How to turn rejected candidates into employer brand ambassadors?

Rethinking Candidate Experience Strategies in the New Normal.

You: “If you were to rate your experience throughout the hiring journey on a scale of 1-10, what would it be?

Candidate: “Probably 3

Just a simple question, and all your efforts to round up potential candidates went down the drain. This is not a hypothetical situation. In today’s fast-paced hiring market, if your candidate experience strategies aren’t top-notch, you will most likely be left behind.

In fact, poor candidate management costs Virgin Media $5M annually. According to research, 7,500 candidates out of 130,000 who applied for jobs at Virgin Media expressed frustration due to their terrible experience by canceling their subscriptions and switching to the company’s competitor.

If the above data just triggered your deep-seated FOMO, this article would be helpful. Here, we will explore strategies to provide the best possible experience to your applicants and ways to restore your already “messed-up” brand reputation. So stick around! 

Identifying the Loopholes: Discover the Signs of Bad Candidate Experience Strategies

Below are nine signs that indicate if your company’s candidate experience management is lousy:

1. Low Applicant Conversion Rate

If you’re not receiving enough applications for your job openings, or on the other hand, receiving many incomplete applications, it could indicate that candidates are dropping off due to a poor experience.

2. Negative Reviews

Negative reviews from job candidates on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed can indicate that your candidate’s experience is lacking. If you notice a negative review pattern that mentions the hiring process, it may be time to reevaluate your strategy.

3. Long Time to Hire

If your time to hire is longer than industry standards or longer than it used to be, it could be a sign that your hiring process is inefficient and frustrating for candidates.

4. Lack of Diversity 

If you’re struggling to attract a diverse pool of candidates, it could indicate that your hiring process is biased or inaccessible to specific groups.

5. High Turnover 

If your turnover rate is high, it may be a sign that new hires are not getting the support they need or are feeling disengaged due to a poor candidate experience.

6. Lack of Communication

If you’re not communicating with candidates throughout the hiring process or providing clear information about the position or the company, candidates may feel like they’re in the dark.

7. Lengthy or Complicated Application Process

If your application process is too long or complicated, it could discourage candidates from applying. A streamlined and straightforward application process is crucial to providing a positive candidate experience.

8. Lack of Personalization

Candidates expect a personalized experience that matches their interests and qualifications. If your hiring process feels generic or impersonal, it may turn candidates off.

9. No Feedback or Follow-Up

Candidates want feedback on their application to know if they’ve been selected for an interview. Not providing feedback or follow-up can be frustrating and discouraging for candidates.

If you are facing either of these issues, it’s time to reconsider your candidate experience strategies. 

Making a Comeback: Fix Your Messed-Up Candidate Experience Strategies

Once you have determined where you’re lacking, it’s time to make a solid comeback. 

But before that, the question is: Why can’t you just let it be? A bunch of disappointed candidates can’t do you any worse, right? (RIGHT?)

No, it’s instead the opposite! With rejected candidates left unattended, you will:

  • Lose Them Forever

Studies show that candidates with negative experiences sever all kinds of relationships with that company and never apply again.

  • Ruin Your Company’s Reputation

72% of candidates share their reviews about the company online or with their acquaintances after the application process. (Just one negative word-of-mouth can snowball into something unthinkable.)

  • Lose Money and Resources

Disgruntled applicants are less likely to purchase any goods or services from that company in the future, costing you tons of money. (Yes! Just like Virgin Media lost $5M)

So, what’s the solution? Here is a quick checklist to follow:

1. Acknowledge the Mistake

Start by acknowledging the loopholes and apologize to the candidate. Take ownership of the situation and explain what went wrong. Be sincere and empathetic in your approach.

2. Listen to Their Feedback

Encourage the candidate to share their feedback on their experience and be open to criticism. Listen attentively to their concerns and take notes to understand their perspective.

3. Offer a Solution 

Based on the feedback, offer a solution addressing the candidate’s concerns. This could include rescheduling interviews, assigning a new recruiter, or providing more information about the position.

