Pillars of candidate experience
27 November 2018 / / Article, candidate experience

The Four Pillars of Candidate Experience

How can you improve candidate experience when you don’t know exactly what candidates are expecting? The fact is, recruiters are still pretty bad when it comes to asking candidates for feedback on the quality of application processes and communications, and as such you are undoubtedly missing out on vital information. You’re in luck, because we’ve done the work for you and have identified the words which come up time and time again in candidate feedback: simplicity, transparency, feedback and trust. In reality, businesses are often a long way from how they advertise themselves, and recruitment communications are overly characterised by the ‘politically correct’. Stop waffling, get straight to the point, stop wanting to do too much, stop thinking that a candidate who receives no response will “understand”, be kind!


“The longer the application form, the greater the opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their motivation”. It’s because of this assumption that many organisations have chosen to add extended questionnaires to their careers site, multiplying questions concerning a candidate’s motivation, describing their experience… not forgetting downloading a multitude of supplementary documents- including the notorious cover letter (a little redundant- no?). Most of the time, in order to access available positions and their application forms, candidates must create an account (username, password etc.) and complete an online CV. But no candidate is happy when confronted with an endless application process, and they eventually give up.

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The power ratio has changed; candidates expect job applications to be made straight forward, and all the more so since 72% of recruiters admit to spending less than 15 minutes reviewing a candidate’s application (according to La Super Agence). Do you not see the inequality here? Your candidates want a simple application process, they want to be able to apply quickly on a computer or on their mobile, perhaps even through social media platforms. Candidates want to be able to take any pre-interview tests online, and of course businesses should be proactive when it comes to the possibility of carrying out long-distance interviews. There are three key factors to take from this: make sure your website is user-friendly and optimised for mobile, use innovative and easy-to-use tools and a recruitment process which is completely clear and runs like a well-oiled machine.


Two statistics reveal a lot about what candidates want; 95% carry out research into a company before attending for interview (Manpower Group, 2017), and 67% insist that they don’t find sufficient information about the company during their search. And yet, for 73% of candidates, a sufficient description of the role and the company is a key factor in creating a positive application experience. As such, businesses should provide candidates with all necessary information in order to motivate them to apply. This isn’t a matter of blowing the budget on incredible marketing and communications; the way you present yourself as an employer shouldn’t be all smoke and mirrors to likely candidates who, upon joining the business, will soon discover its reality.

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Since candidates want to know exactly what the job entails; tasks they’ll be carrying out, projects they’ll be working on, the working environment, who their manager will be and the team they’ll be working with, the advert you publish should be accurate. Job descriptions should be truthful of the role and precise regarding the day-to-day activities of your future employee. Doing so will mean no surprises for the successful candidate and therefore a lower risk of failed recruitment due to incomprehension. As for the manager, 46% of candidates wish to see a video of him/her introducing the role and the company, and 64% prefer to have their first interview conducted by a manager rather than HR (survey conducted by IFOP for Monster & Hopscotch). This is because they consider managers to be the most reliable source of information.


64% of job applicants rarely or never receive feedback on applications- according to some studies this figure can even reach 80%! As such, the application experience can be disastrous. But what exactly do we mean by feedback? Literally following up an application- from acknowledging its receipt to the final response. This is all the more important after a first interview! Forget the “we’ll get back to you”. Today’s candidates want to understand why they did or didn’t manage to retain your attention, on what criteria the recruiter will have based their judgment and where they stand in the recruitment process, if indeed they are still in line for selection.

Resulting from a lack of time, the traditional “if you haven’t heard back from us within three weeks, please consider your application to have been unsuccessful” has taken up residence in the recruitment process, notably within large businesses which have to process large volumes of applications. The wording is simple and the information clear, however a study conducted by Celsa-HR showed that 71% of candidates do not pay any attention to the automatic emails they receive after having submitted a job application. A little more consideration can seem time-consuming, but it’s an investment which cannot be overlooked. If ensuring colleagues are faithful to the company plays a key role in your ethos as an employer, then keeping the interest of potential future employees should also be a priority. Some of your unsuccessful applicants could well have the correct profile for future positions, it’s simply down to you to make sure they will still want to apply for them after having had their first application turned down.


A candidate has shown interest in your company, they could be ready to come and work for you, to give you their trust… give them the same in return! Trust is gained not only through pleasant communication but also through signs of respect: send them replies—personalised ones where possible—as discussed in the previous point, don’t leave them waiting too long between any two steps of the recruitment process—you don’t want to let top talent slip through your fingers, or cause frustration to a candidate who you know immediately isn’t right for the role. Give particular attention to those who have made it through several steps of the recruitment process, and for whom it would there be suitable to give a personalised response including specific reasons which support your decision. This is an opportunity to make candidates feel valued, listened to and to present themselves beyond their CV (for example with a pre-recorded video interview).

Finally, don’t forget to maintain this trust once the candidate has been recruited by keeping regular contact whilst they serve their notice period at their previous job, preparing for their arrival and offering them an induction as soon as they start. You don’t want to have gone to all the effort attracting and recruiting the right candidate if it’s not in order to keep them!

cherry on the cake

We haven’t mentioned this specifically because it should be obvious and fundamental; at the top of the list is of course empathy and kindness towards everyone involved in the recruitment process. Take the time to imagine yourself in the candidate’s shoes and ask yourself “how would I have reacted in this or that situation?”. And remind yourself; the thing that matters most is that, wherever a candidate gets to in the recruitment process, they should leave with a positive experience! As well as this, taking into consideration the above four wishes of job applicants, it’s important to carry out a step-by-step audit of your recruitment process, and to question the content and the chosen formats of your communication.

Published by Julie Atlan
on 27 November 2018

Article , candidate experience

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