Improve the Candidate Experience Start with Communication

Want to Improve the Candidate Experience? Start with Communication

Employers have a lot on their plates, to say the least, as companies continue to deal with the fallout from COVID-19. From addressing employee health and safety concerns to navigating remote work, and ensuring business survival. Nevertheless, hiring goes on. 

Amidst the chaos, however, it’s easy to let recruiting best practices slip.

Maybe you downsized your HR staff earlier this year, and you don’t have the resources to devote to strategic hiring. Or maybe you desperately need to get people in the door to keep your business afloat after reopening. Regardless of whether candidates check all the boxes. 

In these cases, you might be able to get away with writing a shorter job ad, skipping the second round of interviews, or calling every reference an applicant provides. But there is no excuse to overlook delivering a positive candidate experience.

If anything, the candidate experience is more important now than it ever has been. 

Pre-COVID, employers were already falling short on their candidate experience efforts. Applicants frequently complained about the “resume black hole” – they applied or interviewed for a job and never heard back from the employer.

Now that millions of unemployed job seekers are looking for work and applying in masses, it has become even more taxing for employers to keep up with applications, much less communicating with each and every candidate.

It’s not the time to cut corners on the candidate experience. Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes: You’ve been laid off, have spent the last six months collecting unemployment, and have applied to every seemingly relevant job you can find with no callbacks. You’re emotional and frustrated. And, when you’ve put in the effort to complete an application, customize your resume, create a compelling cover letter, and more, getting ignored by the employer only amplifies the sting of the situation.

A lack of candidate communication can come back to bite you, your reputation, and your brand.

What do disgruntled job seekers do? They tell their friends and family about their experience, they post on social media, and they certainly won’t hesitate to leave a negative review online that could potentially deter qualified candidates from applying for your jobs in the future. 


3 Simple Ways to Improve Candidate Communication

Providing a positive candidate experience doesn’t mean sending applicants a fancy gift basket or offering generous sign-on bonuses. Candidate experience centers around communication. At the very least, that involves informing applicants when they are no longer in the running for the position, keeping them out of the resume black hole. 

As you communicate with candidates, consider these three simple ways to ensure a positive experience throughout the recruiting process. 


Be honest.

As mentioned, it’s vital to inform your candidates if they are no longer in the running for a position – even you do so in an automated email sent through your ATS. But be transparent with your candidates.

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For example, don’t promise that you’ll keep their resume on file (pipeline them) unless you truly mean it. Similarly, if you’re advertising for a role with the intent to pipeline talent rather than hire right away, tell applicants that, too. Let them know your short- and long-term hiring plans for that position. 

It’s also a good idea to provide applicants with insights into the next steps in the hiring process, especially toward the top of the funnel. Tell them when they should expect to hear back from you to schedule an interview. Share your hiring timeline and stick to it. Don’t leave them guessing or waiting by the phone for your call.  


Be helpful.

For candidates further in your funnel, (such as those you invite to an interview), augment their experience with your employer brand by being helpful. For instance, don’t just send them a calendar invite for their interview – give them details.

With whom will they be meeting? If it’s an in-person interview, where should they park? What should they bring? You may also provide additional information about your company and what it’s like to work there. Remember, job seekers are interviewing you, too, so ensure they have enough information to decide whether or not they will be a good fit with your organization. 

You can also provide some words of encouragement to those you disqualify for the role. Let the candidate know that they impressed you with their interviewing skills or with their work experience. Leave them with the assurance that the right job is out there for them (because it is).  


Be human.

Lastly, be human in your interactions with candidates. It’s been a trying and uncertain year, and everyone is experiencing their own set of challenges. Behind every job application is a real person.

Be kind and courteous in your communication, and don’t be afraid to cut them some slack. The candidate’s internet goes out during a video interview? Reschedule it. They don’t have the exact educational background, but possess real-world work experience in their field? Relax your requirements a bit.

They miss your phone call to help their children with their virtual schooling? Don’t immediately disqualify them from the race. 

It’s easy to forget about the candidate experience right now, but it’s also a time for brands to shine.

Treating your applicants well, communicating with them throughout the hiring process, and putting a little more “human” into your human resources, will go a long way in establishing your organization as an employer of choice.

With a new year ahead of us, commit to honest, helpful, and human communication, and the candidate experience will follow.  



Jason Hayes is VP of Employer Sales and Customer Success at iHire, a career-oriented platform that connects candidates and employers across 56 industry-focused communities. Since 2006, he has progressed through numerous positions at iHire and kept his finger on the pulse of market changes and trends affecting job seekers as well as hiring professionals. Hayes is instrumental in building and sustaining iHire’s own workplace culture of excellence, innovation, and growth, and serves as a trusted resource for his team as well as iHire’s clients for finding the right talent in this competitive market.