The hiring landscape has been actively shifting for the last several years. Think about the impact that a global pandemic, remote work revolution, and a looming economic downturn have had on companies looking to attract (and keep) top talent. It's a lot to process, and we're definitely in unchartered territory.

In a recent webinar with our friends at BrightHire, I met with three incredible talent acquisition leaders to discuss these latest hiring shifts and tactical strategies to improve candidate experience as a result. I've distilled my conversations with Stephanie Burrus at Glossier, Adrian Obeso at Superhuman, and Jon Cyprian at CallRail into a list of 8 things every recruiting team should do in 2023 to improve candidate experience. I hope you enjoy it!

The State of Hiring in 2023

In the midst of corporate layoffs, there’s a perception that there are more candidates available and thus it’s easier than ever to fill open roles. Has the employer-candidate power balance shifted? Will it be easier to hire top talent in 2023?

The short answer: No.

Yes, there are many great candidates (and a really full pipeline), but there is the same - if not more - competition for the highest quality A+ candidates.

The seasoned industry experts on the panel shared that hiring has not gotten easier, but the reason for recruiting frustrations has changed. There’s less talk about sourcing and bringing candidates into the funnel and more chatter about how to provide the kind of engagement and personalized attention that the best candidates truly deserve.

What Candidates Really Want

Our panelists all agree—candidates want more transparency. Why? With major layoffs dominating headlines, top candidates now approach roles with sensitivity and a certain level of skepticism. They're doing more due diligence and, if they aren't satisfied, they'll take another offer or simply stay put. As a result, companies are seeing them drop out at a higher rate.

But as any talent acquisition professional can tell you, delivering an even higher touch, more engaging candidate experience that requires additional time and resources. Not surprisingly, companies don’t have unlimited TA resources.

8 Actionable Steps to Improve Your Candidate Experience Today

So, with limited bandwidth and more competition, how do talent teams stand a chance to convert top candidates into valued employees? Thanks to our talent acquisition expert panelists, we captured 8 tactical tips you can implement today for major impact.

1. Host Detailed Intake Meetings

This may seem counterintuitive because this step takes place before the candidate is even in your pipeline, but hosting in-depth intake meetings with hiring managers is a crucial step. Without aligning on critical details about the story you'll tell your candidates, there's no way to deliver a consistent and exceptional candidate experience.

Intake meetings encourage better communication on ideal job fit and help everyone think critically about how to engage with candidates throughout the process. In other words, internal alignment and communication before a candidate enters the pipeline directly correlates to creating better candidate engagement throughout the entire interview process. According to our panelists, these are a few items to ensure clarity around:

  • What qualities do the best candidates bring to the table, and which are show-stoppers.
  • What is uniquely exciting or unique about the role. Candidates want to know what differentiates this role at your company from all the other options out there!
  • What kind of problems this person is going to be tasked with solving. Top talent is eager to jump in and make an impact, so sharing what you're hoping to accomplish by bringing this person on board will prepare them to tackle the toughest challenges.

☑️ Expert Tip: Make a synchronous meeting with hiring managers - or at the very least an asynchronous intake form - a requirement before posting a role publicly.

2. Establish Clear Expectations Upfront

Today’s candidates are digging into fine details of the interview process and exploring what their future roles could tangibly look like. As recruiters and hiring teams, providing those details and expectations up front saves time for everyone.

When it comes to candidate experiences, authenticity is irresistible. There are plenty of great companies, but it takes work to clearly embody a mission, brand, and culture. Luckily, actions speak louder than words. In setting expectations upfront, you also give candidates a chance to opt-out if it doesn’t align with their values, preferences, or skills. A few quick and easy ways to establish clear expectations include:

  • Defining what success looks like in the role. Great candidates want to know how they can excel and how they'll be measured. If you’re ready to push the envelope, try including 30-60-90 day expectations right in the job description.
  • Outlining clearly all steps to the interview process. Instead of feeding candidates details on immediate next steps, give them a full overview of every step of the process and, even more, share with them how the interview process reflects the kind of work they’d be doing day-to-day.
  • Cover compensation early in the process. By ensuring your candidates are aligned with the compensation for the role, you save time and energy on both sides and build trust with the candidate!

☑️ Expert Tip: Put all this in a branded interview guide for each candidate to consume easily.

3. Leverage Candidate Interview Guides

Providing candidates with as much transparency as possible into what the interview process is like—and where they are in their own candidate journey with the employer—is essential. In the standard recruiting process, a lot of information is passed back and forth between candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. These documents, messages, and status updates can easily get lost in a flurry of emails, phone calls, and attachments.

An interview guide places all this information into one central location for each candidate, making it easier for recruiters to prep candidates swiftly. It also ensures that no critical information is missed on either side.

