How Blind CVs Impact the Recruitment Process
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


Blind hiring, along with blind CVs, are a new solution for the recruitment process that has stepped on the scene. But exactly how effective are they? 


What is a Blind CV?

So what exactly is a blind CV? It is the basis of blind hiring, and a CV that doesn’t have any identifying factors. This includes things like a candidate’s name, gender, age, or race. The long and short of it is that there is no information present that isn’t related to the candidate’s working capabilities.


Areas like academic background, work experience, and contact information are all able to appear, as these create fewer issues around recruiter bias.


This type of recruitment has been introduced with the purpose of eliminating any type of conscious or subconscious bias. By evaluating the candidates more objectively, the companies will be able to hire diversified candidates who are truly fit for that job position. But the question is how does blind hiring affect the recruitment process?


Bias in the Recruitment Process

As much as we would like to live in a world without discrimination or favouritism, the reality is that they are often present, especially in the world of business. While this is not always purposeful, any type of preconceived idea or discrimination can hugely impact the candidate ultimately selected for hire.


There are many pieces of research and academic studies that prove that bias is widespread in the hiring process. Take a look at the following facts:


  • According to a 2017 UK study, just a third (32%) of HR managers felt confident that they are not prejudiced when hiring new staff. Nearly half (48%) admitted that bias affects their candidate choice, while 20% said they couldn’t be sure if bias affected their decisions.
  • A report by the Women and Equalities Committee from 2016 showed that Muslim women are three times as likely as women in other social groups in the UK to be unemployed.
  • In a US study, universities seeking a laboratory manager were randomly given CVs with male or female names. Those with ‘male’ names were rated as “significantly more competent and hirable.”
  • As a part of their study, the US National Bureau of Economic Research sent out 40,000 fictional job applications and found that the fictional workers aged 49-51 received 19% fewer responses than those aged 29-31. Those aged 64-66 received 35% more interview invitations than those aged 29-31.


Such a discriminating attitude towards potential candidates enables companies to find the best candidates. The characteristics which employers subconsciously value more don’t necessarily depict a better candidate. That is why blind recruitment was introduced.


The Introduction of Blind Hiring

It all started in 1952 when this method was used by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The musicians were asked to play behind the screen during their audition which increased the number of women who were accepted to the orchestra. According to later research, blind auditions by 50% increase a woman’s chance of being accepted by an orchestra.


The problem with bias is that it happens subconsciously so people don’t have control over it. Even those who claim that they are completely objective while going through the candidate’s CV, they still might choose a male candidate rather than a female.


How Does a Blind CV Work?

In a recent podcast about unconscious bias, Ksenia Zheltoukhova the CIPD’s Head of Research said, “Anonymising CVs is an effective intervention for increasing diversity in organizations and reducing bias in recruitment.”


Therefore, it all starts with censoring the CVs. You can’t really make the whole recruitment process anonymous but CV censorship will help you pick the best of the best without subconscious bias.


A blind CV can be executed in more than one way. It all depends on how much you want to emit. One option is to just eliminate the basics such as name and gender. Another option is to remove other personal details as well such as the educational background.



The reason why some recruiters opt for the second option – that is eliminating educational history – is to prevent favouring candidates who have a similar background to their own. For example, if the recruiter went to Yale, he or she might identify and feel closer to those candidates who also went to Yale.


The steps you need to take to make the blind CVs work are:

  1. Decide which information you want to remove from the CVs: Based on how unbiased you want to be, you should decide what information you want to omit from the CVs. You may decide to simply opt for removing the candidates’ names, or if you’re more concerned about age discrimination, their date of birth and some background information.
  2. Anonymise the data with an automation tool or colleague: There are now automation tools out there that let you anonymise the CV data, simplifying the process. Alternatively, you can ask a colleague who won’t be involved in the recruitment process to take your chosen information off the CVs.
  3. Review your blind CVs: Review your CVs as you normally would, so as not to impact your entire recruitment process too substantially. Once you invite your selected candidates to interview, you will find out who they are.


The Advantages of Blind CVs

Blind CVs can definitely improve your recruitment process. To summarize all the positive impacts:


  • They eliminate initial bias: Bias can occur in the very early stages of recruitment, and this can be avoided.
  • They limit the impact of personal information: Personal information can affect the recruiter’s judgment, leading to screening out potentially suitable candidates.
  • They discount race, age and culture: The best candidates can be singled out without these often discriminated against elements coming into play.
  • They help with a diversified workforce: Recruiters are arguably more likely to hire a diverse workforce if unconscious bias can be limited.
  • They show company values: Blind CVs can show that the company isn’t discriminating.
  • They boost the employer brand: If it’s clear that the employer cares about equal opportunity, this can be positive for the employer brand and help attract talented candidates to the business.


You might think that your recruitment team is already as objective as it can be, but you’ll never know unless you give blind CVs a chance.


The Potential Issues of Blind CVs

While the positive sides of blind CVs are notable, we can’t forget that there are two sides to every story. Some of the limitations and drawbacks of blind CVs are:


  • Gender and race quotas: Those who have quotas for gender and race might not be able to fulfill them if they eliminate personal information.
  • Cultural fit: Without knowing personal interests, the recruiters won’t know if the candidate is a match to their company’s culture.
  • Bias at interview: It only eliminates bias from the initial stage of recruitment, so the bias can reappear during the interview.
  • Not all information is limited: The recruiters can still form bias based on other information; e.g. the experience can reveal the age of the candidate.
  • An incomplete picture: Eliminating personal information can lead to an incomplete picture of the employee. If someone has a gap in their work history, a blind CV won’t give the explanation why and therefore it can harm the candidate’s chances.



Undeniably, using blind CVs has its issues as much as it has its advantages, but it can bring some innovation and improvement to the hiring process. It all comes down to what the company finds to be the best for its progress.


Final Thoughts

Using blind CVs can improve your company’s diversity and help you choose the best candidates by putting bias aside. Besides using blind recruitment, you can also emphasise your commitment to diversity by stating on the job post that you are interested in forming a diverse team.


Also, make sure that everyone on the hiring committee is ready to put their differences aside and accept the blind hiring process as the best choice for the company’s progress and success. By building a team of diverse people, you are building a better tomorrow for future generations.


