By Barb Bruno  |    Wednesday November 10, 2021

Category: Columns, Expert Advice, Recruiting


The competition for top talent is fierce and it’s critical for recruiters, hiring managers, and leadership to guarantee a positive candidate experience for every candidate. This includes the candidates you screen out. Candidates cannot feel like their resume or CV ended up in a dark hole with no communication.

If an individual took the time to apply to a job posting or job board ad, you should give them the courtesy of a response, even an automated response is sufficient. Or you can include a disclaimer that reads: “We appreciate you applying for our position but only candidates meeting the criteria outlined will be contacted as part of our initial screening process.” If they don’t hear back, they understand they were screened out.

Eighty-two percent of candidates who have a positive experience with a company, say they’re extremely likely to refer their friends and colleagues.  This is a simple way for you to attract the best talent to improve the candidate experience. Just imagine the benefits of positive social media posts, improved word-of-mouth advertising, and increased referrals of top talent!

First let’s review the reasons why many candidates who are never contacted or interviewed, have a negative experience.  Think about your online process to apply for a job. A confusing, unresponsive, or lengthy online application can cause you to lose top talent. The solution is to revamp your online application process to a user-friendly process that takes no more than 20-30 minutes. The answers should determine if this candidate should be screened in or out. 

Often it is impossible to reach a human being unless you know their extension or the spelling of their name. This is not information a prospective hire would possess, and they become a frustrated candidate. Call your company after hours and experience what a prospective hire hears. There could be a special extension for potential hires that leads to FAQs on your website that would answer their questions. 

Let’s now discuss what causes a negative candidate experience when candidates are interviewed. The main problems are delays when a candidate arrives, an unprepared interviewer, courtesy interviews, irrelevant questions, and a lack of feedback.

Never begin an interview without reviewing the candidates’ paperwork in advance. Block out 10-15 minutes before each interview to familiarize yourself with their work history. Also prepare your interview questions in advance, so you consistently ask candidates the same questions. This will ensure that you can properly evaluate one candidate vs. another.

When you have questions prepared in advance and give everyone the same opportunity to answer questions, even a candidate who appeared not to be qualified, could end up being a great candidate.  This also helps eliminate emotion and bias from your interview process.

Be kind when providing feedback. Your first words should indicate that they are not going to get the job. Works like “unfortunately” or “I don’t have the news we were expecting” are the best to start out your conversation.

It also helps to let candidates know if you’re not going to hire them as soon as possible, once you know you’re screening them out. You don’t want them to feel like their resume or application ended up in a deep black hole! You can set up an automated response to candidates who apply and aren’t being considered.

Thank them for their time, stress the great things about them, and then give them something concrete that would help them in their future interviews. Just telling a candidate they are not a “fit” doesn’t help them. 

Never inform a candidate they have been screened out by email or text. They probably took time off work and did the best they could during your interview process. You owe it to them to pick up the phone and have a conversation.

When candidates have a negative experience after applying for a job, they’ll often write negative posts on social media. Even worse, these individuals will often stop buying your products or services, will not provide you with referrals, or ever consider applying to your company again for employment. That could be extremely costly and have a negative impact on your ability to hire the best people.

During the weekly live webinars I conduct for job seekers, they don’t know who I am – so they complain about recruiters and hiring authorities all the time. One of their greatest complaints is that we don’t care about them, we only care about filling open requisitions. It’s up to each one of us to change their perception and provide them with a positive experience whether they are hired or not.

You hire or place a very low percentage of the candidate who answer you job board ad, website posting or were recruited. When you add to that the number of unsolicited resumes or CVs you could be talking hundreds or even thousands of candidates per month who did not achieve their goal, which was to get hired or placed by you.

We created a Career Portal for candidates we don’t hire or place, to show them techniques they can use to escalate their job search. We also provide live weekly webinars for these job seekers and as a result have dramatically improved the candidate experience. Providing alternative resources gives them something “to do” while they search. If you would like to review what we’ve created go to www.happycandidates.com or call Jodi at 219.613.7367 to receive a 40% discount.

Whether you develop a resource for candidates or just make changes to ensure they have a positive candidates experience, it is well worth your time and effort. The competition for top talent will continues to increase. 

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