The Ultimate Guide to Candidate Experience

CHAPTER 2

Why is Candidate Experience Important?

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Candidate Experience is an active barometer of how your candidates feel about your hiring process, and by extension, your company. Candidate Experience matters because actively listening to your candidates and carefully taking their feelings into consideration will go a long way towards helping you stay on their radar, and will make you a more attractive employer.

The majority of candidates actively share their Candidate Experience within their social circles, and tell friends and family about how they felt about your company. They’re also more than happy to share these stories with everyone on the Internet, especially if they had a negative experience. It’s in your organization's best interest to ensure that word of mouth (or keyboard) reflects you in a positive light, and that negative experiences happen as little as possible.

Candidates are often able to choose from a variety of possible employers, and are often applying to multiple companies at once. This makes it more difficult for your company to stand out as the employer of choice. Good Candidate Experience can establish trust and loyalty with your applicants, who will become promoters of your company and enthusiastically boost your reputation as an employer, even if they were rejected for a position.

Why Candidate Experience Matters


Let’s dive into some statistics. Positive Candidate Experience matters, since it results in happy candidates praising your company in their social circles, and ensures that even rejected candidates remain as potential customers. 77% of candidates who have a positive Candidate Experience will share it with their networks. 65% of rejected candidates who had a positive Candidate Experience will be likely to do business with you again. 38% of candidates are more likely to accept a job offer after having a positive Candidate Experience.

Positive Candidate Experience Statistics

77%

will share it with their networks

65%

of rejected candidates will be likely to do business with you again

38%

are more likely to accept a job offer

On the other hand, poor Candidate Experiences will negatively affect your ability to attract and retain top talent, and hurt your revenue stream. It’ll also lower the amount of referrals that existing candidates send your way. On average, 41% of candidates won’t buy from a company after a bad Candidate Experience, and 72% of candidates will share their negative Candidate Experience with friends and family. 25% of candidates will “actively discourage” others from applying to a company if they had a bad Candidate Experience.

Poor Candidate Experience Statistics

41%

won't buy from the company

72%

will share their negative experiences with family and friends

25%

actively discourage others from applying

These statistics illustrate the domino effect of negative Candidate Experience. Over time, having poor Candidate Experience makes it harder to attract quality candidates, forcing you to hire subpar candidates out of sheer necessity. It’ll turn away potential customers, too.

The importance of Candidate Experience is simple: it matters because getting it right can have fantastic results. Positive Candidate Experience benefit you in the following ways:

It matters even more because getting it wrong can have severe consequences, resulting in:

Let’s dive into the specifics.

The Benefits of Happy Candidates

Happier candidates not only make for happier customers and employees, but they will also boost your reputation as an employer, be more likely to apply again for a different role, and enthusiastically refer you to their network. You’ll see your quality of hire go up, while your time to hire and cost per hire go down. Better Candidate Experience is likely to raise referral rates and grow your pool of potential talent. Studies show that referrals are the best source of top-quality candidates, meaning that better Candidate Experience can lead you to star employees, even if they’re referred by someone who was rejected.

The Pitfalls of Dissatisfied Candidates

Unhappy candidates will harm your reputation, which carries significant branding risks. They will actively discourage others from applying or purchasing your products and services. This results in your quality of hire dropping, while your time to hire and cost per hire rise. If that’s not bad enough, slighted candidates will often tell their friends and family about their awful experiences, and hurt your reputation even more. They’ll also vent their anger online, doing their best to make sure that the large pool of digital onlookers steer clear of applying to the company in question.

The Business Case for Candidate Experience

Protecting Your Employer Brand

Your employer brand should be a top priority. Your brand is impacted by how you treat your candidates. Happy candidates are more likely to recommend your company to friends and family, even if they get rejected. However, scorned candidates pose a big risk to your brand. They’ll share their experiences in their social circles, as well as on platforms like Glassdoor, Reddit, Instagram, or LinkedIn, and potentially turn away future candidates.

Companies have to position themselves to be memorable in candidates’ minds. A large part of that is determined by Candidate Experience, and how a given candidate experienced your recruiting process.

