You vs. Your Candidate Experience: Misconceptions & Realities

by Daniel James November 9, 2015
November 9, 2015

Understanding the perspective your job candidates have about your hiring process is crucial to improving, refining, and creating a more enjoyable hiring experience for your candidates overall. That’s a given. You might even think you know what your candidates are looking for, but according to a study done by Careerbuilder there is a difference between what candidates want from a hiring experience and what employers think their candidates want.


What (Employers Think) the Candidate Experience is

candidate experience, hiring process, communication, pre-hire experience, talent acquisitionPerspective is everything when it comes to improving something, and the candidate experience is no exception. But who’s perspective is being taken into consideration when these improvements begin to roll out? There tends to be a split on what candidates want versus what employers think candidates want, and you need to make sure you’re considering the right one.


When it comes to the candidate experience, here’s some quick numbers on what employers think.



  • 58% of HR professionals believe that the candidate experience is candidates wanting a simple application process. Not surprising, nor unreasonable, considering how frustrating and deterring a cumbersome process can be to a candidate.
  • 48% believe that a positive candidate experience takes place when the applicant submits an application to when they get an interview with a hiring manager. This could mean the time it takes for someone to call them, the amount of materials they have fill out in between (such as personality tests or other hiring assessments), and any interviews or screenings they might have before that final obstacle.
  • 40% feel that having a good experience doesn’t fall solely on the part of the company, but also the candidate. Is the candidate following up on their application, returning assessments on time, and being evaluative of the company they’re applying for? All these are factors of a positive candidate experience in the mind of those HR professionals that responded with this answer.

What we can learn from this is that, generally, the HR professionals believe a candidate experience involves simplicity, a thorough process, and ultimately involvement of both the company as well as the candidate.


Not a bad list, but candidates feel differently.


What a Candidate Experience is for Candidates

While HR professionals surveyed feel that ease in the hiring process is key to a good experience, the candidates feel differently. Careerbuilder also surveyed job candidates, asking them “what is ‘candidate experience’?” and found that their answers differed greatly. Specifically:



  • 61% of job candidates want responses from employers and they want them fast. It’s not just a question of knowing or not knowing here: the candidate took the time to fill out an application and get the process started, now they want to feel valued for their efforts by their potential future employer. Similarly, candidates also want to be notified if they’re not a good fit for the organization – it saves them time wondering, and allows them to move forward quickly.
  • 56% of job seekers are always looking for updates on where they are in the process, even if it’s just a “we’re still evaluating and will follow up with you shortly” response once or twice. Knowing where they are in the hiring process, and what they need to be doing, is incredibly helpful for a candidate and helps them feel valued.
  • 48% don’t just want responses, they want phone calls. Email may be the new norm for communication, but nothing beats a quick phone call update. It rings of professionalism and is highly valued over a message in an inbox. That little effort goes a long way too – it makes the candidate feel considered, and they’ll likely leave more positive feedback about their hiring experience for that extra bit of a personal touch.

While HR professionals believe in simplicity, job candidates believe in communication – personalized, frequent, and informative (even if that information is just ‘wait for more information coming soon’). Interestingly, the one thing candidates and professionals alike agreed on was a simple application process, with 54% of candidates saying that a good experience would be one where the process was quick.

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