Woman making unhappy face with hand on head

7 Candidate Experience Mistakes You Don't Realize You're Making

In a tight labor market, creating a positive candidate experience is key if you want to compete for top talent and implement a successful employer branding strategy. A poor application process, a messy interview, or an unresponsive recruiter can not only make you lose out on highly qualified applicants but can also start chipping away at your employer brand.

Watch out for these 7 candidate experience mistakes that you may not realize you’re making.


1.  Your application process is too complicated.

If your application is lengthy or not mobile-friendly, potential candidates could be abandoning their applications halfway through without you even knowing. Don’t lose great talent because of a complicated application. Keep your process short, sweet, and easy to submit on a smartphone. Save the meaty questions for the interview.


2.  Your interviews are unpolished.

Candidates may have reservations about working for you if their interview doesn’t go smoothly. Are you guilty of any of these interview mistakes?

  • Rushing. Even if you have back-to-back appointments, it’s never okay to rush the end of the interview. It could make your candidate feel like you don’t value what they have to say or that they don’t have enough time to advocate for themselves or ask questions.
  • Allowing interruptions. Show your candidate that you respect their time. Taking a phone call, looking at a text, and/or letting a colleague come in and ask a question are all things that may reflect poorly on you as an employer.
  • Not preparing. If you haven’t taken time before the interview to develop a structure, prepare questions, and review the candidate’s resume, the interview could end up being disorganized or haphazard. And that’s certainly not going to leave your candidate feeling confident about your team’s performance.


Man taking phone call signaling for candidate to wait during interview


3.  Your selection process is unclear.

A key part of creating a positive candidate experience is laying out a clear process and timeline as soon as possible – that way, your applicants know what to expect right off the bat and will be less likely to disengage from your company. If you can, give a brief overview of your selection process and timeline after they submit their application.


4.  You’re not communicating enough.

Recruiting and managing candidates is chaotic, and with so much going on, it’s hard to keep every applicant in the loop. However, you’ll save your employer brand and avoid missing out on great talent if you communicate effectively with your candidates. Try to hit the following touchpoints:

  • Acknowledge their application, either manually or with an automated solution.
  • Notify your candidate as soon as you’ve decided they won’t be moving forward.
  • Set expectations with your candidates after each step of the selection process.
  • Give status updates to top candidates. If they’ve interviewed with you over a week ago and still haven’t heard anything, they’re at risk of accepting other offers.


Woman talking to candidate on the phone


5.  You’re taking too long.

One of the biggest candidate experience mistakes you can make is treating employees like your job is the only one they applied for. The bottom line is you will lose qualified talent if you don’t move quickly enough through your selection process.

No matter how transparent you are about their application status and your timeline, people often need to make career moves fast. Not to mention, in today’s tight labor market, they probably don’t need to wait around for your job offer.

While these will vary depending on the type of job and your hiring process, here are some general guidelines: Don’t leave your job ad up for over 20–30 days, and make your final hiring decision no more than 2 weeks after you’ve held your interviews (and even in those 2 weeks, you risk losing top candidates to other companies).


6.  You’re rejecting candidates the wrong way.

Sending out too many canned rejection emails can leave candidates feeling resentful toward your company. After all, they’ve spent time and energy preparing for their interview and meeting with your team, and they’re being kicked to the curb without so much as a personalized email? That’s a good way to rack up negative reviews online and burn bridges with candidates who could be in your talent pipeline.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re rejecting an applicant who has interviewed with you, then give them a call. Candidates who have not been interviewed (beyond a screening interview) can be rejected via email.


Someone giving an employer a bad review online


7.  You’re not evaluating your process.

The best way to identify weak spots in your candidate experience is to simply ask your candidates. Send out a survey to evaluate how your applicants felt about the selection process and use the results to make adjustments for your next round of hiring.


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With so many moving parts and conflicting interests, recruitment can be tough to manage – so don’t be surprised if you’re making a couple of these common mistakes. However, consider taking steps to improve your recruiting practices. Creating a positive candidate experience will contribute to a healthier employer branding strategy and save you from missing out on top talent.

by: Sarah Ballow
December 19, 2019