How to improve the job candidate experience

How would you grade your organization’s application process? Most em­­ployers don’t know because they rarely try to walk in their candidates’ shoes.

But tracking the candidate experience can improve it and enhance your organization’s HR brand among potential applicants.

First step: Solicit feedback from candidates about their experiences with recruiting, application, interviewing and web site interaction. A recent study by research firm CareerXroads suggests that employers:

1. Survey a sample of all candidates who have at least completed a job application. Ask questions to determine if candidates felt satisfied with each phase of their experience. Then survey only job finalists and conduct focus groups of new hires to get their input on the process.

2. Use an alias to apply to jobs in your own organization. Alternatively, hire a mystery-shopping firm to have a “candidate” go through the application and interviewing process. Only 7% of employers have taken such an approach.

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3. Provide feedback to applicants on the status of their applications. Nearly 80% of applicants agree that they want some kind of response.  

After soliciting input from applicants, use the following tips to improve the candidate experience:

  • Offer information that candidates desire most. Salary tops the list, followed by work demands and work environment (see box below).
  • Make it easy to navigate employment pages on your web sites. Some sites bury the information that em­­ployees want. The best sites allow users to view job descriptions within three clicks. The top five things ap­­pli­cants want from an on­­line application system: (1) that their application has been accepted; (2) expected time to hear back; (3) if they’ve been knocked out of consideration; (4) ex­­pected time the job will be filled; and (5) the next step in the process.
  • Provide feedback through candidates’ preferred communication modes. Applicants prefer phone or e-mail responses, and are less fond of letters or texts.

What applicants want to know

Percentage of candidates who say they expect to learn this information during hiring process:

Salary/compensation  77%

Work demands        74%

Work environment        71%

Hours                70%

Core competencies required 65%

Training            60%

Schedule flexibility        53%

Career path             51%

Rewards            40%

Source: CareerXroads