4. Follow Up Regularly

Ensure you regularly follow up with the candidate and inform them about any progress or changes. This helps to build trust and demonstrates your commitment to improving their experience.

5. Provide a Positive Experience Going Forward

Ensure that you provide a positive experience for the candidate from that point onwards. This could include sending regular updates, providing timely feedback, and showing genuine interest in their success.

By taking these steps, you can show the candidate that you care about their experience and are committed to making it right.

3 Ways to Fix Your Bad Candidate Experience

1. Reject the Candidates Without Burning Bridges)

Maintaining relationships with anyone is already challenging enough, but it gets even more complicated when it comes to doing so with rejected candidates. These candidates have all the reasons for not being in touch with you or your company.

Also, accept it or not, this is very human nature to be biased against someone who didn’t manage to make a great first impression. Rejected candidates somehow fall in this category for recruiters, which overcomplicates the engagement process even more.

To help recruiters out, here are four pointers worth considering:

1.1 Break Out the News As Soon As Possible (Politely)

Don’t waste your and your candidates’ time by mindlessly dragging unqualified candidates till the end, only to reject them later. Do it as soon as possible. Show them that you value their time. Respond quickly.

It is better to personally call the candidate at least once after informing them through the message. Tell them that you may reach out to them in the future if any job role matches their profile.

Ask them to stay connected and regularly check your website for new vacancies. But do not give them false hope. If the candidate is really not a great fit, do not encourage them to reapply. It will only affect their perception of your agency. End the message as well as call on a positive note.

1.2 Keep the Communication Constant and Personalized

Personalization is the key to effective communication. Add a personal note to your rejection message. Tell them their positive points and the weaknesses they need to work on. Connect with them on LinkedIn and show that you genuinely care for them.

Be transparent about the ways they can reach out to you, open communication channels, etc. Reassure them that they can trust you with their concerns anytime.

1.3 Give Honest Feedback and Ask for the Same

Constructive feedback is great for the candidates’ overall growth. It lets them analyze their strengths and weaknesses from someone else’s perspective.

You can use candidates’ interview scorecards to determine where candidates are lacking. Recommending some relevant courses to help them overcome their weak points can help them grow and advance their career.

As you give feedback to rejected candidates, ask for the same in return. You must know what the candidate felt like going through your recruitment process. It can help you analyze your hiring strategies and work on them.

Giving and asking for feedback help nurture trust with candidates and is a great way to show that their opinions are appreciated. Ask them to leave a review on your website and thank them for their time.

1.4 Avoid Liability Issues

Be careful with what you share about your client or your agency with the candidates. Be mindful while giving them feedback. Be straightforward but don’t offend anyone. Don’t let your bias overtake your efforts to build relationships with candidates.

Keep your conversation job-related to avoid any kind of legal issues in the future.

Tips to Write an Effective Rejection Message

Why are we stressing about writing a compelling Rejection Message? Because it matters!

A well-written rejection message helps provide emotional closure for the rejected candidates and enhances their overall experience. It can also help in improving your agency’s brand reputation.

Keep these pointers in mind while writing a rejection message:

  1. Thank the candidates for their time and efforts in going through the process.
  2. Be clear about your message. You don’t need to apologize for rejecting them, but they have the right to know the reason for their rejection. Tell them where they lack so they can work on their weaknesses.
  3. Tell them that you are willing to stay in touch with them and may reach out in the future if any job requirement matches their profile.
  4. Keep the message personalized. Mention their full name and proofread the message before sending it.

How to Stay in Contact with Rejected Candidates?

After politely rejecting candidates, it comes to maintaining a long-term relationship with them. The best approach is to stay in contact with them.

Disclaimer: We understand recruiters have a lot of work, and having regular communication with rejected candidates can appear next to impossible. We, too, are not asking you to talk to them daily, but you can try contacting them personally at least once in a while.

