Creating the candidate experience to win the talent war

As an employer branding agency, we can see that in today’s highly competitive job market for top talents, candidate experience is one area that could potentially be a key differentiator to help organizations secure the desired piece to enable greater success in the longer term. But, what does it really mean by creating a positive candidate experience?

During our recent People Mentality Connect panel discussion, we had 3 panellists – Lawrence Young, Jason Lin and Sudhanshu Ahuja, who shared their insights on this piece. I’ll be sharing some of the key pointers mentioned while adding on with some perspectives to help you better appreciate this topic better.

What does candidate experience actually mean?


Jason started off by sharing the importance of being human during the process. When approaching the candidate’s questions or concerned, it is necessary to be empathetic and understand their needs as well.

Lawrence added with an example of his previous organization bringing candidates onboard a company tour to get them excited while assessing them. It pretty much went wrong because during which, they failed to consider the comfort level of candidates and a supposed fun experience, backfired.

Think about this, an interview process should be a two-way traffic, not a one-way interrogation. We are trying to build a positive relationship during the process with a talent who wants to feel valued and not buying a product that will be readily disposed right after using it. It is essential to know the profile and understand their needs before tailoring the experience accordingly.

Why is it important?


Sudhanshu accurately pointed out that to fight for your top talent, you simply have to up your game. After all, a highly sought-after talent has no short of suitors and if you are not going to stand out from the crowd, why would the individual bother about you?

Lawrence went on to reinforce that one bad experience a candidate had can easily create a bad reputation for the organization. In particular with today’s social media outreach, poor management of a candidate’s experience can create a negative ripple effect that writes off all the branding efforts done previously.

Jason added with an interesting point. He shared that HR needs to play a dual role of managing the candidate while working closely with the line managers to make it happen. The hiring process can be long drawn. To help candidates sustain their energy and interest, HR needs to play an active role to engage them. For instance, meeting them for coffee chats during the interim or even getting line managers to get in touch with them to keep the conversation going during the process. Key ideas here, get hiring managers involved and be a friend of the candidate.

How to create the desired candidate experience?


Lawrence started this part by sharing a funnel approach. He got the audience thinking that perhaps a candidate experience starts even before a candidate applies for the job. In fact, the market brand might be key for a start before even funneling down to the employer brand. First, candidates need to have a liking to the company’s brand from an offering perspective. Thereafter, continue to build a strong employer brand to get them excited to apply to you. This way, you attract the right talents and that’s where you can start engaging them in the right manner.

During the hiring process, candidates need to feel respected and sense your sincerity. That’s key and can only take place if you speak from you heart. In particular for those candidates who are unable to succeed for a current role, it’s also important to continue engaging them positively with the same approach because you never know if they may eventually become the right talent for your future positions.

Jason reminded that regional implications are real. Often, we might be too ingrained with what we are doing in the local context and neglect that cultural differences needed to be taken care off as well. He highlighted that technology is key, and one way for us to leverage on it could perhaps be in the situation where mass hiring is required. With technology, HR can then scale the initial candidate experience which is necessary to engage and create the required consistency.

Sudhanshu rounded off the discussion by bringing out the importance of empathy. He echoed Jason’s point that technology can help to scale what HR is doing. Likewise for this case, it will also help to put empathy at scale. In addition, he also reckoned that technology will help to remove biasness of the hiring process to ensure a fairer process. That way, you will also have a better shot at hiring the right talents for the organization.

Closing thoughts


The hiring process can be painful and candidates might suffer from fatigue during this period of time. How can we help them sustain their interest and energy? What can we do to ensure they are constantly engaged during the entire process?

The candidate experience is therefore an integral part of securing the desired talent. HR can do more than just transactional work. This is one area where HR not plays the role of hiring the right talents, but also build the company’s employer brand which is key in this talent war.

*Special thanks for my photographer, Andy, for capturing the wondering moments at the event. Check out some of his other great work at Apertuready.

*Also, do check out for those who are keen to learn more about this talent acquisition tool that can further enhance your candidate experience journey.

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