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The Fine Line Between Employer Attractiveness and Candidate Experience

It is not a new insight that a good employer brand is of central importance in the “war for talent”. On the way to the perfect employer brand, however, the candidate experience unfortunately often gets lost in the list of priorities.

From our archive.

This article was originally written in German.

Many companies spend huge amounts of money on large image campaigns, professional career websites or expensive graduate fairs – but forget how central the candidate experience is.

Unjustly, in our opinion – because the application process has an enormous influence on the attractiveness of an employer. Ultimately, the perception of candidates determines whether they are interested in a company and its vacancy, which is why an investment in a positive candidate experience seems more appropriate. In the following, we share experiences from our everyday consulting work, which should illustrate that a competitive advantage in employer branding can be achieved with simple improvements in the area of candidate experience.

Part 1 of the Candidate Experience: Research

At the beginning of every candidate journey is research. Both active and passive candidates gather information about the target company on the Internet. Similar to the job interview for the employer, the first impression is also decisive for the candidate in the reverse case. Candidates are not interested in visually appealing career websites, but are primarily looking for authentic insights behind the scenes of the company facade.

With increasing transparency on social media and review platforms such as Kununu or Glassdoor, applicants have gained further opportunities to inform and communicate about the employer as well as specifically about the application process. In order to obtain details about the potential new employer, applicants are also increasingly researching possible acquaintances on the employee side of the company. In this respect, it is essential to carry out an image check for one’s own company and employees – after all, they act as ambassadors for the company and thus make a significant contribution to communicating the company’s values to the outside world.

Part 2 of the Candidate Experience: Process

It is probably no surprise that applicants want transparent and regular communication during the application process. This includes clear announcements, binding deadlines and respectful interaction.

Candidates tell us that they sometimes feel that the process is not appropriate for their level. For example, there is an aptitude test that was designed for managers at executive level, but is also used for assistants. Test procedures of this kind, which are not adapted to the requirements profile of the vacancy, discourage applicants and, in our experience, have already led to the withdrawal of the candidacy. In such cases, we recommend that the employer check whether the requirements set are in line with the challenges and benefits offered by the position. Furthermore, certain organizational details must be observed to ensure a mature interview process. If applicants meet other applicants in the hallway, the internal logistics alone will fail. Candidates also tell us about increasingly long and complex recruiting processes, which is perceived as stressful. Applicants have to demonstrate considerable flexibility in terms of time and are often asked to attend three to five interviews. Companies, for their part, sometimes leave themselves an astonishing amount of time between the individual stages of the application process. In today’s fast-paced business world, companies that want to attract qualified employees run the risk of losing talent to competitors with a more efficient application process.

The purpose of the interview is to get to know each other and to see if there is chemistry between the employer and the employee. However, this can be difficult if the interviewer is sitting on his or her “high horse” on the employer’s side and appears unfocused or disinterested. Highly qualified candidates must be won over and enthused for employment in the company. Only those who succeed in building trust during the interviews will ideally be able to win the desired candidate for the company.

Part 3 of the Candidate Experience: Communicating Results

Rejections must also be handled carefully. If a candidate is unsuitable for the vacancy, constructive feedback – despite negative news – lays the foundation for a good candidate experience. This increases the chances that the company will be recommended to acquaintances or that the candidate will apply again for another position in the future.


Companies and their decision-makers would do well to critically examine their recruiting process at regular intervals. In order to identify the optimization points of their own company, we recommend our clients to apply for their own vacancies on a test basis. Only by raising the awareness of the people involved can companies, internally or together with the external recruiting partner, succeed in generating a positive applicant experience and thereby sustainably strengthen their own personnel marketing.