8 Proven Strategies for Making Every Candidate Fall in Love with Your Company

Photo of Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson

Contributor to TokyoDev

Hi there! I am Luke Wilson, a veteran Tech Recruiter with over 15 years of experience in the Japan market. My recruitment career has taken me across both agency and in-house roles, with the most recent one being at Indeed (a proud client of TokyoDev).

Over the course of my career I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on an important yet often neglected aspect of recruitment: candidate experience. Offering a great candidate experience will not only help you close the most desirable candidates, but also lead to interviewees giving referrals to your positions. Conversely, a poor candidate experience will cause candidates to drop out, and might even cause them to share their poor experience online, which could deter future candidates from applying.

I’ve seen this play out time and time again. For instance, in one case, a front end developer was interviewing with several firms in Tokyo. To him, most interview processes felt like factory lines, with disinterested interviewers who had not read his resume, moving at a sluggish pace, and demanding significant time investments for assignments irrelevant to the actual day-to-day job. One company was different though. They offered a streamlined interviewing process where they continuously sold the role to the candidate. There was nothing burdensome about the process, it was friendly and transparent. So much so that the candidate introduced his family to the boss in the offer meeting. Naturally, the candidate went with this company over the other ones.

Over the years, I’ve collected many strategies that help improve candidate experience. This guide will explore them, giving practical examples you can implement today at no extra cost.

Turn Every Interaction Into a Thoughtful Touchpoints

The overall candidate experience is the sum of all the various pieces involved from initial contact to employment offer. Each step and touchpoint matters. Ensure that every interaction exudes consideration and respect. From responsive communication to accommodating special cases, treating candidates like valued individuals sets the tone for a positive experience.

Personalise Communication

Tailor your initial outreach to each candidate. Reference specific aspects of their CV or LinkedIn profile to show genuine interest and that you’ve done your homework.

Be Open and Transparent

Be open and transparent about the positives and the challenges for the role. Be upfront about the salary range. Share the LinkedIn profile of the interviewers ahead of time to remove any guessing game, and put candidates at ease.

Empower Candidates By Putting Them in the Driver’s Seat

Empowering candidates in the interview process entails giving them a sense of control, respect, and involvement. By providing candidates with opportunities to assess the people on the other side of the interviewing table, you create a positive experience that fosters enthusiasm and mutual understanding.

Share Interview Preparation Material

Share interview preparation material either via a brief prep-call with the TA, or a PDF specific to the type of role they are interviewing for. Ideas of what to include might be description of the interview format, topics to cover, what signals the interviewers are specifically assessing, hints on preparation (such as links to resources). Refrain from sharing reading material that is irrelevant to their particular process.

Give Candidates a Range of Interview Time Slots

Allow candidates to choose from a range of interview time slots. This acknowledges their busy schedules and demonstrates your willingness to accommodate their needs.

Create a Peak Memorable Experience

Strive for excellence in every interaction and create memorable moments that resonate, leaving a lasting positive impression. Unexpected gestures, and small touches can make a significant impact.

Send Company Swag

Sending company swag after the first interview regardless of outcome, will help candidates have a tangible memory long after the process is over.

Give a Virtual Office Tour

Offer candidates a virtual tour of your office space as part of one of your interviews. This will showcase the company culture and work environment. If your firm is completely remote, ask would-be team-mates to join one of the interviews just for a few minutes to say “hi” and have a bit of friendly conversation.

Set Clear Expectations to Avoid Dissonance

Uncertainty breeds frustration. From the outset, state clear expectations for the recruitment process, timeline, and feedback. By doing so, you mitigate the potential for dissonance and keep candidates engaged and informed throughout their journey.

Hold Yourself Accountable for the Expectations You Set

Hold yourself accountable for the expectations you set, and measure whether you are meeting them. For example, track the time it takes for candidates to move through the stages in your process, and the feedback turnaround time. Ensure these timelines match what you initially communicated with the candidate.

