Candidate experience, as we discussed in the previous blog post, is one of the aspects that can either harm or strengthen your employer brand. Yet still, not many pay enough attention to it. The result? A growing candidate resentment. Following the 2021 Talent Board candidate experience benchmark report, applicant experiences are steeply declining. According to Talent Board’s data, in the EMEA region, the resentment toward recruitment increased by 25% and a staggering 75% in North America – the largest increase in a decade. In this blog post, let’s discuss how lack of communication ruins your brand.

Do you know what candidates want?

The brand needs to know how to target the desired audience to attract customers. If customers’ needs are ignored, they’ll soon flock to the competition that listens to them. Blackberry, once the fastest-growing company, as quoted by an unnamed stakeholder, believed they knew better what customers needed. Based on their reported 56% revenue decline, it turns out they did not.

Recruitment is not that different. The candidates you want to have their expectations toward the process, and if you fail to acknowledge them (and deliver!), they’ll go elsewhere.

Lack of communication ruins your brand

Uncertainty is one of the most harmful emotions one can feel. We’ve all experienced it intensely during the past two years of the pandemic. Not knowing when we can go back to work, see our families, or plan the long-desired vacation. When looking for a job, nobody wants to be stuck in limbo either.

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Candidates want a straightforward recruitment process and one that informs them about where they currently stand and what next steps are – or that for them, the journey is over. Unfortunately, based on the previously mentioned Talent Board report data, less than 30% of the surveyed stated that they experienced a clear process in 2021. Furthermore, 78% of them weren’t even informed on how long the application process would take.

Failing to keep applicants informed is unjustified and has no benefits for your organisation. Many job seekers, especially the top ones, won’t wait endlessly.

According to Cronofy, 71% of candidates globally expect to wait a week or less between applying and having an interview offer before they move on. Moreover, 58% of them take around two weeks to start disengaging or forming negative opinions on the brand if the process is too long.

A timely and transparent communication should be a staple in all stages of the process. The most critical step, however, that is often overlooked is feedback.


Organisations usually focus on investing in successful candidates (i.e. those who will be offered a job) and tend to pay little to no attention to those that didn’t make it past the initial screening. As far as feedback is concerned, most commonly, candidates either get a generic response or – even worse – no response at all.

According to a recent study by Aptitude Research and Talent Board, 58% of candidates who are screened out never receive any response. Providing feedback is not only common courtesy but is also very much sought-after, as mentioned previously. Although the number of job seekers who never receive feedback is grave, it gets even worse when we look at other numbers. As reported by ERE, 68% of candidates who did receive feedback found it useless.

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The message it sends to rejected applicants is overwhelmingly negative and can be the reason for the mentioned growing resentment, like in the case of Adam Karpiak, who posted the following picture on LinkedIn, captioned “looking for a job sucks”. Should we want our candidates to resent job-hunting so much?

A: Why do candidates need feedback?

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

While getting rejected can be disheartening, especially if a candidate is very eager to join your company, it can feel even worse if no feedback follows. Most candidates, as proved by various data, want feedback. Perhaps even especially when they didn’t land the job.

Besides being a common courtesy, the most significant value of feedback is that it helps candidates learn and improve. In order to allow them that chance, the feedback needs to be meaningful and useful.

Use the right tools – work smarter, not harder

From the recruiter’s point of view, writing feedback (let alone meaningful) can be the last thing on their list when their schedules are already filled to the brims. Considering that they spend on average only 7.4 seconds to screen each resumé, it’s short of realistic to expect them to find time to compose personalised feedback for each candidate.

Lack of time, although understandable, can’t be an excuse for disappointing candidates’ needs. The solution is to work smarter, not harder.

In one of the blog posts, we’ve already discussed why resumés are generally not the best at predicting one’s future job performance, and they’re also not the best when you want to base helpful feedback on them.

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Both resumés and interviews are prone to bias and generally don’t reflect one’s true skills (something you should be looking for, after all). Hence, any feedback based on those two methods is usually very vague because no recruiter wants to admit they rejected a candidate because of bias, lack of education, or a wrong first impression (introverts, anyone?).

If they were to incorporate case-based screening (i.e. work samples) into their recruitment process, creating feedback would actually be meaningful and easier to form.

In such a process, candidates are all asked to solve cases developed to suit the position and the specific company. Hence, the feedback can be construed based solely on one’s skills, no bias involved. It’s your organisation’s way of explaining in an unbiased way why the candidates wouldn’t be moving forward – without meaningless vagueness.

Make feedback meaningful & useful

While it’s still all too common for recruiters to disregard the importance of feedback, candidates who are lucky to get any are far too often fobbed off with generic responses such as “the other candidates performed better” or the enigmatic “you weren’t quite the right fit for us”. Undoubtedly, it’s still better than no communication at all, but is it really of any use?

Providing candidates with specific and detailed feedback is of great value as it allows candidates to see their strengths and areas worth improving to advance their careers and do better next time.

Not only that. It makes candidates feel valued and respected, as they should, but it also doesn’t affect their self-confidence.

Candidates need feedback to know that (and when) they can move on and move forward at that. Use the right tools and take time to be a part of their professional growth because you never know, as we’ll discuss further, if they may be your top pick in the future.

B: What’s in it for your organisation?

Organisations get out of their way to ensure their employees are happy, contributing to the bottom line. But perhaps an even better approach is to start when employees are still just candidates. The link between candidate experience and your employer brand is virtually inseparable. According to Talent Hub, over 75% of candidates admit that they see their experience during a recruitment process as an indicator of how a company treats its employees.

