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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience refers to how job seekers perceive their interactions with an employer throughout an organization’s sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes.

Why is the candidate experience important?

Paying attention to the candidate experience is important as it shapes an organization’s employer brand reputation. Considering most candidates are not hired for the job vacancy, it’s necessary to ensure that all applicants feel respected and that their time is valued regardless of the outcome.

A less-than-ideal experience can result in negative online reviews and fewer referrals, impacting an employer’s chance at building a robust candidate pool. Conversely, creating a better candidate experience sends a positive message about the company, and unsuccessful candidates are more likely to happily join your talent community and be considered for future opportunities. 

How to ensure a positive candidate experience

Setting up a positive candidate experience should be a core focus of an organization’s recruiting and hiring strategy. Establishing practices to keep candidates interested, engaged, and informed at every touchpoint is the best way to achieve a successful applicant experience.  

Here are some best practices putting to use at each stage to ensure a positive candidate experience in the recruitment process:


Even the early phase of sourcing can influence an organization’s employer brand. 

  • Get on the right path by conducting a skills gap analysis to identify what is missing from the current workforce. 
  • Determine what roles need to be filled and strategize how to source talent for these positions. Having the clarity of who and what to look for makes for more effective candidate recruiting. 
  • Set candidates up for a more positive recruitment experience, focusing on converting relevant candidates instead of generating a high-volume of unsuitable applicants.


The steps in the recruitment process have a high impact on the perception of recruiting experience. A well-crafted job description helps to form a positive opinion of an employer. 

  • Job descriptions should be succinct and easy to read. 
  • Avoid a long list of requirements and focus instead on must-have skills and competencies.

An easy application process will reduce dropout rates and negative experiences. 

  • Be clear on what documents should be submitted, keep the steps short, and make sure candidates can also apply via mobile devices.
  • Set up an automated response to thank candidates for applying and let them know their applications were received. 
  • Be available to answer questions candidates may have about the application process. 


To create a positive experience, respect candidates’ time and be upfront about the steps they will participate in during the interview process. 

  • During the pre-screening phone interview, inform candidates about the number of interviews, if there is an assessment test or assignment, and a sense of the overall hiring timeline. 
  • Confirm salary expectations of candidates before moving them forward to avoid disappointments that can lead to a negative impression of your company.
  • Follow up with unsuccessful candidates not invited to interview or who don’t make it to the next round.
  • Offer constructive feedback and ask to keep the candidate’s information to let them know of future opportunities leaves candidates with a good impression.

Hiring and onboarding

The candidate experience in recruitment does not end with a job offer. 

  • Be open to any final negotiations and make sure any agreed-upon adjustments are in the contract. 
  • When it comes to onboarding, the first days and weeks at a company will set the tone for how an employer is perceived long term. 
  • A well-prepared onboarding makes a new employee feel welcome and integrated into their team and the company as a whole. 
  • The onboarding should also provide a deep dive into the company’s mission and values, besides guiding a new hire on the processes and tools the company uses. 

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