Candidate Experience – The Do’s and Dont’s – part II

How to drastically improve your Candidate Experience

Interviewing and Hiring Process – It’s all about the right candidate.

The interview situation is a crucial point in the recruitment process as it might be the first and only personal contact between the candidates and your company. In an ideal world, the interviewing process could look like this:

  1. Send the candidate an email with all relevant information concerning the location, the date and time, the interviewers and the parking situation(ie where to park).

  2. Give the candidate a warm welcome. Someone should make the candidate feel comfortable. Offer something to drink and for interviews during lunch time you could propose some sandwiches being served after the interviews. By the way: I experienced that having lunch with the interviewees after the official interview creates a relaxed situation providing interesting information you would never have gotten throughout the official recruitment interview. You should give it a go.

  3. If candidates show up too early – what a lot of candidates do – give them either a brochure presenting your company (for example an Annual Report) or a tablet with useful links, videos or employee profiles.

  4. Be on time and if you have an interview with several interviewers enter the room all together.

  5. Never work on your smartphone during an interview.

  6. Start with some relaxed small talk.
  7. Try to get a personal connection to the candidates. In every CV, you will find at least one common point between the candidate and yourself or one of your recruiters. It is worth searching for common ground as it will create a harmony between both of you. You could also use this common ground as an ice breaker at the beginning of the interview.

  8. Leave enough time and room to candidates and let them ask their questions and – even more important – encourage them to do so. Some candidates might be shy and will never ask their questions if they are not invited to do so. It is important to get those questions and to answer them. It will provide the candidates with a better view of your company.

  9. Avoid sending your refusal email on a Friday afternoon or before Christmas time. There is nothing worse than ruining a candidate’s weekend/holiday.

  10. Be honest and as personal as possible in your feedback. A candidate will certainly more appreciate a negative feedback with some constructive criticism like detailed information why he wasn’t chosen than a standardized refusal email. Remember: The rejection email can defer you from other companies and strengthen your employer brand. You will certainly send out more rejection emails than employment contracts and yet every rejected candidate might either be a prospective candidate, a future employee, or a potential customer.

  11. Even if this might not happen that often: if you (and all the participating recruiters) know right after the interview(s) that you definitely want to hire this candidate – don’t hesitate to make the offer or propose a letter of intend. What are you waiting for? Great candidates will have more than one interview and certainly more than one offer.

  12. Your candidate is in the final interview and you have a positive impression. You could show him his future working environment and make him feel being part of your company already.

  13. Keep your candidates informed about the next steps and your decisions. There is nothing worse than not informing the candidates.

  14. Analyse and improve your candidate experience. There are various ways of improving your candidate experience. You can assess the process by yourself and modify it where necessary or you can ask your candidates for feedback, also the candidates that weren’t invited to an interview. Don’t forget that the candidate experience even starts before the interview. You should regularly analyse the feedback and adjust the recruitment process where necessary. Share the feedback and the adjustments with the recruitment team and the top management.

hand-648444_1280On-boarding: The last step to a successful Candidate Experience

It is essential that your new employee feels like being an integral part of the company right from the beginning. To make them feel good and motivate them throughout their first days at your company you could try the following steps.

  1. Send an email to the new employee before the first day explaining what he/she has to expect on the first weeks. Who will be the contact person, what will be the program of the day, when does it start,…

  2. Let the new employee start his integration day at a reasonable time and let him leave earlier. This will make a good impression of your company.

  3. Organise a lunch for the candidate, if possible with some members of his future team.

  4. Send also an email to the company or at least his team briefly presenting the new employee, his academical background and his previous career path. Important: Ask the candidate if you are allowed to do so, also if you want to use his picture.

  5. Set personal objectives for the new employee within a reasonable time frame – in cooperation with his supervisor. Not necessarily in the first week, but within the first month.

