5 facts every employer should know about the candidate experience

Whether it’s keeping candidates guessing as to where they are in the application process or simply neglecting to acknowledge their application, some employers are unwittingly leaving candidates with a bad impression – and it’s taking a toll on their business.

According to a study from CareerBuilder, the experiences candidates have with a company throughout the application process can make or break their impression of a company, not only affecting their decisions to apply and accept a job offer, but also their loyalty as customers.

job candidates

The 2015 Candidate Behavior study, conducted by Inavero on behalf of CareerBuilder of more than 500 workers between February 3 and February 18, 2015, sheds light on the differences between what candidates expect from potential employers during the job application process and what employers actually deliver.

“Today’s candidates expect ongoing communication from companies during the application process, and when companies fail to meet this expectation, it can be bad for business,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “Candidates remember when companies don’t respond to them, fail to update them on the status of their application or don’t follow up after an interview. Not only do these experiences make candidates less likely to apply to the company again, but they also make them less likely to purchase from the company as customers.”

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The five facts every employer should know about the candidate experience include:

Fact: Candidate experience matters (More than you know)

The majority of candidates do not take poor treatment lying down: 60% are less likely to buy from a company to which they’ve applied if they don’t get a response to their application; Two-thirds are less likely if they have a bad experience in the interview; and the same is true of 66% if they didn’t hear back after an interview.

Conversely, a good candidate experience can have the reverse effect: 67% of candidates are more likely to buy from a company to which they’ve applied if they’re treated with respect throughout the application process, and 63% are likely to do the same if they receive consistent updates throughout the recruitment process.

Fact: Candidates expect more than you’re giving them

For some candidates, the myth of the infamous application ‘black hole’ is all too real. What these employers may not realise, however, is that not only do most candidates expect an automated reply that acknowledges their application, the majority (85%) also expect a personal email response, and 41% anticipate a phone call. Even when the news isn’t what they’d hoped to receive, candidates expect a response: 35% expect to hear if the employer will not be bringing them in for an interview.

Fact: Employers may be missing opportunities to connect with candidates

Job seekers may be searching for jobs in a lot of places where employers don’t have a presence. Candidates consult up to 13 resources throughout their job search – including job boards, social networking sites, search engines and online referrals.

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Employers should consider expanding their search strategy and track data on where their candidates are coming from to avoid missing opportunities to connect with candidates where they are actually searching.

Fact: Ongoing communication is critical for candidates

When it comes to candidate communication, employers seem to be falling short of candidates’ expectations. 32% of candidates expect to be updated throughout the application process, and 42% expect to be notified if they weren’t chosen after they interviewed with the company. Even when they’ve made it as far into the process as an interview, many candidates are still left in the dark: Three in five candidates (60%) who interviewed with companies said they were never given an explanation for why they didn’t get the job.

Fact: Candidates Are Frustrated with the Application Process

When it comes to keeping candidates engaged and interested in their opportunities, a company’s application process can be its own worst enemy. 44% of candidates feel the application process has become more difficult in the last five years. Of those, almost half complain that the process is too automated and lacks personalisation, 38% are frustrated they have no idea where they are in the process, and another 44% say the process has so many more steps than it used to have.

Employers can reduce these frustrations by taking the time to respond to candidates, by keeping the lines of communication going and by minimising the number of steps candidates must go through during the application process.


Survey Methodology

In partnership with Inavero, CareerBuilder surveyed 500 workers ages 18 and over between February 3 and February 18, 2015 in the United Kingdom in an effort to understand the factors that influence candidates’ job search behaviour. With a pure probability sample of 5,013 job seekers, one could say with a 95 confidence interval that the job seeker results have a sampling error of +/- 1.4%.

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