Improving the Candidate Experience to be a Contender for a CandE Award #thecandidate

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A friend has been looking for a job and having a difficult time navigating the barriers many companies put up to pre-screen candidates. While I’m a believer in the promise of HR tech to make us all more productive, and to attract and help retain the best candidates, I thought his experience was illustrative of how candidate experience affects culture – and how it can damage your brand’s reputation.

So a short tale of candidate experience with a well known (unnamed) brand, and then I’ll move on to five things you can do to improve candidate experience, as seen through the lens of the 2013 Candidate Experience Awards (also known as the CandEs).

My friend, who’s very well connected in the local technology community, was contacted by a former colleague who works for a well known software brand. Come join us, his friend said. We have the perfect job for you. Call the recruiter. Here’s her number, I’ve spoken to her, she seems really great to work with.

So my friend called. The recruiter didn’t engage him in a discussion, and she wasted no time instructing him to go through the online job application process. He did, but the online application lacked functionality for him to add the information that he’d been referred in by an employee and was not mobile friendly for starts. He uploaded his resume anyway, a few days after this occurred. More time was wasted of course. That was a month ago, and he’s yet to receive a response from the company that his information was received – let alone – feedback on his qualifications. Sadly, this appears to be a trend – a recent HireRight survey shows 77 percent of applicants never hear back from the company to which they’ve applied, which is a shocking and sad number.

Needless to say, my friend has removed that company from his short list of interesting employers. He’s also contemplating posting a review of the experience on GlassDoor. He’s not alone there – the same HireRight report shows 58 percent of applicants who have a negative candidate experience share the news.

Clearly this was a #Fail, from both a candidate experience POV and a brand POV. Even if the recruiter felt it wasn’t a good fit, the experience my friend had with the company could have been handled much more effectively. The brand has been damaged in a way that will be difficult to repair.

So what does it take to ensure you create a workplace culture that supports positive candidate experience for all candidates, both good fits and near-misses? Let’s look at the 2013 Candidate Experience Awards for some clues.

This is the third annual CandEs, and the turnout was impressive – more than 130 companies registered for the awards competition, 122 filled out the survey, and 46,000 candidate responses were captured.

5 Ways to Improve Candidate Experience and Become a Contender for a CandE Award:

  1. Communicate: If a candidate calls you, fills out a job application or sends in a resume, respond quickly and clearly. Return the call, even if it’s just to say ‘Thanks for your interest’ or ‘We’d appreciate it if you’d visit our jobs site’. If you interview a candidate, give them feedback. Candidates are probably part of your company’s ecosystem or community. If you don’t manage communications, you may find your rankings on sites like GlassDoor dropping.
  2. Set expectations: Tell candidates what the process is, what the cadence of communications will be, and how fast the process will be. Et’s face it, you know this stuff. Why keep it shrouded in mystery? It makes the company look unapproachable. It makes you look like a barrier, not a recruiter. It makes the brand look bad.
  3. Make your employees part of the recruiting team: People who like their jobs and like the company they work for want their friends to join the team. Don’t be like the recruiter in the example above – show your employees respect and treat their referrals seriously and courteously. If you don’t you may find retention becomes an issue.
  4. Personalize your recruiting processes: Hiring good candidates is a process, and processes need to be fully conceptualized. You need to have content artifacts for each stage of the recruiting process, from thank-you messages to information about why it’s a great decision to work for your company. Think about the positions you’re recruiting for, the levels and the experience you’re seeking, and tailor content and messages to sustain candidates’ interest throughout the process.
  5. Ask for feedback: Consumer brands are always asking their customers for feedback to improve products, the shopping experience and to build loyalty. Recruiting is really no different. Think of your candidates as consumers of your company’s products and services, and take their feedback into account as you’re reviewing your processes. You won’t always like what you hear, of course, but you’ll have the tools to improve your candidate experience.

Candidate experience matters. People who consider applying to your company are interested in more than a job – they’re interested in being part of your workplace culture and brand. Make every interaction with a candidate count on the plus side of the board.  Be human in your hiring process.

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Meghan Biro

Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized talent management leader, career strategist and digital media influencer. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group, Meghan has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. With vision and passion for the talented people that drive business success, she founded TalentCulture, and has grown the community and its flagship #TChat Twitter presence to unparalleled popularity. She writes about these strategies as a regular contributor at Forbes.

Reader Interactions


  1. Samuli Ahola says

    Hi Meghan,

    Great blog post about candidate experience! I completely agree with your points about the importance of candidate experience and how it should not be overlooked – instead, the importance of it is highly underrated. With our product, we are working every day trying to improve the candidate’s experience when participating in a video interview, and lately the employers have slowly started to realize, what effect candidate experience has when it comes to employer branding and company’s reputation as an employer.

    Feedback we have received from interviewed candidates strongly suggests that using modern recruiting methods has a strong effect on candidate’s opinion about the company recruiting – for example, using video interviewing seems to have a positive effect on candidate’s impression of the possible future employer. This is something for every company to think about – also some of our customers are using their company’s branded videos to start the interview to make even stronger impression. And from candidate’s point of view, modern recruiting tools might offer a chance to stand out from the crowd. Offering this opportunity early in the recruiting process is a good way to make a lasting impression on the candidates.

    We recently interviewed a career coach, who coaches job seekers with modern-day recruiting methods. She included some tips to both job seekers and recruiters. The article can be found from here:

    Again, great post about an important topic that seems to be overlooked too often.

    Samuli Ahola /


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