Blind CVs are just one of the ways you can potentially optimise your current recruitment process, and make better hiring decisions. For more tips on how to create a great recruitment process, download our eBook on 10 Ways to Optimise your Recruitment Process!


ebook banner for maximising your recruitment process

Diana Nadim

Diana Nadim is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Besides working as a contributor writer for TrustMyPaper and WowGrade, Diana also runs her own blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.

How to Advertise a Job Effectively in 8 Steps
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


Here is our simple 8 step guide how to advertise a job effectively, and attract and retain talented candidates to your roles. 


The mere thought of recruiting a new member of staff and creating a new job advert may fill you with excitement or even trepidation. Regular recruiters will tell you that there is something very satisfying in running a successful recruitment campaign, but most will share with you far more horror stories about how it can go wrong. It is not so much an art as it is about making the right decisions and following the right processes, but if no one ever showed you, that might be why it goes wrong.


1. Create A Job Description

The first thing you need to do is create a job description/specification for the role you need to recruit for. This document should be comprehensive and should include the details of all the responsibilities for this role. This includes areas like where they’ll fit into your existing team, along with details of the key skills and education you’d like them to have.


Creating a job description at the beginning of the process like this can really help you to figure out this new employee’s role within your business and will come in handy later down the line when you have to draw up the employee’s contract. It’s also useful for your HR department, who can use the job description later on measure employee performance, and whether they are fulfilling their role duties after hire.


2. Research The Market

The next thing you need to consider with how to advertise a job, is researching the market. This means looking into what your competitors are doing, and what candidates seem to be looking for in a role.


2.1 The job title

Researching what the most appropriate job title is, and what other job titles candidates might be using, is a huge part of the job advertising process. The title you choose can ultimately have a dramatic impact on the number of prospective applicants you attract and apply to your role.


You should try and avoid using internal job titles that are unique to you, as candidates may not be using these same search terms. You can even ask the job boards or your recruitment partners to help you choose an appropriate job title based on evidence they have seen.


2.2 The job salary

It is also worth looking at what a similar job in your region might be offering salary-wise. This is because you want to make your role attractive to potential candidates, and offering an attractive and competitive salary does just this.


3. Create The Job Advertisement

Once you’ve chosen your job title and salary, it’s now time to design your job advertisement.


Let’s be clear; your job advertisement should be very different to your job description – and yes, you do need both! While your job description is extremely detailed in regards to what you are looking for, it is more used for internal purposes. Your job advert should be shorter and focus on selling the opportunity to potential applicants.


Your advert can be much less formal and can convey your business’ personality and values.


eBook banner on writing the ultimate job advert with an ipad and text


4. Optimise your advert for keywords

Candidates search for jobs using job titles and keywords, so it is essential that you factor this into your job advert writing. Candidates generally use a combination of the most generic job title and location as the key components in their search string, but technology jobs may also include a technical keyword too.


5. Choose Your advertising channels

There are obviously lots of job boards and other advertising channels to choose from. Some are generic, others are niche, and others are geographically orientated. Prices can vary from £0 up to £900 per advert, so choosing the right option for you will ultimately depend on your budget, level of difficulty or importance, and the sector.


Over 70% of all candidates that search for a job start in Google, so this is a good place to start looking. Try running a few searches as if you were the candidate and see what channels come out on top. We recommend that you select at least 2 or 3 channels to get maximum coverage, especially for senior, hard to fill, and critical positions.


The best solution for getting maximum value for money might be to select a multi-posting job advertising and management service, where you pay a single fee and enjoy maximum exposure across multiple advertising channels.


6. Manage The Applications effectively

The options here tend to be:

  • Use a 3rd party or a recruitment agency to manage all your applications
  • Have them sent to your inbox by email
  • Use an Applicant Tracking service
  • Use a free Online Campaign Management tool


It is important to remember that a well-written advert distributed across the right advertising channels is likely to attract a reasonable number of good quality candidates who are currently in work and only tentatively looking. Therefore, it is critical that you manage the recruitment campaign efficiently if you do not want to lose good candidates throughout the process. This is both annoying and unnecessary, especially when there are free recruiting platforms out there to help you.


The other important aspect of managing the recruitment campaign effectively is all about protecting your corporate brand.



7. Establish your Screening process

Most of us working in the recruitment industry are familiar with the statistic that over 80% of people that leave a job in the first year, do so for behavioural reasons and not because they couldn’t do the job. When you consider the real cost of making a bad hire is likely to be £30 – £60k after you factor in initial recruiting costs and time, induction and training, salary, impact on the business and other staff members, you start to realise the importance of performing proper due diligence and behavioural and cultural assessments. This might sound scary, but in fact, can be relatively straight forward and not too costly either.


8. Measure and record

Last but not least, always record and measure how you did on each recruitment campaign! Keep a record of each job advert, where you advertised it, the amount of responses you had, the number of interviews and the time that it took you to get to offer. This will help you to pinpoint where your process could be improved, and replicate campaigns that perform well in future.


Over 98% of all business owners believe that the recruitment of new staff is by far the single most important part of effective company growth. Get it wrong and it can kill an organisation, but get it right and you can enjoy the rewards of your endeavours.


Want to get started?

The points we’ve covered here are just some of the ways on how to advertise a job effectively. If you’re looking for extra tips that are proven to work, and attract talent to your roles, download our eBook on this topic!


eBook banner on writing the ultimate job advert with an ipad and text


Don’t feel like doing it yourself? A talent acquisition platform like Smart Recruit Online can help you effectively advertise your roles, with built-in multi-poster technology across thousands of job boards and channels, optimised job advert generators, and many other features that help move your candidates all the way from attraction to onboarding.


Interested? Book a demo with us and we’ll show you how we work.


Mark Stephens

Mark has worked in, and researched the HR & Recruitment landscape for over 20 years, focussing on the unique blend of recruitment technology, evidence-based processes, and human behavioural science in order to optimise performance and recruitment outcomes. He is a serial entrepreneur, previous winner of the prestigious Chambers of Commerce - Innovation in Business award, and founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd (Corpwell). Smart Recruit Online has been the winner of several national and international awards for recruitment innovation.

