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Transforming Your Candidate Experience: Lessons Learned from Consumer Brands

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Katelyn Merendino
on October 03, 2017

Like a consumer’s journey from product awareness to purchase, your candidates’ journey starts with an emotional need. Additionally, with record-low unemployment, candidates are currently in the driver’s seat. Therefore, a candidate experience that requires too much effort may cost you great candidates, while an excellent experience may help you win a candidate (and a future top performer!).

Given this dynamic where candidates act like consumers, here are a few lessons you can learn from great consumer brands.


Amazon has fundamentally changed the way that consumers think about shopping. Their streamlined, effortless user experience has built a base of millions of loyal customers. Be honest.  How many Amazon boxes crowd your front porch?

Amazon boxes delivered

What Can You Learn from Amazon?

  • Create a candidate experience that’s easy to navigate and mobile-friendly, with clear, detailed descriptions of each role’s responsibilities and requirements.  And make sure those descriptions make sense to people outside of your company!
  • Brainstorm ways to speed up the process. A fun exercise to do with your team is to ask: “Could we hire a candidate in one day?” Furthermore, what steps in the hiring process should we eliminate or accelerate?


Nobody likes getting stuck with the middle seat on an airplane. Delta understands this—so they launched a campaign called “Middle Seat Mondays.” If a frequent flyer ended up with the middle seat on their Monday morning flight, the airline sent them a humorous email granting them 500 miles as a “thank you” for their flexibility and loyalty.

What Can You Learn from Delta?

Follow the 3 P’s when communicating with candidates—be prompt, personalized, and positive. Just as travelers know they’ll sometimes get stuck with the middle seat, candidates realize they won’t always get an offer—but they still want to feel valued (especially if they’ve been a loyal consumer of your brand for many years!).


Coke or Pepsi? Devoted fans of both brands share one thing in common—they’ll never switch to the other. To combat this entrenched brand loyalty, Coca-Cola began printing names on their soda bottles, encouraging customers to “Share a Coke” with a friend—and the results were staggering. Coke out-performed Pepsi by a landslide and pulled in 28% more customers compared to the same period the previous year.

What Can You Learn from Coca-Cola?

  • Personalize the candidate journey. As Coke realized, simply addressing customers–or in this case, applicants—by name strengthens the connection between the two of you.
  • Create a welcoming environment on site. When candidates arrive for an interview, they want to feel excited, confident, and welcomed. Beware: leaving them sitting in a windowless conference room waiting for their fifth interviewer might yield the opposite feelings.


When you think about Domino’s pizza, what comes to mind? Before 2009, the image most people conjured up wasn’t exactly favorable—cheap, processed, cardboard-tasting food only fit for broke college students.

  • While you probably don’t want to tell applicants that your old recruiting process was terrible, being transparent like Domino’s helps build candidates’ trust in you. Additionally, it increases the likelihood that you and each candidate feel the other is a good fit, saving both parties time, effort, and money.

What Can You Learn from Domino’s?

  • Be open about the process, requirements, and culture. From application to offer, ensure that candidates know what to expect out of the company and the role. During the interview stage, talk about the upsides and downsides of the position. You can even add videos describing the work environment and responsibilities to your website, so potential candidates can assess if a position is truly right for them.
  • Provide honest, respectful feedback. When a candidate is no longer being considered, let them know that and how they could be a stronger candidate in the future. Likewise, staying in touch with “silver medalists” is key to maintaining their interest should a similar role open up.

Great Candidate Experiences Take Time but the Rewards are Worth It!

Improving your candidate experience is an ongoing effort—you can’t do it all in one day. However, there are plenty of little ways to tweak and refine your recruiting process over time. To learn more lessons from these great companies and others, check out our on-demand webinar!

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