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How To Deliver "Wow!" in the Candidate Experience and Increase Quality of Hire

As the hiring landscape becomes more and more competitive and companies vie for top talent, talent leaders are beginning to recognize that creating real differentiators in the recruiting process is the path to winning the best candidates. But what are the key differentiators that make the biggest impact? And how to implement them or improve them?

It’s true new hires take into consideration factors such as the best upward mobility at an organization or seek companies that present a truly diverse work environment, but research is showing that the differentiator that can make the one of the biggest impacts in that initial decision, is the candidate experience. 

A bad candidate experience warns of a bad work experience ahead.

The candidate experience is the most immediate and powerful driver of candidate decision-making. Candidates recognize that with all other things being equal, their recruitment experience is likely the primary indicator of what it will be like to actually work for the organization. 

Therefore candidates are, rightly so, concerned about the implications when they encounter a bumpy recruiting path. For example: 

  • A poorly organized recruitment process may indicate a potentially disorganized workplace
  • Lack of personalization could foreshadow company challenges with respect and attention to employees in the long term
  • Bias in recruiting can indicate a risk of there being a non-diverse and even hostile work environment
  • Lack of clear communication in hiring often is directly linked to lack of clarity around job responsibilities (and misunderstandings or issues later down the line)

If candidates have a poor experience with recruitment, it will impact their decision making both now and in the future. Not surprisingly, candidates simply wish to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter the outcome of the application. In fact, in one study, 40%  of job seekers stated that respect was the single most important factor in choosing whether or not to accept a job offer.


What are candidates saying about your company brand?

Further to the point, a bad experience can have lasting effects beyond losing a quality candidate. Half of workers say they have turned down a job offer after a bad candidate experience, and 72% of candidates will share a poor recruiting experience either directly with others or through an online platform. 

Your brand is only as strong as that which is communicated amongst job seekers. A singularly bad candidate experience could therefore impact the decision-making of many candidates in the future. If a bad experience translates into poor scores on job sites, the cost of this misstep can be higher than you think (and harder to undo). 

What Areas of Candidate Experience Have the Largest Recruiting Impact?

Just as employers use the recruitment process to weed out poor candidates and surface top talent, workers are now using the hiring process as a gauge as to whether or not the company will be worth their own investment of time and talent. 

A good or bad candidate experience in the 3 following areas can mean top talent is either attracted or turned off:

Applying: First impressions last.

The application process is the first chance that candidates get to really get a feel for what it would be like to work for an organization. If the process is tedious, repetitive, or places undue burden on the candidate, they will make assumptions about the process connection to the workplace itself and self select out — this is especially true of high-quality talent with plenty of prospects.

By the way, getting through a laborious application process isn’t a sign of candidate perseverance or quality character in this day and age: it may just signify desperation. With double the number of job postings as job seekers available, most qualified applicants are anything but desperate. 

To start, good or bad candidates they may be, you could be losing a lot of them in that first application step. In fact, according to SHRM, Appcast data shows that a whopping nine out of ten job seekers never even finish their online application. That indicates room for a lot of improvement across the board. 

 Nine out of ten job seekers never even finish their online application. 


    1. Experience your application process personally and analyze it carefully.

To help organizations improve their application flow, experts are recommending that recruiters go through the process themselves to uncover any inefficiencies or red flags. Track the relevant metrics and analyze your application process with a critical eye. A poorly designed and inefficient (or even biased) process could be doing a lot more damage than you think. 

Answer these important questions:

    • What percentage of candidates complete the application process?
    • Is there a particular page or step where most drop-off occurs? 
    • Do you ask candidates for feedback about their experience?
    • Does your application system ask repetitive, biased or unnecessary questions?
    • Are all pieces of information being used effectively, or could some be removed?
    • What is the average number of clicks or steps required to complete an application? Could any be skipped or consolidated?
    • How flexible is your application system and how long does it take to complete?
    • How consistent is your branding throughout the process? 
    • Are there any steps in the flow that may confuse the candidate?
    • Does the candidate have the ability to reach you if they have any specific questions?


    2. Use automation to add personalization & timeliness.

There is already a big universe of extremely useful tools that can help you build a responsive, organized and timely application process. Once it’s determined what steps in your process need attention, the necessary tools can become evident. Here are a few to consider:

    • TalentWall by Crosschq: Convert ATS pipeline into a visual dashboard
    • Crosschq Recruit: Tap into a unique source of highly qualified talent
    • Teamable: Source, nurture, schedule and engage with great talent
    • GoodTime: Conduct smarter meetings with this meeting optimization engine
    • Paradox: An interactive, chat-capable AI assistant for recruiting
    • Rakuna: Identify and engage with prospective talent
    • Symphony Talent: A new recruitment marketing platform
    • Fetcher: Automates candidate sourcing & outreach

At the very least, ensure your applicants can apply using any mobile device, and integrate a chat assistant to answer commonly asked questions or help troubleshoot difficulties. 

Think ease-of-use and two-way communication, when it comes to presenting a meaningful candidate experience. 

If an applicant can complete the application quickly and easily, and feels supported if questions arise, they will be more likely to not just finish and submit their application, but also view it as a positive experience. 

