The Importance of Candidate Experience

By Josh McAfee

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You invest substantial resources and time into attracting and identifying top talent. With so much going on in the marketplace, it’s incredibly difficult to get the attention of the quality candidates you need to fill job roles and grow your business. There’s nothing more frustrating than a wasted investment.

I’ve found that a significant portion of companies end up facing that waste as they bleed out the good candidates they’d spent so much time trying to find. These prospective employees were highly skilled, a great fit for the role, and would have meshed well with the work culture and environment, but they walked away. They ended up accepting opportunities with competitors.

When that happens, it tells you something in your recruiting and hiring process may be broken. While that process is meant to give you a chance to assess candidates, those same candidates are also assessing your company. They rely on their initial experiences to let them know what working for your company will be like. If there’s a stumbling block along the way, they’ll question if it’s worth continuing the path. 

What are 3 things that will ruin a candidate experience?

  • The company doesn’t plan accordingly. 
  • The right people aren’t involved. 
  • The process is cumbersome, wonky, or awkward.


Tremendous work goes into the front end of recruiting to bring top talent into your hiring process to begin with. Planning through each step from initial interview to that person’s first day on the job is important. When building an effective candidate experience, it’s helpful to ask the follow up questions:

Are your job descriptions top notch?

The first thing any candidate wants to see is the job description. It needs to paint your company as an exciting opportunity and use keywords to get the attention of the right people.

Interview Hiring Recruiting Recruiter Tech Small Business Jobs Growing CompanyAre candidates being engaged throughout the process?

Frequent, individualized communication will ensure that candidates know they’re not just some random resume on a desk. Let them know you appreciate their time during the interview process. 

Does everyone on your recruiting team, within your hiring process, and throughout the company understand why the role you’re interviewing for is important?

Hiring doesn’t happen in a vacuum. New hires impact not only their teams or departments, but the entire organization. Knowing what skills will be needed and how they’ll be applied to daily operations will give everyone a better understanding of the type of candidate you’re recruiting and how that person will affect their own job. 

Does your current process get people excited to work for you? 

If candidates are only interacting with hiring agents, they may be missing out on the opportunity to meet the people that would really attract them to your company. Other members of your team or company would be able to tell candidates what they can expect from the workplace, highlight their success stories, and make them feel welcomed. 

What happens after they say “yes?”

Until you get their butt in a seat on that first day, you run the risk of losing them. Good candidates are going to have other companies pursuing them or their current company could give them a counter offer. Once a candidate says they’re interested in accepting your opportunity, getting through the offer stage, checking references, doing background checks, and any other steps must be streamlined.

Are you continuously improving?

It’s not enough to get a good process in place. It must be routinely examined to ensure that best practices are still being followed and improvements can be implemented as needed. Good recruiters will know what top talent is expecting and what you’ll need to do to improve your candidate experience. 

Hiring Employee Talent Search Recruiting HR Resumes Job PostingRemember that candidate experience is important EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T HIRE THEM!

Companies want to hire top quality people. I don’t know many that want to employ mediocrity or poor performers. To ensure you find the candidates that will fit in well with the work environment and culture, you’ll have to do a lot of interviewing. Not everyone that goes through the interview process will be worth making an offer to. 

The key is to create a candidate experience that will leave them wanting more. It may sound counterintuitive, but these people know other people and could be a potential referral source for you. They could also develop the skills you need and return to apply again later on when they’re a better match. 

I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had candidates interview for a job, but didn’t get the offer due to expertise that was missing or deficient. After encouraging them to work on those areas, they come back better than before and with an excitement for the opportunity to work with the company that rejected them in the first place. 

Recruiting is a long game and organizations that have a fantastic hiring process will ultimately win. Humans Doing has a mission of helping people make great hiring and career decisions, particularly in tech and tech savvy organizations. If you aren’t confident in your process, let’s schedule some time to take a look and get you set up for success. 

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Josh McAfee is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Humans Doing. With over 26 years of recruiting and team-building experience, Josh has worked with startups, SMBs, and large companies to determine hiring needs, develop our recruiting strategies and processes, and connect top talent to fuel growth. In 2021, he became a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author with his book Measure Up: Mastering Your Career Search Like a Boss.

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Humans Doing is an expert team of highly skilled recruiters specializing in filling critical tech and leadership positions for growing companies. Our greatest measure of success is the success of our clients and the candidates we place with them. We help people make great hiring and career decisions. Our team is ready to partner with you to find the right people for the right roles.

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