Providing every one of your applicants sends an exceptionally good message to your potential new talents. It demonstrates that you value everyone equally, appreciate the time they put in to participate in the process and thus reinforces the values of your organisation.

Stronger employer brand

Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools you can use to strengthen your employer brand, a vital aspect of attracting candidates. As agreed by 80% of the surveyed talent leaders in a LinkedIn report, your employer brand has a significant impact on the ability to find and acquire great talent.

It’s no secret that there are websites, such as Glassdoor, where (ex)employees and job seekers can share their experiences on employers and their recruitment processes. Rejected candidates who experienced high quality, unbiased processes are less likely to air their grievances about the organisation.

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While 92% of hiring professionals believe a company’s overall reputation is affected by their recruitment process, paying close attention to accommodating job seekers’ needs and giving them fewer reasons (or even better – none!) to feel unjustly treated is of paramount importance.

Opting for bias-free recruitment and providing meaningful feedback can help you earn positive reviews from your applicants – even the rejected ones, which are typically quite numerous.

Providing candidates with a positive candidate experience (i.e. the one that fulfils their expectations) also impacts your ability to hire those you do want. As found by IBM, people satisfied with your hiring process are 38% more likely to accept a job offer. On the flip side, applicants who don’t receive feedback are five times more likely to share their negative experiences with their peers, quickly raising your risks of gaining a bad reputation in the market.


People sharing their experiences with others is strictly linked to an essential source of potential talents – referrals. Even if you rejected a candidate, it’s not unlikely that they know someone who could be a better fit, either now or in the future. As 48% of the surveyed by the mentioned LinkedIn report say that employee referrals are their top channel for quality hires, it’s not a point to be taken lightly.

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When we look at the numbers, in 2021, 78% of EMEA candidates surveyed by Talent Board admitted to sharing their positive recruitment experiences with inner circles, and 59% to sharing the negative ones (a 7% increase compared to 2020). Considering how important feedback is to job-seekers, improving in that area can positively affect your future hiring efforts.

The numbers are also significant when it comes to sharing online (considering how quickly the word spreads to a vast audience). Over three out of ten candidates are likely to post about their negative experiences on the Internet, and 51% do the same about a positive experience.

With employee referrals being one of the most valued and trusted sources of new talents, it’s vital to know that over 30% of candidates claimed they’d be highly likely to refer others if they had a positive experience during your hiring process – even if they didn’t land the job. Improving communication and providing the greatly sought-after feedback can help you amass talents on its own – through referrals.

They may be back

The recruitment process shouldn’t be seen as a one-off deal. That is, once you find the right person for the current vacancy, all the rejected candidates are forgotten. Just because a candidate turned out to be the wrong fit for the role you’re trying to fill in now, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a great fit for an open position in the future.

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Research suggests that unsuccessful applicants who receive meaningful feedback leave the process with a positive opinion about the employer and are likely to come back in the future. In fact, a staggering 80% of rejected candidates report being likely to apply again in the future if your recruitment process satisfies their expectations.

Way too many organisations burn bridges with great talents simply because they fail to think about the future. Instead, think about it as a way of cultivating a positive image of your brand to build a vital source of the future talent pipeline.

In any hiring process, you’ll have more candidates that need to be rejected than hired. If you discourage them towards your brand at an early stage, you miss out on potentially exceptional talents – and those who may become them, too.

Giving meaningful and constructive feedback on their skills is a future investment. Once candidates know what you consider as their strengths and where you think they’re lacking to succeed at your company, you provide them with a powerful weapon – development. That way, they’ll know precisely which skills you consider crucial to succeed and where they can improve to come back once they align with your expectations – as a tailored-made employee.

How to form meaningful feedback?

By explaining how you reached the decision about the rejection, you help candidates understand its rationale. Furthermore, forming feedback based on one’s skills ensures it’s free of bias, and you give your candidate ‘good’ reasons for why, at a given time, they’re not the best match for the position.

What features should meaningful feedback include?

  • Keep it relevant to the role. To formulate meaningful feedback, you need to remember that you should grade a candidate based on the specific role at your organisation. The reasons behind your rejection should reflect only the skills applying to those circumstances.
  • Go into detail. Be as honest, straightforward, and detailed about the decision. For instance, if some candidate performed better, explain the areas where your rejected candidate was less qualified. Your feedback should help candidates to progress.
  • Mention the strengths. To avoid undermining candidates’ self-confidence, touch upon the areas where they did well. One can always find a few points worth praising, and they shouldn’t be omitted. Let your candidates know which of their efforts were noticed.

Make feedback a staple

Providing your candidates with feedback is highly sought-after, and there’s still room for improvement in terms of satisfying this expectation. The Telegraph mentions even that for the incoming workforce, Generation Z, feedback should be made mandatory.

Giving honest and meaningful feedback significantly boosts your employer brand. Each candidate can potentially share their positive experience with your organisation and, as shown with data, help you build a future talent pipeline, if only through referrals.

Just because at a given time an applicant is not suitable for the role you’re trying to fill in doesn’t mean they won’t be so in the future. Feedback is your form of creating a ‘tailor-made’ potential employee who can work on their skills to match your specific expectations.

Whether it’s for the candidates’ good or yours, the benefits of taking time to formulate feedback for everyone are plentiful. Don’t be one of the many brands ignoring candidates’ expectations, be the one to deliver in a meaningful fashion.

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