5 Tips to Create a Recruitment Communication Strategy
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


Your recruitment communication strategy is hugely important throughout your recruitment process. Here we discuss why, and the best tactics to improve it. 


Speed and proper communication and two of the biggest essentials HR professionals need to balance during the recruitment process. They are also some of the most challenging to implement.


Why is communication important in recruitment?

An effective recruitment communication strategy plays a role in boosting your recruitment’s effectiveness. By zooming in on the right candidates and making the onboarding process seamless, you contribute to creating a better overall candidate experience. Having a good candidate experience comes with a wide range of benefits:


Your employer brand

Around 72% of candidates who have a negative experience of your brand will tell others about it. A poor employer brand may actually put off talented candidates from applying for roles at your business in the future, creating unforeseen damage in the long-term. So it’s well worth treating each and every candidate with respect and communicating clearly, and that includes those who don’t get the job.



Retaining talented candidates

The most talented candidates tend to already be in employment, and are only passively searching for a new role. This means you need to impress them at each stage of your recruitment process, and create an unforgettable candidate experience. A good recruitment communication strategy helps you do just that, and keeps these candidates engaged and interested in your opportunity.


Alternatively, if you’re providing a sub-par candidate experience, this increases the chance of talented individuals dropping out of the process, and a lower quality of applicant you eventually hire.


Talent shortage is a massive issue today and almost 73 per cent of employers report difficulties in filling positions. At the same time, employee engagement is lower than ever before. Disengaged employees cost businesses up to 550 billion dollars per year – a massive amount that can be reduced through better communication about expectations and roles on both parts.


Recruitment Communication Strategies

So, what does it take to make the recruitment process more informative, more tailored and more effective? Here are some of the communication strategies that HR professionals can rely on to improve their communication efforts.


1. Data Collection

Good communication with candidates is heavily dependent on going into every meeting fully prepared. This can be difficult if you’ve got various documents and clutter for HR professionals to go through, from CVs to completed tasks and cover letters.


Luckily, there are now various technologies available today that digitise and optimise the recruitment process. These can help you gather relevant candidate data, and organise it in an easy-to-sift-through way.


A good recruitment management system will manage all your recruitment documents and processes from one single platform. This helps reduce the amount of time you spend on administrative tasks, and allows you to prepare easily over the course of the recruitment process.


2. Online Communication

Everyone is online – this is a fact that recruiters need to account for when communicating with candidates.


Think about it – a large majority of the best applicants are often only passively searching for a new role. These candidates are more than likely present on a variety of online spaces, so ensuring you are also present there, and are communicating using these resources is invaluable.


It’s wise for recruiters to be present across online platforms to streamline and speed up the collection of information. Social media platforms like LinkedIn for example have already become the standard in the recruitment realm, whether that’s reaching out to potential candidates, or supplying important, engaging information about your brand online.


Another common but effective practice is for companies to employ live streaming and video calls. These make tasks like scheduling interviews much easier, as digital interviews give you much more room to work with. With the worldwide coronavirus pandemic changing the way we live and the way we work, this has had a profound effect on the way interviews are being carried out and onboarding is occurring.


Using the digital technologies at your disposal is ultimately a great recruitment communication strategy to boost your communication with candidates in a cost-efficient, tailored way that all businesses can benefit from.


3. Automation for Immediacy

Automation is becoming more and more prominent in the recruitment space, and certain parts of the candidate communication process can be effectively automated. This is hugely beneficial, as it frees up human resources time for more strategic tasks needed.


When a human being has to manually go through every single step, some processes can be needlessly prolonged, and the chance for human error increases. This is where recruitment technology can be employed and give HR professionals a breather.


A very simple example of how communication automation can be used is:

After a person has sent in an email with their application, they could receive an automated response. The automatic email can shed a bit more light on the company culture, the onboarding process and the additional steps that the candidate will have to go through in case they’re considered relevant for the position.


While this is a very basic example of how recruitment communication can be automated, it paints a clear picture of how everything can be sped up and simplified for the purpose of simpler, quicker and more efficient processes.


Due to its popularity, a number of recruitment platforms and software now come with automated response functions built-in as part of the product. This is great value for money as an extra add-on to other useful recruitment features.


4. Always Have a Timeline for Replies and Processes

Many people who apply for specific positions complain that they never hear back from recruiters or that they hear back too long after the initial contact. In fact, a Talent Board report found that 53% of candidates say they don’t receive a response from employers until 3 months after applying.



This shows the importance of setting strict timelines for responding and for staging out the recruitment process.


Using automation as a key communication strategy will take a lot of the administrative burden off your shoulders. This way, you can focus on setting a timeline for responding and completing every single step of the candidate filtering out process.


While such timeframes are more or less guidelines, they create a sense of urgency and move the communication forward. Our minds are wired to perform better when a deadline is in place and the rule does apply to corporate communication.


5. Clarifying Roles within the Hiring Team

The final strategy is purely organisational, but it can have some impact on the quality of communication within the recruitment team itself, as well as with candidates.


It’s very important to clarify the role of every single member of the human resources department. Very often, there are implied roles and responsibilities that may be taken on by more than one person. Not only are such processes ineffective, but they can also lead to reduced productivity and serious mistakes down the line.


If there’s a lack of clarity, the department will need to address this internally before a recruitment campaign is initiated. What’s the role of the hiring manager? Does the team have a senior leader at all? Who’s leading the interview process and how are they communicating with everybody else?


These are just a few of the key questions that need to be addressed for proper responsibility allocation. When recruitment team members have a clear idea about their role in the department, they can start communicating more effectively with everyone involved in the process.


Improved communication can speed up recruitment and save a company tons of money. The recruitment team must work to address any ambiguities as soon as possible. Such processes are far from expensive and when carried out correctly, they can contribute to profound operational efficiency in the future.


What’s next?

Improving your recruitment communication strategy is just one part of the puzzle to an overall improved recruitment process. For more tips on how to create a fully optimised recruitment process, download our eBook on 10 Ways to Optimise your Online Recruitment!


ebook banner for maximising your recruitment process'
Ben Brown

Ben Brown is freelance writer and a content manager at dating site DoULikeSenior with top notch communication  skills. He enjoys learning new things and learning more about people from all over the world. His passion and diligence enable him to consistently grow and improve both himself and his career.

