In today’s economy, brilliant people have vast job opportunities and employers are struggling to hire and retain the best talent. For that reason, organizations are investing in building their competitive advantage as an employer and trying their best to deliver a positive candidate experience. In this article, we will discuss strategies to improve candidate experience when interviewing and onboarding.

Let’s first understand what does the term “candidate experience” mean and how does it affect your organization.

What is Candidate Experience?

The concept is very simple to grasp if you are familiar with the term “customer experience”. A customer experience is your potential buyer’s journey to purchase your product or service. Whereas a candidate experience reflects a job seeker’s perception about your brand as an employer during the recruitment process.

The candidate experience covers all aspects of a job seeker’s interaction with their prospective employer, starting from the job search through application submission, interviews, and onboarding.

How Important is Candidate Experience?

 Building a first-class candidate experience is necessary for the employer because:

  • It helps businesses in successful onboarding and retention of smart talent.
  • It helps you make your hiring process easier for the candidate.
  • Your recruitment costs are reduced since it improves the chances of finding the right talent rather quickly.
  • A great candidate experience is also a great marketing opportunity for your brand.
  • You will have more referrals because you have made candidates feel important and they would love to share this experience with their friends.
  • Even if you have rejected the candidate, they will be more likely to apply again.

However, the question is how do you deliver the best candidate experience? The answer lies in the words of a thinker, Clare Musutt who said:

“Building a good candidate experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.”

By designing a candidate’s experience means using workable strategies that can positively influence a candidate’s viewpoint about your organization.

Strategies to Improve Candidate Experience

Follow some of these strategies to improve candidate experience at your company.

1. Understand Candidate’s Entire Journey

To turn your candidate into an enthusiastic applicant, you must understand each step he/she will go through during the entire application process. It’s important to explore areas where you can impact a candidate’s perception and overall experience with your company. These areas or touchpoints need to be carefully mapped out and analyzed for improvement. Here are some ideas:

  • Review your Job Ads carefully
  • Analyze your career site
  • Review social media pages of your company
  • Analyze your company representatives’ interaction pattern at job fairs
  • Review your application filing process, understand each application section and weigh its effectiveness
  • Look at the steps and style of your company’s interaction with the candidate at each stage
  • Know the interview process in depth
  • Review your onboarding procedures

In addition to above strategies, put yourself in the shoes of your candidates and make your workflows error-free and efficient. This will provide you further insights into how you can improve candidate experience each step of the way.

2. Improve your First Impression through Website Optimization

It is estimated that almost 85% of the job seekers will land on your company website to judge your brand and make a decision to apply. Therefore, it’s necessary to focus on your website design, structure, and content. Review the guidelines below when optimizing your website.

  • Ensure that your career page is updated often, is easy to find, and contains all the necessary information that your candidate may be looking for. This includes instructions to fill out the application and understanding next steps.
  • Nowadays most people look for jobs and fill out applications using their mobile devices. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
  • It is necessary to check that the contact details you provided on your website are correct and the job seekers can contact you if required.
  • Post jobs on reliable platforms where you can find genuine professionals. Some examples are Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Dice.

3. Make Job Description Clear and Concise

A job description reflects who you are as an organization and any errors in it can negatively impact candidate experience. This document also helps you attract the required talent. Therefore, make sure that your job description is well written and provides a realistic picture of the responsibilities and duties of the position. Here are some guidelines:

  • While developing a job description, clearly mention the job title, purpose, expectations, required qualification, education, knowledge, and skills related to the job.
  • It is suggested to include working conditions such as travel requirements, environment (office based or remote), the physical effort needed to perform the job, and working hours.
  • Make the job description simple and direct without using any acronyms and abbreviations.

4. Keep the Application Process Simple

One of the keys to improve candidate experience is to value their time and reduce the effort needed to apply for the position. You can take several steps such as:

  • Don’t ask for streams of information during the initial application submission process. You can save some questions for later in the process.
  • Review your need for a cover letter and portfolio and make it clear to the candidate.
  • Make sure that required documents can also be uploaded on a mobile device.

