Candidate Experience: The Impact of Explaining What’s Happening!

August 30, 2018 Richard Justenhoven

candidate experience

Recognising The Importance of Candidate Experience

The is a growing acknowledgment of the significance of the candidate experience. Hiring and recruitment teams see the value of an engaging, considered and respectful application and selection process to bolster employer brand and also to encourage the best talent to accept any job offers made.

Research has shown previously that improving the components of the selection process impacts a range of outcomes including applicants’ perception of fairness (e.g. Hausknecht et al., 2004), applicants’ perception of the hiring organisation (Hausknecht et al., 2004) and applicants’ intention to litigate (e.g. Bauer et al., 2001).

And so it makes sense for us to look at what we can do to our own selection processes to improve candidates’ reactions to it.

One of the most inexpensive ways to improve the candidate experience of – and reaction to – the selection process is to explain to the applicants the process itself and the rationale for its structure. Whilst there have been a number of studies which have researched this over the years, now a meta-analysis of these has been carried out by Donald Truxillo, Todd Bodner, Marilena Bertolino, Talya Bauer and Clayton Yonce. They explored the impact of explanations, when they are more effective and which outcomes are most impacted.

The research

Truxillo and his colleagues carried out a meta-analysis of 26 distinct samples of candidate reactions gathered in experiments both in ‘labs’ and in the ‘field’. Their study showed that, when the selection process is explained:

  • Perceptions of the hiring organisation are positively increased.
  • Perceptions of fairness increase – and more so when personality questionnaires are used rather than ability tests. This is of importance too when taken in the broader context of litigation as fairness perceptions have been shown to relate to litigation (e.g. Goldman, 2001).
  • There is a higher level of motivation to take the test.
  • Performance on ability tests increase.

So, it seems that by including relatively easy and inexpensive to implement explanations as part of the candidate experience, hiring organisations can:

  • Improve their attraction to candidates.
  • Increase the perception of fairness of their process – especially when personality assessments form part of the process.
  • Obtain a more accurate cognitive ability test profile of each candidate.

It may be time to review your selection stages and how you explain to your applicants your approach. It could be a relatively easy way to develop the candidate experience.


Goldman, B. M., (2001). Toward an Understanding of Employment Discrimination Claiming: an integration of organizational justice and social information processing. Personnel Psychology. 54, 361-387

Hausknect, J. P., Day, D. V. and Thomas, S .C. (2004) Applicant Reactions to Selection Procedures: an updated model and meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 57, 639-683.

Truxillo, D. M., Bodner, T. E., Bertolino, M., Bauer, T. N. and Yonce, C. A. (2009) Effects of Explanations on Applicant Reactions: a meta-analytic view. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Volume 17, Number 4, December 2009.

About the Author

Richard Justenhoven

Richard Justenhoven is the product development director within Aon's Assessment Solutions. A leading organizational psychologist, Richard is an acknowledged expert in the design, implementation and evaluation of online assessments and a sought after speaker about such topics.

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