5 Essential Interview Questions to Assess Culture Fit
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


A candidate might look great on paper, but how do you know they will fit into your organisation? There are 5 interview questions to assess culture fit, so you can find out. 


What is cultural fit?

So, what exactly is cultural fit within a business context? When we talk about a business culture, we mean the core values and beliefs that a company abides by. They essentially determine how the employees interact, and may be reflected in your business hours, hiring decisions, dress code, treatment of clients and so on.


A business culture is often implied and not outwardly defined. However, it is becoming more common for businesses to have cultural guidelines for their employees to follow, and that are brought into the interview process.


Cultural fit is basically how well an employee matches up with the business culture. This doesn’t mean not having a diverse workforce, as this has a multitude of benefits for businesses. It simply means ensuring they match up with these values in some way. For example, if your business values collaboration in the workplace highly, someone who works best individually may not be a good fit.


Why is cultural fit important?

Cultural fit is becoming increasingly important to businesses, with 86% of CEOs and HR leaders confirming this in a recent Deloitte survey. This is unsurprising, as an effective culture is said to create a 50% difference in performance between businesses in the same sector. Other reasons why cultural fit is important include:



Staff satisfaction:

When your staff is happy, they tend to be more engaged, productive and motivated to succeed. Being part of a culture that aligns with their own tends to incite these feelings.


Improved performance:

When employees feel like they belong, this can lead to increased enthusiasm in the role, and a willingness to go the extra mile to succeed.


Higher staff retention:

If your employees are happy, they’re less likely to leave the business. This will help save you the cost of recruitment for a replacement, as well as any additional time and money spent training new hires


Interview questions to assess culture fit:

Cultural fit is one of the most important things hiring professionals need to evaluate in a job interview, but it’s also one of the most challenging traits to identify. Without working with an applicant, or knowing them, determining whether they are a good fit for the team is difficult.


But, asking the right interview questions can help. There are lots of questions you could ask, but here we give you five of the most effective interview questions to assess culture fit.


1. “If I walk by your desk at 5:30 p.m., what will I see?”

The answer to this question will reveal the candidate’s view of work, and what the workplace should be like.


Their response can then be evaluated against your company culture. For example, does everyone in your business tend to stay until 9pm to work? Are you a start-up, where everyone works remotely all the time? Or perhaps most of your team have left by 4:30 pm in an effort to beat the traffic.


If the candidate were to say “I’m long gone”, or “I’m working hard and ordering takeout dinner”, then you can evaluate how this measures up against your own culture. Do they fit in, or are they an outlier? You can also evaluate if a response slightly off from your norm is a deal-breaker or not.


2. “What are you most passionate about?”

Asking this question is a great opportunity to understand a candidate’s hobbies, enthusiasms, or whatever is important in their life. It can help identify if they are a well-rounded individual, and if into your culture.


Even if their passion is unrelated to the role they will be filling, their answer will show your hiring manager if they are a committed person with interests and goals, an important quality for any role.


3. “Describe your ideal working environment.”

If the candidate had a magic wand, and could create their perfect job and work environment, what would it look like?


Giving a candidate free range to describe what they desire in an organisation is a great way to highlight whether their ideals match up with your company culture.


For example, maybe they prefer to work in a quiet, closed-off environment, but your office is frequently busy with sales calls and collaborative working.


4. “If we were stuck somewhere, what would you do?”

Understanding how a candidate would handle being stuck somewhere will give you an insight into how they deal with challenging situations.


Any manner of tough situation can happen within an organisation, and knowing you have people on your team who can keep their cool, and perhaps come up with a solution is invaluable.


5. “Walk me through your perfect workday.”

Asking about a candidate’s perfect workday gives them the chance to identify what they value in the workplace. Do they prefer to work independently or with teams? How does socializing fit into their idea of working?


The majority of interview questions often assess a candidate’s competence to do tasks, and how they would fit in with that aspect. This question gives a glimpse into what the candidate values, which you can then compare to the company.


Want to create a great company culture?

It’s one thing to ask interview questions to assess culture fit, but is your culture one which performs well? Make sure you’re cultivating great company culture, by watching our webinar on this topic.'
Josh Tolan

This is a guest post by Spark Hire CEO Josh Tolan. Spark Hire is a video interview solutions provider.

How to Conduct a Remote Interview
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


Here we take a look at how to conduct a remote interview, and overcome the challenges that can be presented by them.


Remote working has become far more common in recent years, with businesses embracing the many advantages of remote staff. However, hiring remotely often means conducting remote interviews. This can be very different than most managers and HR professionals are used to, and they can come with some potential issues.



Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

Discriminatory Job Adverts & How to Avoid Them
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


If we only hired employees from a certain background, age or gender, life would be pretty boring! I once saw a discriminatory job advert that said the company was looking to recruit someone with “at least seven years’ experience (preferably continuous)”.


Smart Recruit Online

We offer an evidence-based, talent acquisition and recruitment management system. Our platform will help you cut costs and increase the quality of candidates. While also improving the performance of your recruitment strategy and ensuring your candidates have the best experience of your brand. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and our technology at the cutting edge.

What is the Best Job Board in the UK?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


We wanted to give our readers some useful insights into what exactly the best job board in the UK is, and the UK’s leading online advertising channels. This was discovered using our latest research and data analysis. 



Mark Stephens

Mark has worked in, and researched the HR & Recruitment landscape for over 20 years, focussing on the unique blend of recruitment technology, evidence-based processes, and human behavioural science in order to optimise performance and recruitment outcomes. He is a serial entrepreneur, previous winner of the prestigious Chambers of Commerce - Innovation in Business award, and founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd (Corpwell). Smart Recruit Online has been the winner of several national and international awards for recruitment innovation.

Improve your Candidate Experience: A Step-by-Step Guide
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


This step-by-step guide gives you the knowledge, tools, and processes to improve your candidate experience for every applicant your business comes into contact with.


Candidate experience has become something of a buzzword in the recruitment industry, as the recruitment process has become more and more about impressing the most talented candidates, and convincing them to join the business. Improving your candidate experience has been continually growing in importance as a result, and involves making both subtle and instrumental changes throughout the whole hiring process.


