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Where the Candidate Experience Falls Apart

Where the Candidate Experience Falls Apart – and How to Put it Back Together

If you weren’t at our #WeAreHiring MeetUp in March, you missed a great meeting about candidate experience – but a frustrating one because it’s an issue that at first glance seems way too confusing.

As a panel member, I enjoyed our frank discussion, but it boggles my mind seeing so much dismal data on how candidates view their experience, yet little progress made — especially when turning this big liability into a huge asset isn’t all that complex.

All you have to do is answer one simple question: Why does the candidate experience fall apart? That answer becomes clear if you strip away all the intricate analysis and buzzwords and get back to basics.

It’s really just a matter of changing your perspective. Yes, our technology makes it a whole lot easier to deliver a more impressive candidate experience, which we all know is rapidly becoming essential to hiring an A-list team.

But although technology solves problems, it’s useless until you can specifically define your problem. Everyone talks about candidate experience, but nobody really seems to know what it actually means. Here are some clues.

Focus more on “candidate” and less on “experience.”

Think about the customer experience in a retail environment. When issues surface, who do you ask for feedback? Customers, of course.

But I see too many recruitment organizations that don’t seem to consider needs from the candidate’s perspective. Meeting those needs is not only expected but greatly appreciated.

We received an email here at SmartRecruiters from a candidate we rejected, yet thanked us profusely for the great experience throughout the application and evaluation process. If you’re not getting feedback like this at least occasionally, your candidate experience is lousy — even worse if you’re seeing one and two-star reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

Just put yourself in the candidate’s shoes? What do they want? What do they need?

The stakes are enormous. Nearly half of candidates rate their experience as average at best and about 3 in 10 say they’d never reapply at a company that delivers such an experience. These are companies that are shooting themselves in the foot by making it nearly impossible to hire superstars.


What’s really frustrating is that candidates aren’t all that demanding. They just want common courtesy, acknowledgment, recognition, and help in deciding if they’ll be a good fit in your organization.

Yet nearly half of candidates receive no reply at all two months after applying. What kind of experience is that? For crying out loud, any application should be acknowledged within two minutes, not two months!

Start getting thanked for rejections

Look, I know that recruiters are under a lot of pressure and that most don’t want to create a poor experience – but just a slight change in perspective, seeing things from the candidate’s perspective, and using automated tools such as SmartRecruiters makes an enormous difference.

How will you see the difference? You’ll start getting thank you notes from candidates you reject. Until you do, you’ve still got some improvements to make.

Roy Baladi

Roy Baladi is a Product Manager at SmartRecruiters building the talent engagement app.