Report: How a Positive Candidate Experience Can Protect Your Image and Improve Your Bottom Line

The application and interview process can be nerve-racking and time-consuming for job seekers, who must navigate changing, unknown variables they don’t have control over. Nevertheless, in today’s candidate-driven hiring environment, job seekers have more options than ever before. It then falls on employers to provide the best experience possible for them, because it could determine their hiring success and affect their broader public image.

Enhancing the candidate experience has been top of mind for employers over the last few years, and has been even more of a focus recently with Canada’s tightening job market. We see the notion of “employer brand” growing in popularity, as job seekers have greater access to current and former employees’ opinions and experiences.

Employers who don’t provide a positive recruiting experience put themselves at risk of losing out on top talent. Additionally, with the growing ways in which candidates can share feedback on social media or websites, treating job seekers poorly can come back to haunt employers by diminishing the prospects of attracting future candidates and, sometimes, even damaging the company’s reputation and bottom line.

Indeed surveyed more than 1,000 job seekers in Canada who applied for a job within the last year to see what employers can do to provide an optimal candidate experience. Here’s what we found:

Take care of your image by giving them something positive to share

With the emergence of third-party review platforms, conversations and reviews about companies are taking place on a much larger scale and job seekers are seeking out this information. In fact, 92% of workers say that insight into a company’s employer reputation is important when considering a new job opportunity.

In this current study, 65% of job seekers say they have had positive or mostly positive interview or recruiting experiences. More importantly, 94% say that they would share a positive interview or recruiting experience with their friends and family. Even more (95%) are likely to recommend the company to other friends, colleagues or acquaintances who may be searching for a job, following a positive experience with a company.

On the other hand, 31% of Canadian job seekers have had both positive and negative experiences, with 6% of respondents claiming to have had mostly negative experiences. This shows that many employers have work to do to improve. According to our survey, job seekers are likely to share their negative experiences, with 89% of respondents saying that they would share a negative experience they had with a company with their friends and family. Furthermore, 69% are not likely to recommend the company to other friends, colleagues or acquaintances who may be searching for a job if they have a negative recruiting experience with a company.

What makes and candidate experience positive or negative?

Some of the easy-to-control factors that create a positive candidate experience become weightier when it comes to negative reactions. For example, a thorough and accurate job description ranks third (41%) for factors creating a positive experience. However, on the flip side, a job description that’s different than the role discussed in the interview is the number-one factor (46%) that hurts the candidate experience.

Similarly, having their time respected ranks fourth (38%) among the criteria for a positive experience, but a job seeker’s time not being respected, such as when a recruiter or hiring manager canceled an interview, or showed up late or unprepared, comes in second (42%) among reasons that would make the process negative.  

Candidates would ideally like to hear back within one or two weeks

As an employer, making a good impression and being liked are important. However, there are other important aspects of the candidate experience that are easier to control and prepare for. We can modify how we communicate about a job and how we behave during the interview, by showing up on time, being prepared and following up in a timely manner.

Another big source of frustration for job seekers is not hearing back from employers. Nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) would prefer to hear back from a recruiter or hiring manager after more than a day but no more than a week after their interview

Timeliness is important, since over two in five job seekers in Canada (42%) would believe that they didn’t get the job after the final interview if they weren’t contacted more than a week later and up to two weeks after. Half of respondents (50%) think more than a week and up to two weeks is an appropriate length of time to pass between a final interview with a company and receiving a job offer, compared to a third of respondents (35%) who think up to a week is ideal.

Waiting time between an interview and a response from an employer can bring high anxiety to candidates, and, as we just saw, it doesn’t take them long to infer a negative outcome. Aside from potentially frustrating candidates, the real risk of waiting too long to respond is that they take another job. Because candidates have many other options, they may start to look elsewhere or entertain other offers more seriously if they know longer feel they are in the running.

Negative experiences hurt your image and your bottom line

A negative candidate experience is very likely to be shared and may lead some job seekers to withdraw from the application process. In addition, just over seven in 10 (71%) respondents say that a negative interview experience with a company would have a negative impact on their future business with their services and offerings.  

The majority of candidates will talk about a positive or negative experience, and will likely use their experience to inform their future business dealings with the company, regardless of whether or not they are hired. Employers ensuring they leave job seekers happy will enhance their reputation through good word-of-mouth, and protect their business and employer brand interests in the future.

It’s not that hard to improve your candidate experience

If you think of the positive candidate experience as a sales tool for top talent, a company can improve its recruiting result by attracting more applicants for future job openings. By improving the overall candidate experience, the quality of applicants will also improve. The company will become more competitive within the hiring market and may attract the best candidates before their competitors do.

Our survey shows that there are simple, tactical things employers can do to ensure a positive candidate experience. Preparation and respect are key in the hiring process since personality will only get you so far. More simply, that the job description is consistent throughout conversations, that the candidate’s time be respected and that there be adequate and timely communication, are easy ways to avoid negative experience and the possible backlash.

  • Start at the beginning – the job description: We saw that a mismatch between the job description provided and the one discussed in the interview is the factor that is most likely to sour the candidate experience. That said, make sure the posted job description is consistent with what you discuss in the interview. This is a simple yet crucial way to avoid losing top talent and wasting time. Really think about the role you are trying to fill and what is needed when you draft your job description. Make it compelling and clear.
  • Rethink your interview process: The interview process is highly influential in a job seeker’s decision to accept a job offer. Streamline the application  and interview process to be as simple and fast as possible to improve the applicant conversion rates. Above all, be on time and prepared.
  • Communicate clearly and follow-up quickly: It is important for employers to maintain a constant stream of communication with candidates to ensure they are as informed as possible through each step of the hiring process. Personalize your communication to each candidate, rather than sending automated messages and be clear about when they will hear back from you. Additionally, provide feedback, especially if candidates have advanced to the final stages of the hiring process but didn’t get the job. 

The candidate experience is an added dimension to think of when hiring but it will affect your company’s recruiting success and could impact its reputation and financial solvency. The good news is that there are very simple ways you can make it positive for every candidate – even those that don’t end up getting hired. 


The survey was conducted online by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 1003 randomly selected respondents who have applied for a job within the past year in Canada, between February 19, 2019 and March 4, 2019. The margin of error is +/- 3.09%, 19 times out of 20.