The secret to outstanding candidate experience

Franck Fogliaresi

What is candidate experience in recruitment?

Good candidates are hard to find. And when you do find them, ensuring they actually end up joining forces with your client takes some serious effort on your end.

As a recruitment agency, you need processes to help each candidate get to know you and the employer better. Most importantly, you need processes that help them understand their role in the company culture. They should be able to picture themselves enjoying their work and thriving in their careers with your client’s company.

First step? A positive candidate experience! You’ll need to leave a good first impression of the organisation with an engaging application process.

Importance of candidate experience in recruitment

A positive experience rests on making candidates feel their time has been respected through transparency and efficient communication, regardless of the outcome. Even if the candidate isn’t hired for the job, their experience is still paramount.

Creating an excellent candidate experience requires

attention and care.

A positive candidate experience:

  • Helps hire and retain the best talent. As a result, your recruitment agency and your clients will strengthen your brand reputation, ultimately seeing candidates line up to apply for your positions (and not the other way around).
  • Helps you streamline your hiring process. Improving your time-to-hire is crucial. However, you can’t do it if candidates are second-guessing their applications.
  • Influences the work culture. When a candidate ultimately decides to accept the offer letter, they start off their journeys with your client on a positive note.

Candidates need to feel fully supported on their journey. As recruiters, we must dedicate sufficient time to understanding a candidate’s career motivations and their preferences, and supporting them through the interview process.

According to the 2018 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report, the top three reasons candidates withdrew from the recruiting process included:

  1. Their time was disrespected during interviews (37%)
  2. Poor rapport with recruiters (32%)
  3. The process was simply taking too long (29%)

What are the benefits of providing a positive candidate experience?

Improving candidate experience in the recruitment process helps both your recruitment agency and the clients you’re recruiting these candidates for.

The process typically starts the moment a hiring ad goes up, which generally the agency handles. And this goes down from resume reformatting, communicating hiring updates, setting up interviews, sending out offer letters, onboarding new hires, and retaining them.


Both the agency and the employer are collaboratively invested in these processes to find the top talent.

Other benefits of improving candidate experience in your recruitment process include:

Better Quality Candidates

71% of candidates like to do their research before applying for a role. Your client’s brand reputation and reviews from past candidates help them narrow down the positions they’d like to apply for.

It’s often said that it’s not just the companies who interview candidates. Candidates are interviewing them right back in 2023!

Attract higher-quality candidates by making the hiring and onboarding experience pleasant and memorable.

Increased Brand Awareness

The candidates you’ve interviewed before always remember you for how valued you made them feel, and they often reflect this feeling on their socials.

As a result, people start recognising your brand for your outstanding hiring process and company culture. And before you know it, job seekers will start looking up to you for their next dream roles!

Reduced Time to Hire

Incorporating a good hiring process helps you minimise paperwork during the process, and the time it takes to hire the ideal candidate.

It also reduces the chances of a candidate rejecting your job offer, saving you the cost associated with sourcing new candidates and conducting interviews.

Increased Employee Productivity

When you offer a good candidate experience in recruitment, the employees you end up hiring are naturally enthusiastic and driven by the organisation’s vision. They’re bound to deliver quality work and be productive.


How to improve candidate experience in recruitment

Outstanding communication is vital to a great candidate experience, and it will be a critical success factor for recruitment agencies in the coming year.

Fortunately, there are 10 key elements of an outstanding candidate experience:

  1. The recruiters listen and communicate more often with the candidates. This helps fast-track the hiring process and retain more candidates.
  2. Set clear expectations about the recruiting process from pre-application to onboarding. When candidates know what they’re getting into, they’re more responsive and committed during the journey.
  3. Hold yourself accountable for candidate experience and measure it regularly and consistently. You can do this by asking for their feedback or checking in with the candidates who rejected your job offer to understand their reasons.
  4. Conduct a fair hiring process. Your candidates must feel they’re given the opportunity to explain why they are right for the job. They should also feel they’ve been fairly considered without bias.
  5. Abide by the recruitment compliance laws. Make sure you’re not discriminating against any employee or participating in any kind of bias – be it based on gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.
  6. Talk about your hiring process on your socials and encourage your employees to leave a review on their profiles as well. The more content you create on channels where your potential hires are, the more you will be able to strengthen your brand!
  7. Create a smooth onboarding process. Ideally, it begins a week or two before the joining date and ends toward completing the first 6 months or often up to a year of joining the company.
  8. Offer training and resources to help your new hires understand the work and get acquainted with your process and technologies. Arrange for team members to assist your new hires in adjusting to the new work environment.
  9. Be gentle while rejecting a candidate and, in fact, have a proper rejection process. Send them a timely message about the news, and provide them with a justifiable reason for rejection.
  10. Reduce your time to hire by eliminating unnecessary time-consuming steps from your hiring process, from using automated resume reformatting to cutting back on the number of interviews. Don’t let your candidates wait for your response for too long. Help them move from one stage to another quickly!


How to be the number one choice for candidates

The real secret to ensuring exemplary candidate experience is time. Your agency needs to set aside dedicated time to create processes that smoothen the candidate experience.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, and time is a limited resource in the fast-paced world of recruiting. However, there are ways you can save time in other areas of your working day. Find solutions that will make other processes more efficient so you can reallocate the saved time to check in with your candidates daily.



AI in recruiting and candidate experience

Automation software can be a great solution for time-consuming administrative processes that devour hours of the working week.

For example, CV formatting can consume up to 7 hours of a recruiter’s week, taking valuable time away from delivering an exemplary candidate experience. Using, recruiters can save significant time.

At the end of the day, positive candidate experience benefits your company’s branding, results in candidate referrals, and ultimately increases the bottom line – a worthy area to invest your time in.