Handle Changes With Grace

Occasionally some candidates will need additional steps, or interviewers will suddenly need to cancel to put out a production fire. But are you being empathetic enough to the candidate in the way you make a change, and could you have a substitute interviewer ready to go so that the interview timeline doesn’t extend?

Create Positive Endings Regardless of Outcome

Even if a candidate doesn’t make it through the interview process, ensure the experience ends on a positive note. A courteous and respectful conclusion can leave a lasting impression. Candidates who feel valued, even in rejection, are more likely to speak positively about your brand, potentially leading to referrals and positive word-of-mouth.

Send Thoughtful Rejection Letters

Craft rejection emails that convey appreciation for the candidate’s time and effort, while also providing constructive feedback for improvement.

Provide Networking Opportunities

Invite unsuccessful candidates to join your talent community or attend company meetup events, fostering a sense of connection and continued engagement.

Solicit Candidate Feedback

Feedback is a valuable tool for growth. Actively seek input from candidates about their experience. What went well? What could be improved? Listening to their insights not only shows your commitment to improvement but also provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your process.

WARNING: Only ask for interview process feedback if it is your policy to share candidate feedback. Considering the amount of time candidates spend preparing, as well as the stress of the interviews themselves, it will feel like a double standard if you ask for feedback but don’t give it.

Send Post-Interview Surveys

Send candidates a brief survey after interviews to gather feedback on their experience, your communication, and their overall satisfaction.

Conduct Feedback Workshops

Organise internal workshops or focus groups with past candidates that made it into the team to discuss their recruitment journey and brainstorm ideas for improvement.

Sell Candidates on the Role

Remember, you’re not just assessing candidates – they’re evaluating you too. Present the role as an exciting opportunity, highlighting the company’s culture, growth prospects, and unique offerings. When candidates see the value in what you’re offering, they’ll be more motivated to become a part of your team.

Share Day-in-the-Life Stories

Share stories from current employees about their typical workday, challenges, successes, and growth within the company.

Tailor Your Pitch to the Candidate

Each candidate is unique, so figure out what is important to every individual, and discuss why your role will satisfy their particular desires.

Put Yourself in the Candidate’s Shoes

At the heart of it all, the candidate is the focal point. It is important to put yourself in their shoes, listen actively, and ask yourself whether your process makes them feel valued. Prioritising their experience ensures a mutually beneficial engagement that sets the tone for a productive partnership.

Test Your Career Page

Testing out your own career page, to see what little steps are tedious and redundant. The fewer the clicks and manual data entry the better.

Look for Unconscious Bias

Reviewing whether or not unconscious bias is seeping into the process. Each step should be consistent and fair for the people spending their time to interview with you.


On to the elephant in the room…so why do we fail at candidate experience so often?! (including myself on occasion 🙁) And what are the trade-offs for the team executing the sorts of items mentioned in this guide?

It is not always easy to implement the above and there will be outright barriers preventing you.

You could be under-resourced and simply cannot spare the time as you grind through screening hundreds of CVs, while juggling dozens of potentials in the candidate pipeline. Maybe there isn’t yet a culture of recruitment within the hiring team, thus causing drag to timelines as well as the quality of experience. Perhaps communication needs to improve between the individuals directly and indirectly bottlenecking the various stages of the candidate journey. It is possible there’s an element of “it’s always been done this way” and a strategic review is needed by leaders not involved in the day to day execution (the grind can make you blind, so fresh eyes help).

Offering a stellar candidate experience obviously requires more time and resources. But I believe it is a worthwhile investment, as a good candidate experience will not only help you close more and better candidates, but also cultivate a positive employer brand.

More about the author

Photo of Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson

Contributor to TokyoDev

Luke Wilson is a Tokyo based Tech Recruiter who moved to Japan in 2004. He loves reading books, watching boxing, and hanging out with his kids.

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