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The Importance of Candidate Experience - and How You can Ace it!

If you’ve worked in the recruitment industry for any length of time, you’ve probably heard colleagues dropping the term ‘candidate experience’ into conversations and emails.

But, what exactly does it mean? Is this just the latest in a long line of fashionable buzzwords … or something far more important?

Defining Candidate Experience

‘Candidate experience’ refers to a candidate’s perception of the service and support provided by their recruitment agency (or potential employer) during the hiring process. This begins at the first point of contact with the recruiter, and ends when the candidate accepts a job offer, or parts ways with the agency for other reasons.

The reputation of a recruitment agency can rest heavily on the level of candidate experience they deliver:

Research from Career Arch revealed that 72% of candidates who have a bad experience tell others about it, whether in person or online!

Consistently providing a positive experience, on the other hand, can give recruiters a competitive advantage. A report from Kelly Services revealed some of the benefits of delivering a best-in-class candidate experience:

  • 50% of candidates would mention their positive experience on social media.
  • 97% of satisfied candidates would refer others to the organisation.
  • 98% of candidates who had a positive experience, but were unsuccessful said they would re-apply.

Getting Candidate Experience Right

So, what can recruiters do to ensure they deliver a positive candidate experience? Here are some of the key considerations:

Do Your Homework

Before you make contact with a candidate, take some time to familiarise yourself with their background and experience. By doing this, you can ensure that the roles you’re recruiting for will potentially be of interest to this person, before you pick up the phone or send an email. Irrelevant cold calls benefit neither the recruiter or the candidate and may harm your agency’s reputation.

Candidates are Customers Too!

When interacting with candidates, it’s important to get yourself into a ‘customer-focused’ mindset. You should constantly be thinking of what you can do to improve their overall experience with your agency.

Gestures such as offering candidates a drink, asking them about their day and walking them back to reception may seem small, but contribute significantly to their perception of your business. So, roll out the red carpet as much as possible with each visitor! 

Build a Rapport

When you speak to a candidate for the first time, whether in person, or over the phone, note down a few facts about them to recall in future conversations. This will take only a moment of your time, but will help you to build a rapport with candidates, and deliver a more personal service.

You should always aim to build a connection with candidates, as there is a chance you’ll work together again in the future. For instance, they may miss out on getting hired for an upcoming role, but tick all the boxes for the next one. And, once you’ve successfully placed them in a role, candidates are more likely to consult you when they’re considering their next career move!

Manage Expectations

When you meet with a candidate for the first time, it’s important to establish realistic expectations. For example, if you’re meeting someone with relatively little experience, it’s worth advising them it may take several months before you’re able to place them in a suitable role.

Although this may not be exactly what they want to hear, it’s far better to be honest from the get-go than to allow them to grow increasingly disappointed because they were expecting to be hired within a week.

Keep them in the Loop

On a related note, recruiters should strive to keep candidates informed and updated throughout the hiring process. If a vacancy has fallen through, or you’re expecting a new one soon, your candidates will appreciate an update. Also, following an interview, candidates will be eager to learn whether or not they have been successful as soon as possible, so they can plan accordingly. No-one likes being left in suspense!

Invest in Tech

Today’s recruitment agencies have a wide range of digital tools and apps at their disposal to help their working processes run more smoothly and efficiently. From Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to time management, screening and chatbot tools, there are many clever options available to suit most budgets.

Take some time to find out which of these would best suit your recruitment business, before investing in the right tech to improve your candidate experience!

Collect Feedback

Providing your candidates with surveys is a great way to measure the level of service you’re currently delivering. In collaboration with your team, develop a short questionnaire to send to candidates. The results should give you an insight into how well you’re doing - and highlight the areas in which you need to improve in order to deliver an even better candidate experience!

Celebrate Every Success!

When a candidate lets you know they’ve had a positive experience with your agency, don’t miss the opportunity to gain recognition for your good work. Ask for an online review - most candidates will be happy to oblige!

And, if you want to spread the word further, consider creating branded social media posts featuring your favourite reviews, so your followers will know that you deliver when it comes to candidate experience. This will help to boost your brand’s reputation and ensure you can continue the good work with a new intake of candidates over the years to come!

We hope you’ve picked up some helpful tips! Remember, a good recruiter never stops learning. Every candidate is unique and should teach you something new about how to deliver a great experience.


Matt Keleher, Social Media Executive

0330 380 0025