Professional Partner Content

How to Create a Positive Candidate Experience for Job Seekers


Have you ever interviewed for a job and experienced such poor communication or lack of empathy that it turned you off from the company altogether? Unfortunately, most of us have had negative job-seeking experiences like this one. When it comes to the recruitment process, creating a positive candidate experience should be top of mind for every recruiter and hiring team.

What Is the Candidate Experience?
The candidate experience begins when a job seeker peruses the company’s website to learn about the role and company culture. The candidate experience includes: the job application process; interviews; communications with HR, hiring teams, and hiring managers; and onboarding activities that occur prior to the start date.

The talent acquisition team—recruiters, HR professionals, hiring teams, and hiring managers—has significant influence over a candidate’s first impressions of an organization. If a company wants to stand out, their entire talent acquisition team must create a positive experience for job seekers from the very beginning.

The Importance of Providing a Great Candidate Experience
When it comes to hiring, talent acquisition teams should be equipped with the skills to give each candidate the best experience possible while interacting with the company, regardless of the outcome of their candidacy.

The candidate experience offers valuable clues for job seekers as they evaluate what it might be like to work for an organization or with a particular person or group. Like any first impression, your candidate may walk away with the wrong idea. But the stakes are also larger than any one candidate’s decision to accept a job offer.


The information and experiences that candidates gather are the company’s talent brand. It’s the story of what it’s like to work in your organization. But it’s told through the words and experiences of current, former, and potential employees. A strong talent brand indicates that people like to work in your organization. They may also publicly share their enthusiasm.

A weak or negative talent brand may indicate that your company is not known as a great place to work. Recall again your negative experiences as a job candidate. There is a good chance you remember exactly which companies treated you poorly, and these experiences deterred you from seeking employment there in the future. And what about negative experiences with an organization that you actually worked for? Most people won’t consider returning to an organization with a poor talent brand. They often choose to share their negative experiences and feelings publicly, with friends or on sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor.


Three Essential Elements of a Positive Candidate Experience
Most job seekers enter their information into tracking systems to apply for jobs at different companies. A lot could be said about the importance of an effective applicant tracking system and an employment website with a seamless user experience. But beyond the ease of completing an initial application, the candidate experience comes down to three essential elements: communication, empathy, and engagement.
1. Communication—Talent acquisition teams can make the interview process less stressful for candidates by explaining the process ahead of time. To set expectations, tell potential candidates who they will talk to, when these conversations will occur, and the duration of each interview. You should also provide information about the format. For example, tell candidates ahead of time whether your company uses behavioral interviewing, virtual or in-person interviews, group panels, or skills assessments. Candidates deserve to know this in advance so they can prepare.

To read about the importance of empathy and engagement in creating a positive candidate experience, check out DDI’s blog on the subject.

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