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Creating a good candidate experience

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Tips and tricks on how you can create a good candidate experience

In this blog I have talked about the importance of a good candidate experience and that currently most companies are not getting it quite right. This is especially important to note as each candidate can either preach for or badmouth your brand. Therefore, it is paramount to improve the candidate experience and create future ambassadors for your brand.

In this blog I will give you some solutions towards how to improve your candidate experience and fix possible problems; to find or attract the right people and to give them the best experience of your brand.

Fixing the basics

So how do you improve your candidate experience, avoid candidate backlash and become a better employer overall? Well first, let’s look at the basics and start off with the recruitment profile. The recruitment profile is, in modern day companies, maybe one of the most recycled documents. Not only in terms of layout, but often also in terms of text. Now this in and of itself does not have to be a bad thing, but try and be specific in what you are looking for and avoid general qualities that we expect all functioning human beings to have. Remember, the recruitment profile is not only important to find the right person, but it is also a profile on which you should base your communication (more on that later).

In your recruitment profile you should be brutally honest in what you need and very specific in what you are looking for, so don’t beat around the bush. Only then can you find the right candidate and can the right candidate find you. Furthermore, this has the advantage that you can always open up your scope later on if you cannot find the right candidate initially (trust us, this is better than a general profile which attracts 50+ candidates daily).

Another point here is that you might realize that you need something different than the candidates you have seen to fit the profile so far. Then don’t be afraid to change it and keep the profile as a base for the recruitment.

Last but not least, if you want to attract new talent, then let others review the profile as well. Their insights and criticism might be crucial for something new and revolutionary. This is especially true if you need to replace a leaving employee with a new hire. In that case, you might not want more of the same, but something new and transforming.


Secondly, let’s talk communication. Marriage counsellors, salespeople, my mom and dad, almost everybody believes that the key to a good relationship is clear communication. Communication within recruitment often comes in three forms:

  1. Digital communication (emails)

  2. Telephone and video calls

  3. Interviews and in-person meetings

Therein there are two things very important: speed and clarity. As this blog shows, most candidates believe that their experience would have been better if the communication (from the employer) would have been better. This includes responding and giving updates when there is nothing to give an update on, for example; when you are waiting for feedback. Try to keep the candidate up to date with the knowledge you have up until that point even if that is barely more than you have informed them last time.

One way of doing so could be automatically triggered messages which get send to the candidate once something happens to the status of his or her application. The reason is simple; the candidate feels involved and heard. They feel that they are a part of the relationship and the process. So be fast and be clear. That is what candidates are longing for.

How you design you communication is dependent on three factors:

  1. the recruitment profile (you might address a VP of engineering differently than an intern)

  2. the form of communication (emails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings)

  3. how far the candidate is in the process (you can reject somebody in the beginning stages with an email, in final stages nothing less than a phone call is acceptable)

When in contact with candidates always show apathy and understanding for your situation. Every candidate has spent at least three to four hours on his or her application and they are very invested in your company. So, try to place yourself into their situation and treat them with care and hospitality. Understand that you are not only dealing with them, but also with their private life, preferences, values, their entire situation. It could be that a candidate had a rough day and is therefore easily frustrated, so be prepared to show understanding on a professional level. Try to connect as well besides just the job role and to create a bond with the candidate. Small things could be the weather, holidays or other events of that sort. Try to avoid religion, politics and social issues as you never know what their stance or background is on that. In that sense you have to stay professional and without bias.

This shows already that it is very hard to fit a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and that is where we want to get at. This is not going to be an easy and simple fix, but there are solutions, which brings us to our third point: personalized standardization.

Personalized standardization

In the world of messaging there are mainly two ways of sending messages, either personalized or standardized. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Personalized messaging will create a better bond but it takes time and standardized messaging is easier to execute on mass, but it makes for a less strong bond. Therefore, I would argue to take best from both worlds.

Some (parts of) messages always remain the same “Thank you for your application”, “We look forward hearing from you”, “We are reaching out to you because of your experience at XYZ” etcetera. So, feel free to use standardized messaging, but always use a small personal twist in them so the candidate feels that you are trying to establish a better bond with them and that you are not simply copying and pasting every message to each candidate. This can be small talk about their application, something specific they wrote in their letter or CV, or something completely unrelated, just remember: it needs to be easily accessible for the candidate and politically correct. Holidays are a personal favourite of mine but try and figure out what works for you.

If you find something that works, stick with it, even if it becomes repetitive for you, because what is repetitive for you is not repetitive for each new candidate you get in touch with.

Higher integration and prioritization of recruitment

For most hiring managers recruitment is a necessary means to an end. They need somebody for their team and therefore they need to go through (the mostly unwanted) process of recruiting. That attitude needs to change.

Recruitment needs to be an ongoing part of the work of a hiring manager, even if there is no urgent position to be filled right now. At Google every employee is bound to spend 20% of his or her time on hiring (read more about what we can learn from Google here) and so should your hiring managers. Only that way you can find the talent you need. Weekly recruitment meetings need to be established wherein vacancies, candidates and feedback are discussed.

Direct feedback processes need to be created wherein the feedback does not go via a recruiter but comes from the hiring manager or reviewing expert themselves. This requires some training and practice, but yields better satisfaction as the candidate is directly getting feedback from the experts and able to ask them questions directly. This takes time of your HR employee’s hands which they then can use for sourcing better candidates and to look after their needs.

Involving the team will also create a better understanding for the struggles which accompany recruitment and makes the team also more understanding if some recruitments take longer than expected. This integration and prioritization of recruitment in your organization will ultimately affect the speed by which you communicate with your candidates, and that is ultimately the best thing one can improve according to candidates themselves.

In conclusion

Candidate experience is hard to improve, but necessary. It is an important aspect of your employer branding and requires careful planning and altering. The main points you should be focussing on are:

  1. setting up a precise recruitment profile;

  2. clear and fast communication;

  3. personalized standardized messaging, and;

  4. a higher integration and prioritization of recruitment.

If you need help with any of these aspects or if you need us to take off the entire process off your hands? Get in touch with us and see what we can do for you!

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