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Creating a positive candidate experience at every stage of recruitment

September 20, 2021
Creating a positive candidate experience at every stage of recruitment

Creating a positive candidate experience isn’t as simple as being a bit more upbeat in interviews. 

The candidate experience encompasses much more than this, starting long before somebody even submits their application. Everything from an initial perception of an employer to the availability of fair feedback impacts how a candidate feels about the ride to recruitment.


Here’s what candidates want and why.


Stage 1: Pre recruitment 

create a positive candidate experience with a recruiting strategy

Although candidates aren’t readily involved in pre-recruitment strategies, the outcome of long-term recruitment plans impact candidate experience, if not decide it from the get-go. Creating a positive candidate experience starts here. 


What do candidates want? 


  • Roles that feel well-thought-out and descriptive. When reading a job description, candidates love when an employer thoroughly understands the responsibilities they’re looking for and offers them a competitive salary. 

  • Opportunities that can lead to development. When weighing up a new vacancy, candidates envision their next professional steps and the likelihood there will be ways to progress within the role and organisation they’re applying for. 

  • A good impression of the employer. When researching the company, candidates want to find positive ex-employee reviews and plenty of culture-focused content. 

Stage 2: Pre interview

create a positive candidate experience with easy applications

Before an interview, candidates are only partially invested in your organisation. They care enough to apply for a role, but most still keep their options open. As such, pre-interview forms a key part of creating a positive candidate experience.


It acts as a first impression of the employer, influencing how much a candidate will get to the interview and how receptive they’ll be to the rest of the recruitment process.


What do candidates want? 


  • Enough information to encourage application. When reading about an opportunity, candidates look for a few key things: the role, salary, benefits package, location, contact details and working hours. Without it, individuals might not apply or put your vacancy at the bottom of the pile. 

  • Simple, straightforward processes. When applying for job roles, candidates feel the time is of the essence. They like simple, straightforward processes that make sense and don’t take too long. 

  • An opportunity to chat. When engaging with your company for the first time, candidates often just want to speak to someone. Head of Talent, a recruitment officer or a receptionist — anyone is better than no one to answer their initial questions. 

Stage 3: Interview

create a positive candidate experience with unbiased, intelligent interviews

We all know interviews are the bread and butter of the candidate experience. In fact, most people mistakenly think it’s the only thing that matters. Candidates are under a lot of pressure to perform, but they also want to learn more about your organisation and what you can bring to the table.

What do candidates want? 

  • A positive experience — whether they’re successful or otherwise. Of course, candidates want the job, but in terms of candidate experience, they just want you to take them seriously, assess objectively and engage with them throughout the interview.

  • An appropriate challenge. Most candidates aren’t afraid of being tested at the interview stage. It can actually make them feel like they earned a position and won a worthwhile prize. However, assessments, skills-based or scenario-led interview questions should always be appropriate to the role’s seniority, technicality and experience level. 

  • Transparent communication about the order of events. Candidates know interview processes are becoming more intricate, often requiring several weeks to complete and more than one stage to qualify. The very least candidates expect is for you to tell them about it upfront.


Stage 4: Feedback

create an engaging candidate experience with fair, frequent feedback

Feedback happens when a candidate is technically no longer a candidate. Yet, it’s still an essential part of the overall candidate experience, as is clear communication about the next steps. If the application forms the first impression of your organisation, feedback is surely the last.

Feedback or no feedback — this part of the experience remains firmly in the candidate’s memory. 

What do candidates want? 

  • Interview closure. When it comes to feedback, it’s simple. Candidates want it. Candidates often want to understand the decision making behind a disappointing verdict and use the pointers to polish their interview skills. 

  • Objective, unbiased feedback. If you're going to give feedback, be careful about your approach. Feedback should always be fair, backed up by examples and focus on behaviour, not character. 

  • Quick communication. After an interview, candidates have little patience. This part of the experience can be anxiety-provoking, difficult to navigate and emotionally turbulent depending on what other offers are coming through. Try to make your mind up fast while always choosing the right candidate for the role. 

Check off every aspect of a positive and engaging candidate experience 

Now you know what candidates want, what should you do about it? Creating a positive candidate experience doesn’t have to be hard when you follow a step-by-step process. 

That’s why we’ve created a checklist for creating engaging candidate experiences. Although we’re interview experts at heart, we’ve included everything in this list, from tips around fair feedback to talk of top-level recruitment strategies. 


Go through your hiring process from start to finish, find flaws and fix them by downloading your free copy of our checklist. Click the link below to get started. 

screenloop candidate experience checklist

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