Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
The Impact of the Candidate Experience on Every Part of the Hiring Process

The Impact of Candidate Experience On Every Part of the Hiring Process

How a company treats its people — there’s power in this statement. Nearly 70 percent of candidates determine their expected future treatment by a company based on their candidate experience in the hiring process, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey

Candidates are on high-alert for red flags at every stage of your hiring process. And their ability to walk away at any moment defines the evolution of your hiring process. Every moment impacts the candidate experience which means you can’t leave anything up to chance. 

The candidate experience impacts each step of the hiring process, but you can take these steps to improve it at every stage: 

The application

The job search is a tedious and time-consuming process to add atop applicants’ already demanding schedules. When your application process doesn’t indicate your company respects what little time they have available, they simply drop out. 

Here’s what drives candidates away during the application process: 

Unnecessarily long or complicated applications 

Most candidates don’t have hours to dedicate to applying to open roles. In fact, one-in-five respondents in CareerBuilder’s previously-mentioned survey give less than 10 minutes to job applications. 

This reinforces the balancing act many candidates perform on their job search. They’re applying on lunch breaks, before or after work, when their families go to bed, and during any other small free moment of the day. 

Any redundancy between standard or mandatory information included in resumes and accompanying application materials and the actual application are generally viewed as a waste of applicants’ time. 

Poor mobile application experience

Smartphone ownership exploded to 77 percent of U.S. adult users in 2018, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. The increase in smartphone users consequently boosted mobile job searches and applications. In fact, promoting the job application process as mobile-friendly increases the number of job applicants by 11.6 percent compared to those that aren’t mobile-friendly, according to research by Glassdoor.

A negative candidate experience on mobile results in rapid dropout. In fact, one-in-five candidates in the CareerBuilder survey cited above stated they go just two to three pages on a mobile device before dropping out. Additionally, mobile job seekers successfully complete a whopping 53 percent fewer applications and take 80 percent longer to complete each application, according to Glassdoor’s Rise of the Mobile Devices in Job Search report. 

Improve the candidate application experience: Be respectful of candidates’ circumstances by adding only the most critical elements to the application. Consider what you need to make an informed decision at this stage of the process and create a quick and simple application. 

Boost your response rate by promoting your application process as mobile-friendly on social media. For example, “Apply from anywhere in just 10 minutes: [direct link to your career page].” 

Also, implement efficient hiring technology into your process to create an easier mobile application experience. Be sure to offer quick assistance to resolve tech issues so candidates progress without wasting time. Keep application pages to a minimum and create an easy-to-access space for candidates to upload and save application materials. 

Interview scheduling

Post-application, when candidates are officially in your hiring process funnel, the candidate experience is more personal. At this stage, when you reach out directly to schedule interviews, candidates begin to connect each movement forward with the effectiveness of your communication. As a matter of fact, the candidate experience during interview scheduling is directly impacted by how timely and personalized you make your messages. 

Here’s what drives candidates away during the interview scheduling process: 

Follow-up time between application and interview is too long

It’s a job seekers’ market — and candidates’ expectations are soaring because of it. In fact, 43 percent of CareerBuilder’s respondents say they now have higher expectations for how employers will treat them as a candidate. 

Adding even more pressure to your hiring process, candidates are refusing to wait around to hear back from hiring pros. Instead, they’re looking for new opportunities. CareerBuilder’s respondents (55 percent) say they’ll give up and move on if they haven’t heard from an employer within just two weeks of applying. 

Communication about “next steps” isn’t clear 

Candidates value your consideration and respect. Even before they apply, 36 percent of candidates in CareerBuilders’ survey say they expect to speak directly to a company’s hiring pro. It’s no surprise the CareerBuilder report revealed 82 percent of candidates also expect employers to provide a clear timeline for the hiring process and keep them updated throughout the process.

Improve the candidate interview scheduling experience: Create a strategy that focuses on quick communication after receiving every application. This means following up with candidates even if you will not be advancing them through to the interview process. 

Fortunately, hiring technology makes effective and efficient communication easier than ever. Idibu, for example, has a traffic light feature which allows you to click a green, amber, or red light for each candidate application. If a candidate receives a green click, an automatic and personalized message is sent to them detailing your interest in their application. 

After advancing the most qualified candidates, use time-saving interview scheduling software to coordinate one-way or live video interviews to screen candidates. This decreases the time from application to scheduled interview and candidates feel empowered by being able to place themselves on your calendar.  

Give candidates a greater sense of control during the interview scheduling process by presenting them with clear, detailed timelines. Use this information to show there’s progress and motion already in place. When changes occur, update candidates frequently to keep them in the know and invested in the process. 

The interview

Once you have scheduled interviews, you typically set your sights on evaluating candidates for your open roles. However, they’re not the only ones who need to focus on making a positive impression. 

