9 Steps to Improving the Candidate Experience 

Woman taking notes in front of a laptop
Revisit your candidate experience now to hire the best later.

Now more than ever, people tend to talk about their experiences with a company. And not just customers—-for better or worse, job candidates are likely to share their experiences both in conversations with their peers and on social media. That means a poor candidate experience can negatively impact a business’s reputation and their ability to acquire top talent.  

In fact, the 2020 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation report reveals that, even in times of uncertainty, 38% of respondents said they would preemptively reject a potential employer due to negative public-facing reviews on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed.  

It’s crucial to evaluate your company’s overall candidate experience and do everything you can to improve the process from start to finish. Here’s how:

Follow These 9 steps for Positive Candidate Experiences

1. Review the Application Process 

It’s not enough to talk up a company’s culture. Throughout the application process, candidates must get the sense that they’re dealing with a top-notch employer. Even if they don’t get the job, a positive application experience will still work in your company’s favor: 

  • It will significantly reduce the time needed to fill a position. 
  • It puts the company in a better position to hire the best possible talent. 
  • It’s an effective way to strengthen the employer’s brand. 


2. Create a Mobile-Friendly Process 

Technology is becoming more and more integral to the candidate experience. Nearly one-fifth of job seekers are applying for jobs from a mobile device, and another 29 percent use both mobile devices and desktops. It’s no longer enough to have a desktop-friendly application process—candidates expect a seamless experience on mobile, as well.  


3. Market Your Employer Brand 

Job seekers want proof that your business is a great place to work—that’s why 60% of job seekers use sites like Glassdoor as part of their job search. Again, it’s not enough to simply talk about an employer brand. Marketing the brand often means providing crucial selling points: 

  • Has your company been named a “best place to work” for its location, size, or industry? 
  • Are your health insurance, 401(k) match, or other benefits especially notable? 
  • Does your company offer any special perks, like casual dress or flexible hours? 
  • Was your company mentioned in any recent (positive) news articles or stories? 

These details could be decisive factors in luring a passive candidate away from a current position or landing an active candidate who’s weighing several job offers. 

4. Use Keywords Effectively in Job Descriptions 

Avoid wasting applicants’ valuable time by eliminating unsuitable candidates from the start. When it comes to writing job descriptions, smart keyword usage is your friend. Specific terms related to location, skills, and industry are ideal. Some companies are even incorporating chatbots to help screen for key qualifications and shift availability to ensure that only the most qualified candidates progress through the hiring process. 


5. Map the Candidate Experience 

This is simply a matter of laying out the steps in your hiring experience from start to finish. The map is a crucial tool for understanding how candidates interact with and perceive your company at each stage of the hiring process.  

Done correctly, a candidate journey map will give you insights into a candidate’s needs and feelings throughout the process, which can help to identify and eliminate possible pain points. As a side benefit, once you thoroughly understand the process yourself, you’ll be in a better position to set expectations with job applicants.  


6. Keep the Lines of Communication Open 

Communication is absolutely critical to a positive candidate experience. In fact, 58of job seekers say great communication is the top factor, and 42% cite a lack of response from an employer as the biggest contributor to a negative experience. The right applicant tracking system (ATS) can help busy recruiters keep candidates engaged and informed—check out our guide if you need help with the selection process. 


7. Don’t Forget About Passive Candidates 

Improving and streamlining the hiring process gives you a better chance of attracting passive candidates, as well. They’re not currently job-hunting, but they may still be following your company on social media and job boards. That said, they don’t need a new job, so they have no incentive to tolerate clumsy or inefficient systems. If you really want to attract top talent, the candidate experience needs to be as seamless and simple as possible. 


8. Improve the Onboarding Process 

Hiring doesn’t stop with a signed offer letter. A poor onboarding experience can cause undue stress for new hires, and could even cost you a good employee. In fact, our recent report shows 34% of workers have left a job within the first 90 days at some point during their career.    

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your onboarding process:  

  • Be prepared to answer any questions a new hire might have. 
  • Create an environment where new employees feel comfortable enough to ask questions. 
  • Be clear on all the paperwork that new hires need to complete. 
  • Ensure every new hire has the equipment they need, set up and ready to go on Day 1. 
  • Make sure every new employee feels like part of the team—have a welcome lunch on their first day, give them some company swag, etc. 

9. Use Data to Keep Improving 

Revamping the candidate experience isn’t a one-time event. Expect to make tweaks and adjustments periodically, to help maintain a strong hiring brand. 

Surveys can be extremely helpful in this process. Instead of just letting go of applicants who weren’t a good fit, ask them about the application process. Make sure you routinely survey candidates to understand what they did and didn’t like about the process. 

Another useful strategy to use is using a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to understand candidate sentiment. This simple, one-question survey asks whether or not the candidate would be willing to recommend your company to others in the future. Answers are given on a scale of 1 to 10: those who rate the experience 9-10 are a “promoter” of your company, a score of 7-8 is considered “passive,” and any answer of 6 or lower is a failure. Monitoring your Net Promoter Score over time can provide a good barometer of the overall experience.  

Finally, pay close attention to your offer acceptance rate. The simplest way to calculate this ratio is to divide the number of job offers by the number of candidates who ultimately accept. Typically, this metric is calculated annually, but in times of particularly active recruitment, checking the percentage over a period of weeks or months could yield useful insights. 

A Checklist for Improving the Candidate Experience 

Ready to get started improving your candidate experience? Here’s a quick checklist:  

❐  Start with the application process. It’s the first impression a job seeker has of your candidate experience. 

❐  Think mobile-first when it comes to the hiring process—a desktop-friendly experience isn’t good enough. 

❐  Review the way you’re marketing your employer brand. Give candidates solid proof that your company is a great place to work.  

❐  Make smart use of keywords to target specific talent and avoid wasting unsuitable applicants’ time. 

❐  Create a candidate experience map to understand the process and identify pitfalls at every step in the journey.  

❐  Make sure you’re communicating with candidates throughout the hiring process. 

❐  Consider the passive candidate’s perspective—they won’t tolerate a clunky or complicated process.  

❐  Evaluate the onboarding process to ensure new employees feel welcome and prepared to do the job you hired them for.  

❐  Use data from candidate surveys, NPS results, and offer acceptance rates to track your progress, and be ready to make adjustments for continuous improvement. 

Taking an audit of your candidate experience and developing improvement plans are perfect for times when business is a little slow. To discover other areas of opportunities and new ways to understand job seekers, read the 2020 Job Seeker Nation Report.