What Is Candidate Experience? Definition, Meaning, Strategy

In the last decade, the employee-employer relationship has undergone a major transformation.

The power of recruitment, which was previously with the employees, has shifted to the candidates. One thing is for sure: a great recruitment strategy is dependent on an experience-driven process.

The candidate experience is all about the job seeker’s perception of an employee based on interactions throughout the recruitment process.

This is going to include all the contact points during the recruitment process, the application process, and the onboarding process.

Candidate Experience Strategy

Any candidate experience improvement strategy must address every single point at which a candidate comes into contact with a prospective employee during the recruitment process and their feelings about it.

This may include anything from a simple phone call with a recruiter to more complex aspects like the user experience on the career pages of the company’s website.

The candidate experience begins long before a candidate has applied for a job. Based on a survey, 48 percent of the candidates had previous interactions or relationships with the employees before they applied for a job.

These interactions include family or friends who may be working out there or general awareness about the organization’s reputation. Surprisingly, only 2 percent had a negative perception of the organization where they went on to apply for a job.

As the recruitment process has become digital, HR managers can leverage technological solutions to provide a consistent candidate experience.

Ensuring quality and an experienced candidate is no longer an option; it is a business imperative.

What Are The Key Components?

Candidate experience involves following the recruitment funnel with an increase in automation, where you will have more touch points with the candidates to enhance their experience.

Let us start from the beginning and outline all the processes of business interaction.

  • Job search: A candidate’s first interaction with your company will be through advertisements, social media, or career pages on your website. Make sure the career page is easy to fill out, as it will save time and effort for the candidates. This is the first step as part of a positive candidate experience.

  • Job application: Rather than making open positions more visible, candidates are given specific instructions for filling out job applications. The job description and instructions are vital for the candidates who land on your website through job boards.

  • Communication: a critical aspect is the lack of communication when a candidate has applied for a job. Most of the candidates feel that there has to be more
    communication from the companies during the hiring process. Candidates will not mind a simple text message or an email if they have passed through an initial round of screening.

  • Feedback: if an employee has shortlisted the candidate, a regular status report will keep them engaged during the hiring process. It could be an automated message informing them of the next steps or a phone call from the recruitment firm informing them of the shortlisting process. Whichever route you choose, communication is of critical importance during the recruitment process.

  • Interview: An interview is the best way to learn about your candidates and understand whether they are suited for the job. It also allows a candidate to know about the organization a bit more. A positive interview experience is necessary for a candidate to join an organization. Repetitive interviews with the same people will send the wrong message to the candidates, and they will be confused.

  • Onboarding: this is the final touch point and an opportunity to deliver on all the promised outcomes during the hiring process. It is suggested that you follow a systematic onboarding procedure that ensures that the latest hire will achieve success from day one.

  • Analysis: To optimize the recruitment process and enhance the experience of the candidates, looking into insights and tweaking their journey is vital.

What Are The Benefits?

The strategies may sound crazy, but they are bound to provide a memorable and positive experience for the candidates.

The benefits of a positive candidate experience are as follows:

A positive employee brand

Companies that focus on a positive candidate experience extend these benefits to all levels of an organization.

It applies not only to the existing candidates but even to the employees. In due course of time, this enhanced reputation will make the company a desirable place to work.

Reduces the time to hire

A quality candidate experience shortens the length of the hiring process. Gone are the days of bloated paperwork, lack of communication, and long waiting times.

The recruitment process is streamlined and a lot faster. Even though they are known to have a smaller candidate pool, this makes it easier and quicker for the recruiters to complete the process.

Advocacy increases

The candidates who are happy and satisfied with the hiring process will naturally be great advocates for your brand.

Even if they have not gotten this role, it would also be great for the existing employees.

One thing about advocacy is that it will align employees who share the same values and egos. This will save the recruiters a large sum of money when it comes to sourcing candidates.

An improvement in retention rates.

In the early stages of the recruitment process, the candidates will determine the company culture or values by evaluating their own experience.

This leads to better onboarding or retention rates as candidates are familiar with the culture of the company and have an idea of whether it is a good fit for them.

The productivity of employees increases.

A happy and satisfied employee will be more productive, as this stems from a positive candidate experience.

It has been mentioned earlier that companies that focus on a positive employee experience will also put their efforts into other areas of the business.

Recruitment costs are reduced.

Based on the above parameter, the recruitment costs are reduced to a considerable extent. Hence, it is beneficial to know how to save money on recruitment.

Why Is The Candidate Experience Important?

During the initial stage, job seekers interact with your company, which is critical because it influences their decision to apply for a position with you or not.

Even if they are offered a position in your company, this influences their decision to accept it.

When candidates have multiple job openings, they opt for a company that provides them with a positive and welcoming attitude. Often, it is not the job that provides them with the best remuneration.

What Are Candidate Experience Strategies for Improvement?

Now that the key components of the candidates’ experience have been identified, the next question is how you intend to improve this experience.

Below are some of the strategies that you can adopt to enhance the user experience.

Applicant tracking systems

ATS, or applicant tracking system, is crucial to streamlining and speeding up the recruitment process.

Most ATS solutions provide career site integrations, which make it easier for a candidate to apply for a job via a job advertisement, social media posts, or career web pages.

The user interface must be easy, and candidates can fill out job applications via mobile phones.

Candidate relationship management systems

CRMs, or candidate relationship management systems, automate communication with candidates once they have applied for a job.

