Improve Your Hiring Process for All Candidates — Hired or Not

Even if you don’t work directly in talent acquisition, you are aware of how hiring works, at least in general. Several candidates vie for a position, then one eventually is selected. Naturally, this means that no matter what the position, more people will likely apply than will be accepted. Looking at it that way, it strongly helps any organization to think long and hard about their hiring process to ensure that no matter the outcome, candidates feel positive about the organization after the fact. But is that always the case? 

Brandon Hall Group research shows that nearly half (44%) of candidates are either negative or neutral about the hiring process, regardless of the outcome, and only 7% feel very positive about the process. Looking on the bright side, no organizations report that their hiring process is very negative, but let’s focus on what can be done about those organizations seeking to improve. 

The biggest hiring process headache for most organizations is the speed at which candidates move through the system. From a candidate’s point of view, it is easy to see how many become frustrated, especially when they are eventually not selected for the job. That is a lot of time wasted with no return on investment! It stands to reason that speeding up the process will go a long way toward improving the candidate experience for those who are not hired. 

The impact of having a large group of candidates unhappy with your hiring process and not getting the job (remember, there will always be more of them than those who do get the job), goes beyond a few angry posts on social media — although that is hardly a trivial consequence. Candidates who are unhappy with the process are much more unlikely to apply again when a new position opens, weakening your talent pool. They are also unlikely to recommend your company to others. And those angry posts? Those have the potential of ruining or at least diminishing your company brand, something that can make a big difference in the very real war for talent. 


To improve your organization’s hiring process, regardless of individual hiring outcomes, it’s worth asking what impression do you want candidates to have about your company through the application process. Organizations should ask that question, along with the following: 

  • Who in your organization is ultimately accountable for overseeing and improving the candidate experience? 
  • What data and metrics will your organization use to measure the effects of changes to the talent acquisition process? 
  • When in the talent acquisition process is your organization seeing the biggest amount of dropout and what interventions can be taken to improve that drop rate? 
  • Is your corporate culture reflected in the hiring process and if not, where in the process can your organization’s mission, values and culture be expressed? 
  • What tools and technology are available to help measure, analyze and change the talent acquisition process to improve the candidate experience?

Automate the TA Process 

The greatest obstacle to a more positive candidate experience is the length of time candidates spend in the hiring process, but the surest way to speed up that process is to automate it. This doesn’t mean the entire TA process should be handled by machines, because it is the human element that will help drive connections to the company. But anything that can be handled by software, should be: paperwork, entering and displaying data, automatic status updates, etc. 

Follow Up With Non-hired Candidates 

Some organizations make a point of maintaining an alumni network of former employees. Keeping a database of previous applicants whom you contact with news about the company and new relevant job opportunities is a good way to stay connected. This will help keep them informed of new openings that they may be interested in and establish your organizational brand as one that cares about all applicants, regardless of the hiring outcome. 

Seek Referrals from a Wide Range of Sources 

Many organizations use their current employee base to gain referrals but less than half go the extra step of seeking referrals from all applicants. 

The advantages of pursuing referrals from all applicants — even those further along in the applicant process — is that a) it increases the number of applicant referrals you are likely to get, and more importantly b) it shows the applicant that you value their opinion enough to seek a referral and keeps that applicant interested in the organization — exponentially so if their referral gets the job. 

Remember, the focus should always be on the candidate’s experience in the hiring process, not merely the result of that process. 

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Mike Cooke



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.