Here are some ways:

  1. Follow the candidates on social media.
  2. Deliver regular good-quality content on your social media feed.
  3. Email them about the new opportunities that may help them.
  4. Share your recruitment blogs and newsletters with them.
  5. Invite them to growth-related workshops or seminars.
  6. Share a few relevant courses with them that can help them improve their skills.
  7. Leverage ATS to set up follow-up reminders to keep yourself on track with your candidate engagement strategies.

2. Leverage Candidate Net Promoter Score to Improve

Candidate Net Promoter Score (CNPS) is a metric that measures the quality of the candidate’s experience. Developed by Fred Reichheld, it is a targeted form of Net Promoter Score (NPS) framework and captures data about how likely candidates are to refer other candidates to your company.

CNPS allows you to benchmark and track your candidate experience’s quality over time. It can also help you identify areas of improvement in your recruiting process.

To calculate CNPS, you survey candidates after they have completed the interview process by asking a simple question – “How likely would you recommend our company to someone on a scale of 0-10?” based on which, we get three categories of candidates- Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

Promoters (score 9-10) are candidates who had a great experience and would highly recommend your company to others.

Passives (score 7-8) are those who had a good experience but wouldn’t necessarily go out of their way to tell others about it.

These candidates are highly likely to hop jobs if given better opportunities. It is easy to turn such candidates into promoters by following better candidate experience strategies.

Detractors (score 0-6) are candidates who had a negative experience and would not recommend your company to others.

5 Best Practices to Calculate CNPS

1. Automate your CNPS Process

It is crucial to reach out to every candidate to address their issues with the hiring process before they vent it out through online reviews. Using recruiting software to build CNPS surveys, sending them out in bulk, and gathering feedback will save you a lot of time.

This way, you can keep control of your employer branding and even elevate it by engaging with candidates promptly.

2. Don’t Exclude Rejected Candidates

Mostly rejected candidates are the ones to share their recruitment journey first with others. A good candidate experience will enhance your reputation in the market.

Make sure you customize different CNPS for every stage. For instance, a candidate rejected at the screening stage will have a different experience from those who appeared for the interview.

Also, consider sending CNPS surveys to candidates who withdrew their job applications.

3. Filter your CNPS on Different Levels

Each candidate has a different experience based on the stage of recruitment they are at. Segmenting CNPS surveys for each stage will help you get more data to analyze them deeply.

4. To Improve the CNPS, Ask More Questions

To improve, you must know why your candidates would choose to recommend you further or not. You must ask 3 to 5 questions to find out the reason behind their rating.

Mind that more questions don’t mean ramming a hundred questions down the candidate’s throat. Keep your questions specific, short, and not more than 5-7. Gathering feedback is also a part of the candidate experience. Don’t make it monotonous.

5. Determine the Impact of CNPS

Once you have scores handy, you must analyze how they can be improved. Clearly, if you increase your CNPS, your business will benefit. But how can you do so?

There is no checklist. You will have to analyze your candidates’ responses to find out where you are lacking and what strategies you should build to improve their experience.

How to Use CNPS as a Benchmark to Evaluate Candidate Experience?

Here is how you can utilize CNPS to improve your candidate experience:

1. Compare Candidate Net Promoter Score Within Teams

CNPS is a great tool for measuring your improvement. Comparing how many passives (and maybe detractors, too) you have successfully turned into promoters will give you direction for further improvement.

Have a benchmark in your company, so you know when serious actions are required from your end.

2. Benchmark the Candidate’s Net Promoter Score Externally.

Not only within the company, but it is also imperative to keep an eye on your competitors. You must know how good or bad you are performing in the market and aim to improve your score further.

A better CNPS score will ensure the excellent market reputation of your company and, naturally, the first choice of any candidate.

3. Discuss with Your Hiring Managers and Team Members

Discuss your candidate’s net promoter score at least once every month with your team members and hiring managers. This will help align the mindset of every employee with treating candidates as better as possible. Once everyone is in the game, it will become much easier to turn more candidates into promoters.