Still have questions? Book a free demo with us and we’ll show you how to improve your candidate experience in more detail.

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience means what it says on the tin – how those applying for roles in your business experience your brand. This experience can take place at any stage in your recruitment process, from the initial marketing of your vacancy all the way to onboarding your new hire. It can also be greatly affected by the processes you put in place in each of these stages.


Why you want to improve your candidate experience

According to a PwC survey, around 42% of HR professionals want to improve the employee experience. This all starts with how you treat these employees throughout your recruitment process – but why is this so important?


Your employer brand

72% of candidates who have a negative experience will tell others about it, so making sure you treat every candidate with respect will help protect your employer brand – and yes, that includes candidates who are not at all suited to your vacancy or to the business generally.


Gif of man on phone saying 'it's just uh you need to have a lot of experience'


A poor employer brand can actually deter talented candidates from applying for future roles, which has the potential to damage your business long-term. Making simple changes to your communications, such as acknowledging receipt of applications or letting candidates know if they’ve been declined, can go a very long way to making sure you protect your brand and keep attracting talent to your business


Retaining talented candidates

The most talented candidates tend to already be in employment, only passively searching for new roles. You want to continually keep these candidates engaged and interested in your company and future opportunities, and improving your candidate experience is a good way to stand out from the competition.


Alternatively, if you’re providing a very poor applicant experience that makes candidates feel undervalued, the chance of them dropping out of the process, or simply rejecting your offer is much higher. This can have a huge impact on the time and resources you spend recruiting, and the quality of applicant you eventually hire.


How to improve candidate experience

Because candidate experience is affected throughout the whole recruitment process, there isn’t one quick fix. Luckily, there are now multiple inexpensive technologies, tools and processes you can put in place at each stage that greatly enhance it.


1. Accurate and appealing job descriptions

Candidates don’t want to go through the troubles and trials of an interview with you, only to discover the role and opportunity has not been accurately described. Making sure your job advert is truthful and yet as appealing as possible, is a primary way to excite candidates, and avoid drop offs.


Use the right job title

Choosing the right job title has a huge impact on the outcomes of your online advertising, but also needs to accurately reflect the role. For example, you may want to describe a marketing manager role in events as an ‘Events & Marketing Manager’ rather than simply ‘Marketing Manager’; this gives candidates a clearer insight into what the role involves and whether they are suited for it. Striking the right balance between the job title that applicants are searching for online and what the actual full job title is, should be a serious consideration.


Outline the position responsibilities accurately

Be upfront about the essential requirements of the role, as well as your company values and goals. This will help avoid applications from candidates who don’t match the skills, cultural values or behavioural alignment necessary to work for your business.


Avoid too many ‘essential’ requirements

While outlining the essentials for the role is important, make sure to only list requirements that are absolutely essential. Research has shown that a long list of essential requirements can be very unappealing to candidates and lead to a negative candidate experience, particularly for women. It’s better to have a separate list for anything else that is ‘highly desirable’.


Banner linked to ebook on how to write a perfect job advert


Limit the use of obligatory language

Research has found using obligatory language like ‘you must/will have’ can lead to a negative candidate experience and dissuade talented people from applying to your roles. Instead, try and make the language you use more advisory, replacing with suggestions like ‘you should have’.


Avoid unconscious bias

You may be using unconscious bias in the way you write your job adverts which can completely change a candidate’s experience of your brand. There are plenty of ways to ensure you’re avoiding language that is too gendered or subtly discriminatory, leading to a better perception of your brand.


Sell the opportunity

Creating an exciting candidate experience means selling your opportunity. Consciously or subconsciously, every person reading your job ad thinks ‘what’s in it for me?’. Every job ad needs to talk about the 3 most influential topics: Opportunity for career progression, working environment and culture, and the potential rewards available. Make sure you touch on each of these topics.


2. A simple and efficient process

60% of candidates quit a job application in the middle because it’s too long or complex, so making your process as simple and efficient as possible is vital for a great candidate experience.


Simple and efficient ways for creating a positive candidate experience

Avoid platform redirects

When you redirect job applicants from your chosen job advertising channel to a careers or pre-screening page, this can really interrupt the flow of their experience. Research by The Recruiting Unblog found 45% of those searching for jobs on Facebook will immediately drop-off if they’re taken away from the platform, so avoiding this by keeping your initial application phase on the same platform is essential. Most modern ATS systems now provide parsing software as standard, so that a one click application process can be provided and thus removing all drop off at the application and capture stage.


Avoid lengthy pre-screening

Your initial screening process should be as quick and simple as possible – very few candidates want to spend too much time filling in forms and completing lengthy tasks. Once again, automated CV parsing software is invaluable for this, so that pre screening questionnaires are issued to the applicant after their application is received. To compliment this, many ATS systems provide AI, machine learning and predictive analytics tools to automatically screen applications for suitability. This can remove the need for pre-screening all together. Let the AI screening and ranking software help you pinpoint your most talented applicants quicker and avoid wasting precious time reviewing unsuitable CV’s.


Use interview scheduling tools

There can be a lot of back and forth on dates and times that suit both parties for an interview, often complicating and lengthening the process. Using an interview scheduling tool that lets candidates pick their own interview slot and automatically blocks out your digital calendar is a great tool to overcome this.


Keep track of your pipeline

When you lose track of where a candidate is in your recruitment process, this naturally extends it. A good recruitment management software lets your whole team access information on candidates, so you can move them through your pipeline quickly and effectively. For example, the Smart Recruit Online platform lets you leave individual notes, choose status’s that reflect where candidates are in the process, and give them star ratings.


Collaborate on recruitment projects

One of the best ways to move your recruitment process along efficiently is collaborating on hires. This ensures everyone involved has their say on the best candidate for the role, and avoids any delays or miscommunications. Collaborating is made easier with recruitment management software, which gives everyone access to the same candidate information and updates.


3. Communication with candidates

Poor communication from recruiters is one of the biggest causes of a poor candidate experience, with 63% of candidates agreeing prospective employers don’t communicate adequately. Communicating properly increases the chance of winning over prospective candidates and retaining their interest.


