Candidate Experience: Results May Vary (Pt 1)

The candidate market is tight. The pool is getting smaller and smaller. Because of this, companies are falling over each other trying to nab that ideal candidate before the others do.

The savvy candidate knows this. And now that the ball is in their court, they’re excited to finally have that leverage. For once, a great candidate can have the advantage of multiple job offers. The privilege of choice towards their next career move isn’t lost on them. If the choice is now down to them, you better pray that they choose you over a competitor.

Of course, in a tit-for-tat move, larger companies have begun to wise up. If the tables have turned, it’s important for the company to impress the candidate as much as it is for the candidate to impress their interviewer. If you want to get on the train with the big-hitters, you need to start considering your candidate experience.

Our Candidate What?

Your candidate experience. I literally just said that.

If you’re not sure what that is, I’m envious. It’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Anyway, let me explain.

Your candidate experience is the culmination of the various processes and steps potential candidates go through with your company. This includes everything leading up to your hire and even a little bit after the hiring. Your interview? Part of it. Your advertisement? Part of it. Your brand and local presence? If your company is big enough, it could well be the first part of it.

Let’s run through each big part of the candidate experience and look at how to assess and improve your own. In the meantime, ask yourself something: from a job seeker standpoint, would you apply to work at your company?

Starting at, well, the Start

As I said just a minute ago, the candidate experience can start really early – possibly before they’ve even clicked on your vacancy. As loads of people have probably said to you before, word of mouth is an incredibly powerful thing. It can disparage or empower your company before you’ve even said a word.

Equally so, it can have a big impact on whether someone decides to apply to your company. Think about the brand and personality that you radiate – it’s the same personality that you’ll be attracting to your roles, and the same personality you should be trying to instil in your team. And when it comes to word of mouth, who will speak higher of your business than the people who work for you?

Having a personality that shines through is becoming ever more important as companies become less corporate entities and more intertwined with candidate and customer alike. Let that personality bleed through into your brand as well as your hiring process. You’ll be getting the right candidates from the start. Your candidates will feel you’re the right company too.

Advertisements: Don’t Waste Time Wasting Time

Good advertisements communicate and inform. Great advertisements influence. The best advertisements do all those things (and more), but only to the people they want to do it to.

I could write for pages and pages about what can make your job advertisement better than the rest. But if that’s what you want to know, there are so many articles out there already that will tell you how to do just that. (Like, SO many.) So let’s just look at this from a candidate experience point of view.

There’s been a metric ton of studies into what makes a job advertisement successful: that is, drawing in candidates and receiving relevant applications. A personal favourite of mine involves heat maps. Have a little lookie at this heat map that shows just how helpful candidates find certain information (if at all):

A candidate values statistical and factual information in job descriptions above all else.

Thanks to LinkedIn Talent Blog for the image.

So, what have we learned? The bottom half of the ad (benefits, responsibilities, qualifications etc) are read in more depth than virtually anything else. Candidates tend to spend around 1 minute reading a job description. They’ve usually made a decision by the 45-second mark.

In the climate of job boards, instant access is king. You have a small window to sell your company and job role: provide fast information, clear and coherently. Make sure it’s formatted so information can be scan-read. Let the candidate quickly identify if the role fits them and vice-versa – you’ll get more applications and more candidate relevance.


That’s the first bit done. We haven’t even gotten to the part where people APPLY to your vacancy. When you get into the nitty-gritty of all this stuff, you realise all the pitfalls that can stop a candidate from applying to a role. But once they’ve applied, it’s all kosher right? A done deal? Nah.

But we’ll save that till next time. See you next week! (Love a cliffhanger, me.)

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