Does your organization face difficulties with filling up vacancies? Ask yourself this question; “How do applicants experience your company during the application process?”

Categories: Recruitment


It’s a fact that you desire to attract strong and motivated employees who can contribute to your success. A thorough vetting process is of importance, but have you ever wondered how applicants experience your application process? An application process is a time to evaluate a potential match for both the employer as well as the employee. Did you know that a big share of applicants have a negative experience while applying for a job and that it directly affects your reputation? It is important for candidates to be treated with respect and get clarity about the procedure at an early stage. This does not only benefit your overall reputation, but it will also make a difference in the ability to speed up the process of hiring a suited candidate. Compared to a couple of years ago, there are plenty of jobs available and less talented candidates. Allowing for candidates to cherry pick an employer who shows that  they care about their (future) employees.

Job descriptions

An experience (positive or negative) starts with a look on a website where a vacancy is published. For candidates, it is important to get a good impression of a job, a potential career path and growth opportunities within a company. Especially when you are on a mission to recruit qualified and talented candidates, your opportunity to convince them that you are a great employer starts here.

We often see long job descriptions that are written purely from a company perspective, including long lists of desired qualities. A long and unrealistic list of expectations does not work in favor of a company. Instead, it can be of great value to show that you carefully thought about the role a future employee will fulfill in your company, and also list the opportunities that can arise for a candidate that fulfills the job successfully. By not just focussing on your own desires as a company, but showing that you care for the desires of a candidate, you will be taken seriously as a potential employer.

People that are on the lookout for a new job, especially within the Millennial generation are not just looking for a job, but a company that shares the same values and interests. They spend time assessing a company where they potentially will spend a big chunk of their time. You can easily tap into this desire by showing how much you value employees.

The black hole...

A lot of organizations opt to use an automated applicant tracking system. For an HR employee this most likely is an efficient way to manage the flow of applications. For candidates, however, this is a big source of frustrations. Besides the fact that a system sometimes requires you to manually fill out multiple pages with your personal information, every application takes time. When they've taken the time to fill out all desired information, wrote up a letter and uploaded your resume, a candidate's efforts just disappear in a black hole after uploading. From that moment it is often unclear if and when you can expect a response and if your application will be considered by an actual person. It is also very rare to find contact information that lets candidates follow up on their application.

The message that you are sending to applicants is that you don’t want to free up time to be in touch with candidates, but only think of the needs of your company.

The automated message

Every company uses automated messages and this indeed is a very smart and useful tool to, for instance, confirm the receipt of a job application. But to use automated messages to tell “If you don’t receive a response from us within two weeks, you can assume we will not continue the application process with you”, shows a lack of respect for the time and effort a candidate has spent to show interest in your organization.

In addition to lacking respect, it is bad PR for your company. If you would use the same way of communicating within your customer service department, you wouldn’t be successful at all.

Candidates value and crave reasons why they weren’t selected to be in the running for a position. This will help them to learn about their application techniques and confirms that an organization cares about connecting with people who show interest. After all, you’ll never know if a candidate you reject today, might be of value to you in the future. Handling your application process with great care, is great PR for your company, now and in the future.

Interviewing and follow-up

Another way to make a difference is with the preparation and follow-up of interviews. You’ll help a candidate in his or her preparation by managing their expectations. Be transparent about the process, keep them informed about; how many interview rounds will there be? Who are the people that will interview you, and what is their role in the company? When can candidates expect feedback? Not only work to inform your candidates but make sure to also be punctual in the execution and follow-up.

After an interview candidates crave feedback, especially if they are excited about the prospect of working for your company. The faster you can provide feedback, the better. Especially if you are excited about a candidate, you’ll contain the excitement by providing that feedback the same day. After a first interview, you should have a clear impression of a candidate and you should be able to assess if somebody is a match for the job or not. Many organization wait days if not weeks before providing feedback (if they even do!) providing fast feedback is a way to stand out from your competition. If you aspire to further improve the experience applicants have with your company, this is also a great moment to ask your candidates for feedback.

As far as the feedback goes, make sure your feedback is well formulated and fact-based. If you want to invite somebody for a follow-up interview, don’t wait another 3-4 weeks to plan a second interview. This gives the impression that you are not serious about this candidate. Unless you have a great reason and this was taken along in the outline of the application process, to begin with.

Especially after a candidate has had an interview, it is important to close the application process with a candidate, even if they haven’t been selected for the job. Almost half of the applicants who have been interviewed don’t hear back from an organization after the interview.

Keep moving

If it feels like taking care of a high-quality selection process is demanding too much of your time, there are other solutions for optimizing your process. You can consider hiring a third party for your application process. If you’re thinking about doing so, it is also important to select a recruitment partner that is aligned with your aspirations towards selecting the right applicants. These agencies need to be an extension of your own company and act as your ambassador.

At Movers & Shakers, we value our candidates very much and care a great deal about a smooth recruitment process for our clients. We make sure our candidates are well informed about the expectations that apply to a job opening and manage their expectations for the recruitment process. If you are curious to learn more about how we work and if we can be of service, you can reach out to

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Y van Vliet
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