Make a winning impression with your candidate experience

Make a winning impression with your candidate experience - Recruiter Advice

The UK labour market is on the cusp of – if not, in the midst of – ‘The Great Resignation’. This is partly driven by those workers who have stayed in their jobs for far longer than planned due to the pandemic, partly down to those who simply don’t enjoy their jobs or aren’t happy with their compensation and – likely in large part – because of the record-breaking number of open vacancies in the UK.


Gone are 2020’s reports of some job openings receiving thousands of applicants and many jobseekers finding it near-impossible to find a job. Now, businesses are facing the very real reality of losing their top talent and finding it near-impossible to fill much needed roles. This means there’s highly increased pressure on recruiting teams to ensure they make and leave a lasting impression on all applicants and candidates.


To help us understand how jobseekers are feeling about their search for work, and indeed their feelings with regards to the hiring process, we commissioned a survey* of workers to tell us just this. 


Recruiters behaving badly?


Businesses were enjoying a buyers’ market at the height of the pandemic, with the cards very much in their hands when it came to selecting the best talent for their businesses from a very large pool. 


According to what workers in our research told us, this led to evidence of poor recruitment practices:


  • ‘Ghosting’ unfortunately appears to be a common trend; almost a quarter (24%) of those that have applied for jobs since the start of the pandemic say they had no response to their application. Of those that have had responses, almost a fifth (19%) mentioned a wait of more than two weeks for feedback after an application. 
  • Of those that made it through the application to the interview stage, 16% received no feedback or communication from the business after their first interview. 
  • Of those that did make it through to later rounds of the interview process, over a quarter (17%) were made to wait more than two weeks between interviews.


That said, there are of course recruiters that are setting an example to others by taking time to deliver feedback to candidates – but it’s certainly not enough. 


Just 14% of workers say that they’ve had detailed feedback to an application or interview provided over the phone. And 14% of workers also say that they’ve had detailed feedback to an application or interview provided over email.


Why this matters to recruiting teams


The repercussions on businesses that deliver candidates a poor application or interview experience can be significant:


31% of workers say…                           “I am unlikely to apply to a company again after a negative application experience”
30% of workers say… “I am unlikely to recommend a company to a friend after a negative application experience”
23% of workers say… “I make perceptions of the company based on my experience with the recruiter”


With skills shortages putting pressure on businesses and recruiters across the board, businesses cannot afford to find themselves blacklisted by jobseekers. However, when hiring targets need to be met – not only to fill new vacancies but to backfill from leavers due to the ‘Great Resignation’ – and quickly, it’s all too easy to skip corners when it comes to the usual recruitment best practices.


Candidate management: best practice (as told by workers!)


We’ve already explored quick wins when it comes to candidate management, based on what our users told us. This time round, according to our survey, the number one thing that a business or recruiter can do to make a good impression on candidates can be summarised into the following themes:


Timely acknowledgement and feedback

Streamlined hiring process

Transparency and honesty


  • Timely acknowledgement and feedback


39% of workers say…                It’s important for recruiters to give feedback during an interview process


When asked what the number one thing that a business or recruiter can do to make a good impression on applicants is, an overwhelming number of responses simply said ‘acknowledgement’. Ideally, prompt acknowledgement.


There’s many ways that businesses can go about this. A simple solution would be to set up an automatic response to all applications, however it would then be best practice to follow up with a personal email to reassure applicants that their application is being reviewed by a real person. Setting and committing to a fixed timeframe within which an acknowledgement email needs to be sent will ensure that candidates’ desired ‘promptness’ is achieved.


  • Streamlined hiring process


Avoid overly complicated or lengthy application and interview processes wherever possible:


29% of workers say…                             


The length of an application and interview process can put me off when applying for roles



31% of workers say…



The complexity of an application and interview process can put me off when applying for roles


Not only will a simple and effective hiring process encourage more jobseekers to move further through the recruitment funnel, it will also save already-stretched recruiting teams precious time. For example, this may mean having fewer interview rounds or fewer assessments between interviews. 


  • Transparency and honesty


Respect is a two-way street and, ultimately, jobseekers want recruiters to be honest and upfront with them. They expect to be given a true representation of what it’s really like to work at the business – this includes salary, culture and career development opportunities – and what they can expect in terms of their workload and responsibilities if they accept the job.

The other area in which honesty is valued is during the hiring process itself. People want to know the real reasons why they may or may not be successful at securing a job, for this insight is invaluable when it comes to future endeavours.


The simple way to tackle this is by making a commitment to deliver first-hand feedback from hiring managers, in a timely and succinct manner. This could perhaps be by offering a follow-up phone call with candidates to give them the opportunity to ask questions about this feedback.


In summary…


Deliver: timely acknowledgement and feedback

  • Find an optimal balance between automation and manual processes
  • Implement a process which acknowledges every application received
  • Commit to internal SLAs for delivering feedback


Operate a: streamlined hiring process

  • Review the number of interview rounds required
  • Avoid making interview preparation requirements too complex
  • Consider who really needs to be involved in the hiring process


Behave with: transparency and honesty

  • Include a salary within the job description
  • Allow candidates to experience the culture for themselves
  • Be clear about progression opportunities


*Online survey conducted by Atomik Research among 2,002 adults in the UK  –  all employed full (80%) or part-time (20%) – between 17th – 20th August 2021. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code