Creating a positive candidate experience through communication


Communicate early

A Talent Board report found that 53% of candidates say they don’t receive a response from employers until 3 months after applying. This is far too long if you want to retain the interest of the best prospective applicants, and of course gives your competitors the chance to swoop in and impress them instead.


Make sure you’re communicating at this vital stage by using automated communication technology – this lets you set up workflows for each job role that automatically acknowledge applications, thank candidates and give them extra information to build their interest in your opportunity right from the get go.


Communicate quickly

You should try and communicate quickly with candidates at each stage; this ensures candidates remember your brand, shows you value their time, and sets you apart from the competition. Stages like acknowledging applications, screening requests, rejections and interview requests should be sent as soon as you can, again using automated communication technology to make things a bit easier.


Communicate regularly

Touch base with your best candidates regularly, even if you have no updates, so they don’t feel forgotten or ignored. As a guide, candidates should receive communications at every 3 days between stages of the recruitment cycle. There are now so many ways to do this efficiently with communication technology like email, SMS, phone calls and video calls at vital points in the process.


This is also useful if you’ve set any additional tasks for candidates, as you can prompt them to complete these and ask if they need any help.


For example: You might use email to confirm receipt of an application, alongside an SMS to ask applicants to look out for your email (a very high % of emails go into spam folders). You can also prompt them to complete additional tasks, or simply wish them good luck. Phone calls can then be used to check in with candidates, and ask if they require any additional help.


Be courteous

It probably goes without saying that being courteous to every applicant is hugely important from a candidate experience perspective. This means consistently thanking candidates for their applications, time, and completion of any additional tasks you set. You should also reply courteously if an applicant drops out of your recruitment process, as you still want to leave a positive impression.


4. Access to information

Giving candidates adequate access to information on your company, role, and recruitment process will help eliminate any doubts or questions they have, and improve your candidate experience.


The company

Doing simple things like providing a website link, company brochure, and social media links is invaluable for giving candidates more information on your company. Making sure that these company assets are high quality is also important – you don’t want to send candidates to a poorly designed website where they struggle to find the information they need. It is also important to maintain as much control as you can over the quality of information that they access about you.


Creating a positive candidate experience through information access


The opportunity

Make sure the applicant is sent both the job advert and the job specification ahead of their interview. You can even outline what key competencies you want to explore with them on the day. Doing this also helps minimise interview anxiety and avoid any miscommunications about what is expected in the role, so candidates aren’t left surprised or disappointed in the interview.


The team

Finding out more about the team can help alleviate candidate fears and is particularly powerful if you intend to introduce them to the team during the interview. A link to relevant LinkedIn profiles or a professional internal profile of the manager with a picture and a picture of the team is enough to give an insight. A short video of the hiring manager explaining what they are looking for, why they are recruiting, and why the best talent should come and work for them is a great way to invite applicants into the company window and alleviate interview and job anxieties.


You could even invite applicants to join company groups on LinkedIn and run live sessions on specific roles if there is enough interest, with anyone able to join and members of the team are encouraged to contribute.


The interview

Over 60% of the population hate doing interviews, so limiting any fear around this stage is key for a great candidate experience. You should provide details by outlining the interview process, replacing any doubts with a positive and realistic overview of what will happen on the day.


This may include things like: how long the interview will take, who they will be meeting with, what they need to bring or prepare, where you are located with instructions on how to get there, any relevant information on entering the building and parking, and so on.


During any onsite interviews, giving a tour of the facility or a short company presentation at the start is a great way to ease the candidate into the interview process, so that you get the best out of them on the day.


The process

Providing candidates with a step-by-step breakdown of what to expect from your whole recruitment timeline and updating them at each stage is particularly useful to improve your candidate experience. Give this to candidates in the first stage and stay true to it.


5. Humanise the experience

Thanks to recruitment technology and automation, there are now plenty of great ways to make the recruitment process more efficient and free up time for the recruiter. Naturally however, this makes the process considerably less personalised for the candidate.


Candidates want to feel valued and appreciated, so humanising the process where and when you can, has a big impact on the candidate experience.


Personalised automation

Automation in the early stages of recruitment is invaluable, especially when you have a high number of applications and don’t have the time to reply to each and every candidate. This doesn’t mean you can’t give these communications a personal touch though.


View of someone on their laptop and phone

Make sure you mention the candidate’s name, the role they’ve applied for, and send across some additional information on the role and company. This is also a great place to send video content on your company background, and really pique the candidate’s interest.


The two-minute call

Once you have your final shortlist, this is when you can really humanise the experience. A representative from the company should call the applicant, introduce themselves, ask if they have any questions, explain what happens next, and wish them luck in the next stages of the process.


This helps build a relationship and gain a candidate’s trust, which is vital to the candidate’s experience. It also differentiates you and improves the chances of the candidate completing any additional tasks as they can ask questions and believe it or not, it improves the probability of them actually showing up for the interview too.


Human email addresses

Contacting candidates from a real, human email address rather than an info@ or careers@ email subtly humanises the candidate experience. Rejections in particular from these kinds of emails can feel detached and robotic, only adding to the rejection. Additionally, when candidates see it is a real person contacting them, they are more likely to respond quicker.


6. Make the process about the applicant

Of course when we’re focusing on the candidate experience, making the application process about the applicant is vital. It’s now as much about the candidate assessing you as it is about you evaluating them and the further you get into the process and towards that final shortlist, the shift continues in favour of the applicant.


At the interview

More than 50% of your interview should be about the candidate. This is because you’ll have most likely already screened them, and indicated what your essential and desirable criteria are in the job advert, and the candidate will expect you to explore that further anyway.


You should try and outwardly tell the candidate from the start that the interview is a two-way street, and that they will be encouraged to evaluate you too throughout the course of it. This will make it clear that you care about their experience, and most candidates will appreciate it and feel more at ease.


Phone calls

In your initial phone calls with a candidate (and you should have at least one!) ask them what they’re ideally looking for and why they’re willing to consider a move into your business. This sets the tone that you’re interested in their motivations and needs, and is a great subject to bring up in the interview, or even if you eventually make them an offer as an incentive.


View of two women on phones


7. Cover travel costs

If covering travel costs feels uncomfortable to you, just imagine how it feels to candidates (particularly if they’re only passively searching for a new role).


