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A quick guide to the candidate experience (plus 23 must-know facts for HR Pros)

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Candidate Experience in 2021: Definition, Stats, and More

The candidate experience is a popular topic among recruiters and HR professionals today—and for good reason. After all, a better candidate experience means better business outcomes. But while 73 percent of organizations agree that candidate experience is essential to their business, less than half believe their practices are effective.

Why the disconnect?

Creating a positive candidate experience seems simple on the surface, but it requires a deep understanding of candidates’ expectations, preferences, and behaviors. And getting to those insights isn’t always so easy.

Fortunately for talent acquisition teams, the renewed focus on candidate experience means there’s now a treasure trove of data-backed research available to tap into when developing candidate experience strategies. (And if you don’t have time to slog through the research to find an interesting nugget or two, don’t sweat it—we’ve done the heavy lifting for you.)

So, what can the latest candidate experience statistics teach us about how to improve candidate experience and the impact of doing so?

In this blog post, we’ll explore why creating a positive candidate experience is so important, as well as how HR and recruiting teams can measure and improve the candidate experience. We’ll also share 23 illuminating candidate experience statistics you need to know to inform (and transform) your candidate experience strategy in 2021 and beyond.

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What is Candidate Experience?

The candidate experience is how a job seeker feels about your company as a potential employer, based on the series of interactions they’ve had with your organization throughout the recruitment process. These interactions include all the steps throughout the candidate journey, from the job application and screening processes all the way through interviewing and onboarding.

All of the touchpoints in the candidate journey—including those listed below—shape how job seekers perceive your recruitment process, employer brand, and viability as a potential employer:

  • Company website and careers page
  • Job postings and advertisements
  • Online and mobile application process
  • Communication from your applicant tracking system (ATS)
  • Candidate screening and interview process
  • Interaction with recruiters and hiring team members
  • Notifications about the candidate’s application status
  • New hire onboarding process

Effective communication is the hallmark of a great candidate experience. When you communicate clearly, transparently, and consistently with candidates during each step of the recruiting process, candidates are more likely to have a positive experience and see your company as an employer of choice.

And in today’s candidate-driven job market, delivering an exceptional candidate experience is no longer a luxury—it’s now a necessity to attract and win over the best candidates.

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Why is Candidate Experience Important?

Creating a positive candidate experience is a business imperative with wide-ranging consequences. There’s simply no room for companies to deliver a poor candidate experience in today’s recruitment climate.

A bad candidate experience will not only cost you top talent, but also harm your reputation as a potential employer. Candidates often share negative interview experiences on career sites like Glassdoor—and poor reviews can dissuade other qualified candidates from even considering your company.

The impact of a bad candidate experience on the bottom line is also something that every recruiter should be concerned about. Recruitment statistics show, for example, that negative candidate experiences cause companies to lose a significant portion of customers and revenue.

The high cost of a poor candidate experience is something British cable and mobile provider Virgin Media knows all too well. In 2015, Virgin Media discovered that bad candidate experiences—often the result of negative interview experiences and poor communication—were costing the company over $6 million in lost revenue each year. The reason? Many of the candidates that applied to Virgin Media were customers of the brand themselves. And these candidates were so disappointed by the brand’s recruiting process—and how they were treated throughout the process—that they cancelled their subscriptions to Virgin Media services and switched to competitors instead.

But there is good news to be found here. Just as a negative candidate experience can result in lost sales and damage to your company’s reputation, the reverse is also true. A positive experience can actually boost revenue and strengthen brand loyalty. And with a strategic focus on improving the candidate experience, Virgin Media was able to do just that—turning their $6 million loss around to the tune of a $7 million revenue stream.

How Do You Measure Candidate Experience?

One of the biggest challenges with candidate experience is that many companies don’t know how to measure it. After all, measuring an “experience” is understandably a bit abstract and difficult to quantify. But you know how the saying goes—you can’t manage what you can’t measure. And if you can’t measure it, you certainly can’t improve it.

While there isn’t a single metric that will quantify the candidate experience, there are a few recruitment KPIs—when taken together and looked at holistically—that can give recruiters insight into how candidates are perceiving their experiences with your company. These metrics include:

  • Application abandonment
  • Length of time from application to offer
  • Recruiter response times
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Candidate satisfaction
  • Referrals
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)

What Are Examples of a Positive Candidate Experience?

At its core, the candidate experience is about respect. Every candidate is investing their time, energy, and hopes in an opportunity with your company. They want to feel their efforts are appreciated and valued. Even if a candidate isn’t the right fit for a position, they should still leave with a positive view of your company.

Candidate experience statistics reveal that 73% of candidates say that the job search process is one of the most stressful things in life. By creating a positive candidate experience, you can ease some of that stress, set your company apart, and increase your odds of landing top candidates.

It all boils down to this: treat candidates the way you’d like to be treated if you were in their shoes. How? Set expectations upfront. Be honest and transparent. Prioritize communication. Be inclusive. Make an effort to make meaningful connections. Empower candidates to put their best foot forward. And, of course, don’t ghost your candidates. (This one should be a given, but we’ve all heard enough recruitment horror stories to know that’s not always the case.)

Here are a few actionable steps that talent acquisition professionals can take to start improving the candidate experience:

  • Communicate expectations early in the candidate journey
  • Create a fair, transparent, and consistent interview experience
  • Speed up the recruiting process with video interviews
  • Interview with intention by using structured interviews
  • Use artificial intelligence (AI) to create personalized, engaging experiences
  • Be flexible and inclusive with interview schedules and candidate accommodations
  • Help hiring managers become better interviewers
  • Give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities
  • Provide candidates with post-interview feedback
  • Implement a candidate feedback survey

What Makes a Negative Candidate Experience?

