candidate experience. The hiring manager doesn’t have a clear picture on what kind of candidate they want for their team and the recruiter doesn’t have enough time to get a detailed brief from the hiring manager. The usual selection process of 3 interview rounds is cut to only one. Contacting the candidates has become less stable and less informative. It’s become robotic with no depth to the conversation or real interest in the candidates. The interviews follow the same pattern and to top it all off, the feedback is not received in the end. What’s wrong with that picture aside from the fact that technical issues are at hand?

We’re going to focus on general behavior we display towards the candidates through our actions and how that affects them. The technical aspect of the recruitment process is equally important here but we’ll focus on that in a different article. Sometimes the less structured process can be overshadowed by how well a company behaves in terms of showing basic empathy and displaying friendly, down to earth attitude. How can we achieve that?

Candidate experience – blending heart with mind

Good candidate experience: common courtesy

Sadly, the above situation is more and more prevalent in the business world. What the real reason for that is a totally different topic on which we won’t dwell too much but we can chalk it up to either recruiters not understanding their job/being overly simplistic executing it or companies not having clear guidelines on what to pay attention to in the recruitment process. I experienced this myself and so did many others. I don’t mean to demean the general idea of how the job is done because many companies have excessive workload which directly impacts the performance but we do have to point it out as either a symptom or a direct cause. It seems that we forget how the real human nature operates. Basic common sense in showing professionalism shouldn’t even be questionable but as people are becoming more and more sensitive to how external forces or behaviors impact them, each and every recruiter and a hiring manager should take a note of that. Showing emotion, interest and a thorough manner just might save you a bad rep or candidates disappearing in thin air.

Specifically, where was common courtesy missing in the above scenario which in turn directly influenced candidate experience? Naturally, if we want to curb someone’s interest, we have to pay attention to them, listen to what they have to say and provide the necessary info on the situation. That means that contacting a candidate shouldn’t be robotic and too formal with lack of information about the recruitment process. It’s best to provide details on how long the interview will last, how it will be structured, how many people will be present, what the general expectations are and the period of time which will take for the recruitment process to finish. Simultaneously, you have to listen to the brief info they provide about their interest in the position and expectations. This is how you create a basic rapport and ensure that good first impression. This pattern should be followed on the interview as well. One problem I’ve been seeing on the interviews for that past couple of years is too much formality and a little taking oneself too seriously. That can really hurt how a candidate views the company’s image in the long run. In short, recruiters and hiring managers should be laid back, throw a smile and a banter, don’t look at your paper with questions too much. Candidates require eye contact, a basic social need with which we connect on the surface level. The worst thing of all? Candidates not getting any feedback. That’s the pinnacle of common sense even if we throw out the business perspective. I understand the workload can be unbearable, especially in good recruitment agencies, but trying to give feedback wherever possible should be imperative.

Candidate experience – feedback

Employer branding sub point

We can already see how important candidate experience is from an employer branding perspective. It’s really striking how much a basic human interaction can influence the business numbers in the end. In my opinion, this is the problem with which many companies come across. Employees simply don’t have that rationale or don’t understand how even the small steps matter greatly in the bigger picture. One bad statement from a recruiter can result in a candidate vanishing in thin air as well as a bad review popping up on several popular sources. What do you get then? A series of potential candidates who become skeptics just because you had a bad day or weren’t thorough enough. You’re off to do damage control and just dig yourself a deeper hole. I’m not saying that everyone should be a perfectionist in each and every move they make but if we just pay attention to our behavior towards a fellow man, we might reach new heights.


Candidate experience is one of the most important aspects of building your brand reputation. A lot of it has to do with basic human interaction so it’s a double-edged sword. At one hand, it’s so simple and you’d expect people to follow through without mentioning it and on the other hand, irony is that it’s being pushed aside more and more. We consciously have to pay attention to that and one part of employer branding will take care of itself.

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