A More Efficient Hiring Pipeline

There’s nothing more frustrating for recruiters than getting to the end of a lengthy hiring process and sending out an offer to a star candidate, just to be turned down at the last minute. Or even worse, after sifting through hundreds of CV’s, you find the perfect candidate, but on the second stage, they drop out.

In 2021, there were 1 million more open roles than job seekers, and the Great Resignation - or The Great Reshuffle made itself known. Finding quality candidates is harder than ever, and Candidate Experience is a big part of securing valuable talent. Having excellent Candidate Experience can help your company stand out from the crowd, and have an easier time acquiring valuable talent. According to a report by IBM, candidates who had a positive Candidate Experience are 38% more likely to accept a job offer! Great Candidate Experience also reduces withdrawal rates. Naturally, lower withdrawal rates results in quicker time-to-hire, improving your overall efficiency. Positive Candidate Experience also improves your quality of hire, and helps you gain valuable talent.

Ensuring that you’re not turning off candidates, and potentially losing out on ‘the one’ is incredibly important. While these losses can always occur, and you can’t control what happens in a candidates’ life, you absolutely can - and should - control how they perceive your process, and your company, throughout the hiring process.

Are you curious about what impacts Candidate Experience the most? Read our Candidate Values Report to see data-driven conclusions on what your candidates value.

The Bottom Line Impact of Bad Candidate Experience

The potential costs of not focusing on Candidate Experience are large, especially when your company is primarily B2C. The stakes are even higher for large corporations hiring at scale, who have tens of thousands of applicants each year. For example, take Virgin Media, who analyzed their Candidate Experience and realized that their existing practices were losing them millions of dollars per year.

The numbers were concerning: there were around 123,000 rejected candidates each year, and, according to their data, around 6% of candidates canceled their monthly Virgin Media subscription as a result of negative Candidate Experience. Virgin realized that they were suffering some 7,500 cancellations each year. Multiply that by the monthly £50 ($60) subscription fee, times 12 months, and Virgin Media calculated they were losing £4.4 million each year ($5.4 million) just from poor Candidate Experience. Even worse, these calculations did not include the candidates’ family and friends, which likely meant the actual impact was three or four times worse.

To combat this trend, Virgin’s Head of Resourcing spearheaded an intensive, company-wide retraining program and began to focus on improving Candidate Experience. Within months, top management was delighted with the results, and Virgin realized that not only had they managed to stop losing customers, but they effectively began to gain additional customers as a result of their recruiting process. What’s more, they calculated that the cost of acquiring these new customers through the hiring process was only about 10% of traditional marketing expenses.

Virgin Media’s story is a captivating one, but it is by no means the only example of a Candidate Experience success story. Another notable example involves another company in the broadcasting business, VodafoneZiggo.

Marco Leijenhorst, Senior Manager for Talent Sourcing at VodafoneZiggo, decided to look into Candidate Experience and its overall impact on his business. Marco ran an exploratory pilot test with Starred, and began to measure Candidate Experience at scale.

After collecting a large amount of data, it was time to do some brainstorming. Marco and his team decided that their rejected process was too disconnected from their candidates, and could do with a personal touch.

They began to personally call each rejected candidate and have short, constructive discussions detailing why they were rejected. As a result, Candidate Experience improved by a staggering 20 - 25%, and the amount of unhappy candidates sharply declined. Marco summarized his experience by saying:

“You’ve seen how much our Candidate Experience has improved across all candidates. If we connect these results to the data of the Virgin Media case, we can determine that we saved €117,000 ($142,000) in 3.5 months’ time. [...] If we continue our current performance, thus we do not improve further, we can save up to half a million euros a year”.

These are just two practical examples of just how important Candidate Experience is to your brand and to your bottom line. We’ll detail some more interesting real-world examples in Chapter 8.

To recap, Candidate Experience is crucial because it reflects how candidates view your company. Focusing on improving your Candidate Experience can turn them into brand ambassadors, referral machines, or loyal customers. They can boost your branding, supply you with top-quality candidates, and lead new customers right to your door. Contrastingly, neglecting Candidate Experience can turn candidates into pessimistic detractors, vengeful online crusaders, or scorned former customers who encourage everyone they know not to do business with you.