5. Focus on Communication throughout the Recruitment Process

Regular communication throughout the recruitment process is something that almost all candidates desire for. For this, you should figure out the following:

  • The recruitment stage where you will want to communicate with your candidate.
  • Your mode of communication at a particular stage of interaction. For example, the company representative will be making a call to the candidate or the candidate will receive an email from HR.
  • Define an application processing protocol. For example:
    • After you receive an application, the HR department is required to respond within 24 hours.
    • HR will send at least 2 follow-ups with a two-day gap in case the candidate does not respond.
    • You will seek the candidate’s consent on a date and time when scheduling an interview.
  • If you are conducting an online interview, make sure you send an invite in advance to give the candidate ample time to prepare.
  • In case of any written test, inform the candidate of the expected timeframe to complete it well in advance.
  • Even when the candidate is rejected at the screening stage or during an interview, do not just let them wait for your answer. It is advised to send a gentle rejection email and encourage them to apply again.

6. Make Decisions Fast

Recruitment should not be a long process because it costs you time, money, and resources. From the candidate’s perspective, a long wait between hiring steps becomes frustrating and there is a tendency that they choose an alternative job offer. You need to make your decision-making process faster to improve candidate experience. Here are some thoughts:

  • Clearly mention the last date to apply in your job post.
  • Ask for work samples in the beginning to shorten the recruitment cycle.
  • Schedule a pre-screening interview soon after receiving the application.
  • Try to reduce the number of interviews by letting candidates meet multiple parties on the same day.

7. Make your Candidates Feel Important

Making your candidate feel valued and privileged does not need monetary investment but it can contribute a lot in terms of a positive candidate experience. You can follow these strategies:

  • Respond on time, in particular, if the candidate has approached you for some inquiry.
  • Be fair in determining the salary package. For this, do your homework, and research the compensation offered by your competitors for similar positions.
  • During the interview, don’t let the candidate feel humiliated or low in skills and capabilities with your gestures.  As a professional organization, you need to show the highest level of professionalism during each stage of your interviews. Even if your candidate’s answers were not up to your expectation and you have decided not to hire, you should remain respectful and humble.
  • Try to understand candidate’s situation and needs when negotiating pay package.
  • Give your candidate a tour of their future workplace. Even if you end up deciding not to hire them, this will still have a long-lasting impact on the candidate.

8. Make Efficient Use of Recruitment Technologies

Over 80% of companies today already use artificial intelligence (AI) in HR in one form or another. Automating the time-consuming tasks can speed up your recruitment process as well as cut down the hiring cost. This in turn shortens the time the candidate has to wait for the next step in the process and will improve candidate experience. Some useful actions in this regard can be:

  • Go for video Interviews because it is easier for candidates to attend a video interview rather than traveling from another location. In the global pandemic where safety has become the major concern, efficient use of video interviewing technology is helpful and easy for both parties.
  • Making use of AI recruitment automation software that can help you speed up sourcing and screening. This reduces the manual work you have to put in.
  • Technology such as chatbots can be used to humanize the hiring process and gain the benefits of automation at the same time.
  • The use of VR (Virtual Reality) is also making its way into HR, although it is still expensive to implement. 

9. Demonstrate Your Company Values

It is important to demonstrate your company values during the recruitment process. Not only that it is essential for establishing your employer brand, but it also helps in attracting candidates who can excel and thrive in your company culture. Several fruitful actions can be taken in this regard.

Around 91% of the recruiting managers believe that a company’s cultural fit is as important as experience and skills.

  • You can invest resources in creating a video tour that exhibits various aspects of your company culture. This is essential because there is a rising trend in consuming video and it allows you to show off your company personality in a fun and creative way.
  • Add your employees’ testimonials on your career website.
  • Create separate social media accounts or pages that showcase your company culture through pictures, event posts, achievements, and celebrations.
  • Let candidates interact with other employees of your office during interviewing in particular when it’s an office-based position.

10. Adopt Easy Onboarding Strategies

As a last stage of the hiring process, onboarding solutions should be well devised because it has an immediate impact on new hire experience and is necessary for subsequent job engagement.  Here are some strategies:

  • Make background checks easier and onboarding formalities simpler.
  • Provide proper guidance about the facilities, breaks, lunches, reporting structure, etc.
  • Introduce your new hire with colleagues.
  • Streamline the process of filling out required documents so they may begin their work quickly.
  • Ensure that your new hire has got all the required tools to perform their job.


Human capital determines your success in the long run because adaptability to technology, innovation, and productivity ultimately depends on the workforce. Investing time and resources to ensure the appropriate acquisition of talent brings huge returns. Strategizing for a wonderful candidate experience is one of such investments. Incorporating some of the strategies mentioned above in your recruitment process can help you boost your candidate experience by leaps and bounds.