The candidate experience; getting it right

Reading Gareth Jones's worthwhile blog recently ( I came across an article from September last year titled ''The “candidate experience” – there isn’t one…''. This was an interesting article in itself but I also noticed one commentator who wrote '' Lets be honest, it’s not a discussion point any more. We know it is bad, but you have to question if anyone cares when little changes.''

The Candidate Experience subject has been around as long as I have in recruitment - and that, rather frighteningly, is over 30 years. Except we used not to articulate it as 'An Experience'. If you were any good as a recruiter you were always worried about how you dealt with candidate cv's, their calls, if they were replied to properly, how they felt about the interview with you, whether they had positive things to say about you and whether you had responded to their queries in the right way. That process was almost more important than finding them a new job. You knew that a candidate who walked away from contact with you, feeling good about you and your firm, was a candidate who would happily say positive things about you in the pub or at work - in other words would recommend you.

You didn't get it right all the time - but you constantly tried and you constantly cared.

I cannot comprehend the thought of actually giving up on continually trying to improve how candidates (and clients) interact with us as a business. And I cannot believe that any values driven brand would contemplate it either.

So, as a quick reminder, these would be my top 4 tips on how recruiters – both in house and external – could work on improving their relationships:

  • Treat others as you would want to be treated. Think of all those bad experiences when dealing with big, faceless organisations – being left hanging on the phone, not having your calls returned, being treated as a number not a person – and don’t do the same to your candidates!

  • Don’t rely too much on technology (i.e. emails). Personalise the experience. An email is an introduction; you have to deliver the rest and get on the phone.

  • Give real, honest feedback. If you are not getting it from your clients, you should be questioning your relationship with them. Try and be concise and constructive.

  • Continually question your approach and your processes – don’t stop trying to improve them both. Ask for feedback.

Any business that is looking to attract external applications from candidates has got to be prepared and willing to be right on the front line of both good and bad candidate experiences. How you handle and resolve those experiences will say everything about you as a person and a business.