Why candidate experience matters in hiring

Magda Cychowski

Candidate experience is the new buzzword in recruiting — and yet, when we spoke to 100+ talent professionals, we learned that most people don’t know exactly how to define it, let alone what good looks like and how to measure it.

Though candidate experience may feel like something subjective or out of your control, it’s actually pretty simple, and not prioritizing it can be a costly and far-reaching mistake. 63% of job seekers will reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience, and 27% would “actively discourage” others from applying with that company.

Over time, this means it gets harder to attract candidates (especially when hiring for similar roles), forcing a team to turn to less qualified talent.

The challenges of remote workspaces and virtual interviews have only compounded the problem of providing a good experience, but those that nail it are seeing long-term results: those that optimized their process improved employee retention and brand perception.

Here, we’ll define candidate experience, explain why it matters and outline tangible steps you can start taking today to excite new hires and leave a lasting impression.

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience is defined as: the impression candidates have of your company after going through your hiring process.

Think of all of the things that you, as a job seeker, would expect from a company. That list would likely include:

  • Clear guidelines on the interview process, and key contacts

  • The ability to find information about the culture and benefits

  • Speed and efficiency in scheduling

  • Opportunities to provide feedback

  • The general demeanor of interviewers, including timeliness, professionalism, and active listening

3 reasons why candidate experience matters

1. It’s critical to employer brand and company perception.

With tech unemployment rates at historically low levels, more candidates are doing their research, including reading employee reviews and interview experiences on sites like Glassdoor and Comparably.

Negative experiences can hurt your online reputation significantly, as nearly 37% of candidates said they’ve left a negative review online after having a poor experience.

However, positive experiences go a long way and nearly double the rewards: 61% of candidates said they’ve left a positive review online after having a positive experience.

2. It increases your pool of potential candidates.

Candidate experience isn’t only effective with people you hire — job applicants who do not receive a job offer are 80% more likely to apply again if they already had a positive candidate experience.

By making a good impression, you’ll have a larger pool of future candidates to pull from for potential openings that they may be a better fit for.

3. It can help you outcompete other offers.

If a candidate is presented with two similar offers (including salary), the deciding factor will undoubtedly be the experience they had interviewing with your team. In fact, a whopping 63% of job seekers will likely reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience.

It makes sense: your hiring process is the only example they have to gauge your culture and their future colleagues.

However, candidate experience doesn’t just begin when someone is screened — it starts with your initial touchpoint to candidates. We’ve seen the effect it has on attracting passive talent to apply — personalized emails increase candidate interest by nearly 30%.

Ray Lyons, VP of Product at eSpark Learning says that “Personalized emails have been a game-changer for us when it comes to breaking through the noise to stand out. We’ve seen a lot of responses that say: ‘Hey, I get a lot of these, but I had to respond because you took the time to really look at my background.’”

“Personalized emails have been a game-changer for us when it comes to breaking through the noise to stand out. We’ve seen a lot of responses that say: ‘Hey, I get a lot of these, but I had to respond because you took the time to really look at my background.’”
Ray Lyons, VP of Product at eSpark Learning

3 things to start doing today for a highly personalized candidate experience

Don’t miss out on your dream hire because you dropped the ball — take our action steps below and audit your current process.

1. Prepare candidates at every stage of the process.

The more prepared candidates feel, the more capable they are at putting their best foot forward. Before each interview, you’ll want to provide candidates with critical information, like:

  • How many interviewers they will be meeting with, who they are and how they will join the interview (i.e., on video stream, etc.)

  • How long you expect the interview to take

  • How to enter your office building as a visitor (if the interview is in-person)

  • Where to park, if your office is located in a busy area

  • What the interview will consist of (behavioral questions, a mock pitch, etc.)

2. Send clear and kind rejection messages.

Rejection emails are easy to forget, especially if you’re hiring at scale. From a candidate’s perspective, nothing spells “I’m just a number” clearer than a generic rejection message from an info@company.com email address or the silent treatment. The best rejection messages end things on a positive note and offer to provide more specific feedback to candidates, who are often interested in learning from their interview experience with you. Wish candidates well, offer to keep in contact and, if you think they would be a good candidate for future roles, tell them that you’d like to add them to your roster.

It’s so incredibly easy to just keep up with Slack and have Dover take care of moving the candidate to the next stage. If we didn't want to move forward with someone, they took care of sending that email, which can be really easy to forget.
Shannon Kay, Cofounder of Prophone

3. Speed it up.

In a candidate-centered market, always assume that candidates are talking to more than two companies at a time. Recruiting comes down to volume and speed: you need to beat competitors to the punch by getting more candidates and moving them through your process efficiently.

The best way to do this is to use a scheduling automation platform, like Dover, which automates scheduling at every part of the interview process, including multi-step onsites. You’re also able to customize rejection and follow-up templates to ensure that no candidate goes without communication for more than 48 hours.

Dover can help you optimize candidate experience and get valuable hours back.

With Dover's end-to-end scheduling, customers see:

  • 40% less candidate dropoff,

  • 27% greater likelihood of hire,

  • 2.5x increase in onsites, and

  • 50% faster time to onsite

*Based on data from 120+ companies hiring across 500+ roles.

Want to learn more? Talk to us.

Magda Cychowski