How to Create a Positive Candidate Experience in 8 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 15, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies can improve a candidate's experience by implementing guidelines that simplify the application process and provide detailed information for steps to follow. These guidelines can also make candidates feel comfortable and confident during the interview stage. Ensuring candidates have a positive experience helps businesses build a positive reputation and presents a welcoming environment for new employees. In this article, we discover what candidate experience is, examine its importance, and explore how to build a positive experience to ensure a good perception from candidates.

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience refers to a candidate's perception of a company's hiring process. Each stage of the process can influence this experience. This includes the job listing, application process, job interview, and onboarding procedure. The development of this perception also includes aspects without person-to-person contact, such as automated replies to an application for a specific role and job advertisements.

Related: How to Hire Employees (With Signs That You Need to Hire)

What is the importance of a positive candidate experience?

This process can determine whether a potential new employee feels apprehension or excitement about joining a workplace. Even in cases where a candidate only reaches the application or interview stage, ensuring attentive and positive interactions helps you form a favourable reputation. This perception can incentivize candidates to search for other available positions within a specific company or share their positive experience with other candidates, encouraging them to apply.

Related: 9 Onboarding Best Practices to Increase Work Productivity

How to build a positive experience for job candidates

A candidate's experience offers information about the workplace environment. Companies can build a positive reputation by ensuring that their hiring managers, human resource (HR) employees, and recruiters interact with care and consideration. Here's a guide on how to build a positive experience for candidates in eight steps:

1. Create a compelling job description

Typically, the first introduction to a company's experience for its candidates is the job description. It's vital to write a summary outlining the job responsibilities of a position. Consider including relevant details and explanations, such as work schedule and education required. While specificity is helpful, it's best to avoid including redundant information or long paragraphs. A job description can benefit from concise and cohesive sentences aiming for readability. You can present responsibilities and skills in bullet point form and consider emboldening specific lines for additional emphasis.

A compelling job description allows candidates to understand the differences between a role's requirements and a company's preferred qualifications. This distinction is crucial because grouping these pieces of information together can discourage capable candidates from applying. You can prevent this by separating a position's requirements and preferred qualifications into individual sections.

Related: What Is a Job Application Form? (With an Example)

2. Establish realistic expectations

Job listings can benefit from establishing realistic expectations for candidates. Include relevant information about the company's values, work environment, and position. The style of language you use in your writing also influences how candidates perceive a business. For instance, a friendly and casual tone can imply a flexible and easygoing work environment, while serious and direct language can refer to a standard or more formal workplace. Whichever style you use, setting realistic expectations allows candidates to determine whether working for a specific business is the correct choice for their career.

3. Reply on time

You assist candidates in their search process by promptly responding to their applications and follow-ups. Avoid using an automated thank you e-mail after a job interview or generic messages as replies to candidates asking for an update on their application. These types of responses might affect the company's reputation. Consider using personal replies to inquiries and sending them either the same day or the following day.

In addition, the way companies communicate rejection e-mails greatly influences a candidate's experience. It's essential to send these rejection notices quickly and with a considerate tone in writing. When candidates know a hiring manager or recruiter is searching for a different candidate, they can proceed to apply for other job postings. While candidates may dislike receiving rejection e-mails, you can ensure they feel respected and valued with a personal, considerate, and quick response.

Related: How to Respond to a Job Rejection E-mail

4. Create a straightforward application process

Companies can improve the number of candidates applying for a specific position by creating a straightforward and intuitive application process. If the company's website features a careers section, ensure it's accessible and visible. Making candidates click through numerous links and windows may affect their experience negatively. A job posting benefits from a one-page display with clearly separated sections to ensure candidates understand a position's responsibilities and qualifications. Consider indicating if the company wants to fill the position urgently.

It's vital to post a job listing with detailed instructions on how to send or upload relevant documents like resumes, cover letters, or portfolios. When including a questionnaire as part of the application process, ensure the writing is grammatically correct and the responses are relevant and easy to select. Set up an automated e-mail response for each candidate that applies for a position. Consider how a job posting displays on cell phones when creating it. Some candidates prefer to use their mobile devices when searching for a job, and a responsive listing can improve their experience.

5. Offer guidelines during the interview stage

You can help candidates feel confident before a job interview by providing detailed information about the process. A practical approach is sending a calendar invite with a date and time. Include the interview style, stating whether a candidate is participating in an online or in-person interview.

These details are crucial to ensure candidates clearly understand the interview process and can prepare accordingly. An online interview benefits from a different preparation than an in-person one. An in-person interview may require hiring managers to share information about parking and building procedures for visitors. When candidates receive detailed information about the interview process, they usually form a positive impression of the company.

Related: Top Interviewer Skills for an Efficient Interview Process

6. Perform a friendly and informative interview

You can improve candidates' experience by ensuring they experience a friendly and comfortable job interview. This meeting represents an opportunity for both parties to make a compelling impression. When interviewing, adhere to the established schedule by beginning on time. Delaying the interview process can make the candidates perceive a company as unprofessional.

Before the interview starts, ensure they feel welcome by offering them a beverage and choosing a comfortable location without interruptions. During the interview, maintain eye contact, and listen intently to a candidate's responses and questions, observing them to assess their presentation and alignment with the role. Express appreciation and provide information regarding the next steps of the hiring process, including when they can expect a response.

7. Offer valuable feedback to candidates

Companies typically interview several candidates for a position to find the ideal professional. Your approach to rejecting candidates influences their experience and perception of a company. Candidates can benefit from an interviewer's feedback to improve their self-confidence and preparedness for their following job interview. Some may ask directly for feedback, while others refrain from asking. Explaining how a candidate performed during an interview is valuable in whichever scenario you encounter.

Consider sharing the reasons for your hiring decision, clearly communicating areas of improvement or whether they're better for a different position within the company. Honest feedback can help candidates gain insight into the specific qualities a company expects, allowing them to stay motivated through the job search process.

Related: How to Give Feedback for the Interview (With Examples)

8. Build a welcoming onboarding process

The final stage of a candidate's experience is the onboarding process. This stage offers an opportunity to fulfill and employ the ideas developed during the application and hiring procedures. Ensuring a new hire feels welcomed in their desired position is essential. It's best to gradually introduce the amount of work required to perform the job responsibilities. Also, it's beneficial to introduce the new employee to other team members and provide clear instructions about specific tasks.

You can secure a positive experience by developing onboarding plans that help new employees understand their duties and forms of communication. Consider introducing them to important other managers and offering training courses to ensure proper alignment with company procedures. A welcoming onboarding process inspires confidence and improves motivation, which might inspire the new employee to perform above expectations.

Explore more articles