Mature CRM solutions are known to integrate seamlessly with ATS, which enables you to achieve passive tools that will keep candidates engaged. Even so, it would enable the dishing out of personalized messages at scale to guide candidates during the recruitment process.

Interview tools

Though in-person interviews are still relevant, in terms of flexibility, a video interview can be offered. It would allow you to share inside information about the organizational culture with the candidate, reducing the amount of time spent on phone calls.

The video conferring process also makes the hiring process data-driven and objective, considering the questions posed to every candidate.

Onboard mechanisms

The candidate’s experience does not stop at conducting the perfect interview. According to an employer, an individual becomes a candidate through the processes of selection and onboarding.

A smooth onboarding process does not embroil a candidate in a lot of paperwork and gives them a glimpse of life that makes a major difference.

Induction mechanisms

Once onboarded, the candidate is finally an employee. The process could either validate a candidate’s decision that they did an excellent job by joining an organization or prove to be a blunder for them.

This is the perfect opportunity for an organization to welcome a new candidate into the fold.

How To Improve The Candidate Experience At Each Stage Of The Hiring Process?

The process of improving the candidate experience falls into three categories.


Communication between candidates and employees can turn out to be the biggest obstacle. A testimony to this fact is that 75 percent of the candidates reported that when they applied for a job, they never heard anything back from the company.

A simple piece of communication from a recruiter to a candidate will negate the bad feelings to a considerable extent.

Recruiters need to take steps to ensure that the candidates do not lose interest. An appropriate time frame to achieve this endeavor is two days. It sets the tone for a positive recruitment experience.


The interview process needs to be executed properly. A candidate with a positive interview experience would have clear-cut expectations that the recruiter sets, which should be met as per plan.

One of the candidates’ complaints is that they are waiting for time slots based on the company staff.

Candidates should be given precise communication on the time frame in which they must wait. The roles or responsibilities have to be explained clearly as the different requirements related to them.

The follow–up

A successful candidate will be contacted again. But at the same time, it is equally important that the unsuccessful candidates be informed they did go back to the job and that feedback mechanisms are to be followed.

The feedback needs to be open and honest, along with why you were unsuccessful.

How to measure candidate experience Recruiters need to mention to the candidates why they were not successful in the interview and how they can rectify the faults for future interviews. The follow-up interview is part of the candidate interview process.

How To Measure Candidate Experience?

For the HR department and recruitment screening, candidate experience has been a major concern.

It is fair to say that the current candidate-centric job market has pushed things further into the limelight. If the candidate does not have good experience working with you, they will move over to your competitors.

Not only do you lose out on a potential candidate, but it could also impact future referrals. Yes, in this data-driven world, some metrics will give you an idea of how to measure your candidate experience.

Pre-candidate experience

Since the discussion is about recruiting candidates, there is a strong possibility that a few of the candidates would be lured by social content. So, it indicates they may be reaching out to you via a mobile device.

Close to 45 percent of job seekers say that they use their mobile devices once a day to search for jobs. In some cases, they may be encountering your brand for the first time on these handles.

This means you have a good idea of what they want, and whatever the answer, double-check what needs to be changed.

Candidate drop-off

Candidates dropping out is a natural occurrence. The problem could arise if the application process is long or if it is confusing for a person who may close their web browser and finish the process.

It could be the other way around, where a candidate has completed their application process for weeks, and nothing has emerged from the company’s end.

The ATS can turn out to be a stumbling block in such cases, and it is one of the main reasons why candidates drop out of the application process. Though it may sound dire, there are solutions to deal with it.

Acceptance of days to the time

This takes into account that many of the candidates may have contractual obligations, relocation issues, etc.

Days Time Acceptance considers how quickly a job is filled from the time it is advertised to the candidate who accepts the job.

This is going to provide you with a concrete view of the touch points that the candidates have experienced in the recruitment process.

This problem relates to communication, as candidates wait for a considerable period of time, even for an acknowledgment that their application has been received or not.

The solution may be simpler, as you need to automate the entire process. What it indicates is that you are going to receive relevant communication from the proper channels.

Career portal visitor numbers

A major chunk of job seekers ranks the company’s career portal as being of primary importance when it comes to the overall experience.

An example is the bounce rate, which indicates the number of people who are visiting or leaving without completing the application. The overall visitor numbers can be compared to the application rates to judge the number of people who have abandoned the process.

The problems tend to arise with outdated and clunky pages that have not been integrated with ATS or that are not at all mobile-friendly.

All of them may lead to a drop-off. The solution would be to properly integrate the ATS so that there is no scope for any black hole.

The overall satisfaction levels of the candidates in the ratings

If you are trying to get into the details of a candidate’s experience, then this is a must-try option.

An ideal way to measure the same is through surveys, and before you implement them, you need to document your KPI for the metrics.

In general, these tokens serve as a guideline for you to actually count the KPIs.

Each company is unique, and everyone’s impression of their experiences is going to be context-dependent and driven by their expectations and requirements.

The candidates and employees are expected to have the same kind of experience.


In a nutshell, candidate experience is the first cumulative experience that the candidates are going to have when they apply for a position, from the first time they see your job or ad listing to the completion of the process.

A positive candidate experience is important, as it has a direct impact on how your business is seen.

Getting things done properly indicates word-of-mouth publicity, enhanced brand reputation, and an enormous pool of candidates from whom you can choose.

If you make a mistake, it will harm your reputation, harm your relationships with customers, cause revenue to fall, and reduce your talent pool.

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