On the flip side, a negative candidate experience is typically the result of slow communication and long hiring practices. And often, a poor interview experience is the culprit. Why? The interview is the single most important factor in the candidate journey.

According to research from Brandon Hall Group, 90% of employers consider interviewing critical to success and 49% say the interview has the biggest impact on the candidate experience. Candidates share the same view: 83% percent of job seekers say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, while 87% say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.

For candidates, the interview is the first chance they have to actually see you, hear you, and have their questions answered. Candidates invest a considerable amount of time and effort into the interview process. Imagine a candidate spent hours preparing for an interview with your company that went awry because it was poorly designed or executed. Needless to say, they probably won’t be leaving you 5-star reviews on Glassdoor. Nothing will kill the candidate experience faster than a bad interview experience.

Important Candidate Experience Facts and Statistics

Creating a positive candidate experience is vital to attracting, engaging, and retaining top talent—and the numbers back this up.

Check out these eye-opening candidate experience statistics that underscore the importance of delivering a great candidate experience and offer insights into what recruiters can do to make every step of the candidate journey a positive one:

Application Process

  1. Applications with 30 screener questions reduces applications by 50%, while applications with over 45 questions have an abandonment rate of nearly 90%. (Source: Indeed)
  2. 60% of applicants will abandon the recruitment process if it is too complex and stressful. (Source: Zety)
  3. 47% of job candidates have not applied for a job because the employer’s process was “too lengthy or complicated.” (Source: SmartRecruiters)

Candidate Communication

  1. Nearly 63% of candidates report being dissatisfied with the level of communication from most employers after applying. (Source: Talentegy)
  2. 52% of candidates say they get frustrated most by the lack of response from potential employers during the job search process. (Source: CareerBuilder)
  3. 83% of candidates say it would greatly improve the overall experience if employers could set expectations by providing a clear timeline of the hiring process. (Source: CareerBuilder)
  4. 81% of job seekers say employers communicating continuous status updates would greatly improve the candidate experience. (Source: CareerBuilder)

Reviews and Referrals

  1. Applicants who are satisfied with their candidate experience are more than twice as likely to recommend the hiring organization to others, compared with those who were not satisfied. (Source: IBM)
  2. 82% of job seekers consider employer brand and reputation before applying to a job—a 7% increase in the past five years. (Source: CareerArc)
  3. 51% of candidates will share their positive experience online through social media, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. (Source: Workopolis)
  4. 72% of job seekers are likely to share their bad experiences online or with someone directly. (Source: CareerArc)
  5. 55% of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative reviews online. (Source: HCI)
  6. The majority of job seekers read at least six reviews before forming an opinion of a company. (Source: Glassdoor)

Interview Process

  1. Nearly 25% more job seekers prefer live video interviews to in-person interviews. (Source: Forbes)
  2. 48% of candidates say the employment screening experience has an impact on how favorably they view a potential employer. (Source: CareerBuilder)
  3. 65% of candidates say that a bad interview experience makes them lose interest in the job. (Source: LinkedIn)
  4. 46% of candidates who withdraw from the recruiting process do so because they believe their time has been disrespected during interviews. (Source: Talent Board)
  5. 83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, while 87% of talent say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted. (Source: LinkedIn)
  6. 86% of job seekers believe employers should treat candidates with the same respect as current employees, yet only 49% say they do. (Source: CareerBuilder)

Business Impact

  1. A positive candidate experience makes candidates 38% more likely to accept a job offer. (Source: IBM)
  2. 15% of applicants with a positive hiring experience put more effort into the job. (Source: Officevibe)
  3. 41% of candidates who have a negative experience will take their alliances, product purchases, and relationships somewhere else. On the contrary, 64% of candidates who have a positive experience say they’ll increase their relationship with that brand. (Source: Talent Board)
  4. Companies that take the time to develop a positive candidate hiring experience report a 70% improvement in the quality of hires. (Source: Glassdoor)

How to Improve Candidate Experience With Technology

The candidate experience statistics are clear: Candidates expect a fair, speedy, and respectful recruitment process with lots of communication. While it can be hard for recruiters to respond personally to every candidate that applies, leveraging AI-powered recruiting technology can help employers improve the candidate experience without adding to an already busy team’s workload.

One study found that when conversational AI has been a part of the recruiting process, candidates offered a job are 38 percent more likely to accept. When candidates have a great experience and feel a strong connection with an organization, they are more likely to turn into employees. By using an AI recruiting tool that can interpret interview conversations, recruiters and hiring teams can gain more insight into each candidate. This leads to more meaningful conversations, which leads to real connections and, ultimately, a better candidate experience.

Delivering a Better Candidate Experience

Too often, companies forget that recruitment is a two-way street. Companies interview the candidates, but candidates are constantly sizing up the company too. When you prioritize the candidate experience, you show candidates that you value their time and contributions. Every single interaction—from the application to the interview process to onboarding—gives recruiters and hiring teams another opportunity to make a good impression and position their company as the ideal place to work.

A great candidate experience starts with a great interview process. Recruiters and talent acquisition teams have to create an intentional, meaningful interview process to engage and win over the best candidates. And with the help of Clovers’ AI-powered video interview technology, recruiters can create efficient, scalable recruiting processes to accelerate hiring, reduce bias, and deliver the candidate experience today’s job seekers expect.

Ready to create the ultimate candidate experience?

Schedule a demo to learn how Clovers’ intelligent video interview solution can help you deliver a great candidate experience, strengthen your employer brand, and put the right people in the right role—every time.