Offering to cover any travel costs to interview makes a very positive statement to prospective candidates, even if it’s just £5 for a local journey. It says you value them and their time, and that meeting with them is important to you. It will also differentiate you from other companies who are most likely not doing this.


8. The interview itself

A LinkedIn survey found 77% of candidates base their final decision on their interview experience, so improving your candidate experience at this stage is crucial.


Interviewing for creating a positive candidate experience


Interviewer training

The way the interviewer presents themselves and the business during an interview can make or break the candidate’s experience. You should give any interviewers proper training on best practices and keep the process as effective as you can.


Keyways to do this are:

  • Shadowing experienced interviewers in the business
  • Having an experienced interviewer sit in on their first few interviews
  • Make interviewers aware of unconscious bias and how to avoid it
  • Seek professional interviewing help via courses or training seminars
  • Standardise the interview process and structure and agree in advance what you are evaluating them against


Avoid interviewer fatigue

Having too many interviews booked in at once can become tiring and stressful for recruiters, leading to interview fatigue. Interview fatigue has many negative outcomes for the candidate experience, and can cause you to lose top talent if the interviewer seems tired, distracted, or disinterested.  On top of that it is unnecessary, as initial screening can be done remotely.


You can avoid interview fatigue by only moving the strongest candidates to interview, using a combination of talent attraction and candidate screening tools. You can then make sure you’re avoiding too many back-to-back interviews using an interview scheduling tool, with the interviewer staggering their availability.


Remote interviews

If you’re conducting your interviews remotely, there are some small but effective things you can do to improve the overall experience:

  • Provide candidates with how-to guidelines, explaining how to join the meeting, the date and time, the number of interviewers and how long the interview will last.
  • Make sure the background of your video is clean and professional, and the video lighting is clear.
  • Try not to stare at yourself too much and instead focus on the candidate.
  • Try to avoid any technical difficulties by joining a test meeting to check your camera and microphone beforehand.


On-site interviews

When conducting your interviews on-site, this is a great opportunity to make a good impression on candidates and increase their excitement around your role:

  • Give them a tour of the facility
  • Show them a short company presentation at the start of the interview to ease them in
  • Introduce them to other members of staff on-site
  • Start off with an informal chat to get them comfortable


9. Measure your candidate experience

Once you’ve put all these changes in place, measuring your candidate experience is important so you can pinpoint any poorly performing areas of your recruitment process and improve them.


Gif of man saying 'our survey says'


Candidate experience survey questions

What better place to understand your candidate experience than from the candidates themselves? You can create a candidate experience survey yourself using an online survey tool distributed online for both successful and rejected candidates to fill in anonymously.


Some examples of useful questions to ask are:

  1. How satisfied were you with the communication from the recruiter? (very satisfied – very unsatisfied)
  2. Based upon your application and interview experience, how likely are you to recommend this company as an employer? (very likely – very unlikely)
  3. What do you think would have made our hiring process better?
  4. Overall, how was your hiring experience with this company?


Candidate experience metrics

Looking at key metrics in your recruitment process is another good indicator of your current candidate experience. Some metrics you may want to consider are:

  • Drop off rate: Are most of your candidates dropping out of the process? This suggests a poor candidate experience, and looking at where this tends to happen can be useful.
  • Time to accept offer: Do candidates often need time to mull over your offers? Or worse, frequently reject your offers? This could be because you didn’t excite them enough throughout the process.
  • Conversion rate on job ads: Are you getting clicks on your job ads, but low conversions? This could be because your brand doesn’t come across the way you want at that initial stage.


If you’re getting negative feedback on your candidate experience surveys or find your key candidate experience metrics aren’t where they need to be, then it might be time to make some more changes to your recruitment process.


How can we help?

Our talent acquisition team and award winning platform helps take the effort out of improving the candidate experience. Communicate with candidates more easily using automated responses and email templates, keep track of each and every candidate, use interview scheduling software, video tools, and more.


Interested? Book a demo with us and we’ll show you how it works.

Button to book a demo

Smart Recruit Online

We offer an evidence-based, talent acquisition and recruitment management system. Our platform will help you cut costs and increase the quality of candidates. While also improving the performance of your recruitment strategy and ensuring your candidates have the best experience of your brand. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and our technology at the cutting edge.

The 8 Biggest Recruitment Challenges for 2021
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


When you’re looking to hire the best talent for your business, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into a few recruitment challenges along the way. Here we discuss what some of these biggest challenges are, and some useful tips that help solve them. 


1. Market Fragmentation

One of the biggest recruitment challenges is understanding the different tools are services out there, and which are most effective for improving the recruitment process. This can be a daunting task, with hundreds of potential solutions out there that claim they can get your job filled, making it hard to distinguish which are best for your recruitment needs.


From job boards and aggregators, to social media, sponsored advertising, agencies and RPOs, it can be hard to know where to start, as amongst the very good solutions, there are some very poor ones too. Each job will need a different set of solutions, so finding the ideal combination of advertising media, technology and processes is the best way to get your job filled efficiently and cost-effectively.



Luckily, there are now recruitment services available that let you centralise all your recruitment activities. Many of these services have integrated 3rd party tools so you can get several recruitment solutions in one, giving you better value for money.


A key tip to establish which is the best service for you is to first list your company objectives, then you can think about the tools you need to achieve them. For example, if you want to reduce recruitment costs, selecting tools that reduce your dependency on agencies could be the best option.


2. Efficiency During The Recruitment Process

Inefficient administration processes and duplication of effort are what soak up the vast majority of a recruiter’s time. For example, sourcing potential applicants and reviewing CVs and profiles can take hours, if not days.


Three efficiency graphs When lots of time is spent inefficiently on recruitment admin, it can actually create a substantial cost to your business. Yet, when calculating the cost-per-hire metric, many businesses don’t factor in the time and resources spent on these kinds of tasks.


Creating an efficient recruitment process is essential for getting high-quality applicants into your shortlist, as quickly as possible. It’s also important for managing efficient ways to reject unsuitable applicants quickly, while protecting the corporate brand.



A good recruitment management system is essential for improving your recruitment efficiency. Recruitment management systems let you coordinate all your processes from one single platform, where you can easily identify what tasks are the most time-consuming, along with many other tools that automate and simplify the recruitment process.


