A proven way to improve candidate experience: Set expectations!

Improving the candidate experience can feel like a monumental task. Where do you start? What should you prioritize? If you don’t hire someone, is there any way to create an experience that’s actually positive?

After years or research, we know that award-winning organizations with great candidate experiences have one simple thing in common: they set and meet expectations.

Employer Brand Academy

Here are some of the insights we collected from our 2018 CandE Study. Keep reading for actionable tips you can use at your organization.


Think about the times in your life that you’ve had to fill out forms that seemed never-ending: the doctor’s office, the DMV — and, of course, job applications. You flip through page after page, wondering when it will end. And even more frustrating is that no one told you that filling these forms out would take so long.

Setting expectations for the time it will take to complete an application is very important to candidates. They also want to understand the approximate amount of time they have left in an application.

Both of these expectations are consistently met more often by CandE winners — 26.9% of CandE-winning employers said they list the average/expected time to complete an application. Also, 55% of CandE winners give candidates the chance to save applications as drafts to complete later, another boon for the candidate experience.

While the numbers are nowhere near where candidates would like them to be, all trends are pointing to a better overall candidate experience.

However, filling out forms isn’t the only part of the application process. Candidates also need to be informed about any testing or skills assessments that may be required. About 43% of CandE-winning employers said they provide explanations to candidates at the start of the application process about any testing that will be required.


After eight years of Talent Board candidate experience research, candidates still have one basic expectation of employers when it comes to screening and interviewing:

  • Communication. Candidates particularly want communication about the steps of the application process. What’s happening now, and when will they hear from you again?
  • Feedback. Companies are mostly falling short when it comes to giving candidates feedback. About 53% of candidates don’t receive feedback after the screening and interviewing stage, and 69.7% of candidates receive no feedback after being rejected during this same stage.

Of those who received job-related feedback the same day as their interview, 52% said they were more likely to increase their relationship with the employer — either by applying again, referring others or making purchases. If feedback was not given, candidates were twice as likely to sever the relationship.

The action companies can take is simple: Provide feedback and communication — and let candidates know it will be coming. Basic communication will increase the perceived fairness of your process, a differentiator that has consistently helped companies’ candidate experiences stand out.

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