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The Impact of Candidate Experience on Employee Retention

Arjun Ruparelia


21 May 2023

Employee experience doesn’t just start once you’ve hired someone – it begins as soon as you start to engage with potential new hires. That’s why candidate experience is so crucial to get right. Thankfully, accountant-turned-writer Arjun Ruparelia is here to show us how.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in February 2023. Such attrition rates in the US, especially amid economic instability and layoffs, make it extremely important for organizations to rethink employee retention strategies.

Attractive compensation packages, recognition, and organizational culture would go only so far if your employees had a negative or subpar onboarding experience. So brands need to re-evaluate their hiring processes to minimize employee turnover.

But does employee onboarding experience really affect employee retention, and how?

Does Candidate Experience Impact Employee Retention?

Employee retention refers to an organization’s capability to retain its top-performing employees. On the other hand, candidate experience defines the notion applicants have of a company’s hiring process. A company’s hiring process encompasses posting a job, attracting candidates, assessing shortlisted candidates, setting up interviews, hiring, and, finally, onboarding them.

Though you might’ve taken active steps to ensure that your employees thrive in their current roles, it’ll all be for naught if they perceive your brand poorly during their recruitment. 

In fact, 56% of candidates are willing to walk away from a lucrative job opportunity if the job responsibilities are unclear or unreasonable. 50% will rethink their decision to join a company if they don’t have an open line of communication with the hiring manager. At the same time, 36% lose interest if the company’s culture or values don’t align with their beliefs.

A positive onboarding experience can work wonders for a brand, making the new hire feel part of a tribe. This feeling of belonging affects their motivation to work, directly impacting the company’s business performance and success.

This spells long-term benefits for the employer since committed employees stay on longer, are more productive, sway the decisions of potential employees, help curate a positive brand image, and lead to lower turnover rates and recruitment costs.

But most companies fail to recognize the connection between candidate experience and employee retention, often struggling to engage new employees and fill high-priority roles in time successfully. Moreover, high turnover rates lead to a disruptive work environment and negatively affect company culture and the morale of existing employees.

Amidst the dynamic employee landscape, changing candidate sentiments, and the growth in the demand for contractual workers, it’s more important than ever for employers to lay down a robust candidate experience framework to build a trusted relationship with potential candidates who can drive business growth in the future.

3 Ways businesses can leverage candidate experience to support employee retention

Understanding the mechanics of employee engagement and retaining employees is one of the topmost priorities of an organization, with almost 91% of HR leaders worried about employee turnover in the near future since each departing employee costs nearly $18,591

This makes it essential for brands to be on top of their recruitment game to lessen attrition and hiring costs. So let’s dive into some of the most crucial ways a positive candidate experience impacts employee retention, and how businesses can offer an outstanding hiring experience to all applicants.

1. Leave an excellent first impression on potential candidates

A brand’s candidate experience begins the moment they post a job—online or offline. From that moment forward, whatever interaction, or lack thereof, a candidate has with the company will color their judgment of the brand.

Adopting a productive and clear candidate experience framework that aids you in detailing the requirements of the vacancy can go a long way in defining your candidate experience. While you’re at it, ensure that it includes the following:

  • Practical expectations for the role you’re looking to fill. Refrain from posting a job where the job title and requirements don’t complement each other
  • Outline what the company does, its culture, values, and beliefs. Think of it as formally introducing yourself to a candidate. Be transparent about your achievements, goals, plans, and failures
  • Inform the candidates of the value propositions. This is your chance to endear yourself to them before they actually interact with you. Tell them about the 401(k) benefits, paid time off, any additional leave policy, an office set up allowance (if the role is remote), team meets, happy hours, free lunches, Netflix subscriptions, or any other benefits you offer.

A compelling and honest job description will make them want to work with you and help you stand out from the competition. But your work doesn’t end here. You need to ensure that the application process is seamless and can accommodate applicants whether they use desktop or mobile devices. 

