ats for candidate delight

The Importance of Candidate Experience

There’s an interesting dichotomy in the conversations around employment at the moment. We hear concerns about rising unemployment and AI taking over human jobs. But then we also have businesses saying it’s increasingly difficult to find employees… Though it doesn’t quite seem to add up, as a Feb 2024 Forbes article title reads: “Yes, The Talent Shortage Is Real: What You Must Know To Attract And Retain”.

And this talent shortage isn’t localized to one country or even one continent. The Manpower Group’s 2024 Talent Shortage Report shows 42 countries across Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Europe ranging from 85% to 59% of employers reporting struggling to find talent.

Great candidates have options. They can care about the company culture, mission, candidate experience, employer brand and - essentially - anything they want to care about. When a truly great candidate is in your hiring process, you’re not their only choice. The candidate experience you create is a make-or-break opportunity. In a talent shortage, interview processes are two-way streets. As much as you need to have a good experience with a candidate to hire them, they need to have a good candidate experience. Leveraging technology is one of the key ways to better your candidate experience, with 78.% of recruiters saying one ATS advantage was that it improved their candidate experience. Let’s look at some of the best ways to harness the advantages of an ATS for candidate experience.

Best ATS Practices for Candidate Experience


More than 10% of candidates who withdraw from hiring processes do so just because of poor communication. An ATS offers a variety of ways to ensure you are communicating timeously, effectively and accurately. With templated emails and texts, recruitment managers can ensure that their entire team is communicating well at every step of the process. And with automated communication, an ATS ensures that even further. Application acknowledgments, interview reminders, confirmations and check-ins are just some examples of what can be automated based on triggers like an interview scheduled or a candidate moved into a new interview stage.

Balance Humanity and Technology

As great as all that automation and standardization is, it can become too much. If you wanted to, you could leverage technology to screen all your applications, do your phone screens, schedule your interviews, communicate with your candidates, interview your candidates, send them assessments, assess their assessments, provide a final hiring process score, send an approval request for an offer to be sent and finally, send your offer to your candidate. And yes, that’s the entire process that can be taken over by technology but it wouldn’t really be your candidate then, would it?

Of course, most recruiters know that that extent of technology in hiring is too much but that is as far as we could take it with today’s technology. We need to find a balance of technology and human-centricity. Candidates don’t want to be hired by technology though. They want to know who they’re going to be working with, what the company culture is and what values your company actually lives by.

Make it Easy

Where a perfect place to bring technology is here. Make the hiring process simple and easy to move through. From application to offer, there are ATS advantages you can optimize your hiring process to simplicity and speed it up. The average hiring process is 33 - 49 days and candidates often cite lengthy hiring processes as a key cause of a bad candidate experience with just under 15% of candidates reporting having left a hiring process because it was too long. However, 86.1% of recruiters have also reported that an ATS has sped up their hiring process. Here are just a few ways you can utilize your ATS to speed up and keep your hiring process simple:

  • Ask key requirements questions in your application questions (such as the right to work in the job’s country)
  • Let candidates auto-schedule interviews by integrating your calendar into your ATS
  • Automate interview reminders for candidates and interviewers
  • Automate following-up on feedback from your interviewers
  • Integrate online assessment tools into your ATS for quick, accurate assessments
  • Use weighted scoring to simplify assessments and keep feedback objective
  • Set notifications for yourself to remind you when you haven’t spoken to a candidate in a while

Track Candidate Experience Data

You can’t improve something you haven’t measured. Do you know what your candidates are experiencing in your hiring process? If you think your candidates are having a good experience, what part of your hiring process is creating that? Recruitment has been a metric-driven industry for a long time but now we have the advantages of ATSs that automatically track our recruitment data as we move through every hiring process.

Your ATS can specifically measure candidate experience to give you a clear idea of what your candidates thought of your process. In addition, look where your candidates are dropping out of your process to identify potential pain points. Look at the time between each stage of your hiring process to know where to streamline. Look at the relationship between interviewers and candidate dropouts, and recruiters and candidate dropouts and adjust your training to identify that. There are many more metrics worth understanding that can help you to identify where you need to improve candidate experience, and where you’re doing something right for your candidate experience.

Ensure Accurate Job Descriptions and Hiring Team Alignment

In a survey of 500 candidates who had applied to one or more jobs in the last 12 months, 26% of those who declined offers did so because the job and its responsibilities weren’t as they were advertised. That’s just over a quarter of high-quality candidates whose time was wasted by going through an entire hiring process and equally the company lost all that time and money. Throwing generic job descriptions out into the market just shouldn’t be done. Many ATSs now have job description databases and AI writing assistants that can write a first draft for you and can then easily be modified to accurately describe your specific job.

In that same survey, 18% of candidates also declined offers because of bad experiences with interviewers. Too often, interviewers aren’t clear enough on the job they’re interviewing a candidate for and it shows in the way they interview through their questions and their approach. Being able to keep all your job information in one centralized system, having standardized questions and clear interview guides through your ATS are all options that can empower your interviewers to provide an improved candidate experience.

Stay on Brand

Your employer brand in a talent shortage matters. An ATS can offer you a customizable branded career website, branded communication, customizable hiring flows, and optimized and visually appealing job adverts and it can standardize the way candidates are communicated to, interviewed and experience your company overall. However, this does take some investment to set up initially and continually update them as your business and your requirements change.

Similarly to having accurate job descriptions, overall transparency is important for candidate experience. Candidates want to join companies that align with their own values, lifestyles and working styles and at least 18% of candidates applying to your company are doing so because your employer brand makes them think you align with them. Discrepancies between what you present externally as your company culture and employer brand versus what candidates experience and what they’re told throughout the hiring process is massively damaging to your candidate experience and your overall employer brand.

Can ATSs make candidates happy afterall?

Almost every ATS on the market will list improved candidate experience as something they can help you achieve and almost every one of them will be right. Even basic ATSs offer the functionalities mentioned in this article. Improving candidate experience doesn’t require highly complex configurations, systems and integrations. 

Candidates want authenticity, transparency, engagement and simplicity. That can sound easy enough to achieve but with the amount of work recruiters have on their desks at any given time, keeping track of all candidates and ensuring each one of them has an experience like that, isn’t easy. Harnessing the advantages of an ATS to improve candidate experience is however easy. Of course it starts with knowing how your ATS functions.