    3. Re-organize your process chronology for better efficiency and faster time-to-offer.

While some assessments and tests can be helpful in narrowing the field, save these for after the initial application processes have been completed. Once you have a wide selection of potential hires who have completed their application, these assessments can then be used to filter candidates further, Tests can be tailored or administered as needed to surface top candidates who match necessary skill requirements.

Side note: Not all assessments are created equal. Check our Q (Quality of Hire) Report for direction on which assessments may not be worth the time to use, and when.


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Meanwhile, move the process of reference checking closer to the start of the hiring funnel, and switch to the more efficient and more effective plan of digital candidate-checking. Instead of the traditional method of calling or emailing references manually, a process that takes hours to complete and is possibly riddled with unconscious bias, recruiting teams can leverage a streamlined and digitized format that provides valuable data on candidate abilities early on.

By checking references earlier in the hiring process and digitally, the up-front data points on the candidate can help you narrow down the best potential hires before wasting time interviewing those who are not going to be a good fit.  Don’t just use the resume or a short initial conversation to uncover all the relevant pieces of a candidate’s skills and experience. 

In addition, the detailed feedback on the candidates provided in digital reference check reports can also be used to guide interviews, allowing interviewers to focus more time discussing any skills or gaps in experience the candidate may have. Using an automated tool to create these compelling candidate reports, also improves communication with the hiring manager making conversations more efficient and decision making more data-driven. 

Communicating: Don’t leave me hanging.

Companies that fail at organization and communication during the hiring process are indicating to the candidate that they are likely  bad at communicating overall: for new hires, during onboarding and training, throughout the employee lifecycle, with corporate communications, reviews and beyond.  Be sure to put your best foot forward from the start. 

And there’s a reason why failure to communicate with applicants is a massive driver behind candidate drop off; 75% of workers say they have been “ghosted” by an employer. Don’t just leave your candidates hanging, follow up no matter the final decision scenario.

Losing good candidates with bad communication. 

Years of being a disposable commodity left candidates with a cynical view of employers and low expectations for quality communication. Many candidates will assume the offer has gone to another and will move on to other opportunities if as little as one week goes by with no contact from a recruiter or hiring manager… even post-interview.

More than eight out of ten candidates agree that their overall recruitment experience could be significantly improved simply by employers communicating continuous status updates - even if the updates are as simple as a check in to let them know they are still in the running.

Eight out of ten candidates agree their recruitment experience
could be significantly improved with status updates.


Better communication can be automated. 

This is another area of candidate experience where automation can easily yet drastically transform candidate perception of an employer. Institute a workflow that includes triggers for automated texts or emails to let a candidate know when their application has been received, when it is being reviewed, when they can expect next contact, and whether or not they need to anticipate instructions for a following step.

This method of improving candidate experience through better candidate engagement can keep quality candidates invested in following the process all the way to the end. Even candidates who aren’t extended an offer can be nurtured for future job opportunities, through polite feedback and official turndowns accompanied by an invitation to apply for another similar position.  

Here’s an example timeline of communications to program into an automated tool:

  1. Initial reach out (if cold)
  2. Back-and-forth communications to set up initial phone/online interview
  3. Requesting and gathering reference feedback, checking in when they’re not complete
  4. Email or text confirmations and reminders of each interview

Interviewing: Time it right and use the time wisely.

Once a candidate has been identified as well worth an interview, getting them in the room with decision makers and others who have input is an important step in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, three out of five recruiters say they regularly lose candidates before an interview can even be scheduled.

Three out of five recruiters say they regularly lose candidates
before an interview can even be scheduled.


Use tools to get to the interview quickly.

If you lose a candidate before an interview is scheduled, all of the time and effort (and money) that went into the candidate selection is then lost, and so is any hope of securing that talent for the company in the future. 

Using tools to speed up the interview scheduling timeline, for example tools that can check across multiple parties’ calendars and quickly identify earliest possible interview times, can make an impact in keeping top candidates engaged and moving along.


The ROI of Positive Candidate Experiences 

Better candidate experience helps build a positive brand reputation, and improves future recruitment outcomes. Organizations that have been struggling with recruitment may find a strong ROI associated with candidate experience.

Nearly 90% of candidates say a positive recruitment experience can change their mind about a company, even if they previously held a highly unfavorable opinion. Candidates who experience positive interactions with an employer during a recruitment attempt are four times more likely to consider applying again for a position at the same company if they receive feedback along with a “no-offer” notification. 

Nearly half of candidates appreciate receiving critical interview information in advance of the interview, and companies that put effort into creating positive candidate hiring experiences report a 70% improvement in quality of hire.

Track the following candidate experience metrics to establish baselines and monitor progress:

  • Conversion rates from various candidate sources  
  • Drop off rates at application, candidate checking, assessment, and interview stages
  • Recruiter success rates and departmental offer rates
  • Candidate satisfaction as measured by surveys

Ready to start using Crosschq to focus recruitment efforts that will have a positive impact on candidate experience?  Request a free demonstration from our team today.


Katie Kennedy

by Katie Kennedy

Talent Consulting Lead

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