candidate experience

What Is Candidate Experience? [+How to Build a Good One]

Discover how to build a great candidate experience and make a positive impression on applicants throughout your recruitment process.

Stefana Zaric
Written by Stefana Zaric
November 28, 2023
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Key takeaways

  1. Creating a great candidate experience improves access to the best candidates for a role by leaving a positive first impression of the company and upholding it throughout recruitment.
  2. There are several strategies for hiring managers to incorporate and create a better candidate experience, including quick follow-ups and simplifying the application process.
  3. Recruiting software and other HR tools offer a powerful advantage to improve the interview experience and attract qualified candidates to the job application process.

Organizations reap many benefits by offering a positive candidate experience, from boosting the brand image and gaining a competitive advantage to increasing the applicant pool and improving global reach. 

While executing a good candidate experience is effective in theory, HR managers need help maintaining efficiency while ensuring a positive candidate journey. As a global hiring and HR expert, Deel provides the support and tools to create a positive and sustainable candidate experience—beginning with this guide.

What is candidate experience?

The candidate experience is a job seeker’s overall impression of the potential employer and prospective job. This experience is shaped throughout each hiring stage, from initial contact to the final decision. 

A candidate’s opinion of a company begins when a company attracts their attention, throughout the recruitment and interviewing process, during hiring, and even onboarding:

  • Attraction: Employer branding and online presence, clarity in job postings and descriptions, and accessibility of the job application process.
  • Sourcing: Responsiveness to applications, timely updates on the application status, and personalization of communication.
  • Recruitment: Efficiency of the process and transparent and respectful communication.
  • Interviewing: Scheduling convenience, flexibility, professionalism, and clear communication about the format and expectations.
  • Hiring: Prompt and transparent feedback, precise details and benefits mentioned in the offer, and flexibility in negotiating terms.
  • Onboarding: Organized onboarding materials, a welcoming and supportive onboarding team, and access to necessary tools and resources. 

The details of these stages become even more important when considering applicants from diverse backgrounds and locations. 

Organizations must ensure that each candidate has the same high-quality experience, regardless of their geographic location or cultural background. Consistency in the recruitment and hiring process sends a powerful message to applicants worldwide, presenting the organization as a fair, transparent, and globally competitive business.

Why does candidate experience matter?

A bad candidate experience can hurt your reputation. A survey reveals that nearly 60% of candidates report having a poor candidate experience, of which 72% shared their experience online (or with someone directly).

The recruitment process costs businesses time and money, yet one in three candidates reject a job offer because of a negative experience during the hiring process, leading to wasted resources. 

A streamlined application process can bring in higher-quality candidates and lead to a 60% decrease in candidate drop-off–but that’s not the only positive side of building a great candidate experience. 

You may also:

    • Gain a competitive advantage when attracting top talent by making the company more attractive to highly skilled candidates
  • Achieve better alignment with the company’s mission by reflecting the company’s values and culture and attracting like-minded candidates to join the growing team
  • Improve employee retention and reduce turnover by offering a positive experience from the beginning of the employee’s journey
  • Make talent acquisition more efficient by offering a smooth and engaging experience that encourages candidates to accept job offers promptly
  • Cut costs through an efficient and well-managed experience that reduces administrative overheads and associated costs
  • Enhance employer brand by attracting high-quality applicants who share their positive experiences with others
  • Improve candidate referrals and improve the quality of talent on the team while reducing overall hiring costs

Focusing on building a positive candidate experience will in the long run establish trust and loyalty with your applicants who will automatically become promoters of your brand and will enthusiastically talk about the experience they had during their recruitment process regardless of the final outcome. Positive candidate experience is also directly reflected in your offer acceptance rate; candidates who had a positive experience with your brand are nearly 40% more likely to accept your offer.

Magdalena Baker, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Deel

How to build a positive candidate experience process

How can HR managers build a positive candidate experience on a global scale? The following tips and best practices can contribute to the long-term success of your organization's recruitment efforts.

Assess the current experience through candidate experience surveys and self-evaluation

Conduct self-assessments and candidate surveys to collect feedback and insights into the current candidate experience to understand what you’re doing well and what can be improved.

Self-evaluation offers valuable insight into the hiring process, allowing the team to analyze the system and identify any bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement—from communication delays to lengthy application processes. They also demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement.

Gather candidate feedback from people who have gone through the recruitment process and ask for their honest and concrete feedback. Asking for a review of the experience will present valuable insight into the candidate’s perspectives and pain points, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the existing process.

After applying these insights, you’ll have an applicant-centric candidate experience.


Craft clear and compelling job descriptions

A great candidate experience begins with a well-written, clear, comprehensive job description. As the first point of contact between the organization and potential applicants, the layout and content of your careers page and individual job postings set the tone for the rest of the recruitment process.

A well-written job description will include the following key information:

  • An accurate job title
  • The role’s responsibilities
  • Necessary qualifications
  • Desired skills
  • Location (the physical location, if relevant, or details if the position is remote or hybrid)
  • Company overview
  • Compensation details (including benefits)
  • Application instructions

Deel’s job description templates offer a great starting point for drafting compelling job descriptions to share on various platforms. The templates are grouped by industry, and the list includes an impressive range of positions to adapt to your company’s needs.

