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How Creating an Intentional Candidate Experience Can Better Your Brand

How candidates are treated reflects upon how employees are treated. While new tools and technologies like automation and generative AI can help improve time-to-hire, one major roadblock that can lead to a poor candidate experience is little-to-no human interaction at various stages in the recruitment process. 

Creating an intentional candidate experience means designing and implementing a strategic approach to recruitment to provide a positive and engaging experience for job applicants. It involves considering candidates’ needs, expectations, and perceptions at each stage of the hiring process and taking proactive steps to enhance their experience. 

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What is an Intentional Candidate Experience?

“Intentional candidate experience” refers to the deliberate and purposeful approach taken by an organization to shape the interactions and perceptions of candidates throughout the recruitment process. It involves designing and implementing a positive, engaging experience that aligns with the organization’s values, goals, and employer brand. Your current candidate experience was likely set up because of necessity – hiring funnels and interview scheduling, and anything else you layer on top of those things that create the whole experience. 

However, rather than leaving the candidate experience to chance or neglecting its importance, intentional candidate experience focuses on creating a meaningful and memorable journey for candidates, from initial contact to post-hire interactions.

An intentional candidate experience involves several key elements:

Clear communication: 

Organizations prioritize transparent and timely communication with candidates, providing clear and concise information about the recruitment process, job requirements, and expectations. Regular updates are provided to keep candidates informed about the status of their applications. This can be accomplished easily through automation in your ATS; it doesn’t have to be impersonal. 


The experience is tailored to each candidate, recognizing their unique skills, qualifications, and interests. Personalization can include customized emails, personalized interview experiences, and addressing candidates by name. Even the updates you send to candidates, interview reminders, FAQs – any communication should be personalized for that candidate. 

Respect and professionalism: 

Organizations treat candidates with care and professionalism, ensuring that all interactions, whether in-person, over the phone, or via digital channels, are conducted courteously and professionally. Prompt responses, active listening, and empathy are emphasized. We’ve all heard horror stories from candidates about being ghosted by recruiters or companies, and no one wants to be on that list.

Candidate-centric approach:

The recruitment process is designed with the candidate’s needs and preferences. It focuses on creating a seamless and user-friendly experience, reducing unnecessary steps or barriers, and accommodating reasonable requests.

Positive brand representation: 

The intentional candidate experience reflects and reinforces the organization’s employer brand. It aligns with the company’s values, culture, and mission, showcasing what it’s like to work for the organization and the opportunities available to candidates. Use “day in the life” videos on your career site, include a team lead in interviews with the hiring manager so the candidate can meet at least one team member, and make sure your messaging aligns with the overall company brand.

Engaging and meaningful interactions: 

The candidate experience incorporates engaging and meaningful interactions at various stages of the recruitment process. This may include opportunities for candidates to ask questions, interact with potential team members or hiring managers, and gain insights into the company’s culture and values. Humanize the process so that the candidate can picture themselves as an employee in a specific way.

Feedback and closure:

Candidates are provided constructive feedback on their application or interview performance, even if they are not selected. Organizations offer closure and maintain a positive relationship with candidates, recognizing the potential for future opportunities or referrals. This is an excellent opportunity to create a candidate email flow for those who came close to being hired, re-engage them, and potentially hire them in the future. And a rapid “we’ve selected another candidate” is preferred over indefinite silence. Again, no ghosting.

By intentionally designing the candidate experience, organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors, enhance their employer brand, and attract top talent. It demonstrates a commitment to treating candidates with respect, professionalism, and fairness, ultimately contributing to a positive perception of the organization and increased candidate satisfaction. This is what your brand stands for in theory, but you can make it happen through intentional and thoughtful actions.