The Candidate Journey: The Secret to Employee Retention

From recruitment to interviewing, offer made to rejection, each step of the candidate journey must be treated with care. With unemployment rates at an all time low, employee retention is more important than ever. Employers can no longer afford to skimp out on any part of the hiring process.

It’s no secret that a quality, speedy hiring process can help your company gain a competitive advantage when attracting talent. However, effective talent acquisition can also greatly increase employee retention.

So what does an effective talent acquisition strategy look like, and how exactly does it impact retention?

The answer starts and ends with the candidate experience.

What is the Candidate Experience?

First impressions matter, and when it comes to candidate experience, no truer words have ever been said. So what exactly is the candidate experience? Candidate experience can be defined as the way in which a candidate perceives and reacts to the way your company recruits, interviews, hires and onboards. In other words, it is a potential employee’s impression of your company’s hiring process.

There are a number of different aspects that can contribute to how a candidate perceives your company. Here are a few examples that can make a major impact:

  • Job descriptions
  • Online company reviews
  • Ease of applying
  • Company careers page
  • Time to respond to application
  • Interaction with the recruiter
  • Interview process
  • Communication and follow up

A candidate will or will not decide to accept an offer with your company based on the quality of the factors listed above.

A Quality Candidate Experience

So, what does a quality candidate experience look like?

There are a few things that must be true to determine if your company is providing an ideal candidate journey:

  • All job descriptions are straightforward: Job descriptions must sell candidates with simple language and easy structure. Only list the “must-haves.” A long wish list of ideal qualities will discourage candidates from applying in the first place.
  • It is easy for a passive candidate to apply: In other words, if someone is not actively looking for a job, the application process should be simple enough for someone to apply on a whim. Your careers page and job listings should be easy to find and accessible via a mobile device. Be sure to send a confirmation email when the application is submitted.
  • Candidates are treated like customers: It’s unwise to keep your customers in the dark when it comes to questions, comments and concerns. Why should potential employees be treated any differently? It’s important to communicate and follow-up with candidates during each and every step of the hiring process. Be prompt and polite with all communication.

The Secret to Employee Retention

Above, we outlined a few things that define a quality candidate experience. However, what kind of impact does this actually have on retention?

First of all, employees are more likely to stick around if the job they have is the job they applied for. Clear, honest job descriptions are imperative. Be honest with the candidate during the interview process about what kind of work they will be doing and who they will be working with.

On that note, there are other ways to prepare future employees for the job during the hiring process. For example, if you are asking candidates to relocate, it’s important to educate them about their potential new city. That means being up front about cost of living, commute times and quality of life. A candidate may be a perfect fit for your company, but ultimately, they have to be a fit for your company’s city, too.

Employees are also more likely to stay with a company if they like their co-workers. This is true for both new hires and tenured employees. During your hiring process, get as many people involved as possible. If you don’t have capacity to have people outside the department interview a candidate, consider conducting group interviews or simply introducing candidates to employees during an office tour. If you have multiple people involved in the hiring process, current employees will feel their opinion is valued and future employees will feel welcome on their first day.


Unemployment rates are at a 17-year low. Companies are not only fighting to attract talent, but also to retain the talent they currently have. An excellent candidate experience is no longer a matter of company reputation, but a necessity for recruiting success and employee retention. When you focus on the candidate journey, both your company and your future employees will benefit.

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