Simplify the application process for better engagement

A complex and drawn-out application process may deter quality applicants or push them toward competitors. Lengthy processes often result in frustration, which paints a negative picture of the hiring company.

Enhance engagement and improve the candidate experience by streamlining the process with the following practical steps:

  • Only ask for essential information upfront (such as contact details, a resume, and a cover letter)
  • Reduce the number of unnecessary questions
  • Allow candidates to apply using their professional profiles, such as LinkedIn, to save time
  • Provide a progress indicator to help candidates track their application status
  • Offer clear instructions on the application process
  • Incorporate user-friendly navigation

Even small changes to the application process can reduce friction for applicants and demonstrate that the organization values their time and effort. 

Involve the applicant's potential manager in the process

The applicant’s potential manager will have specific insights regarding what is required for the role and whether the candidate will be a good fit for the team. Including the manager also provides an opportunity for the candidate to better understand the dynamic of the role. 

By involving the manager overseeing the position, the applicant receives a more personal and authentic perspective of the role and the company culture. 

There are different ways to make the introduction and bring in the manager, like scheduling manager-candidate meetings later in the interviewing process and ensuring that managers are well-prepared to evaluate the candidate based on the role’s specific needs. 

Ensure quick and precise follow-ups throughout the hiring journey

Timely and transparent communication at every stage of the hiring process is important to keep applicants engaged and reduce anxiety or uncertainty. By keeping the applicant updated with progress, you contribute to a positive candidate experience. 

Effective ways to incorporate quick and precise follow-ups include:

  • Send acknowledgement emails after receiving applications
  • Provide feedback after the interview stage
  • Set clear expectations for the next steps
  • Send regular updates, even if it is to communicate a delay
  • Show respect for the candidate’s time and effort

Educate candidates about the company culture and values

Hiring candidates who align with the company’s values and culture is important to create a cohesive and high-performing workforce. It will help you create a positive working environment for all employees (including the new hire). 

Incorporate company values into job postings and interviews to increase the likelihood of attracting a candidate who resonates with the same values. Share authentic employee testimonials to reveal how the company culture will impact the potential candidate. If the values align, these testimonials motivate the position and increase the company's desirability among top-quality candidates. 

Showcasing company values also empowers candidates to make informed decisions about their fit within the company and makes them more engaged throughout the recruitment process.

Give your candidate an idea of the skill set and competencies each interviewer will be testing to support their interview prep and to help them pick that perfect example that showcases their experience. The one thing I enjoy doing is providing my candidates with an overview of their next interviewer's experience and their LinkedIn profile; this usually helps the candidates with their research and gives them a glimpse into the talent already working at Deel.

Magdalena Baker, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Deel

Plan the interviews well

A carefully structured interview lays the foundation for a fair and consistent interview process that you can scale and apply to a global recruitment process. Create a clear agenda with standardized questions, involving relevant team members in the interview process, and allocating enough time for questions and answers. 

Offering feedback to candidates (both successful and unsuccessful) after interviews offers significant benefits. It indicates that the applicant's time wasn’t wasted while offering useful information for their future endeavors. It also helps maintain a positive reputation as an employer and improves the future talent pipeline.

Despite these benefits, it’s well-known that many companies fail to offer feedback after interviews, making the candidate feel disappointed or frustrated. By simply highlighting candidate strengths and offering constructive suggestions for development, you contribute to an enriching candidate experience.

Embrace technology for a more efficient and modern experience

The modern workplace relies heavily on technology to automate processes, improve communication, introduce efficiencies, and save time and money. These benefits extend to recruitment teams who have come to rely on AI and Human Resources Information Software (HRIS) to help them track applicants, comb through resumes, and more.

Implementing an applicant tracking system, video interviews, chatbots, and other AI-powered tools helps streamline administrative tasks, reduce waiting times, and contribute to a positive candidate experience. 

Establish a strong company brand to attract the right candidates

Establishing a solid company image directly impacts the quality (and quantity) of applicants. With a globalized business landscape, this reputation goes beyond the geographical boundaries. 

Incorporating the following tips will help attract the right candidates who align with the organization’s values:

  • Showcase company culture through online platforms
  • Share employee testimonials and success stories 
  • Engage with current employees and encourage them to promote the company brand actively
  • Ensure consistent messaging across all touchpoints, including the career site, job listings, social media, and in-person interactions
Top tip: Establishing a strong brand will help candidates want to work for the organization from the beginning of their job search. Consider creating a brand style guide, maintaining consistency with your message, aligning your company values with your actions, and seeking feedback from current employees.

Leverage technology for global talent acquisition

Building a positive candidate experience demands clear communication, efficient processes, cultural alignment, and a commitment to respect and transparency throughout the candidate journey, from a job posting to the new hire’s first day.

Using technology when hiring internationally makes it easier to streamline the candidate experience and reap these benefits. 

Deel is designed with efficient global hiring as a cornerstone of its functionality. With the convenience of reaching talent from over 150 countries, hiring managers using Deel offer an enhanced candidate experience, assisting with compliance, automated processes, and integration with tools to improve communication. 

Discover Deel’s HR solution and how it can help improve your candidate experience.

Next steps

⬇️ Download Deel’s Guide to Finding Global Talent and discover the best talent hubs worldwide

🎥 Watch the global hiring summit and learn to navigate new attitudes in global hiring

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