How to provide a great candidate experience, to land top-tier talent

Though the market has relaxed in 2024, finding the right, highly skilled and experienced talent for your role, is more competitive than ever.

From having the pick of the bunch, with competitive coin, charming conditions and persuasive perks — high-value talent are understandably looking to be ‘wooed’, or at the very least treated with respect, in return for their time and efforts in the recruitment game. With this current turn-of-talent-events, it’s vital to keep front of mind, that you aren’t just choosing candidates, they are also choosing you too.

This recruitment dance, is known as the candidate experience — it is how talent perceives your brand throughout the hiring process. Providing a great experience involves treating candidates with kindness, respecting their time, communicating clearly with them, setting them up for success, while simultaneously selling your company to them.

This can be the difference between top-tier talent accepting a role, or stepping away. We’ve outlined some of the key considerations that create a great candidate experience. 

Positioning the position

Enticing and clear position descriptions and role listings are vital to attracting the right talent, from the get-go. These are often how talent discovers your role, or are one of the first things they receive from a recruiter — so making a great first impression can be the difference between gaining their attention, or having top-talent scroll on by.

This is your opportunity to ‘sell’ your role to potential candidates, so provide them with the information they care most about. Hook them in with context about what makes this role worthwhile ‘jumping-ship’ from their current role and then cover-off on the key details that you know will be important to them, including:

  • Salary
  • Benefits and ‘perks’
  • Location and flexibility
  • Reporting lines
  • Key responsibilities
  • Career progression pathway opportunities
  • Required qualifications and experience 
  • What sets your business apart

Company culture, front and centre

Weaving in and showcasing company culture throughout the entire recruitment process, will not only help to ‘sell’ the opportunity to the candidate, it will also aid in attracting the right talent — those that align with your business. 

Having a strong employer brand makes it easy for candidates to learn about and ‘experience’ your company culture for themselves. Highlight what a career with you looks like through your website, social media (particularly your Linked company page) and your wider digital footprint. Talk about your ethos, mission, values, the wider team and employee experience on a regular basis and in a way that feels ‘real’ and authentic to those looking in.

Make interviews your time to shine

Once you’re at face-to-face stage, or, screen-to-screen with a candidate, this is not only your opportunity to get to know them, but remember they are also evaluating you too. Top-talent are going to be paying attention to how your business and the people you select to represent your brand, operate — from efficiency, to professionalism and keeping an eye out for potential red and green flags.

You should be setting talent up for success, so that you can get the best out of them, helping you to identify the most qualified candidate — you do this by considering them throughout each stage. Communicate clearly and often about the interview process, what is the timeline of events, stages they will go through and expectations at each phase? If there are delays or changes, keep them in the loop. 

Who are you putting in front of the candidates for each interview to represent your business? Are they trained and equipped in conducting effective interviews? Do they make candidates feel heard and welcomed — will candidates want to envisage being colleagues with them? The wrong people, or ‘match’ with a candidate for the role they are interviewing for, have the ability to completely deter great talent.

Your recruiter is your brand champion

When you engage an agency to assist with your search, they become your partner in the process and are representing your business and brand reputation. Often the recruiter is the first point of contact with potential candidates, and the right recruiter has the ability to engage and entice great talent, but the wrong recruiter will simply repel them away. To give your role the best chance of being filled at the highest level, select someone who doesn’t just align with your business, but also with your employees.

Initially briefing in your agency thoroughly with as much detail about the role and your brand as possible, not only speeds up the hiring process, it improves the candidate pool substantially — allowing the recruiter to develop a clear ideal candidate profile, and identify high-value talent and strike while the irons hot. Great briefs create the best outcome.

The experience continues after the contract is signed

A signed contract by your first-preference candidate isn’t a signal that it’s time to take the foot off the break. When a new-hire joins a business and commences their role, they are still in the ‘discovery’ phase, assessing their environment and taking it all in. This is why it’s vital to welcome your new-hires warmly and with a smooth onboarding process. You want to ensure your newest employees feel comfortable, confident and equipped to start their role. Research tells us that early engagement results in a far greater number of employees being satisfied long term and staying on with the business.

Similarly, this is also the time to think about brand reputation. Providing an equally positive experience for your unsuccessful candidates is not only kind, it is vital to the health of your employer brand. Keep all candidates in the loop throughout their interview process, and when they are unsuccessful, provide them constructive feedback on why. This won’t be the only role you will hire for in the business’ lifetime and previous candidates have the ability to become advocates out there in the market for you, or, employer brand enemies, deterring others from engaging in the process with you.

When it doubt, always remember there is a person behind the resume.