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Candidate Experience, What Is It?

Candidate Experience, What Is It?

I would like to introduce you to our guest blogger Steve Usher, who will be writing about the importance of Employer Branding in the battle to attract top talent.

Steve has worked in talent acquisition and recruitment for over 20 years. His exposure to thousands of briefings, interviews and company recruitment processes have given him a valuable insight into the effect employer branding, and the candidate experience has on attracting talent.

His company Koopla was born out of a passion to improve the way organisations engage, attract and secure talent in an increasingly connected world. Koopla helps organisations develop and shape employer brand, content, communications, employer value proposition, through to candidate experience

Read Why Should SMEs Should Build An Employer Brand.

“I had the most AMAZING interview today!”

This is this kind of candidate experience that employers should deliver. On this occasion, the comment wasn’t made because the candidate got the job, it was made because the experience the employer delivered stood out, regardless of the outcome.

Candidate experience is trending right now. To be fair, it’s been a long time coming. As the talent market shrinks to levels not seen since pre-2008, organisations need to be smarter and work harder to not just attract talent, but to stand out as an employer of choice in a highly competitive marketplace. This is particularly important for SME’s.

If you look at the latest events and awards such as the CandE Awards and Inhouse Recruitment Network awards, the same names are popping up again and again. And these companies are likely to dominate the candidate experience space until other companies catch up.  Pepsi, LV=, L’Oreal, Delottie and PWC are all striving to create a great place to work, and they are using the positive buzz about their workplaces to attract talent externally.

If you’re thinking about improving your candidate experience, here are some ideas that will help you do just that.

Internal Stakeholders

First of all, start from the inside out. Build a great environment for candidates to come into. From resourcing, management and senior leaders, make sure that whoever is a human touch point to candidates is delivering a consistent message, brand and employer vision that is positive and inspiring.

Most hiring managers require some form of interview or employer brand training. A well conducted interview that is positive, challenging, engaging and supportive is essential to wooing talent. You want candidates to leave the interview or assessment thinking, “Wow, this company and person has the ‘x’ factor, and I want to work with them.”You want candidates making an immediate emotional and career connection from that first interview.

Many times during the initial interview process, too much focus is on the idea of ‘what are you going to do for us?’ Companies are far too worried about having talent prove themselves and not enough on ‘selling’ what they have to offer in terms of vision, values and the amazing work experience they can provide that will get candidates jumping out of bed every morning, excited to come to work. Remember that it’s a two way sell after all.

Everyone that is a touchpoint for your candidates has to understand the value of employer branding and candidate experience.They must be prepared to uphold and defend the reputation you create. All it takes is one hiring manager to dismiss the importance of candidate experience or employer brand, and it can effect reputation of the entire company.


AirBnB have kindly shared fantastic insight into how they work hard on candidate experience. (Candidate Experience Makeover and Talent Connect Keynote).

A simple start involves grabbing a bunch of post-it notes, a white board and the key stakeholders of your company. You can then map out, in detail, the candidate journey and associated touch points they go through from the first time they see the job brief to their first day in the chair. Focus on the details.

Does a particular touch point generate an email? What’s the content, language, look and feel? Do you want it formal, quirky, fun or engaging? What fits best with your brand?

Review your ATS. Think about any automated responses or invitations. Are they personalised? Do they offer support, or does the tone feel cold and uninviting?

Find out more about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) by reading Centralising Recruitment With ATS.

If you’re unsuccessful in acquiring a top candidate, what can you learn from their experience and how it affected their decision? Are there changes you can make to your process to be successful the next time? How can you put this in a positive and supportive light?

Once the recruitment process is mapped, you can start to wrap the relevant actions and output around each of the touch points. These will typically relate to people, systems, process and content.


In a recent survey conducted, only 38% of candidates received any information prior to their actual interview other than a date and location

Before a person enters your reception for an interview, they’ve already created a perception of your business. The content you publish or proactively send people directly impact these perceptions and set the tone.

If the stats above provide an indication, 62% and probably a proportion of the 38% mentioned are missing an opportunity to enhance employer brand and imbed a positive reputation.

The next time you print off an airline confirmation, take a look around the details relating to your flight. It’s covered with guidance to your departure, your luggage; it’s cross selling rental cars, hotels and services. They take the opportunity at that single touch point to cram other services, make sales and, most importantly, ‘support’ the customer if they require it.

The first contact you may have with a candidate is your job advert. Learn How To Write A Job Advert here and start your candidate experience the right way, straight off the bat.

Steve Usher

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