Improving the candidate experience has become a hot topic for countless blogs and articles over the past few years. More and more companies are understanding the importance of the candidate experience and the effect it can have on brand reputation and the ability to attract top talent.

A competitive job market means that a proactive strategy for a positive candidate experience is more essential than ever. Candidates who have a poor candidate experience will often tell others not to apply to the organization, and with the prevalence of job-related social platforms like Comparably and Glassdoor, they might even leave a negative review about their experience. In fact, the majority of job seekers read at least six reviews before forming an opinion of a company. Additionally, nearly 60% of job seekers reported having a poor candidate experience, with 72% of them sharing their experience on an online employer review site.

In order to start developing a strong candidate experience strategy, we recommend conducting an honest assessment of your current candidate experience. Four key areas to focus on include the job description and application process, communications throughout the process, the interview and follow-up.

The first place to assess is your job description and application process. In fact, over half of applicants have quit an application in the middle of the process if it was too long or complicated. In addition to providing the skills and requirements to do the job, ensure your job descriptions are reflective of your employer brand and corporate culture to give applicants insight into what it may be like to work for you. Visual job posts are best suited to effectively market your job and engage candidates right from the start.

Your initial and subsequent interactions with candidates will set the tone for the relationship as it moves forward. Ensure you keep candidates updated with important details, such as expected length of the interview process, what will be expected of them during the process and how quickly you’re looking to bring someone on board.

During the interview, it is paramount that candidates are treated well and with respect. Be on time for the interview, include the right people in the room, and ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate you took time to learn about them and what specific traits made them stand out for an interview. Candidates often report that the interview becomes about the company, not the candidate. Make sure you develop a system that makes the focuses attention and questions on the candidate in order to assess if they will be a good fit for the position and your company.

Post-interview follow-up is just as important as all stages leading up to it. Regardless if you plan to offer the candidate the job or not, it is essential that you follow up and provide honest and helpful feedback as to why they were not selected. Contact candidates in a timely fashion after their initial interview. Most candidates say they are 4 times more likely to consider reapplying for a future position at a company that offers them constructive feedback.