Once you receive a significant number of applications, it’s time for the hiring managers and HRs to screen the candidates’ resumes. Since this is a time-consuming manual activity, consider freeing up your manager’s time and streamlining the hiring process by investing in an applicant tracking system (ATS).

However, if you’re not ready to commit to an ATS yet or don’t have the budget for it, you can also use a free ATS resume scanner. Usually, these platforms are used by candidates to optimize their resumes based on a job listing. Still, recruiters can also use these to identify how an applicant’s resume stands against the skills listed in the job description.

This helps move the entire process along and enables you to reach out to candidates with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ sooner, enhancing the candidate experience and is an excellent strategy to reduce turnover.

2. Conduct bias-free screening tests and assessments

After your hiring managers reach out to the shortlisted candidates, it’s time to judge their technical, cognitive, memory, perception, verbal, and team-building skills.

Again, conducting so many tests or formulating just one long test to take care of all the areas you’d like to assess the shortlisted candidates for will monopolize the time and effort of your hiring managers, leaving them with little time or motivation to focus on other business matters.

Additionally, judging the test results can be a draining activity and is prone to human judgemental or bias errors. This will spoil your candidate’s experience and make them reluctant to join your firm.

You can use a technical test and assessment solution to ascertain that this vital step is free from errors and doesn’t lead to you losing out on exceptional candidates. For instance, several brands trust HackerRank to hire developers and fill other technical roles.

But its lack of an intuitive interface, anti-cheating measures, effective candidate management, and cognitive tests leave room for improvement and requires manual interference. But fret not. You can use HackerRank alternatives to conduct screening tests and actively take anti-cheating measures seamlessly.

You can also use these alternative solutions to ask the shortlisted candidates to share their recorded video interviews for the predetermined set of questions. This way, you’ll only have to interview candidates whose responses you actually like.

Take the opportunity to build a strong rapport and build genuine connections with the candidates you interview to save yourself from the world of awkwardness when they finally join the company.

3. Formulate an impactful onboarding process

Now that you’ve hired the perfect candidate for the role, it’s time to make the job and, by extension, the company worth their while. This starts with an impactful and impressionable onboarding process. 

Since approximately 50% of new employees plan to quit their jobs due to an underwhelming onboarding, you want this to go without a hitch. But this number escalates to 80% when new hires feel under-trained during onboarding.

But you can easily make the onboarding work in your favor if you take a few proactive steps, such as:

  • Be sure to give your new hires a warm welcome and include their team or department. This will help them form a sense of belonging and become attached to the company
  • Keep the onboarding process simple and informative. Don’t overwhelm them with too many projects or useless information from the get-go
  • Assign a buddy or mentor the new hire can build a productive professional relationship with. They can help the new person get familiar with the organization, their role, and other employees
  • Be invested in their professional development. Invite them to join new projects and share how the organization’s goals will help them move up the corporate ladder and grow professionally and personally.

Make their first day unforgettable, and don’t forget to schedule some one-on-one time with their hiring manager and immediate supervisor so they don’t feel lost. Regular check-ins, constructive feedback, performance evaluation, and team-building activities will let you develop an action plan to engage your employees.

Don’t forget to communicate at every stage of the employee journey to boost engagement, enhance employee experience, and minimize attrition.

Boost your candidate experience to retain your employees

Employee retention is not an isolated activity, nor is it solely based on the strategies you embrace after your employees are hired. Putting your best foot forward, communicating respectfully and actively, letting the human aspect bleed in, and treating all new hires as part of your professional family will enable you to retain your employees.

Since candidate experience and employee retention are linked and directly impact your bottom line, growth prospects, and goodwill in the market, ensure that you leave no stone unturned to make it a remarkable encounter for all your applicants.


By Arjun Ruparelia

An accountant turned writer, Arjun writes financial blog posts and research reports for clients across the globe. Arjun has five years of financial writing experience across verticals. He is a CMA and CA (Intermediate) by qualification.