Candidate Experience: The Key to Hiring Top Developers

Candidate Experience: How to Hire Skilled Engineers

What is candidate experience?

The phrase candidate experience gets thrown around a lot in the recruiting and talent acquisition world. But what does it actually mean? Basically, candidate experience describes the entirety of a candidate’s interactions with your company. Candidate experience captures how candidates feel about your company before, during, and after the recruiting and hiring process. This concept includes every interaction they have with a company, starting with their first message from a recruiter to the offer package (if everything goes well) or how the rejection is handled (if it doesn’t).

These are usually either good or bad experiences. Candidates rarely feel neutral about a company at the conclusion of their interaction with your recruiting process. A candidate’s experience can make or break your ability to hire top talent. Unfortunately, too many companies treat candidate experience as a secondary consideration. According to WorkPlace Trends, almost 60% of applicants have had a negative candidate experience with a company.

Bad candidate experience is a big problem

The recruiting process is a two-way street. Make no mistake: Candidates are evaluating your company during the recruitment process just as much as you’re evaluating them. You might feel great about a candidate and want to extend an offer. But if their outlook on the experience isn’t as rosy, your offer will fall flat. Job seekers consider the candidate experience you provide to be a strong indicator of how you treat employees.

By extension, this directly influences whether they want to work for your company or not. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, 83% of candidates said that a negative experience was enough to change their minds about a role or company that they had been interested in. On the other hand, in that same study 87% of candidates said that a good experience would give them a more positive outlook on a role or company that they had doubts about.

Candidates expect to be treated like the valuable resources that they are. And when their experience with a company is less than stellar, they’re obviously going to think twice about moving forward with that company now or in the future. In effect, your company’s potential candidate pool has just gotten smaller. And candidate experience matters even for candidates who you don’t end up extending an offer to!  

A bad experience doesn’t just sour an individual candidate’s opinion of your company. The likelihood that a candidate will keep that poor experience to themselves is pretty slim! A Workplace Trends survey indicates that around 72% of applicants have shared their interview experience with a candidate on a review site like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Vault. The story will spread and other candidates will start to be wary of your company. As we all know, pissed off people are more likely to write reviews in general. The dudgeon of a job seeker who’s had a bad candidate experience is not to be ignored!

Six easy steps for a better candidate experience

So what can you do to ensure that your candidates have the best possible experience with your company? We’ve got six things that you can do to increase the odds that you’re providing people with a great candidate experience.

Let them evaluate you:

While you and the hiring team are evaluating a candidate, the candidate is evaluating your company. They’re making decisions about your company and the role throughout the entire process. So you need to make sure that they have the data they need and the access they want. Make sure they know who their primary point of contact is on the recruiting side and on the engineering side. They’re likely to have questions for both.

Engage your team:

Everybody in your company that the candidate is in contact with, from the recruiter to the interviewers to the people they eat lunch with, are critical pieces of the candidate’s overall impression of your company. Make sure they’re good impressions!

Don’t drag your feet:

A competitive candidate market means that the talent you want to hire is in high demand. Sought-after candidates expect the entire recruiting process, from initial reachout to interview to offer, to be quick and painless. And 47% of candidates who decline a job offer do so because they’ve already accepted a different offer, according to MRINetwork. To have a better chance with a top candidate, you want to get there first! Don’t rush decisions, of course, but don’t hesitate with your top choices either.

Close the loop with candidates:

If you’re not moving forward with a candidate, letting them know what’s going in a timely manner on shows them that you respect their time. If you ghost them, or keep them on the hook for a long time, that’s a bad candidate experience. And who knows who they’ll tell about their poor experience? The story will spread. Not only will you have lost any future opportunities with that candidate, you’ll probably lose other potential candidates as well.

Offer constructive feedback:

According to LinkedIn, 94% of applicants appreciate feedback if you don’t move forward with them. Letting them know why is instructive and enhances their experience, and giving feedback shows that you value them. Again, even if they’re not the right fit for you now, they might be in the future. And no matter what, you can assume they’re going to share their experiences with other job seekers.

Ask for the candidate’s thoughts:

No matter what the outcome of the process with a candidate is, and no matter which stage of the funnel they reached, it’s enormously instructive to ask for feedback. And don’t just file their feedback away once you’ve gotten it! Your company should iterate its process continually based on candidate feedback and outcomes.

The future of candidate experience

At CodeSignal, we’re working towards a future in which we can dispense with time-consuming activities like phone screens and tech challenges. Instead, companies will be able to rely on a trusted assessment process that measures and quantifies candidate skills. This will save your engineering team a ton of time, of course.

But it will also create a better candidate experience! The top talent that you’re trying to recruit is often already busy with a full-time job and/or are juggling multiple application processes. So if you can offer them a faster, more efficient process candidates will respond positively. Once we’ve reached a stage where companies trust an assessment process and platform like CodeSignal Recruiter, significant points of friction will disappear from the candidate experience. Relying on automated skill assessments will allow you to move candidates through your recruiting process much more smoothly.

Until we reach that point, make sure you’re implementing the six steps outlined above. Even if you can’t eliminate phone screens or take-home challenges quite yet, you’ll be creating a much better experience for all of your candidates!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal can do for your company’s recruiting process? Sign up here for a free demo!