Candidate Experience: The Future of Hiring

When thinking about User Experience (UX), most companies tend to focus on customer experience more than anything else. And it makes sense: customers are the people who buy what you sell, and companies want to give them the best experience possible to maximize customer satisfaction and retention.

What these companies end up forgetting about is how User Experience impacts recruitment processes. For us, paying attention to your recruitment process’s UX is the next step toward optimizing your talent acquisition. By the end of this article, we hope you’ll be just as convinced as we are. 


The Problem with Candidate UX Today

What is the standard User Experience job-seekers have when applying for jobs? To put it simply, it’s not good at all. When applying for a job, candidates are filled with a sense of anxiety. Companies will typically have many applicants but will end up choosing only one for the job. For high-profile positions, recruiting teams will often be overwhelmed with applications and will need to aggressively sift through them. 

What’s the result of this for applicants? The most common experience for applicants is the following: apply for a job, wait for an answer, never hear anything back from the company at all, give up and move on. Candidates feel like they are of no interest or value to a company unless they are the one person they are seeking for the position. On top of this feeling, they are completely left in the unknown after they apply for a job. Very few companies will have the courtesy of notifying applicants that their application was rejected. It’s up to the applicants to figure that out on their own. 

When businesses treat applicants as nothing more than their application, you get candidates who feel worthless and disposable. Most companies don’t pay much attention to this because from their perspective, if they’re not hiring a candidate then they are of no value to them.

Even if applicants get past the initial sorting phase, there isn’t much improvement. Recruitment teams are still having to sort through dozens of candidates and it can be extremely time-consuming. The solutions they opt for are usually detrimental to those candidates’ experience.

A lot of candidates can feel like their time isn’t being respected by the company when going through a hiring process. For instance, one technique that is becoming more and more common across industries is the concept of “one-way interviews.” These are interviews where the candidate records themselves without having a live interlocutor and sends the video to the company for review.

Compared to a normal person-to-person interview, one-way interviews are much more difficult and frustrating for candidates. It doesn’t make them feel like they’re talking to anyone from the company and it gives them the impression that the company can’t be bothered to have a real interview with them. 

As more of these methods pop up, companies are sacrificing the experience of applicants in favor of more efficient hiring. 

Prioritizing UX

This kind of approach to your hiring process is shortsighted and outdated. If recruitment can learn anything from marketing, it’s that any opportunity -- even one that doesn’t yield immediate results -- is an opportunity for retention. A customer doesn’t need to complete a purchase for your marketing team to seek to retain them.

The future of talent acquisition is applying this marketing strategy to recruitment. Whether you intend to hire an applicant or not, you should seek to retain them as potential candidates. The reality is that you don’t want to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth when it comes to your company. Businesses already understand this when it comes to customers, employees, clients, and partners. All that’s left is to embrace this same mentality with candidates and applicants too.

The main benefit of this is to extend a positive image of your company through any channels that are available. It is still possible for a candidate that didn’t get hired to come out of the process with a positive outlook on your company. Leaving candidates with a strong image of your company will make them more likely to reapply in the future for other jobs, or even recommend your company to their job-seeking peers.

So how should you begin creating a good UX for your candidates? We’ve put together a few basic steps to get you started.

Don’t Keep Applicants in the Dark

As soon as an applicant feels bored, anxious, or even disrespected by your company, you’ve done something wrong. Your priority at all points of the hiring process should be to create the most positive experience for the applicant. If you think you are evaluating the desirability of an applicant, remember that they are doing the same for your company. We expect applicants to be on their best behavior when applying for jobs. Why shouldn’t that same standard be applied to companies? 

The best way to get started is to ask yourself this question: would YOU like to go through your hiring process? If you’re unsure, you can test it quite easily by going through the process. Put yourself in an applicant’s shoes and see how it feels to apply for a job at your company. Going through that experience will give you a lot of insight into what needs to be changed to make the candidate experience better. 

One of the best things to start with is to be responsive. Stay in touch with applicants. Let them know when you’ve received, reviewed, and accepted or rejected their application. It’s incredible how much simple communication can be helpful for anxious applicants. And you don’t even need to put that much effort into it. Candidates don’t really need a custom-tailored email for these basic steps. A simple automated response will do just fine. 


When it comes to being responsive, you can resort to automated messages to keep your applicants informed about the status of their applications. You can’t use this approach for all areas of the process, though. 

Again, taking from what we’ve learned from marketing in recent years, personalization is king. Making sure that your customers feel personally catered to is key to keeping their business. The same can be said for applicants. Finding areas for personalization and delivering on them is invaluable to creating a positive experience for your candidates.

For instance, giving candidates options for how they’d like to conduct interviews (voice, video, text, etc.) is a great place to start. Making sure interviews are set up according to the candidate’s timetable rather than your own is another great one. People are different, and simply letting them know that your company is aware of this and willing to accommodate them puts you ahead of so many other companies straight out the gates.

If you’re unsure how to personalize an applicant’s experience, don’t worry. You can always rely on candidate personas to help you figure things out. Candidate personas that you build for your ideal candidate will give you insight into the kind of person your best candidates will be. You can look at your personas for hints at what might be a good way to personalize each job posting in its own way.

For example, if you’re hiring for a junior position, you see that your candidate persona for this position is someone who is eager to show their skills and potential. Based on this, you can create an interview where the candidate has a chance to prove their skills to you in a way that goes beyond simply talking about themselves. It can be a game, something lighthearted, that will be both engaging and fulfilling to your candidate. And the plus is that it’ll let you get to know them even better and make more informed decisions about them!

Try SmartDreamers

SmartDreamers is a platform designed to assist in all aspects of Talent Acquisition. When it comes to candidate experience, SmartDreamers offers several tools to help you optimize your process. We offer advanced CMS and CRM capabilities to optimize the candidate journey from the first interaction to hiring. To find out more, you can request a free demo and try things out by signing up here