As a hiring pro, you’re responsible for delivering a positive candidate experience through the interview. You are the first impression they receive from your organization. And it’s your job to ensure they get a sense of the culture as well as how well they align with your team’s values and personality.

Unfortunately, 65 percent of candidate respondents in LinkedIn’s recent report say that a bad interview experience makes them lose interest in the job. And chances are, if they lose interest in the job at this stage in the hiring process, they’re also going to lose interest in the company. 

Here’s what drives candidates away during the interview process: 

Candidates don’t see hiring pros as valuable resources

Candidates use various resources to research and prepare for interviews. Respondents in LinkedIn’s previously mentioned report say they gather information from your company website (53 percent), LinkedIn (38 percent), search engines (35 percent), and contacts at your company (32 percent). 

The trouble is, only one out of four of these sources of company information is in your complete control: the company website. LinkedIn gives candidates access to current and former employees, possibly landing them on a disgruntled one, search engines reveal endless result possibilities, and you can only hope current employees consistently represent the company in a positive light. 

Expectations of candidates are lofty

You have high expectations of candidates. You’re searching for people with the power to elevate your organization. Focusing too heavily on these expectations, however, takes a toll on the experience candidates have in your hiring process. Many candidates are already overwhelmed by their seemingly endless job search. If you make them feel as though they’ll never satisfy your demands, they are sure to abandon your hiring process. 

Unstructured interview processes add to the unease candidates feel when interviewing. And they’re less likely to feel confident they are being evaluated fairly against other candidates.

Candidates don’t grasp the culture

Candidates in the interview stage want more than to know their skills and qualifications are a match for the role. This late in the game, candidates (42 percent) look to see how they’ll fit with a team, according to LinkedIn’s report. 

Candidates who can’t grasp your culture during the interview stage second-guess their decision to move forward in the process. The stress of making a career move without feeling confident they belong has the power to destroy any former connections you made with candidates. Concerns of not belonging can cause candidates to abandon this, and any future opportunities with your company.

The interviews are never-ending

An efficient hiring process ensures an impressive candidate experience. Efficiency isn’t at the forefront if candidates feel your interview process requires the time commitment of a part-time job. 

On average, candidates in LinkedIn’s report experience three interviews and the vast majority (84 percent) say they are satisfied with this number. Requiring more than three interviews means candidates must incur large travel costs and, in the case of passive candidates, take off excessive amounts of work, burning their PTO.

Improve the candidate interview experience: Design a structured interview process and present yourself as the most valuable and trusted resource. This ensures the candidate experience improves while you remain in control of the information they receive. 

Create branded video messages with tips to successfully complete your interview process or a step-by-step rundown of events and timelines. As you personalize the process with video, candidates feel a closer connection, further instilling trust and a positive experience.

Give candidates a direct in-person experience with your culture, as well. Schedule office visits during interviews so they get a sense of how their personality aligns with potential future peers.  

Maintain your starting interview standards at three interviews. Decide from there if you’re able to effectively assess candidates or if you need more information. If you need more information, determine if an additional interview is the most effective solution.

Also, make live video interviews part of the interview process to decrease the number of in-person interviews. You have the benefit of assessing soft skills and making a personal connection with candidates. At the same time, they spend less time traveling and taking time from current jobs. 

Making the offer

Candidates change jobs for any number of reasons. It’s not a decision made on a whim. They take their career shift seriously, and as a result, candidates want their needs and expectations to be met from start to finish. 

Here’s what drives candidates away during the offer stage of the hiring process: 

They don’t see overarching positive change

Candidates seek career changes for various reasons. No matter their ‘why,’ candidates look for the ‘how’ throughout your hiring process. Especially during the offer stage, candidates want to see how your opportunity and company will positively impact their career. 

If an overarching positive change isn’t clear, it’s possible candidates won’t see the benefit of accepting your offer. According to LinkedIn’s report, for example, 45 percent of candidates consider a new opportunity because they want higher compensation. Your top choices can make it all the way to hearing your offer just to find out you can’t meet their needs. 

Candidates may even accept your offer with hopes they’ll see improvements from their previous role, like 37 percent of LinkedIn’s respondents looking for better skills and interests fit. Unfortunately, they could then get halfway through onboarding just to realize it’s not what they expected. In both cases, you’re stuck back at the beginning of the hiring process, looking for better-qualified candidates. 

Improve the candidate offer-acceptance experience: Prove your company provides powerful changes for current employees. Then, ask candidates direct questions regarding their career goals. For example: 

  • Do you think this position aligns with your professional goals? In which ways?
  • What skills or knowledge would you like to learn to make you better in your role?
  • What are your future career goals and what do you need to achieve them?

Once you understand what candidates need and expect, show how the company and in-house programs will help meet those goals. It’s possible they can be met quickly through continuing education courses or mentorship opportunities. Or a flexible plan could be made for their five-year stretch goals. The key is to show how their positive candidate experience will carry into their employee experience and well into their future at your company.


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 5,000+ customers in over 100 countries.