Treating Candidates like Customers - Is it for you?

July 20, 2020 Alina Siemsen

First Published on LinkedIn

Candidate experience has always been said to be important. Indeed, it would be a brave recruiter who didn't agree with this!

Now, in the age of technology and social media, candidate experience is at the forefront of talent discussions. Organizations are now witnessing the impact that a stellar candidate experience has, compared to a poor candidate experience. They are tracking which aspects of candidate experience are most crucial to their specific candidate pool, be it transparency, a short process, an engaging experience, or some other "wow" factor – and the impact this has on commercial outcomes.

A great example of this can be seen in the private sector. Virgin Media tracked the consumer behavior of rejected candidates. It estimated that 18% of their applicants were also customers. Among those who applied for jobs, 123,000 applicants were rejected, of which 6% ended their Virgin Media subscriptions.  At $60 a month, this amounts to $5.4 million a year loss in revenue. Virgin Media dug deeper into the cause of candidates terminating their subscriptions and found it was largely due to poor candidate experiences like candidates being received by grumpy receptionists, having bad interview experiences, and lags in response times (Steiner, 2017).One element to boost the candidate experience is to ‘give something back’ and make sure that the candidate gets something for investing their time and energy into the selection process. To this end, Vodafone recently pursued a campaign where applicants received a voucher for a cup of Costa Coffee as a token of appreciation for applying. This strategy has been echoed by other retailers globally as well by offering vouchers, rebates, or discount codes for applicants.  Furthermore, many professional organizations strive to provide candidates feedback based on the data generated during the pre-hire evaluation.

We are delighted to have successfully submitted this session for the 2020 SIOP Annual Conference. We thank all internal colleagues and external research fellows for their contribution to this.

For public service roles, candidate experience reviews focus less on making sure the candidate has a customer-like experience and more on the provision of realistic insight into the role via a thorough job description, or realistic job previews. 

Speed of progression of the hiring process will vary by sector and by job role. Communication is critical at these times, not only to keep candidates informed of the progress, but to continue to engage with them, build a relationship, and develop a vested interest in pursuing the job.

The talent assessment deployed at the center of candidate selection can bolster or detract from the candidate experience. Over recent years, we have designed assessment tools with the mapping of the candidate experience going hand-in-hand with the development of the ability or competency tool itself.  As we develop our talent assessment, we make sure to get candidate feedback as we progress. It means we can tweak, shape and adapt based on the feedback we receive. There are a number of approaches we can take. All have different focuses, but generally, they propose developing in iterative cycles, gathering feedback from users (i.e. candidates), adjusting the product and starting the cycle again.

For the development of Aon’s gamified assessment series, we embraced this idea and paired it with sound psychological methods to measure candidate reaction, both to evaluate the current version and draw conclusions on the next development step.

To learn more on how to ensure job applicants have a great recruitment experience, click here


Steiner, K. (15 March, 2017). Bad Candidate Experience Cost Virgin Media $5M Annually – Here is How They Turned That Around. Available at:

About the Author

Alina Siemsen

Alina Siemsen is a product development consultant in the research team at Aon's Assessment Solutions. Alina completed her Master's degree in Business Psychology at the Nordakademie in Hamburg. She is interested in how gaming elements can be applied to assessments. Aon's Assessment Solutions undertake 30 million assessments each year in 90 countries and 40 languages.

Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by Alina Siemsen
Previous Article
The Changing Role of Contingent Workers
The Changing Role of Contingent Workers

How employers can better integrate gig workers into the workforce of the future.

Digital Working? It's all About Behavior
Digital Working? It's all About Behavior

Job Automation is One of the Big Key Themes for HR Today.

Subscribe to our talentNews