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  • Writer's pictureVinay Kalliat

A 7 Step Process to create breakthrough Candidate Experiences

Candidate Journey Mapping

The current asymmetry in the talent market has created quite a ripple across hiring companies. The battle for talent is well and truly on, with many companies offering benefits, stock options and never-seen-before salary packages. While these interventions may be justified, I believe that companies need to explore one more area that we hear a lot about but have not seen.

That area is called ‘empathy’. Organisations that cater to the target audience with a sense of empathy and understanding will stand a higher chance of ensuring that their candidates join them. This is a great building block in reducing ghosting - a global phenomenon unfolding on both the employer and employee sides of the equation.

The challenge

Not everyone is empathetic. Not everyone can get into the other person’s shoes and walk a mile in them. It is possible to create, nurture and hone empathy. But open positions need to be closed "yesterday". There is insufficient time, many interviews and too many applicants to justify individual attention. Add to that, selected candidates also need to be onboarded!

So where is the time to really show empathy?

How Journey maps build empathy
Mirriam Websters defines empathy as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another in either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Companies that project a sense of empathy while engaging in recruitment conversations create a sense of connection in the minds and hearts of the candidates. Candidates feel that the company gets them and are making a safe bet to park their career (and other) aspirations with the brand. Empathy is an emotion that all humans connect with - whether they are right or left-brained.

How to create Journey Maps for Recruitment Programmes and Candidate Engagement

Step 1: Identify the stage at which the candidate is being hired

  1. Is she a campus hire?

  2. Is she a lateral hire?

  3. Is she being head-hunted from a current position?

  4. Is she rejoining after an extended career break?

It is important to identify these streams because each stream has its own unique paths that the candidate would follow.

Step 2: Identify the goals that each cohort of candidates would aim to accomplish by accepting employment with you

Different people join companies with different agendas that vary widely from each other. Hiring companies must ensure that each of these agendas is met as much as possible.

In case there is a gap, then companies need to evaluate whether they need to bridge that gap and if they are not, then what is the expectation set that they need to communicate back to the applicant?

Step 3: Map out the touch points

Touch points are specific moments that bring the company into contact with the candidate. These touch points may be either online (job boards, social media, emails, SMS alerts) ; or offline (newspaper ads, in person or through the telephone)

Understanding the location of each of these touchpoints, and then ensuring that the Brand is present and providing service at each of them is a very easy way to boost positive candidate experiences. Having a great back end is not going to make a great impact if the front end - evidenced by the touch point presence and experience is sub-par.

Mapping touch points are useful to answer questions such as,

  1. “Why are we not present on this platform?”,

  2. “Should we engage more actively with the candidate at A, B and C points?”,

  3. “Could we be losing candidates because we are ignoring their needs at this point of their journey”,

  4. “Where are we losing the most candidates?”

Touchpoints can be mapped for both current states as well as future state scenarios.

Identifying the touch points can be accomplished in the following ways:

  1. Put yourselves in the candidates’ shoes

  2. Look through your ‘New Joiner’ surveys for insights. Explore ways of adding questions about these touch points in the surveys, if you can

  3. Ask candidates who have joined for their experiences through a focus group discussion

  4. Recruiters and HR Operations Team members who frequently meet candidates and are embedded in the process will also be able to provide insights.

Step 4: Rate the touch points

Once the touch points have been lined up, they need to be rated on two axes.

  1. Level of satisfaction at each touchpoint

  2. Level of importance of the touchpoint in the overall scheme of things

Rating touch points on these two axes reveal how quickly and thoroughly the process at the specified touch points needs to be fixed. It will also reveal several ‘low hanging fruit’ that can be attacked first in order to provide a sense of progress and momentum to the team as they tackle the Candidate Engagement project.

Step 5: Prioritise and fix roadblocks

Creating a priority list of roadblocks that are getting in the way of excellent candidate experience is easy once steps 1 to 4 has been completed.

Look for any overlapping areas of work that would require common team members. Use an Excel Sheet to put together the list of action items and prioritise them in the order of importance.

From our experience, we know that using a MECE approach when working on projects provides a sense of sanity as well as makes sure that different teams are working together towards the same shared goal without stepping on each others’ toes.

We will cover MECE in more detail in an upcoming blog.

Step 6: Report findings and plans to Senior Leadership

Senior Leadership would need to provide sponsorship to this programme if it must stand a chance of surviving the rough and tumble of daily use. While Senior Leadership in HR would already be on board, it is important to also gain the support and acceptance of Leaders whose teams would be impacted by the changed processes and systems that the candidate journey mapping project brings surfaces.

Step 7: Rollout, review and course corrections

The final step would be to roll out the changes in a phased manner and constantly review the progress. Course corrections, where needed, would have to be made based on data.

We would recommend that the changes be made on the basis of A/B testing. When an alternative is suggested, roll the alternative line of action out and look at relative efficiencies before changing track.

This would be a prudent method of going about making changes by providing a clear sense of whether (and why) the new way of working is better.


Candidate engagement is important for companies to bring down their ‘ghosting’ numbers as well as increase joining ratios. The New Normal and the Work From Anywhere movements have brought with it a need to review existing ways of working and put in place newer systems and processes that are adapted to the changing ground realities.

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