The candidate experience is a hot topic that’s known as a critical aspect of the hiring process. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find ways to delight candidates consistently within the hiring process.

It's even harder to measure your hiring team’s effectiveness since so many of the job seekers who don’t make it through to the job offer stage don’t share their feedback directly with the talent acquisition team. Instead, job candidates often share it within their personal and professional networks, on social media, or on review websites like Glassdoor. 

Even though you can't hire every candidate who makes it through the recruitment process, it’s in your best interest to provide them with a unique and effective hiring experience from end to end that sets you apart from the competition. 

Positive candidate experiences can mean high-quality referrals while building a positive professional reputation. LinkedIn reports that 87% of job candidates say that a “positive

interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.”

This is what makes the candidate experience so valuable. While you prepare to provide the best experience for talent who are excited about joining the team, you might even end up winning over a few passive candidates who came into the interview still on the fence. It's a win-win.

Let’s take a look at these 11 points that are key to a great candidate experience.

1. Map Out the Candidate Experience

Here’s an opportunity to flex your empathy muscle before performing the interviews as part of your recruiting strategy. 

Get granular about the candidate experience. As a job seeker, what are they experiencing at each stage of the hiring process (screening interview, in-person interview, job offer, etc.)?

Ask yourself as if you're a job seeker:

  • What information would I appreciate having access to at each stage?
  • What would make me feel confident in the company that I’m interviewing at?
  • What's the most important feeling at each stage of my application process?

It's easy to cover the basics but thinking empathically about the candidate experience takes a little more strategy and investment. 

Start by removing common obstacles like scheduling back and forths or drawn out periods without candidate feedback. Take it another step further by providing a consultative recruitment process that best matches the candidate with the right opportunity at the company for their experience (not just the role they applied for) and you'll inevitably stand out to top talent in the talent pool. 

2. Live Your Company Values

Revisit your map of the candidate experience that you’ve created and cross-check to see how you've incorporated your company values. This is an incredibly effective move because it will attract the best candidates that align well with the company vision.

If one of your company values is “fun,” find a way to make the candidate experience enjoyable. You could gather the team to cheer for them when they come through the door for their interview or lighten the interview by having each person share fun facts about themselves. Find what works for you and your company values.

3. Schedule Regular Touch Points

Planning to follow up with job candidates is a helpful intention but it's even better if you let them know when they can expect to hear from you — and get back to them on time. 

Common touch points:

  • Confirmations prior to any in-person meetings to ensure they have all the information
  • Follow-ups post-interview with feedback and/or next steps 
  • If they will not be proceeding to the next stage of hiring, let them know in a timely manner

Prelude helps you to effortlessly manage scheduling with automatic calendar invites and confirmation emails that sync with your existing applicant tracking systems so you'll never miss a beat. 

4. Make It Easy With Automation 

Create a positive candidate experience by creating a fluid user experience with automation tools. Just because you're saving time with technology doesn't mean that it should feel robotic — personalization is essential. 

At minimum, take the time to provide candidates with updates about their job applications, like whether they've advanced to the next round of interviews. Level up by adding the element of personalization like some valuable and constructive feedback even if they weren't a good fit — that's a standout candidate experience.

5. Treat the Talent Pool Like Your Team

Hiring should not feel like a transactional process for your talent pool. By coaching them along in the process with helpful hints and constructive feedback, you provide a professional development aspect. It moves away from a job seeker feeling like a ticked box and adds value to their job search. This adds a competitive advantage to your recruitment process and attracts the best possible candidates for your company.

6. Use a Template for Interview Questions

Having an interview template is your ace in the sleeve when it comes to a great candidate experience. While there are many kinds of interviews, a structured interview helps you to manage and respect your candidate's time, reduce bias in the recruitment process, and determine who the best candidates are to advance to the next round.

