The Talent Board, a non-profit organization whose mission is to build quality candidate experiences, started the CandE Awards in 2010 to recognize and celebrate companies that go above and beyond to ensure candidates are treated well throughout the recruitment process.

An annual gala takes place to celebrate the winners, but the CandE Awards aren’t just an excuse to throw on a tuxedo and pick up a gold statuette. The Talent Board follows up the ceremony with an annual report of candidate experience research, serving as a benchmark for organizations looking for best practices and trends to bolster their own recruitment efforts.

Winning companies are judged on all aspects of the candidate experience, including employer branding, recruitment marketing, sourcing, applying, screening and interviewing, offering, onboarding, and the new hire experience. Both employers and recent candidates participate in surveys to demonstrate each organization’s recruitment process and the quality of their candidate experience.

This fall, leading organizations like Marriott were among the 65 companies honored with a 2018 CandE Award. How did they do it? Here’s a look at the criteria they were judged by, and how your company can make its own strides towards building a gold-medal candidate experience.

1. Offer a positive overall candidate experience

For an award named after the candidate experience, one of the obvious and most important pieces of CandE Award criteria is offering candidates a positive candidate experience. How do you define a positive candidate experience? Broadly, it’s a transparent, realistic and easy-to-navigate hiring process, treating candidates with respect for their time and talent.  This includes (but is not limited to):

  • An approachable application process bolstered by modern technology like mobile job applications and simple interview scheduling
  • A transparent interview process, ensuring candidates understand how long the process may take, the number of interviews required, clear work expectations and feedback to help candidates succeed
  • Hiring managers and interviewers who are fully prepared to carry out interviews   
  • Treating rejected job applications and candidates who didn’t make the cut with respect
  • Properly training new hires to fully succeed in their role

By building a quality, fully-realized candidate experience, you’ll ensure candidates and new hires will be left with a positive impression of your company throughout every stage of the process.

2. Make candidates likely to apply again

Even though they didn’t get the job, would any of your candidates be willing to try again? A quality candidate experience can determine whether or not a position at your company is worth fighting for. Silver medalists who went through the recruitment process got a glimpse into the people, culture, and expectations of your organization.

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If they’ve been left with a positive impression, they may be willing to apply for another position at a company that treats them well.

The CandE Awards measure if a candidate would be willing to apply for an organization a second time. This speaks directly to the long-term health of your recruitment operations: what would keep a great runner-up candidate from re-applying for another position with your company? Candidates that didn’t make the cut the first time around may be the best choice for a future open role, but if a negative candidate experience left them with a poor impression, they could choose to write off future opportunities with your organization altogether.

3. Ensure candidates refer others to apply

Is your candidate experience worth bragging about? It should be — not just to win awards, but to get potential candidates interested in working for your company. The CandE awards take into consideration the likelihood of a candidate referring another candidate to apply for a job with your organization. This basic word-of-mouth is crucial in helping a company maintain a positive employer brand.  

Imagine you’re a new hire at a company that offers an employee referrals program. After going through the recruiting process yourself, would you recommend that your friends, family or former colleagues do the same? A drawn-out application process or the hint of a hiring pain point could be enough to deter you from suggesting that a position might be worth applying for. Maintaining a streamlined candidate experience makes it easy for others to recommend throwing a candidate’s hat into the ring.

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4. Encourage candidates to continue their business relationship with your organization

Your best employees shouldn’t just be dedicated to the work: they should serve as brand ambassadors, believing in the mission of your organization to help carry out its goals. Whether it’s a current employee or a passive candidate, the experience they’ve had as a candidate should also leave them wanting to continue supporting your company.

The CandE Awards weigh whether or not candidates would be willing to increase their business relationship with a company they applied for, and it’s a strong way to measure the practical impact of your recruitment efforts on your company’s bottom line.

If a candidate would go as far as to stop buying your products or services after interviewing for a position, what would that say about your candidate experience? Leaving candidates with a positive impression of your organization can help keep them as evangelists for your brand or business.