What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience refers to an applicant’s impression of your recruitment process. It includes the initial interaction with your company, the application process, interviews, and onboarding. 

Why is candidate experience important?

The candidate experience during the recruitment process can significantly impact your organization’s employer brand. It influences your ability to quickly attract and retain high-caliber candidates in a competitive job market and helps reduce recruitment costs in the long run.

A good candidate experience leaves applicants with a favorable perception of your organization, irrespective of whether they secure a position—they’ll still feel motivated to apply again in the future, leading to a larger pool of talent for you to choose from.

Candidates who have a positive experience are more likely to feel valued and engaged when they become team members. This, in turn, contributes to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

In contrast, a poor candidate experience may result in talented individuals choosing competing offers or disengaging from the recruitment process altogether.

With such a strong influence on your organization’s recruitment success, it’s clear why the candidate experience matters.

How to measure the candidate experience

Some key metrics and methods for measuring candidate experience include:

  • Net promoter score (NPS). This metric gauges the likelihood of candidates recommending your company to others. 
  • Candidate satisfaction surveys. Conducting short surveys to gather feedback from both successful and unsuccessful candidates provides valuable insights into candidate perceptions.
  • Time-to-fill. Analyzing the time it takes to move a candidate from application to hire can indicate the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruitment process. 
  • Offer acceptance rate. Tracking the percentage of candidates who accept job offers demonstrates the attractiveness of your organization. 
  • Conversion rates. Monitoring conversion rates at different stages of the recruitment funnel helps identify potential bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

How to improve the candidate experience

Below you’ll find some candidate experience best practices: 

  • Clear communication. Transparent and timely communication at every stage of the hiring process is one of the best ways to improve the candidate experience at your organization. Informing candidates about the status of their application, next steps, and expected timelines helps manage expectations and reduces uncertainty. 
  • Feedback loops. Offering constructive feedback to candidates, even if they aren’t selected, provides them with valuable insights for future applications and contributes to a positive perception of your organization. 
  • User-friendly application process. Simplifying and shortening the application process improves the candidate experience. 
  • Personalization. Tailoring interactions based on candidates’ skills, experience, and preferences makes them feel valued and appreciated.
  • Hire a candidate experience specialist. You can hire a candidate experience specialist to help you identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to enhance your company’s candidate experience.
  • Candidate experience training. Providing training to hiring managers and recruitment teams ensures a consistent and positive experience for all candidates.

Examples of great candidate experiences


Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos uses situational judgment tests, cultural questionnaires, and introductory videos to assess candidates and give them a taste of what it would be like to work in their role—resulting in a 97 percent candidate satisfaction score


DigitalOcean, a software company, prioritizes communication and transparency to create a great candidate experience. The organization provides candidates with a content hub that answers all of the most common questions. This saves candidates and recruiters time and ensures candidates have everything they need to feel prepared for their interview.


Many of Aramark’s applicants are students, so the food company uses platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to promote their employer brand and prepare candidates for the hiring process.

Best practices for candidate experience surveys

Conducting candidate experience surveys is a valuable method for gathering feedback and identifying areas for improvement. The good news is that an ATS can automate the process.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Timing. Sending candidate experience surveys promptly after significant interactions like interviews ensures the experience is fresh in the applicant’s mind. 
  • User experience. Keep surveys brief and make it easy for candidates to complete them quickly to increase response rates.
  • A mixture of question types. Use a mixture of open-ended and closed-ended candidate experience survey questions for a comprehensive understanding of applicant perceptions. Survey platforms can help by providing suggestions for questions.
  • Benchmarking. Comparing your candidate experience to industry standards can provide insights into your organization’s standing within the talent market.
  • Continuous improvement. Regularly review survey results, identify trends, and implement changes to enhance the overall candidate experience.

How HR tech benefits the candidate experience

HR tech plays a pivotal role in shaping the candidate experience for the better. 

It can automate communication, keeping candidates engaged by ensuring they receive timely updates on their application status, interview schedule, and other relevant information.  

The right HR system can also facilitate continuous improvement by identifying weak areas and measuring the impact of initiatives. Solutions such as ATS and HRIS, candidate relationship management software, and recruiting automation software allow organizations to track and analyze various metrics for deeper insights into the candidate experience. 

Many HR tools now have AI integration, providing a faster and more responsive experience for candidates. AI can analyze resumes, assess candidate suitability, and even conduct initial screenings. 

A faster recruitment process can increase acceptance rates and give organizations an advantage over their competitors when it comes to sourcing top talent.