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Human Resources
min read

How to Drive a Positive Candidate Experience



How to improve communication at each stage of the hiring process

Good communication is key to delivering a standout candidate experience.

Now, that may seem like common sense, but unfortunately, it’s not all that common.

Have you ever not heard back from a company after applying for a role? Or been left in the dark after an interview?

These poor practices are enough to stop people purchasing your products or even drive them to leave a bad review of your company on an online forum, and who wants that??

The upside is that the various stages of the recruitment journey give organisations multiple chances to demonstrate culture, values, and character, leaving even the candidates not hired with a positive first impression.  

1. Application - supercharge your autoresponders

Even if thousands of applications are received, a well-crafted automated response, sent following application, is a great way to begin your communication with candidates.

What you should be saying at application time:

  • Thank them for applying and confirm their application
  • State when they should hear back from you
  • Describe what they can expect at each stage of your hiring process
  • Link to content (blogs, videos, testimonials) that demonstrates your culture
  • Answer any FAQs

It sounds so simple, but just confirming that an application has been received and setting expectations for the process ahead will work wonders.

Pro Tip: Give your comms some personality! Autoresponders are usually dry, dull and generic. Make yours stand out by using a warm and friendly tone of voice that better reflects your culture.

2. Pre-interview - be transparent

Those lucky enough to be shortlisted to progress will be eagerly awaiting their allocated interview slot.

Anxiety is running high at the pre-interview stage, so it is important to be as transparent as possible with candidates.

What you should be saying pre-interview:

  • Confirm interview details - time, date, location, easiest way to get there, who they will be meeting with and what the day will involve
  • Give a sense of the office dress code (to avoid any embarrassment for the candidate who dons a suit and tie, only to find his potential future colleagues in shorts and t-shirts)
  • Link to your website company page to help them brush up on the history and values of the organisation

Pro Tip: Make sure your brand is well-represented online. Candidates are increasingly driven to seek the organisations that demonstrate a strong employer brand and positive company culture. Consider updating the Careers page on your comany website to better reflect this.

3. Interview - treat candidates like VIPs!

Ideally, you won’t be interviewing hundreds of people for every role.

So, go the extra mile from the shortlist stage onwards and treat your candidates like VIPs!

They are being invited into your office, the home of the company, and they will quickly get a sense of the culture - so, make it positive.

What you should be saying (and doing) at the interview stage:

  • Show them around the office - let them get a feel for the dynamics so they can picture themselves working for your company
  • Personalise the interview - carefully consider your questions and avoid the same, standard set they’ll have heard before

Pro tip: At Xref, we often use references earlier in the recruitment process. One of the biggest advantages of this is the opportunity to use the results to structure the way the interview is conducted. This helps to make candidates feel invested in, understood and a part of the team from the first time they meet us.

4. Decision time - it’s a two-way street

The recruitment process is a two-way street - while you’re trying to identify if you want to hire someone, they’re also considering if your organisation is right for them.

What you should be saying to a successful candidate:

  • Congratulate them! Make sure your excitement comes across to the candidate so they are motivated to accept your offer
  • Provide all the necessary information and paperwork to help them make their commitment
  • Leave lines of communication open for any further questions they have
  • Set some realistic time frames for when you can expect to hear back about next steps

Delivering the not so good news to unsuccessful candidates is a lot harder.

These people have invested a lot of time and effort into your application process, so it is important that you let them know as soon as possible if they have not been successful.

What you should be saying to an unsuccessful candidate:

  • Thank them for their time
  • Offer constructive feedback - “the role has changed” or a subtle “thanks, but no thanks” won’t cut it, even if a candidate was widely different from what you had expected
  • Ask for feedback - show candidates that you care what they think and then use the feedback as a tool to improve your hiring process going forward

Pro tip: If it was a really close call, a nice touch is to ask the hiring manager to thank the candidate personally for interviewing and let them know that they will keep the person in mind for any future opportunities.

Frequent, relevant and transparent communication throughout the hiring journey cannot only help further engage successful candidates and enhance onboarding but turn even those unsuccessful candidates into advocates for your business.

Want to learn more ways to improve your candidate experience and employer brand?

Watch our free webinar "How to Create the Ultimate Candidate Experience":


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