Defining the Optimal Candidate Experience

Posted on 07-20-2017

Before you dive into identifying specific tactics that will attract top candidates to your organization, spend time crafting your high-level candidate experience strategy.

Three Steps to Define the Optimal Candidate Experience:


Step 1: Understand how you’re perceived in the market

Before you start the journey of crafting the optimal candidate experience, you need to understand where you are today—what is your reputation as an employer? What is the current perception of your employer brand in the market?

Resources you should use include:

  • Employee surveys
  • Sites like which can provide valuable insights into how your organization is perceived as a whole and how potential candidates will perceive you
  • In-depth interviews with candidates to understand how well you met their expectations and where improvement opportunities lie
  • Exit interviews with employees leaving your organization


Step 2: Determine how you want potential hires to perceive your brand
  • What is unique about your organization?
  • What perceptions about your organization need to be overcome?
  • For what reasons would a candidate want to work at your organization versus your competitors or other organizations?
  • What is your culture like? (E.g., formal versus casual, strict versus flexible, family friendly, etc.,)
  • Why do employees stay with your organization? Why do they leave?
  • What does the community have to offer prospective candidates? What would entice someone to relocate to the area?
  • How do you want job candidates to feel about the way your organization treated them throughout the hiring process?

Distill the data down from these questions into an overarching statement (i.e., your employer value proposition) that will serve as the essence of your candidate experience and messaging. It’s worth mentioning that achieving key stakeholder alignment on your messaging and value proposition is critical to success. It should go without saying that your messaging needs to be authentic and should accurately reflect what it’s like to work at your organization.


Step 3: Map out every touch-point in the candidate journey, and brainstorm ways to deliver on your brand values and employer value proposition
  • Looking at every touch-point (starting with the job posting and application process through the onboarding process), determine ways to deliver a positive experience that is consistent with your employer brand.
  • What message needs to be communicated to candidates at what point?
  • In what ways are you communicating your brand value?
  • What does an optimal candidate experience look like at each stage?


Note: This piece is part of our new series entitled “Blueprint for Delivering An Exceptional Candidate Experience” which focuses on delivering a positive candidate experience for executive job seekers.  Read the first piece in the series “Delivering a Positive Candidate Experience – Ten Mistakes to Avoid” here and the second piece “Why Does Candidate Experience Matter” here.

By Judy Kirby, President and Executive Recruiter with Kirby Partners, a leading executive search firm specializing in cyber security and healthcare IT recruiting.



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