Why The Candidate Experience Matters More Than Ever—And How To Improve It


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As any company looking for top talent knows, today’s candidates are in the driver’s seat. With the unemployment rate at a 40-year low in Canada and an ever-tightening labour market, employers need to stand out from competitors that have also hung the proverbial “help wanted” sign. One of the most effective ways to differentiate and attract the best and brightest is through the candidate experience.

Candidate experience is defined as the engagements and interactions a prospective employee has with the employer throughout the entire hiring process, from the application process to the final offer. It’s about how candidates perceive and feel about your company at every touch point in the journey.

Not only is a positive candidate experience vital to attract talent, it’s also critical from a reputation standpoint. Given the power of social media, candidates who share poor experiences online can cause significant damage to both the corporate brand and employer brand. Conversely, great experiences that are shared online can have a positive effect.

There are many steps to create a positive candidate experience, but here are three key ingredients for success:


Open communication: It’s critical to keep candidates updated on your process and your decision. When candidates don’t hear back in a timely fashion, they often move on to other opportunities, sometimes carrying negative emotions about the process if left in the dark. At The Bedford Group, we make sure we communicate with the candidate throughout the process and provide council to them as needed. We clearly explain next steps and when they can expect to hear back from us. In addition, we advise them early on if they’re not going to be part of the short list, speaking with them weekly and sometimes daily throughout the search.


A positive interview experience: The interview is perhaps the most vital interaction a candidate has with a prospective employer. According to a LinkedIn survey, 83% of candidates surveyed said a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked. Conversely, 87% of those surveyed said a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted. A positive interview experience is simply a matter of respect. It starts with the courtesy of being on time for the interview and thanking them for participating when it’s over. At Bedford, we strongly believe in the golden rule: treat every person the way we would want to be treated.


The human touch: While technology is transforming HR and the hiring process is becoming increasingly automated, the human touch is still critically important. A personalized approach will make candidates feel like they truly matter and keep them engaged, which will help an organization stand out in the candidate’s mind. Our approach is to infuse every interaction with a personal touch. For instance, we help new hires with the offer negotiation process and serve as a sounding board to them, as well as an advisor. We also follow up with new hires on their integration into the company and meet with them 30 days into their new role for a coaching and feedback session.


At Bedford, we refer to candidates as “the second client.” In our world, the candidate we are working with may become our next client or may simply be a great candidate that we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. For any organization, making people feel cared for, respected and valued throughout the entire candidate experience will give them the edge in hiring the very best talent.