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February 16th, 2017 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Talent Board Research Illustrates the Importance of Candidate Experience

Happy woman shaking hands at meeting

Think back to your most recent hiring experience. What were the things that you remembered most? Did you have a positive or negative experience? There has been a greater focus on the candidate experience in the past year and it will only grow as more people share their job search and hiring experiences online and on social platforms. In today’s social world, any impressionable experience (good and bad) can go viral in a matter of hours. Creating a good hiring experience, from filing out an application to onboarding and day-one activities, will positively affect an organization in revenue and brand reputation.

Sterling recently hosted Candidate Experience in North America: What the Research Shows with Talent Board, a non-profit organization behind Candidate Experience research and the CandE Awards. The webinar shared some of the fascinating findings of the 2016 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report. The report surveyed over 220,000 candidates worldwide who had applied to more than 440 companies. The CandE Awards serve as a benchmark program to raise awareness of the benefits of a positive candidate experience and highlight the tools, technology and techniques that can facilitate the process.

Key Findings of the Report

The Candidate Experience Research Report spotlights the importance of candidate experience and how it can impact a business through talent acquisition. The companies that are exceeding in candidate experience are treating their candidates as the “primary customer” making sure they get the best experience during the hiring process. Once the findings were compiled, the results were split into the steps of the hiring process: Attraction, Application, Screening/Disposition, Interview and Offer/Onboarding.


The attraction stage is how the candidate learns about your open position either on a company website or through outside job board listings. Employment branding, recruitment marketing, sourcing and understanding how candidates are finding positions are very important in this stage. During this part of the hiring process, the candidate wants to understand the company culture, have some insight into the employee experience and a sense of connection with the overall brand. A few highlights from the report found that:

  • 75% of candidates conduct their research during the job search, which is a trend that has held steady over the past few years
  • Company career sites are still the most important aspect when researching career opportunities for 57% of candidates
  • 63% of candidates list job descriptions as the most important job-related content when they are researching a job
  • 56% of employers use employer referral programs to engage potential candidates


The application stage is the process the candidates go through when filing out and submitting a job application. Mobile technology has advanced the application (and the research) process and will continue to grow in the next few years. However, there are still lots of missed opportunities in this stage, mostly due to candidates having to wait an average of 1-3 months after applying for the job. Some other key findings from the report for this stage include:

  • 83% of the candidates were not current employees at the organizations they applied to
  • 78% of employers offer mobile apply, but only 12% of candidates applied via mobile
  • 20% of candidates remember being asked for feedback on the application process (up 5% from 2015)


Screening and disposition are parts of the evaluation stage determining whether a candidate should move on for further consideration. This stage also could be the most intimidating in the hiring process as the majority of job candidates do not move on to the next hiring level. Communication, unfortunately, breaks down the most in this stage from both the employer and candidate perspectives. Key findings in this portion of the report revealed:

  • 86% of employers are allowing more applicants to complete the application even after they fail screening questions
  • 47% were still waiting to hear back from employers more than two months after they applied
  • Only 20% of candidates received an email from a recruiter or hiring manager notifying them they were not being considered. Only 8% received a phone call notifying them they weren’t being considered


The interview stage is the screening process that helps recruiters and hiring managers determine the best candidate for their organizations. The interview is often a deciding factor when hiring a candidate. During the interview stage, candidates are looking for three things: to be prepared ahead of time, have the opportunity to answer relevant questions and receive feedback after the interview has concluded. Based on the report, organizations are taking small steps to make the interview process more candidate-friendly. More details from this portion of the study shows:

  • Phone interview/screening still dominates the interview stage at 60%
  • Overall video interviewing stayed the same at 16%, but recruiters put this at the top of their technology investments for 2017
  • 18% of candidates said they did not receive any additional information, follow-up or next steps after the interview
  • 87% of candidates were never asked for feedback about the interview process

Can a company ask for too much feedback from their candidates? There really is never enough surveying. However, each company will have their own threshold on how many questions to ask candidates and how many times they survey them. Asking a few questions during the process to get feedback is very important to the overall process. Most companies ask for feedback via email or phone. The most common version is during email in the middle of the hiring process or directly after.


Onboarding is the final stage in the hiring process. This stage includes sending the offer letter, providing employment background screening, onboarding paperwork and first day activities. Onboarding solutions have an immediate impact on candidate experience and overall organizational success. The time between the interview and the offer is a critical time. It is important to keep the timeline tight and on point to remain competitive in a candidate-driven market. The report found more interesting data during the offer stage:

  • 49% of candidates said that less than one week elapsed before their last interview and the extended offer (down from 53% from 2015)
  • Completing online forms during onboarding decreased to 59% in 2016
  • 39% of candidates received calls from their hiring managers before they started work
  • Organizations ask for candidate feedback, bit it is still incredibly low at 16%

Impact on Businesses

Candidate experience has a direct impact on business from reputation to the bottom line. Candidates who had an overall negative experience say they will take their alliance, product purchases and relationship elsewhere. Negative experiences potentially impact the employment brand and direct revenue for consumer-based businesses but also diminish their ability to attract sought-after talent and the referral networks that come with them. 41% of job seekers who give their overall candidate experience a negative rating will take their relationships elsewhere while 64% of job seekers who give their overall candidate experience a positive rating will increase their employer relationships. Candidates share their positive recruiting experiences with their inner circles (family, friends, peers) over 81% of the time and their negative experiences 66% of the time. Candidates also share positive (51%) and negative (34%) hiring experiences via social media (Glassdoor and LinkedIn).

The job market is more candidate-driven than ever before. For candidates to choose to apply for a position at an organization, they are doing more research and are looking for a smoother hiring experience. Find out more about the findings in the Talent Board report as well as find out tips how top companies are placing emphasis on a great candidate experience by checking out the On Demand version of the very informative webinar.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.