The Candidate Experience – The Next Big Thing?

Some days ago, a group of authors and editors released a “virtual monograph” aimed at explaining “The Candidate Experience: What they say it is; What it really is; and, What it can be“. Gerry Crispin, Mark Mehler and others provide an overview of scientific studies about how applicants and jobseekers perceive the application process as well as blog entries out of the last few months. Being highly ambitious, they plan to refine the document at least quarterly. Moreover, they are even up to creating an Award for the Best Candidate Experience!

But what is this Candidate Experience? Here is the definition that Gerry Crispin proposes on page 11 of the monograph: The Candidate Experience are

“The attitudes and behaviors of individuals who aspire to work for a firm about the recruiting process, the stakeholders in the process, the work and the company itself as a place to work.”

So the experience of the candidate is stated to begin “when they have hit the ‘submit’ button”. But the employer can already do something to support the potential applicant before submitting his or her CV: Joseph P. Murphy has posted a video recently, referring to the project of Crispin and his colleagues, which has the goal to inform HR people and hiring managers how to “help the candidate make a more informed decision”. Randy Hood’s video commentary is summarized in four points (see the screenshot below).

Source: Embedded YouTube-clip by VirtualJobTryout on

Now that sounds a lot like Employer Branding, doesn’t it? As far as it seems, the Candidate Experience is an issue to be adressed by both Employer Branding and Recruiting professionals – but not so much out of a sales perspective. There is a need to put oneself in the position of a potential candidate. The fourth point is also connected to using “Realistic Job Previews” , a topic which was also elaborately discussed in Germany (e.g. on Recrutainment blog).

The authors’ research indicates a third and probably the most important group of company representatives when it comes to influencing the Candidate Experience to the better or the worse: the hiring managers. Therefore, HR professionals do not only need to provide a great Employer Brand, a streamlined and efficient application process, they do also need to establish a corporate culture aimed at treating a candidate as if he or she would be a future and welcome colleague. Well, recruiters can at least have a positive influence on the experience when they act enthusiastic, empathetic and helpful – in addition to being knowledgable about the job. But, as the group of authors explicates, recruiters only appear as the first point of contact and their efforts are in vain once the process takes too long or a hiring manager acts inappropriately.

On page 5, referring to Corporate Executive Board’s Recruiting Roundtable, best practice companies were analyzed in 2002. Those companies met “candidate needs as their expectations grew by providing status, interview prep kits, interview process primers and other resources”. Such additional information may still prove to be helpful – but also missing – on most career websites.

Employer Branding, Recruiting, Career Websites, Realistic Job Previews, … – the Candidate Experience is quite successful in integrating several important topics of current discussions in HR. You can also add “Social Media” to this list. Why? The authors are looking for a reason to care for the candidate experience out of business perspective. They find an approach developing some ideas out of “The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. This book comes to the conclusion that the next step after the Service Economy would be the so-called “Experience Economy”, which is demanding from companies to “render authenticity” in order to be the most successful, as memory itself would become the most sought-after product. And this “authenticity” is also pretty much a trending topic for at least a lot of German blogs dealing with HR and Social Media like, e.g., (once more) Recrutainment, soziales Brand:Marken or personalmarketing2null.

Source: – page 13 of monograph

Crispin and the others decide to evaluate the Candidate Experience “by describing four types of experiences – Educated, Entertained, Enthused and Engaged” (page 12). These four types of experiences will be provided by the potential employer on its Social Media platforms, career website, during the recruiting process, on job fairs, etc. To tie in with the idea of “rendering authenticity”, authenticity may expand the matrix to a third dimension. All these provided experiences can only be successful as long as they appear to be credible and true.

In my opinion, this new monograph may be a catalyst for a more elaborate and scientific as well as empirically confirmed discussion about the Candidate Experience. And such a discussion would definitely help in improving the remake of career websites, using Social Media for Employer Branding and Recruiting as well as finding the right talent for your company. It would help to plan and carry out activities on a well-grounded concept instead of just following trends, buzzwords and advice from consultants…

What they say it is; What it really is; and, What it can be