How to Improve the Candidate Experience

In any hiring market, finding the perfect candidate who both fits your company culture and meets the requirements of the job can be challenging. That’s why our trusted clients rely on us to do the heavy lifting and recommend the highest caliber talent. However, it becomes especially important in a candidate-driven market to focus on the candidate experience. When you’re hiring, you should keep in mind that your ideal candidate may be fielding multiple offers, and the experience you’ve cultivated for them during the interview process can make or break their decision.

Companies and Hiring Managers should always keep the candidate experience top of mind. Looking for a job can be a stressful and vulnerable experience -- and it’s only made worse when distracted interviewers or poor communication leaves a bad impression. So how can you improve the candidate experience? It’s all about being respectful, mindful, and intentional. Read on for more specific tips.

Why Does the Candidate Experience Matter?

The interview process is a two-way street. Just as it’s a chance for the hiring manager to get to know the candidate, it is also a chance for the candidate to get a sense of their potential employer’s work style and learn about the company as a whole. The candidate experience starts when a job seeker applies to a job on your career site or job board and encompasses everything from screening calls to final round interviews to onboarding and everything in between. In a candidate-driven market, top talent has a lot of options. When choosing between you and another employer, their impression of your brand is based solely on your recruiting process and the overall hiring experience. Today, the candidate experience is often shared online. Sites like Glassdoor allow interviewees to share candid feedback about the interview process, and if it was negative (for any reason) this may deter future applicants or damage your company’s reputation. Conversely, a positive candidate experience can generate buzz, increase your candidate pool, and help you connect with quality hires!

Tips to Create a Positive Candidate Experience

Of course, you should always be kind and courteous during the interview process. But what else can you do to go above and beyond when curating the candidate experience?

Write Clear Job Descriptions

It is incredibly important to set up reasonable and realistic expectations in your job description. Paint an accurate depiction of the day-to-day tasks, requirements, and culture in your organization in order to attract quality candidates who will not only excel, but also enjoy the work. Waiting for the interview process to go into greater detail about the role is a common mistake. Opt for specificity! If you leave the candidate wondering what the role really entails, something that comes up during the interview process might surprise or deter them. In that case, both parties will leave feeling their time has been wasted. Get ahead of it by spending extra time writing clear, detailed job advertisements.

Respect Their Time

If the candidate makes the effort to show up on time, you should too. In the age of virtual interviewing, Hiring Managers may make the mistake of thinking it’s no problem to reschedule at the last minute. Be mindful of the fact that even if job seekers aren’t traveling to an interview site, they still planned their day around the pre-arranged meeting time. This may mean coordinating child or pet care, planning to work from home that day, or whatever else needed to be arranged to accommodate a meeting. While you may not be able to plan for extenuating circumstances, you should still be respectful of their time. If you have to cancel or reschedule with short notice, try sending a small Starbucks gift card to thank them for their time and as a gesture of goodwill!

Be Present

For the 20-30 minutes you’re in that interview, try not to let your mind wander back to the to-do list you left on your desk. Being present means engaging thoughtfully and allowing the conversation to pivot and change course – even if this means you’ve drifted away from your pre-planned list of interview questions. Job seekers will be able to get a more genuine sense of the work environment, ask insightful questions, and feel that their time is valued. If you’re having a busy day, explain it! Tell the job seeker what you’re working on and ask how they might contribute to such a project. If it’s busier than usual, perhaps offer that this is the reason you’re looking to hire additional help and use it as an opportunity to explain the day-to-day expectations.

The interview is perhaps the most crucial part of the candidate experience, so treat it with the seriousness it deserves.


At the end of the interview, the candidate will likely ask about next steps or inquire about the hiring timeline. Be prepared to answer these questions in advance and know that candidates will expect you to follow up according to the given timeline. If delays or unforeseen holding patterns arise – over-communicate. Continue to check in with the candidate and be transparent about what is causing the delays on your end.  Job seekers appreciate honesty and transparency from a potential employer. If your ideal candidate has another job offer on the table, it is in your best interest to provide them with all the facts before they either make a decision or are forced to move on. If you don’t intend to make an offer, let the candidate know and provide a bit of constructive feedback or reasoning. “Ghosting” candidates – or failing to respond at all after an interview - is a big no-no.

Ask for Feedback

Many employers know to give feedback to job seekers - but it can be equally effective to ask for it. Asking for feedback is a great way to show you care about the candidate’s overall impression of you and your company, and that you are willing to hear ways you could improve. You can ask directly, via email, or offer that they fill out an anonymous interview review on Glassdoor. Then - read the reviews! If you see common trends emerging, have a discussion with your hiring teams and relay the importance of creating a more positive candidate experience across the board.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to hiring. From creating job advertisements to conducting interviews, it can be overwhelming. For strategic guidance throughout the process, let us help. Taking the work off of you is what we do best.

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Founded in 1981 by Susan Levine, Career Group Companies was created to set a higher standard for recruiting. For over four decades, we’ve partnered with our valued candidates and clients to cultivate perfect career matches for administrative, creative, fashion, events, and executive professionals at top companies nationwide.

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