3. Be Creative with Your Approach

Delighting rejected candidates can effectively turn them into employer brand ambassadors and spread positive word-of-mouth about your company. 

Here is a little something you can do for our candidates:

  • Invite them to relevant online or offline networking events.
  • Offer mentorship or training to promising candidates.
  • Provide free courses for them to hone their skills.
  • Send them a thank-you note or card with a personalized message.
  • Offer them a gift card to a local coffee shop or nearby restaurant.
  • Branded merchandise like a T-shirt or bag may work wonders.
  • Gift them a book related to their area of interest.
  • Send them a voucher or discount code for free products, webinars, or services you offer.
  • A virtual tour of your company may keep their interest up.
  • A free career consultation or resume review session may help them grab a better seat in the future. (Which will eventually carve your name in their good books.)

The point is- Be creative!

Leveraging #RecTech: Use Recruitment Technology to Optimize Your Candidate Experience

Will you believe if we say that your ATS and Candidate Experience have way more connection than you had imagined? 

Let’s consider an example where a candidate is interested in a job role and wants to apply. The basic step to apply for the role is to submit a resume.

Now that the candidate has submitted the resume, they assume you know their basic information. Still, as they move forward with their application, they are again asked to fill in the information already mentioned in their CV.

In such cases, most of the candidates will abandon the application process in the middle. Some who complete it will be left with a negative impression of your company.

So what can you do to ensure candidates continue their applications?

  1. Make the application process intuitive and mobile friendly 
  2. Limit the number of screens by being specific about the questions
  3. Follow up immediately after the candidate applies
  4. Provide an “Easy Apply” Option

All these four solutions can be easily achieved using an Applicant Tracking System. Interesting, right? It proves the connection between ATS and candidate experience. 

How Can You Use ATS to Enhance Your Candidate Experience?

These are three (out of X other) ways in which you can use your ATS for a better candidate experience:

1. Write Accurate & Inclusive Job Descriptions

A Job advertisement is often a short and crisp description, covering details like the company culture, vacant position, eligibility criteria, compensation offers, links to social profiles, etc., that any active job seeker comes across first while job hunting. 

A well-written job post (with the right keywords) helps candidates determine if they are the right fit for the role and saves them from wasting time applying to irrelevant ones only to get rejected later.

For better results, you must ensure that your job post is inclusive, devoid of industry-specific acronyms, and contains a relevant image.

Fact: 17% of candidates withdrew their applications due to discrepancies between the job description and the actual job. Make sure you are not spreading false information only to attract more talent. 

How to Use ATS? 

  • Before posting the job online, tap into your ATS database to source candidates from your talent pool. 
  • Use collaboration features to spot the areas of improvement and quickly craft better job advertisements.
  • Use already saved templates in your ATS to save time.
  • Format and publish your job posts on multiple channels with a single click. 

2. Ensure You and Your Hiring Manager are on the Same Page

The last thing your candidate wants is to clear all the interviews only to be rejected by the client at the final stage. 

Ensure you are thorough with your client’s requirements and expectations from the beginning so you don’t waste your candidate’s time

Fact:  7% of candidates sever relationships with companies if they have negative candidate experience. We bet you won’t like that happening to you. 

How to Use ATS?

  • ATS stores all the candidates’ information in a structured format in its database. When discussing the ideal candidate persona, bring that data to the table.
  • Give your hiring manager access to your ATS to increase their visibility into the hiring process. 
  • Track ROI through your ATS and discuss the issues promptly with the hiring manager to avoid alignment issues over time. 

3. Keep the Communication Going

If your candidate feels they have been forgotten or are not being considered for the role, they are more likely to accept another job offer or withdraw their application. 

Ensure that every candidate is part of the loop at each hiring stage, especially during high-volume recruiting when you don’t have enough time to reach out to all of them individually. 

