When does candidate experience begin?

I was checking out the SHRM Staffing conference Twitter feed the other day and an interesting question was brought up by Gerry Crispin:


When does a candidate become a candidate?

This is a great question and it got me thinking about a question that is just as pertinent to recruiting organizations:


When does candidate experience begin?

There seem to be a few schools of thought to this question.  I’ve outlined them below:

  1. Candidate experience begins when a candidate enters your online job application.
  2. Candidate experience begins when a candidate hits submit and applies for a job in your ATS.
  3. Candidate experience begins when you make first interaction with with a candidate whether it’s through a job ad, your career site or employer brand.

While all three can be valid depending on how your organization wants to define and service candidate experience, I strongly believe in point #3 for a few reasons.


First, the goal of most of your recruitment marketing messaging most likely is to spread your employer brand as much as possible.  With so many new vehicles available for candidates to interact with your recruiting organization (social media, career site, LinkedIn, etc.), it’s important to make sure a qualified candidate’s initial interaction with your organization is a good one so you should look into improving these experiences.


Second, while the end goal will be to convert candidates into applicants within your ATS, you first need to get them to apply.  While some candidates will apply to the first job ad they see from your company, many will do more research on the job and may not apply right away.  It’s important to create ways in your recruiting process to remain engaged with these candidates so you are top of mind when they are ready to apply for new positions.


So if we are to believe that candidate experience begins with the first experience, what can we do today to improve this experience?  Here are a few things to focus on:


Easy Opt-In Networks: One of the best ways to improve your pre-apply candidate experience is to provide easy ways for interested candidates to engage with your organization.


Whether this is a company branded Facebook page, a dedicated recruiting Twitter handle or an Opt-In email list on your Career Site, you should point to this portal in all your recruitment messaging and most importantly engage with candidates that interact with you on these channels.


Write Great Job Advertisements: Just distributing your jobs to recruiting channels is not enough.  You need to make your job ads compelling to candidates and focus on the benefits that you provide as an employer.  Don’t miss the opportunity to get candidates excited about your company.

Most importantly, link to your designed engagement portals that you’ve created above so candidates can quickly and easily engage with your employees and recruiting organization.


Determine where the best candidates live: As you are shaping your recruitment strategy, you need to be collecting recruiting metrics on where your best candidates are coming from (job boards, social networks, referrals, etc.)  Once you know the sources, try and focus your energies on improving the candidate experience in these channels.


Get Rid of Bottlenecks in the Apply Process: What’s the point of recruiting qualified candidates if your application or interview process is broken?  This is simple to fix but is very important.  Make sure to go through your application process at least once a month and record any processes that should be fixed.

You don’t want qualified candidates to drop off because your apply process is broken or unclear.


Set Expectations with Applicants: When an candidates applies into your ATS, make sure to set their expectations on the recruiting and interview process.  Let them know that you received their resume (via automated response?) and how long it typically takes for your organization to review and respond to their application.


The same holds true for interviewees.  Make sure to let the candidate know what the overall interview process looks like and the timeline you expect it to be.  Setting these expectations will put the candidate more at ease and will help to create a better process for the candidate.


Candidate experience is an important part to recruiting qualified candidates for your company.  The key is to focus on all aspects and interactions you have with candidates.  While you may want to begin with looking at your application and interview processes, you’ll want to expand your candidate experience to any touchpoints you have in your recruitment strategy.


If you create more positive experiences with candidates at every level of your recruitment strategy, the more successful you should be in bringing in top talent.


Do you agree or disagree?  Please share your views & thoughts in the comments below!

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