Understanding Candidate Experience: Improving Recruitment and Retention

Understanding Candidate Experience: Improving Recruitment and Retention


A candidate’s experience in a recruitment process can make the difference between accepting an offer and continuing their job search. It can also impact how long they are prepared to stay in a position once they start. This is because recruitment experiences are often shared with industry peers and within professional networks. They can thus add to the perceived appeal of working for a company and thereby assist in retaining employees and boosting future recruitment efforts. Or they can tar a company with an unofficial warning and cause top talent to see potential opportunities as less tempting. Furthermore, a less desirable recruitment process can also result in bad hires. While a candidate’s experience is somewhat subjective, there are still recruitment factors that a company can control to advantage themselves.

Recruitment Weaknesses

Recruitment weaknesses are internal factors that act against efforts to search for a job candidate. They can be divided into two general areas. The first are aspects that make a company less desirable. The second is the experience a prospective employee has during the recruitment process. A very likely result of either one or both coming into play is a bad hire. 

5 Factors that Make a Company Seem Undesirable

  1. Demotivated employees.
  2. A siloed company structure without opportunities to connect or collaborate with fellow employees.
  3. An absence of formalised company values or conflicting established values.
  4. Lack of work-life balance.
  5. Stifled career growth.

Signs of a Toxic Company Environment

A company’s internal culture can be off-putting for a potential employee. A toxic or negative work environment is one that will hamper someone’s ability to accomplish their best work.  Thus, as part of a recruitment process, an astute candidate evaluates a company by asking if this is the right environment for them.

A prospective employee who comes across as doing a candidate a favour by interviewing them raises a red flag. This is because it’s usually an indication of internal powerplays, judgement and hierarchical approaches rather than collaboration, mutual respect, and cohesion. Talking badly of the job’s previous incumbent can be a good indicator of a gossiping and blaming company culture. Another red flag is negative external company reviews from customers’ social media reviews. Often also accompanied by a high staff turnover, which further indicates a potentially negative work environment. 

Once a company extends an offer, an additional red flag could be a very restrictive non-compete clause. Depending on the industry this can be indicative of insecure leadership or management regarding a high staff turnover as the norm. In contrast, a good company will usually require a new employee to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement.

A Badly Recruitment Experience

There are some hallmarks to be aware of when rolling out a recruitment process. While some candidates will be desperate for work, many of those who are rated as top talent aren’t. This means that how they experience the recruitment process will factor into their consideration of a potential job offer. 

There are two possible endings to a bad recruitment experience. Neither of these is good for the company hiring. The first is that a good candidate decides that if the recruitment processes are disagreeable, they risk the job experience being worse. Thus, after a process is complete, they turn down a job and the company needs to restart their recruitment process. Alternatively, top talent opts out, leaving fewer desirable candidates competing for a position thereby increasing the risk of a bad hire.

7 Elements of a Bad Recruitment Process

  1. Convoluted or complicated application or pre-employment screening process.
  2. Vague job descriptions.
  3. Inconsistent or incorrect depictions of the company and/or its culture.
  4. Poorly conducted interviews.
  5. Disorganised interview progression.
  6. Long hiring process.
  7. Bad communication.

How to Make a Company Appealing

Ahead of a recruitment process, companies can prepare themselves by reviewing their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in relation to recruitment. This can be accomplished by doing a recruitment SWOT analysis

By looking at the company from a future employee’s perspective, they can hone in on what its competitive advantages are. They can also take steps to rectify perceived and actual negative associations or issues within the company. Undertaking a recruitment-focused SWOT analysis has the additional advantage of clearly defining recruitment goals. Thereafter it enables strategic planning of a recruitment process that will accomplish them. 

For many of those driving a recruitment process, doing an extra layer of preparation may seem superfluous. However, a well-prepared recruitment strategy, that’s focused on the specifics of the jobs that need to be filled, is most likely to be successful. Both for the company seeking to employ top talent and in relation to a candidate’s experience. Furthermore, in the long run, it can lead to an improved staff retention rate.

Creating a Positive Candidate Experience

One of the most efficient ways to improve a candidate’s experience, and a company’s hiring success rate, is to work with a recruitment company.  Doing so immediately makes the process an expert-led one which decreases the likelihood of it becoming convoluted. 

Having unbiased professional oversight means that the 7 elements of a bad recruitment process are highly unlikely. This is especially the case when a company works alongside a recruitment agent such as The Key Recruitment Group. With a long-standing and successful track record, decades of experience and a dedicated team of experts, our partners are at a recruitment advantage from day one of working with us. 

Contact us to streamline and boost your candidate’s experience and thereby better ensure the right hire for your vacancies.