Fact: Candidates expect to get a job offer within 1-2 weeks after their first interview. Are you taking more time? If yes, maybe it’s time to reconsider your hiring strategies. 

How to Use ATS?
  • Set up follow-up reminders and track the progress of each applicant easily through ATS.
  • Collaborate with your team members for faster decision-making and response rate.
  • Automate administrative tasks like sending follow-up emails, answering basic queries, surveying applicants, scheduling interviews, etc. 
  • Use already saved customizable email templates to further save time. 

Mind that the use of ATS is not limited to just these hiring aspects. Just like we said earlier, your ATS can do the unthinkable. You just need to figure out for what specifically you need ATS, and everything will start rolling on its own. 

5 Best Practices to Use ATS Effectively for Better ROI

Undoubtedly, an applicant tracking system is a powerful recruiting tool. Still, there might be some factors you need to look into while using ATS that can hurt your chances of being in a good book of candidates.

To make your hiring process better, keep the following pointers in mind while using ATS:

1. You are the Controller, Not Your ATS

Although your ATS is capable enough to automate tasks and assist you in your daily life endeavors, it’s crucial not to forget the human aspect of the recruiting process.

Don’t let your ATS take control!

Ensure that you double-check the screened applications to avoid the elimination of a qualified candidate merely due to the set of keywords. You don’t have to do it for every application, but a random check won’t harm you.

Also, it is okay to rely on chatbots for a few doubt-solving and reminders, but as the candidate progresses in the hiring process, contact them in person. 

Mind that ATS is not your replacement but an assistant. 

2. Verify What You are Signing Up For

As discussed earlier, choosing the right recruitment software is the first step to influencing a candidate’s experience. Make sure you nail at least that part before trying to optimize anything. 

Most vendors provide free trials of the software. Analyze the features of the good ones (you can find them through review sites) and try your hands on a few that pass the mark.

3. Train Yourself and Your Team Well

It’s not just you; your entire team will use ATS, so it must be your top priority to train your HR team to use the recruiting software effectively. You can schedule demos with customer support teams or even arrange workshops in general. 

This accrued experience will ensure that every member is on the same page before using the software. 

4. Put Yourself in the Candidate’s Shoes

Test your software yourself. Take a moment and go through each stage individually to analyze how your candidates will feel throughout their hiring journey. 

This will give you a better insight into the loopholes in your application process that you can discuss with your team and build better strategies. 

Also, you can use CNPS surveys to understand better what your candidates expect and what you can do to make their experience seamless.

5. Be Curious of the Market Trends

Keep yourself updated with the current market trends, new features, and relevant integrations for your ATS. Try to be open to all sources of information and adapt to the trends. 

Also, don’t hesitate to communicate if there is a feature that you need but don’t have right now, ask for it. Likewise, if something isn’t working, make it known.

With that being said, we have something for you:

So, did you use our ROI calculator? Is your ATS ideal for your company? If not, you can always check out Recruit CRM. 


Q1: What is Candidate Experience?

Candidate experience refers to all interactions and impressions a job seeker has with an employer or recruiter throughout the hiring process. It includes the application, communication, interview, and hiring decision. For detailed insights into candidate experience, check out our expert-curated ebook.

Q2: Why Do I Need to Rethink My Candidate Experience Strategies?

With the increasing use of technology and social media, you must be on your heels, adapting the trends, communication channels, new branding strategies, etc.,- all while providing a seamless and personalized experience to your candidates.

This is possible only when you regularly revisit your “old” candidate experience strategies and modify them to fit your current hiring needs. 

Q3: What #RecTech Stack Should I Have for Better Candidate Experience?

Here is a quick list of recruiting tools to add to your bucket:

  • Applicant tracking system
  • Video interviewing platform
  • Candidate Relationship Management System
  • A Resume Parser
  • Chatbots
  • An Assessment tool
  • Onboarding software

Either you can go with these standalone tools or invest in an integrated recruiting suite that contains all these.

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