Here's what to include:

Candidate Details (10 minutes)

  • Confirm candidate name
  • Briefly review resume/LinkedIn/portfolio
  • Invite them to introduce themselves

Welcome/Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Introduce your role 
  • Provide an overview of company and role (how they fit together)
  • Outline the interview process

Interview Questions (30 minutes)

  • Questions that confirm skills and experience
  • Interpersonal discovery questions
  • Behavioral interview questions

Job Role Review (30 minutes)

  • Responsibilities
  • Required software/hardware competencies
  • Salary expectation
  • Availability to start
  • Applicant questions

Conclusion (10 minutes)

  • Verify contact details/methods
  • Re-confirm next steps and how the decision will be made

Evaluation (15 minutes)

  • Review details of the interview and assign a grade to determine whether the candidate will advance
  • An interview template like this can be adapted by recruiters to suit almost any format, be it screening interview, panel interview, off-site interview, and more

7. Be Timely With the Job Offer

There’s nothing potential job candidates appreciate more than an efficient recruitment process. 

It can be tempting to keep potential candidates in the wings in case a job offer is declined by your top choice candidate, but that can lead to a frustrating and ultimately bad candidate experience. 

Let job seekers know where they stand immediately so that they can move on with their job search.

Create a memorable candidate experience by personalizing job offers with a gift. It could be a relevant book related to something you discussed in the interview or a plant for their new desk space, and of course, a handwritten congratulatory card.

8. Ask for Feedback From Job Candidates

Oftentimes we are quick to ask for feedback from colleagues and teammates, but we find it too awkward to ask potential job seekers about their interview experience.

There's no need to wait to read about it on Glassdoor. If they've had a bad experience and you take the time to check in, chances are you will have the opportunity to neutralize it and grow from their feedback. 

Feedback can be more insightful from later stage candidates who have made it past the initial screening stages where enough of a rapport has been developed. 

You can prepare one or two standard questions to include during the feedback call or ask permission to send a brief (no more than five questions) automated survey following your update. 

A survey may allow for more transparency and a more positive candidate experience since people don’t often like to think on the spot. Providing a candidate with a feedback survey may also allow for higher quality reflection since it can be filled out according to the candidate’s desired timeline. 

9. Make Onboarding Personal

Hiring managers and human resources are often tasked with bringing new hires up to speed on processes, procedures, and the ins and outs of their new role. 

A negative experience with onboarding from lack of organization or proper engagement can be enough for even the best candidates to consider moving on — and quick. Forbes reports that 20% of staff turnover can happen within the first 45 days of employment. 

You can prevent this by incorporating personalization such as a team lunch centered around welcoming the new hire, icebreaker activities that give new hires access to teammates from other departments, and emphasizing plans for their professional development goals. 

10. Prioritize Transparency 

Since most companies emphasize the importance of transparency within their team, start with your recruiting process by providing honest feedback and timely updates throughout the hiring process. 

It helps to let candidates know from the get-go what the stages of the hiring process will be in advance and the expected timeline. If possible, provide this in writing after your first touch so they can refer back throughout the hiring process. 

Since job searching is a nerve-racking experience, knowing what to expect along the way can mean a lot to potential candidates and their experience.

11. Train the Hiring Team

If there’s one gift you give to the candidate experience, it’s making sure that the hiring team is up to snuff when it comes to giving an excellent interview. When a hiring manager doesn’t show up 100% for the interview, it’s a bad first impression. 

This is easily remedied with an interviewer training workflow provided by Prelude. This gives newer interviewers the opportunity to learn from more seasoned staff while gaining confidence and expertise.

Take the Candidate Experience to the Next Level

Providing a great candidate experience never goes out of style. 

If you incorporate these nine steps into your hiring process you're bound to reap the rewards of a more thoughtful, candidate-forward approach with informed feedback that leads to a stronger reputation and better job candidate referrals.

Almost all of the nine steps will benefit from incorporating a form of an automated technology. Sign up for a demo of Prelude to see for yourself how we can turbocharge your recruitment process and help support your goal of a memorable candidate experience.