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The Candidate Experience Problem

By Allison Nadeau

Some red flags are too disturbing to recover from. In dating, it may be your date being rude to a waiter, or perhaps chewing with their mouth open. Either way, your date has given you the “ick,” that feeling of repulsion toward someone that creeps up by surprise, and any hopes of a second date go out the window. Once that happens, there’s no turning back and you can’t shake it off no matter how hard you try.

What does this have to do with recruiting?

According to the iCIMS Talent Experience Report, it turns out that experiences with a company aren’t so different. Job seekers also can catch the irreversible bug with a prospective employer.

The research uncovers what U.S. job seekers are looking for — and not looking for — throughout the hiring process. The data shows that once job seekers experience red flags with an employer, not only will it turn them off from the employer but 56% are less likely to be a consumer of the brand.

It’s therefore critical to avoid what research shows are top red flags that can turn off job seekers.

The Phone-Call Ick

As new generations enter the workforce, fewer people are picking up the phone. In fact, 56% of respondents ranked getting a phone call at the bottom of their communication preferences with an employer. If this is a recruiters’ primary form of communication with a candidate, they may risk not being able to get in touch with a candidate, or turning them off in a way that will make them lose interest in their company.

But just because candidates may hit the red “decline” button doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Instead, consider alternative forms of communication that appeal to today’s job seekers. The report found that almost half of job seekers selected texting as their preferred form of communication, and 34% prefer picked emails.

Many companies are already recognizing this. For example, Chewy, an e-commerce pet supply company, has been texting with candidates during the hiring process. As a result of communicating with candidates quickly, the organization has reduced time to fill by 45%.

The Dragging-It-Out Ick

Looking for a new job can be stressful. Refreshing companies’ career sites for relevant roles, updating spreadsheets with dates and names of companies you applied to, and then there’s interview after interview after interview. With such uncertainty, today’s job seekers don’t want the process to be dragged out too long by an employer just to end up disappointed.

Meanwhile, research shows that applications are up 43% from the start of 2022, signaling that job seekers are applying at a faster rate. Additionally, 72% of job seekers expect the hiring process — from application to hire — to last three weeks or less.

However, with recruitment teams and resources shrinking, the actual process can be almost double that time. This aligns with new findings from The Josh Bersin Company, which reveal that time to hire is at an all-time high, so it’s critical for employers to keep their candidates engaged before they grow impatient.

Recruiters can increase engagement and make the process go as quickly as possible for anxious candidates by leveraging the right tools, like employee-generated video content — 14% of job seekers said they’d be more likely to open an email that contained such content.

For instance, CommonSpirit Health, the country’s second largest healthcare chain, enables their employees to play company storytellers. Workers record video testimonials right on their phone, and then those videos are shown to job seekers across numerous channels.

The Ghosting Ick

If you’re a candidate who applies for a job and you never hear back, how would you be treated as an employee? The likely possibility: not good.

Survey respondents cited a lack of communication from an employer as one of the most frustrating aspects of the job-application process. Yet the solution can be simple. In the U.S., 80% said that receiving status updates during the application process would improve their experience and perception of an employer.

Marketing automation can be used to nurture candidates throughout the hiring process by sending them content that will keep them invested and reminded that their candidacy is top of mind. While recruiters may not have the bandwidth to write individual email updates to each applicant, technology can create communications that are personalized to them. For example, 22% of candidates are more likely to open an email if their name is in the subject line.

The No-Career-Path Ick

Amid hiring freezes, reductions, and economic uncertainty, current employees need a reason to stick around before they begin their own external job search. If an employer doesn’t put in the effort to make talent stay, individuals are more likely to leave.

When asked what will prevent them from looking for a new job, 34% of people said support and guidance to grow in their role at the organization, 31% said opportunities to advance in a new role, and 21% said opportunities to develop new skills. However, 64% said their manager does not proactively ask them about their career path or help them build their skillset and advance their careers.

By creating an internal opportunity marketplace, an organization can proactively promote career growth for their employees and retain top talent by matching them to open roles and building a career path that aligns with their skillset, without having to leave their current company.

Catching the ick can be devastating for a company looking to attract and retain top talent, but by addressing these common red flags, it’s not impossible to turn things around and provide an ick-free experience with today’s talent.


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