Candidate Experience Cover

How To Improve Your Candidate Experience During Coronavirus.

Providing an outstanding candidate experience is a great way to build a positive employer brand as a startup, stand out from your competitors and hire better talent. 

It might not feel like it but focusing on candidate experience is more important now than it ever.

Even if hiring is now on hold at your startup, at some point in the future you’ll be hiring again and reengaging those candidates you were speaking with before this all kicked off.

Here’s six things you can implement today to supercharge your candidate experience during and after these uncertain times.

Get back to everyone

We’ve all been there – finding the perfect role at an awesome company, taking the time to create a compelling application, applying online only to never hear anything back. 

Sure, some candidates may have clicked ‘quick apply’ but others will have taken the time to really craft a considered application. Make sure you reply to every applicant, even if that’s a short email to thank them for applying and politely tell them you won’t be proceeding further. 

You can’t spend long rejecting each candidate so there’s no need to go into detail but you may want to take the time to provide more in depth feedback to those candidates it’s clear have spent real time on their application. 

Move quickly & keep momentum 

Whether it’s positive or negative feedback, you should get back to the candidate quickly, ideally within 48 hours.

Not only will this show the candidate you’re a proactive employer it’ll also stop a backlog of applications building up and keep you from missing those awesome candidates who might have applied. 

Also, many job boards now will show potential candidates your startup is a ‘responsive employer’, often ranking your adverts higher in the process. 

Provide real feedback

Whether we’re hiring for some of the amazing startups we work with or building our own team at Hired By Startups, we believe every candidate should benefit from a hiring process through the people they meet and the feedback they receive. 

You should aim to provide meaningful and constructive feedback to every candidate you interview, but do not proceed, to help them improve for the future. 

Generally we’ll provide email feedback if the candidate has been rejected following a phone interview and ensure they’re called with feedback should they have taken time out of their day to attend at least one in person interview. 

There’s few things that will kill your employer brand faster than a short template rejection email to candidates you’ve met multiple times. 

Be honest with candidates 

In the wonderful world of startups, constant change often seems the only true constant. Role profiles can change mid-way through a hiring process, roles may be put on hold, you might think a candidate is perfect for a role you don’t yet need. \

Rather than making excuses to your candidates, just be as honest as you possibly can. Some candidates won’t be willing to wait while you redefine your roles, however, the ones that really want to join your team are likely to wait as long as needed until you’re ready to hire. Some of the startups we work with have kept in touch with candidates for 12 months before they were in a position to make the hire. 

Don’t ask for too much upfront 

It’s important to invest some of your own time in the hiring process before asking for too much from the candidate.

The prime example of this is asking the candidate to complete an extensive challenge, usually requiring several hours of their personal time, before they’ve even had the opportunity to speak with anyone. 

Prioritise candidate experience 

It’s vital to ensure candidate experience is calibrated and prioritised across your startup. If you’re an early stage Founder and involved in every hiring process this is fairly straight forward, as it is when you have an Internal Recruiter or Talent Coordinator to handle the candidate engagement. 

However, during the phase where hiring managers are responsible for managing their own candidates we often see real differences in what’s deemed a good candidate experience. Set expectations with managers as soon as they have responsibility to hire. 

Implementing it all 

The above steps are all straightforward and require very little investment but will make huge improvements to your candidates’ perception of your startup and employer brand. The best way to implement these is to establish a few hiring SLA’s and ensure these are followed. 

Here’s what we suggest

  • Every applicant is reviewed and responded to within 48 hours. 
  • Phone interviews are always stage one and arranged for within 5 working days.
  • Subsequent feedback will be provided within 48 hours.  
  • Subsequent interviews are arranged for within 5 working days. 

If you want to explore how you could improve the candidate experience when hiring at your startup, feel free get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 


At Hired By Startups we’re a leading startup recruitment agency, helping high growth startups source, engage & hire the best commercial talent. So whether you need to make a single hire, recruit an entire team or hire a leadership role, we’ve got you covered. Find out more about how we can help.


About the author 

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Tom Ladds

Hi, I’m Tom – Founder & CEO at Hired By Startups. You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.

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