This will dramatically reduce time spent on manual admin tasks, and save on long-term costs to your business. For example, you may notice screening applicants is taking far longer than necessary, so you could benefit from implementing tools like behavioural assessments, video profiling and technical assessments.


3. The Candidate Experience and Protecting the Company Brand

Company brand is all about reputation, and this can be significantly affected by the candidate experience throughout the recruitment process. This can be seen in research that found 80% of candidates who have a bad recruitment experience will openly tell others about it, with many proactively doing so.


A poor candidate experience can damage your brand image, impacting how both candidates and customers may see you in the future. Yet understanding how to execute a positive candidate experience seems to be one of the biggest recruitment challenges.



Improving the way you communicate with candidates is one of the best things you can do to improve their experience and protect your brand. This can easily be done with personalised automated email and SMS responses at each stage of the application process, acknowledging applications and providing additional information about your job opportunity to keep them engaged.


This is important even for candidates who aren’t suitable for your roles. According to a PwC survey, 61% of candidates have experienced recruiters withdrawing from all communication suddenly and without explanation, even after they have had an interview. This can leave candidates feeling negatively towards your brand, increasing the chance of negative word-of-mouth.


Banner to download candidate experience ebook


4. Avoiding Bad Hires

The person doing the recruitment may be under pressure to get the job filled quickly above anything else. This can lead to unsuitable candidates being selected, and bad hires being made. Bad hires can cost your business almost a third of the employee’s first-year earnings, and affect your team’s overall performance and productivity, so naturally this is something you want to avoid.



Applying due diligence even in the earliest stages of recruitment is key for avoiding bad hires. This can be done in the form of sophisticated candidate screening tools, such as CV parsing, behavioural assessments, and video profiling. Tools like this will help closely match candidate experience, behaviour, and cultural fit to your role and business.


5. Direct Applicant Quality

Every recruiter is looking for the secret sauce to this recruitment challenge. Attracting quality candidates is important, but something many businesses struggle with. This isn’t helped by the fact that the typical drop-off rate during the application process is 80%, and this tends to be the strongest applicants passively searching for a new role.


Speech bubble with the words 'we are hiring'


Poorly optimised job adverts that don’t include appropriate keywords are often the centre of this problem, as the right candidates aren’t discovering the role. Many job adverts are also poorly written to convert, creating the challenge of turning a view into an actual application.



There are short and long-term solutions to this challenge. A short-term strategy would be to ensure your advert will be displayed by search engines like Google by using the most effective job title and relevant keywords that your ideal candidate will be searching for. Make sure to include these keywords in your ad copy, page title and meta description. Once candidates find your job ad, making it engaging and well-written will help improve conversions more than a simple job spec.


More long-term strategies that will help improve direct applicant quality are to improve your company brand and reputation using the tactics mentioned for improving the candidate experience. We also recommend building your talent pool and establishing relationships with quality candidates ahead of trying to recruit them, for example those that have previously applied at your company, follow you on social media or have joined groups you manage on LinkedIn.


6. Improving Time to Hire

With 81% of candidates expecting the hiring process to take 2 weeks at most, improving time-to-hire is a recruitment challenge increasing in importance. This is because candidates are far more likely to drop-off the application process if it is taking too long, or get snapped up by another company.



Woman shaking hands with a man at an interview Instead of measuring your time-to-hire, use the time-to-offer metric instead. This is much more sensible to assess your performance on, as things like candidate notice period are beyond the recruiter’s control.


If you find that your time-to-offer is still too long, then you need to start looking for ways to speed up your recruitment process so you don’t miss out on talented candidates. Some ways to do this include posting your jobs to a wide enough network, writing optimised ad copy, communicating with the best applicants continuously, and automating manual processes through technology like CV parsing, to name a few.


7. Measuring Performance and Results

What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t improve. Tracking data like application completion rates, drop-off rates, and declined offers is important for identifying areas where you might need to improve your recruitment process. It’s also useful for spotting what campaigns perform well, so you can replicate these in future and save on the cost of weak recruitment.


Recruiters need to generate simple, accurate reports that give this kind of information, and the recruitment challenges lies with what tools are most effective for doing this.



A good recruitment management system is once again an easy solution to this challenge. These systems provide you with detailed reports across all your recruitment activities that you can then analyse for performance and pinpoint areas for improvement.


8. Reducing Recruitment Costs

Perhaps the most prominent recruitment challenge concerns reducing your recruitment spend. Many companies look to cut back on agency costs, which is unsurprising given standard fees range between 15 – 20% of the candidate’s first annual salary. Hiring directly in-house is one of the most effective ways to reduce these costs, but hiring the right candidate is what will repay that cost several times over.



Gif of woman saying 'I'm not paying that much'

Having the right tools, systems, and processes in place is critical to improving your in-house recruitment process, and reducing overall recruitment costs. Our Guide to Reducing Recruitment Costs covers this in more depth, and will give you all the tips you need to do this.


Many fixed price solutions are able to offer extremely good value for money when it comes to your media advertising, and some come with outstanding management systems that can help you to address many of the other challenges that recruiters face.


Ready to solve your recruitment challenges?

You may have noted that many of the biggest recruitment challenges can be solved using recruitment technology and services. Luckily, many businesses that provide these kind of services offer a free trial, so you can decide if they are suited to your needs.


Smart Recruit Online offer free online demonstrations of our talent acquisition platform. Our platform comes fully equipped to solve the challenges we’ve spoken about here, with recruitment management software, candidate communication tools, screening tools, job advert optimisation tools and so much more available on one, easy-to-use platform. If you like what you see, you can sign up for a 12-week trial completely free of charge.

Banner to book a demo with SRO

Mark Stephens

Mark has worked in, and researched the HR & Recruitment landscape for over 20 years, focussing on the unique blend of recruitment technology, evidence-based processes, and human behavioural science in order to optimise performance and recruitment outcomes. He is a serial entrepreneur, previous winner of the prestigious Chambers of Commerce - Innovation in Business award, and founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd (Corpwell). Smart Recruit Online has been the winner of several national and international awards for recruitment innovation.

Ready to Get Started?

We guarantee, you will not use any other service like ours. It’s that good!