The candidate experience is an increasingly pivotal touch point between talent and employer. Once an afterthought, this journey is now regarded as a holistic element of the employer brand strategy.

From creating a transparent and genuine online presence to developing a candidate funnel both endearing and memorable, to a welcoming on boarding experience - each step along the way should reinforce an employer's culture, values and the importance of each worker.

This article explores the critical elements organizations should consider when examining their candidate experience.

Why is candidate experience important?

Once upon a time, candidates came into the job market worried about pleasing employers. Today, however, the tables have turned, and the employment sector is more of a candidate's market than it's arguably ever been.

To be successful and earn the highest-quality candidates available, companies must now impress them at every step of the application, interview and on boarding process.

When companies fall short of the mark, they gain a reputation as difficult to work with and unattractive to eligible talent. What's more, since virtually every applicant has access to social media and online review platforms, companies that neglect the candidate experience are likely to hear about it in a very public manner.

Candidate experience by the numbers

Need more evidence that candidate experience matters more than ever? Here are some candidate experience statistics to convince you.

Upwards of 60 percent of candidates report having had a poor experience with a company.

  • Of the candidates that have had a poor experience, 72 percent have shared it with other people online or in person.
  • One of the biggest killers of candidate experience is applications, which take the typical candidate between 3 to 4 hours to complete, even though 72 percent of employers only spend 15 minutes reviewing each.
  • 65 percent of applicants complain that they rarely or never hear back about their applications.
  • 51 percent of candidates who do receive notifications about their applications report that it typically takes a month or more.
  • Candidates who don't hear back about their application are 3.5 times less likely to ever re-apply to the company in question.

How to improve candidate experience: 5 smart tips

In today's world, it's virtually impossible to have a successful business without offering an outstanding candidate experience. If you're interested in creating a more positive experience for your applicants, here are some best practices and actionable tips to follow:

1. be open about negative aspects of the position

While this might sound counter-intuitive to some recruiters, being open about even the most negative or challenging aspects of a job brands you as a transparent and honest company, which is attractive to candidates.

What's more, providing a clear and upfront picture of a position ensures applicants are well-informed before they apply, and saves hiring manager’s time on the back-end of the review and on boarding process.

2. put yourself in the candidate's shoes

All too often, companies are disconnected from their candidates. Instead of relating to the people applying for open positions, companies see themselves as separate (at best) or above (at worst) the candidates they're hoping to on-board.

Unfortunately, this is a sure-fire way to create a negative candidate experience.

Instead, companies need to work hard to relate to their candidates. If you were the one applying for a job at your company, how would you want the application to be structured? Would you want to hear back from a hiring manager regarding the status of your application? What would your ideal interview process look like?

When hiring managers and employers consider these questions, it immediately becomes much easier to create a positive candidate experience that earns the company an outstanding reputation.

3. offer an office tour

One of the best ways to improve candidate experience is to give an office tour to qualified candidates.

In addition to helping a candidate feel like "part of the team" right off the bat, an office tour also allows HR professionals to get a good read of whether the candidate will fit well in the office environment or not.

4. personalize the interview process

The more personalized your company's interview process can be, the better. When applicants are met by a cold, impersonal HR manager who knows nothing about them or their aspirations, they're going to be turned off.

For an interview to be attractive to modern candidates, HR managers need to take the time to get to know every applicant before they come in for a meeting. In addition to making the interview more appealing to the candidate, this also allows you to provide relevant information and ensure you're making a proper hiring decision.

5. offer application instructions via video

If your company's application process is complicated, make a tutorial video to walk applicants through it. Some of the top complaints applicants have about companies are that the interview process is too complicated, too time-consuming and unproductive.

The more proactive you can be about changing this for your candidates, the better.

a better employer brand starts here

Employer branding is essential to good hiring and on boarding in today's job environment, and the faster your company can take an active approach to improving and enhancing your applicant experience, the more attractive you'll be to top talent in all industries.