You'll stand head and shoulders above the competition by making it easy for candidates to engage with your employer brand.

☑️ Expert Tip: Consolidate all candidate prep materials, interview schedules, feedback surveys, and communications into a centralized candidate hub with Guide. Ask us about our 30-day free trial!

4. Offer Gifts, Swag, and Charitable Donations

Especially with fully virtual hiring processes, actions that feel personal and go the extra mile contribute to better candidate experiences. Sending gifts, company swag, or product packages (for product-based companies) is a great way to extend the candidate experience beyond a Zoom call.

Alternatively, after spending hours with a candidate, interviewers may have learned about a cause that’s especially important to that candidate. As a way to thank the candidate for their time and consideration, the company can contribute a small donation in that candidate’s name and let them know. Not only is this a highly personal touch, but it appeals to the need to help, support, and engage in a way that positively impacts the external community.

☑️ Expert Tip: Choose your gift-giving platform of choice (SugarWish, Goody, and Packed with Purpose are great ones) to simplify your candidate gifting and mailing processes. Or check with your marketing team to see if there is any company swag lying around that you could take off of their hands.

5. Coach and Train Interviewers

How do you ensure that other staff members help deliver a candidate experience that’s up to par with what you expect as a TA leader? Make sure they understand what a positive candidate experience looks like and what is expected of them.

  • Hold regular training sessions and provide guidance on everything from how to deliver the company pitch to what types of questions to ask engineering candidates.
  • Remind interviewers and hiring managers why candidate experience is so important and how it connects to what they care about. If they want a high-quality hire that is a great fit for their team, delivering a standout experience is the best way to do it.
  • Regularly provide feedback to those that are engaging with candidates. Use every interaction with a candidate as a chance to celebrate successes and identify areas for improvement.

☑️ Expert Tip: A tool like BrightHire can be a great addition to your recruiting tech stack to help you build a world-class team of interviewers.

6. Confirm the Candidate’s Interest

Confirming a candidate’s interest might seem obvious, but the panelists agreed that it is often overlooked. We often assume a candidate wants to move forward. By simply asking honest questions about whether a candidate wants to move forward, it shows them that the recruiter values their time and is committed to delivering a positive candidate experience. It also helps ensure that your talent team's precious time and resources are spent wisely.

☑️ Expert Tip: Make asking every candidate the question, “I’d love to confirm that this role is still exciting to you and that you’re interested in moving forward?” part of your ongoing recruiting check-ins.

7. Invite Candidates to Team Social Events

During the webinar, panelists also highlighted the concept of a “candidate social” to help applicants connect to others in the company with a similar life stage, shared interests, or background. Not only does this build personal connections, but it gives candidates some control and helps them decide how and when to interact. Be sure to make it clear to the candidate that this is not a part of the evaluation process. Rather, it’s a unique way for candidates to get an authentic look inside the company.

This, of course, is only successful if other folks are bought into the recruiting mission. It all starts with - you guessed it - delivering a positive candidate experience. Recently hired employees will be eager to give the same experience to future teammates.

☑️ Expert Tip: Work with affinity groups or ERGs at your company to build recruiting work into their charter and formalize the step in the hiring journey.

8. Request (and Act On) Candidate Feedback

People remember how you make them feel, and talent teams have an insatiable hunger for how their candidates actually feel about their experience interviewing with their company. If you want to know what your recruiting process is really like, gather sentiment from all candidates (but especially those that were rejected since they won’t be biased by an offer acceptance).

We all know that the candidate experience rarely ends with a hiring decision. Both accepted and rejected candidates may go on to make future referrals, provide valuable insights, or contribute to your company in tangible ways.

Capturing and analyzing candidate feedback - even qualitatively or without a formal process - is the best way to know what is and isn’t working so talent acquisition teams can support organizational growth for years to come.

☑️ Expert Tip: Start measuring your Candidate TRUST Score.

Transparency and Trust: The Keys to Winning Top Talent in 2023

Our panelists unanimously pointed out that transparency and trust are key to providing an exceptional candidate experience and thus winning more great talent. These themes go hand in hand. While not new values to the recruiting function, they are certainly becoming more critical than ever.

Automate Your Candidate Experience With Guide

In 2023, talent acquisition leaders are doing everything they can to find efficiencies that make it possible for their teams to do more with less. Automating certain parts of the candidate experience - like scheduling, surveys, and certain types of engagement - helps streamline the hiring process and opens up bandwidth. It also helps ensure candidates have a consistent experience.  

Guide allows you to deliver engaging, personalized candidate experiences at scale. Free up recruiter time to build more meaningful relationships with candidates, and make every candidate feel like a VIP.

See Guide for Yourself