Candidate Experience – The Do’s and Dont’s

Part 1

Candidate Experience –The importance behind it.

What does it mean – candidate experience? Is it only the experience of a candidate during recruitment interviews or is it the experience along the recruitment process? Or does Candidate Experience stand for a process starting at the job advertisement and ending with the contract signature or even going beyond the on-boarding phase?

Probably, it is all of it. Candidate Experience is definitely part of an on-going, long-term communication process with potential candidates.

No matter if your company has three, five or ten communication points with your candidates during the (pre)-recruitment process – each of these touch points represents a chance to brand the employer, to communicate company values and to persuade the candidate to step in. But each point of contact can also revert into the opposite.

A German survey stated that nine out of ten applicants take the impression during the interview process as basis of decision-making for or against accepting an offer. 60 percent of candidates even decided against an offer due to the bad experiences during the recruitment process.

(Source: Bewerbungspraxis 2015 – Centre of Human Resources Information Systems – University of Bamberg ad Frankfurt supported by Monster Worldwide Germany)

According to the Candidate Experience Report 2013 published on, 96 per cent of all candidates with a positive experience would recommend their friends to apply at this company while only 33 per cent of the candidates with a bad experience would do that. Additionally, 51 per cent of the candidates with a positive experience would even share their experience on social media.

What does that mean? The right candidate experience is crucial if you want to hire the right candidates. And it’s all about communicating right at the right time. And most importantly to communicate at all.

You might have several touch points with the candidates starting with the job advertisement and ending with a signature or the on-boarding phase. Consider each touch point as a single opportunity. Several recent surveys have shown that more than 50 per cent of all candidates who applied for a position, never got an answer from the possible employer. Not getting any answer leaves a bad impression and will certainly not motivate a candidate to apply again or even recommend friends to apply.

Communicating – by whom, with whom?

The other day, I read a sentence that is spot on: Paul Watzlawick’s famous “You cannot not communicate!” If a company has a website without a clear recruitment entry channel, the company communicates somehow that recruitment is not at the core of its business. If a company collects loads of information before the candidate finally can push the “apply” button, it says the company puts more effort in collecting data than into an efficient recruitment process. There are certainly enough reasons to collect a reasonable amount of data from candidates, but wonder: “how much and what kind of data do we exactly need and how does the candidate feel about our entire recruitment process?”

The website is one main communication tool but what about other parties and other potential connections to candidates?

Is your top management aware about all your employer branding efforts?Are they actively supporting it or do they even promote certain activities? Managers, team leaders, and the top management play a crucial role in the context of an Employer Branding strategy. If they live the values, if they are so called “role models”, most of the employees will naturally follow their lead and accept the values.

Have your employees been trained on “selling” company values? Are they aware of your needs and do they know how to behave if they meet a potential candidate? The HR department has to take the lead in providing a clear employer branding and the appropriate training for each employee.

Internal communications should not differ from the external communications. Each employee should know the values and the strategy of the company and, in the best case, these should somehow be reflected in everyone’s day-to-day work. Employees have to identify with the company values and live them. Therefore it is also important to have consistent company value and not regularly change them.

If you want to evaluate, here are some good questions to reflect on:

  • Are you still in touch with former employees and are they aware about open vacancies?
  • Do you really have an approved Employer Branding strategy as part of an overall HR strategy?
    Do you have one single point of contact for the development and implementation of your employer brand?
  • Do your recruiters (and your employees) know how and when they have to promote the USPs (unique selling propositions) of your company and are they really aware of the fact that they can make the difference in the candidate’s selection process for or against your company?
  • Do you have so called school ambassadors and how are they trained?

Every single one of your employees needs to be aware of the fact that anyone with whom they communicate could be a potential candidate or – at the same time – a potential customer.

Let’s have a closer look at the recruitment process and its impact on the candidate’s experience in part 2.

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