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What is candidate experience?

While it can often feel that the ball is in the court of the recruiter, candidates hold a lot of power when applying for jobs. ‘Candidate experience’ is a term applied to the experience which potential employees have when applying for a job.

Good candidate experience can mean that an employer finds the best person to fill a role more efficiently, whereas bad candidate experience can be damaging for a brand or even turn potential employees away.

First impressions

First impressions are just as important for candidates as they are for recruiters. If a candidate ticks all the correct boxes, interviews well and seems like a good fit for the team, but they choose not to take a role because it didn’t feel right, it could be because they didn’t get a good first impression.

Recruiters should be keen to show off their excellent working environments and make it seem like an appealing place to be, if they want to bring in the best possible new employees.

Straightforward applications

If a recruiter’s application process is a thirty page-long form which practically asks for the candidate’s life story, can you blame an applicant for being put off? The process should be simplified in order to find the right person for the role. Too much bureaucracy and paperwork can leave an applicant unwilling to put the effort in.

Good communication

If a recruiter receives a high volume of applications for a role, it can be easy for them to give automated responses. But for applicants, receiving an email which begins ‘Dear candidate’ can be very off-putting as it seems impersonal or mechanical. This might turn the candidate away, even if they are perfect for the role.

Employers should endeavour to give personalised communications, to make the candidate feel appreciated, whether they are successful or not. After all, they have probably gone to a lot of effort to put in their application!


It’s quite common for companies to take on a ‘no feedback’ policy when responding to unsuccessful candidates. But really, this leaves the unlucky jobseeker feeling alienated and, possibly, bitter towards the company. Recruiters should give thorough, constructive feedback to applicants wherever possible.

If a jobseeker is left feeling under-appreciated by a company, they are unlikely to talk about their experience positively, let alone recommend the company. Conversely, a survey has shown that 88% of applicants are likely to buy from a company if they receive a positive experience while applying for a job there, 97% would refer a friend to the company and 95% would re-apply, should the opportunity arise.


These are all things that candidates should bare in mind as they look for their ideal role, and that recruiters should be considering if they want to find the perfect candidate. Trying to find someone to fit into a job role needs to be a two-way street: a candidate’s experience of the process is just as important as what they put forward for the recruiter.

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