Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
How to Translate HR Jargon and Improve Candidate Experience

How to Translate HR Jargon and Improve Candidate Experience

Candidate experience, employer branding, internal mobility: every year, a new HR buzzword hits the industry. Naturally, it takes your team a minute to get used to the phrase and what it means for your processes. Imagine what it’s like when a candidate comes in for a job interview and you casually drop in a bunch of HR jargon. While HR jargon is part of your daily HR life, it’s unfamiliar and disorienting to candidates.

The problem is these words have much richer definitions than it seems at first. Just think about all the components of the phrase ‘company culture.’ They’re complicated topics and can be tough to comprehend at first.

Candidates are left trying to make their best guess at what you’re talking about. This leads to false assumptions and misunderstandings.

HR professionals, internal recruiters, and others involved in the hiring process need to consider HR vocabulary from candidates’ perspectives. Here’s a glossary of common words and phrases that cause confusion during the hiring process:

Candidate Experience

When you talk about the candidate experience with job seekers, especially when asking them for feedback about your hiring process, they tend to think only of the in-person interview. They assume you want to know how they were treated when they came into the office. But as you know, the candidate experience begins long before that meeting and continues after it.

If you want more insightful feedback about candidate experience, don’t ask vague, open-ended questions. Instead, breakdown each part of the hiring process. Try formatting your questions in this way:

  • Do you feel communication was sufficient during the hiring process?
  • What specific information did you learn during the interview process you wish had been in the job description?
  • Did you have any trouble submitting your resume and application?

Company Culture

Outside of the HR world, culture generally defines a nation and its citizens. The idea of an organization having a culture is strange to candidates since they think of culture as something you’re born into. It makes them feel like they have to prove they’ll fit in with your company by changing who they are.

However, the point of talking about company culture isn’t to make them feel like outsiders. You’re trying to show what unites employees, guides how they act and make decisions, and what they believe in. If that excites candidates, great! But if it doesn’t, they learn the organization isn’t the right fit for them before accepting an offer.

When you’re talking about company culture, be sure to focus on the candidate’s happiness. Explain you want them to see how the company could meet a variety of their needs, not just provide a paycheck.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Often, candidates assume these are interchangeable terms, however, each is distinct in how it impacts the work environment. Chances are, you provide examples of your company’s diversity in your employer branding material. Do the same with how you approach inclusion and belonging.

A good option is creating employee testimonial videos where each team member talks about how diversity, inclusion, or belonging applies to them at work. Then title the videos using the appropriate term. This will show candidates the differences of each and what they mean to the organization.

Internal Mobility

The first time a candidate hears this phrase, it likely brings to mind ways employees move around the office. But companies with strong internal mobility programs show candidates they could have a future with the organization.

Don’t just mention internal mobility in passing. Go into the details of how your organization promotes from within and why you believe it’s essential. It also helps to talk with each candidate about the potential paths specific to them.


Many companies do not adequately approach onboarding. For those organizations and their new hires, onboarding is filling out paperwork and providing a week or two of training. Because of this, your candidates might only be expecting this level of support if hired.

Discuss what true onboarding means. Explain how it would extend throughout the candidate’s first year of employment. Be sure to mention:

  • Expectations and milestones for the candidate after one, three, six, nine, and 12 months.
  • What skills they’ll be learning and when.
  • Ways the rest of the team will make them feel welcome.

People Analytics

Because people analytics is relatively new, most people have unfair biases against it. Candidates hear analytics or data and think you’re reducing employees to numbers. They worry your organization doesn’t see or value team members as whole people.

When talking about how your company uses people analytics, give real examples of how the information led to positive changes. Show that tracking metrics isn’t only about productivity, but also about making the workplace better for employees.

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.