Recruiters Beware: Treat Candidates Well or Lose Them

If your candidate experience is lousy, you risk losing customers, not just potential new employees.
By: | July 3, 2018 • 4 min read

So, your organization presents an image that’s warm, fuzzy and inclusive. It’s a place where great people collaborate to produce great things—at least, that’s the aura it presents to the world, and perhaps it really is the case. Imagine, however, if the experience of applying for a position at your organization is the exact opposite of that—a dispiriting travail of unresponsive recruiters, abruptly canceled meetings and disorganized interviews where you’re asked the same five questions by several different, yet similarly disengaged, people. Let’s face it: Organizations risk job offers being rejected and job candidates refusing to purchase the company’s products or services if they fail to provide a positive interviewing experience. A Korn Ferry survey of more than 1,000 professionals revealed several trapdoors that companies and recruiters need to avoid in order to sign up winning candidates, maintain good relationships with other job candidates, and to retain a strong employer brand. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they would be unlikely to accept a job offer—even if they felt it was a good fit—if they were treated poorly during the recruiting process. Fifty-six percent say it’s unlikely that they’d remain a customer of a company if they had a bad experience as a candidate and 34 percent would also be likely to urge their friends and family members to take their business elsewhere as well. Finally, 98 percent of job candidates say they visit online sites that provide feedback on what it’s like to work for an organization they’re interested in applying to.


Every step of the recruiting process provides candidate touchpoints. By making sure those touchpoints are efficient, informative and welcoming, talent-acquisition professionals can play a critical role in generating a positive candidate experience, regardless of whether the person is hired or not.

A Wider Community

The quality of the candidate experience can reverberate well beyond the individual jobseeker.

Job candidates are often part of an informal professional community that includes colleagues who may also be potential job candidates for the organization—now or in the future. A candidate with a negative recruiting experience may criticize the organization and discourage friends and colleagues from seeking employment at the organization.

Survey respondents said the single most aggravating experience in the application process is when the recruiter or hiring manager fails to get in touch with them.

Given the availability of computer software and AI tools that automate many recruiting tasks, there’s really no excuse for an organization to not acknowledge a candidate’s application or get back to the candidate with an update on the status of the candidate search. It reflects poorly on the recruiter and the organization.

More broadly, respondents indicated dissatisfaction with the ability of recruiters “to paint a clear, accurate picture of the company and of the role” under consideration, with 47 percent saying recruiters fell short in this regard and 36 percent reporting that recruiters didn’t give them tools and tips to help them land the job.

For recruiters to provide value, it’s critical that they understand the strategic objectives of both the company and the role for which they’re recruiting.  By imparting in-depth information to the candidate, recruiters can contribute to a more efficient and informative selection process.

The Power of Authenticity

Digital channels are key to bringing an employer brand to life for candidates. In many cases, this is the first place a potential candidate looks to find out about a position and gather information about an organization.

While 27 percent of survey respondents said “recruitment process details” were the most compelling element to a career website, 24 percent reported that information on the organization’s philanthropic efforts was the most compelling feature and 20 percent rated information on company culture as No. 1.


The respondents’ emphasis on philanthropy and culture dovetails with previous Korn Ferry Futurestep research, which revealed that culture is the No. 1 reason candidates choose an organization, beating out both career progression and employee benefits.

Accordingly, it’s important not only that your organization’s career website authentically represent the company culture, but that you—the recruiter—and your hiring manager can speak to cultural issues in detail and provide candidates with examples of how culture impacts your organization’s workplace and decision-making processes.

By understanding the type of culture that appeals to a candidate and accurately communicating the organizational culture to the candidate, the recruiter can avoid a cultural mismatch and make better hiring decisions.