The Candidate Experience: It Can Make or Break Your Employer Brand

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A positive candidate experience can do wonders for an employer brand. On the other hand, a negative experience can really do some damage.

In a survey, 46 percent of candidates rate their experience poor or very poor, and 64 percent share their experience with a company via social media. People are sharing their candidate experience and it really does have a significant impact on the employer brand.

The site or job listing

The candidate experience usually starts with a click.

The company site or job listing is the candidate’s first glimpse of the company. The same way recruiters skim resumes, candidates skim listings.

According to a HireRight survey, 75 percent of respondents said that the look and feel of a job posting influences their decision to apply, and they will spend an average of 30 seconds looking at a post. When you consider that 52 percent of manager respondents claim that hiring and retaining talent is their number one business challenge, it is vital to get that first step right.


A mere 5 percent of candidates rate their experience as excellent, and this is due in large part to lack of, or slow, communication.

An astounding 77 percent of job applicants receive no communication from the organization after applying for an advertised position. That number represents a lost of missed opportunities for employers. Even a generic response is better than no response.

The application process can take up to an hour, and that doesn’t include resume writing or the listing search. To receive no communication or feedback on an application is inconsiderate on the part of the organization.

Timely correspondence should be a given, but sad to say, it’s not. Some 58 percent of applicants sited not getting regular feedback on the status of their application as a reason for sharing their negative candidate experience.

These people didn’t just hop online and fill out applications because they had nothing to do on a Friday night; they need a job. It is extremely aggravating to candidates when recruiters or hiring managers are untimely with their communications.

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The employer brand is all about being the company for which people want to work for. A positive employer brand gets candidates to line up for the chance to be a part of an organization that they know will treat them right.

A surprising 90 percent of candidates who feel that they were treated with courtesy and a personal touch would encourage others to join the company in the future. Simply bringing manners and respect into the process can boost the employer brand in a huge way.


The numbers are there — the employer brand is significantly impacted by the candidate experience. Collecting feedback from candidates is a common sense way to improve upon the process, yet only 11 percent of organizations solicit feedback from their candidates.

This is another huge missed opportunity.

Candidates are investing time and resources into applying for each position. That effort should be matched in the candidate experience. The search for good talent has such an impact on the company in several different ways. Some 34 percent  of job candidates said that their experience during the hiring process, whether positive or negative, affected their decision to take the position.

With social media, globalization and business becoming increasingly transparent, word gets around quickly and broadly. Each aspect of the hiring process should consist of thoughtful interactions that project the brand and culture of the organization.

Raj Sheth is the co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, he founded two other web startups -- a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He is a graduate of Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston. Visit his website at


8 Comments on “The Candidate Experience: It Can Make or Break Your Employer Brand

  1. This is so true… So many in my profession (recruiting/sourcing) are focused on quantity versus quality. I get positive feedback from candidates all the time and to be honest the quality time I spend with candidates makes my job so much easier. I work for a variety of clients in different industries and functional areas recruiting leadership and the personal connections I’ve made truly are amazing. Some candidates have even become clients and almost all make referrals.

  2. I completely agree- I research companies and people I work with and have found that you can’t ignore or gloss over reviews when choosing a company to do business with, even if you seem to hit it off at first. Some companies are slow to adjust to the exponential growth of online exposure and want to stick to what has worked in the past but the reality is that if they don’t address negative feedback and adapt to focusing on positive candidate experience they are going to have trouble pulling in and keeping quality talent. In time, that company is not likely to survive.

  3. It’s about time someone in HR, addressed the lack of communication in the process. As a marketing/PR pro, I often heart nothing. I sometimes receive some canned responses so generic and so devoid of personalization, that my 10-year old could do better. For a recent interview, I spent six hours at their corporate HQ, meeting with 8 people across 3 departments, including a senior HR representative. I heard nothing as followup, even from the HR person. This was for a major company based in PA, with stores nationwide. (The irony: the HR rep told me the company was a very nurturing, people-focused organization.)

  4. As an applicant/interviewee I continue to be stunned by the absolute lack of basic courtesy. It is now commonplace for me hear nothing post-interview regarding feedback, next steps, etc. despite repeated attempts to follow-up. And more often than not, if I do receive feedback it is often something that they could have gleamed from simply reading my resume. Needless to say, a difficult experience is only made harder by such behavior. So frustrating!

  5. Thank you! I understand positions getting hundreds of applications are not going to allow a personal call for each applicant, but a lack of communication later in the process can negatively impact employer brand. It will keep you from getting top talent, and even business. And a great interview experience can lead to high impact referrals even before the candidate gets on boarded. Huge.

  6. This is such an enlightening piece, Raj. You’re right, a positive candidate experience can do wonders for an employer brand, regardless of whether or not the candidate is ultimately hired. And a negative experience can equally impact the brand, but in an adverse way. Businesses should assume that job candidates are sharing with their peers how they were treated during the interview process – good or bad.

    This got me thinking of how my industry of communications and marketing can help facilitate positive online experiences. The candidate may not become a part of your team, but they might become your target audience. And it only takes one bad review, comment or rating to throw a wrench in your credibility and reputation. The undeniable truth: the way in which you portray your brand – not only to your customers, but also to your candidates – is directly correlated to better recruiting and a more trustworthy reputation in the future. – Lisa Tilt, President of Full Tilt Consulting (

  7. well said, If you leave a good company you get jobs soon, branding is effective, so if the companies which are well known and popular

  8. I agree. I had some terrible experiences with companies before I found a good job – asking if i have children, what my husband does for a living, and taking my picture before the interview starts. I left online reviews about these experiences. If this doesn’t attract candidates, it might attract the EEOC.

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