Candidate Experience: How Important is it?

By Adam Robinson,
October 24, 2012

Ed Newman, CEO of, revealed in his latest blog post on HR Examiner that he believes job seekers are the most underserved customer group on the planet. Well Mr. Newman, we couldn’t agree more.

It’s not uncommon to go out of your way in order to accommodate a customer; as a matter of fact, it’s expected. But it seems that more and more hiring managers won’t even take the time to send a simple email updating a candidate on whether or not they are still being considered for any given position. What used to be a common practice is now viewed as an extraneous piece to the hiring puzzle. 

A Bad Candidate Experience Can Hurt Your Business

But how do poor candidate experiences affect your company; after all, they are just candidates, right? Of course they are candidates, but chances are good they were familiar with your company before they applied. Whether they were a customer themselves, or knew someone who was a customer, chances are good that your job candidates have supported your company prior to applying. But just as you try to accommodate your customers needs, it’s important to keep the needs of your candidates in mind too. Even if you don’t extend a job offer, providing a superior experience to all your candidates will not only retain them as a customer or as an advocate of your brand, chances are good they will share their experience with friends and family. Who knows, maybe that friend of a friend will be your next top grossing salesperson.

However, if you provide a less than stellar candidate experience, expect to see negative reviews popping up all over social media sites, or worse, Glassdoor. Just put yourself in the shoes of your candidates and go about the process in a way which would please you if the roles were reversed. 

Follow these tips to ensure your candidate experience is just as good as your customer experience:

Keep your candidates updated

Don’t tell candidates that you’ll be in touch and never get back to them. Shoot them an email with an update at least once a week. Are you still in the process of interviewing others? Let them know. Did you decide to extend an offer to someone else? For goodness sake, please let them know! It’s better to tell them as soon as your decision has been made than to wait a few weeks, or never tell them at all.

I once interviewed with a huge investment company based in Chicago. The interviewer told me that they would be making a hiring decision by the end of the week. One week went by, no word. I emailed the person I interviewed with, still no word. Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks – no word. Of course at this point I knew I had not been selected for the internship, but it was certainly a crummy feeling knowing that they didn’t feel it was worth their time to send me a rejection email. Six weeks later I got one of those “Dear Candidate” emails saying that they had decided to pursue other candidates. Just send a quick email thanking them for their time and letting them know you’ve gone another route. And make sure you at least personalize the greeting!

Apply those customer service skills

Don’t go about the interview process thinking you are doing a candidate favor; we know that you have a very busy schedule, but so do your candidates. Make sure that your candidate knows what duties they would be expected to perform in the event they are offered the job. Answer any questions they have about the position or the company. Don’t be shy, if you’re business has been struggling, chances are the candidate knows this from their interview preparation research. Just as your parents told you growing up, honesty is always the best policy!

Avoid those ILLEGAL interview questions

Not only are illegal interview questions…illegal, they can also make a candidate feel uncomfortable. Asking a female candidate if she plans on having children is not only against the law, but chances are good she won’t even answer. After she leaves the interview, you can expect to see a pretty nasty review on Glassdoor. Were you blown away by a candidate’s resume, but when they arrived for the interview, they were older than you expected? Don’t ask how old they are or what year they graduated from college. Let’s be honest, does age really matter today? People aren’t retiring as early as they used to, if they even do at all. With the economy the way it is, many people have plans to work as long as they can. Make sure your assumptions don’t pollute your interview questions and you should be in the clear!

Don’t ruin your candidate’s experience with these common interviewing mistakes.

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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