  6. Assign a mentor for the new employee. It can be useful to choose someone more senior and from another department.

To sum it up: The Candidate Experience is a process of constant communication with any kind of potential candidates at all stages of the (pre-)recruitment process and beyond.

The Candidate Experience should be seen as integral part of your general Employer Branding or even an overall HR strategy but it is not a strategy as such. It is rather some sort of awareness creation with multiple touch points between candidates and companies and the way of communicating to them.

No matter if you are working in a SME or in a global company, there are little, cost-efficient steps which can quickly improve the Candidate Experience.

Candidate Experience in Luxembourgluxembourg-77403_1280

While searching for a new job or in order to satisfy my curiosity I have visited some websites and made some candidate’s experiences by myself and also asked friends and colleagues about their experiences.

Summary of my findings:

  • Smaller companies usually do not have highly developed websites. Rarely they communicate their values and generally they only offer an e-mail address to send the application to. I could observe this as well for companies from the finance industry (with a huge number of small specialised companies looking for talented people) as well as for smaller companies from other industries.

  • The recruitment website is very often linked to the mother company’s (global) homepage. This is in Luxembourg and also globally a common practice but it does not tell anything about the values in the Luxembourgian branch what could be a disadvantage compared to certain companies who still have a Luxembourgish point of entry.

  • The bigger the company, the more you have to fill out a couple of forms before finally pushing the “apply” button. Big Data has, without a doubt, arrived at these companies. But did they understand how Big Data can help and have they really thought about the right balance between collecting tons of data and having a candidate friendly recruitment process? The longest process took me more than 30 minutes and I actually had to fill out all the information one can also find on my CV. I understand that it makes (or should make) it easier to better compare CVs but how many of the candidates stop after 15 minutes because they are bored to enter all the data they have in their CVs? This can again be a strategy to only attract the highly motivated candidates and you create some sort of pre-recruitment but the question is if you don’t lose too many motivated, talented candidates.                                                                              
  • Only a few companies send a reception confirmation of your candidature. As a candidate you don’t know if the company has received your application. It’s a simple process to install a standardised reception e-mail and the candidate feels more valued.

  • Some recruitment entry points are well hidden. They exist but it takes a candidate a lot of effort to find the entry button. Very often it is part of another point called “our company”, “about us”, or something like that. Recruitment does not seem to be at the heart of these companies even if they might have 20 or more open vacancies. It is useful to have a clear and visible entry point for potential candidate’s otherwise companies may lose candidates even before they can apply. Check your website’s analytics: More often than not the dedicated career section is the most visited part of your website – especially in big, global companies.

  • Apparently Luxembourgish companies are not that keen to make use of social media. Indeed, some companies are on LinkedIn and some others have videos on their website but compared to what “best-in-class” companies offer, there is still a huge gap.

  • Some companies offer the possibility to apply even if there is no open or no suitable position which is a positive approach.

  • Almost no company has information about the recruitment process as such and about what happens after the application was sent. I assume the companies consider this information as not relevant for a candidate but the more information a candidate receives and the clearer the process is, the more a candidate will feel welcomed at the company.

  • According to the feedback of friends and my own experience, refusal emails – after application or even after interview(s) – are still not a commonly used instrument. If they are sent, they contain standardized sentences without any added-value for the candidate. It takes a lot of effort to send individualised refusal emails but there are possibilities to individualise standard emails and to give candidate’s an added-value.

To sum it up one can say that some bigger companies have a highly elaborated Employer Branding and know how to create a positive Candidate Experience. Overall: this little research shows that there is still some more room for improvement in terms of Candidate Experience in Luxembourgish companies.

I invite you to share your ideas and your critics in the comments box below. Did I forget something? What are your experiences with the Candidate Experience? Did you get any feedback from your candidates and what are you doing with this feedback? I would be delighted to share my ideas with you.

Go back to part I of the article by clicking this LINK


Throughout this article, all gender-specific terms are to be considered to refer to both the feminine and the masculine form – except when referring to a particular person. No gender preference is intended.

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