The Stages Of A Candidate Journey

A candidate journey has distinct steps, each one require unique attention from recruiters.

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The Stages Of A Candidate Journey

A customer journey is the pathway a new customer takes from awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy. Creating a positive customer journey usually results in a happy longtime user of your service or product. Much like a customer journey, the candidate journey has stages and a positive experience often results in a candidate who stays with your organization.

The candidate journey has several stages, including:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Interest
  • Application
  • Interviewing
  • Selection/Offer
  • Hire
  • Onboarding

For the modern recruiter, creating a positive journey for a candidate is essential to finding the best talent available on the market. This is in part because 56% of job seekers have declined an offer due to a poor candidate experience. As such, modern recruiting emphasizes positive candidate experience to ensure that candidates enjoy the hiring process, working to maintain the hiring process to applicants on good terms, even if the candidate doesn’t get the role.

Additionally, the candidate journey is essential to keeping a candidate prepared for what’s to come. The employee journey begins where the candidate journey ends. As such, the journey from a new applicant to an onboarding employee should be taken into serious consideration at the applicant stage.

Understanding the candidate journey allows recruiters to work on improving the experience, acquiring the best talent, and improving their hiring process as a whole.

Recruitment Journey Map

To understand the candidate journey, a hiring manager must create a recruitment journey map. This document will illustrate the complete journey that applicants experience when they apply to the organization. Starting here will allow you to begin designing a roadmap to changes you want to see in your hiring process.

A recruitment journey map is different for every company and role, but the candidate journey stages remain largely the same per organization.

The candidate journey begins with awareness. This is the very first touchpoint a candidate has with your company. During this stage, potential candidates familiarize themselves with your company brand and are interested in what it’s like to work for you.

The following stage is a consideration. This comes after a candidate has experienced a few of your touchpoints. Unlike awareness, the consideration step is when candidates start making concrete decisions on whether to apply for a position.

Once a candidate’s answer to the consideration stage is a yes, that candidate has entered the interest stage of the candidate journey. Potential candidates in this stage are genuinely interested in working for your company. As such, this is the last stage before candidates apply for a position.

Candidates then move to the application phase of the hiring process. The application phase is everything that occurs from the moment a candidate fills out an application to receiving a job offer. This is the best place to begin molding candidates’ perceptions of the company.

The interviewing phase unsurprisingly begins typically by scheduling a phone interview. Many recruiters are instead turning to on-demand interviews, where they can pre-record questions then allow applicants to respond at their leisure. On-demand phone interviews are a more accessible version compared to on-demand video interviews, which have unnecessary barriers for the applicant.

During the selection and offer phase, you have an opportunity to show the new applicant what your company is about and why they would want to work for you. In part, this is about building your employer brand to help you attract better talent.

Last but not least is the hiringing and onboarding. These two phases are the beginning of the employee journey. Here is it important to carry the tone and communication cadence into an employee’s first months on the job.

It is vital during all of the phases to respond to new applicants as quickly as possible. According to CareerPlug, 84% of job seekers report that responsiveness from recruiters after initially applying directly influenced their decision to take an offer.

Which is better, phone interviews or video interviews? See how they compare.

Candidate Experience

Perhaps the primary concern during the candidate journey is the candidate experience. As we said before, more than half of job seekers polled reported declining positions after poor candidate experiences. This, in part, answers why is candidate experience important.

A positive candidate experience is necessary for any successful hiring strategy. Should a hiring team ignore candidate experience in their hiring process, they’re more likely to miss out on the best talent. The lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation which saw employees depart their jobs en masse. The modern candidate is now looking for a company that can provide them with a higher quality work experience than they would have otherwise accepted before.

Let’s take a look at some candidate experience best practices.

  1. Start by helping potential candidates before they even apply for a position. Develop your employer brand to show how your employees are key to your company values and the work that you do. This allows you to foster the type of work environment and candidates you need.
  1. Be transparent about your hiring process. Nearly 83% of candidates mentioned that a clear timeline of the hiring process would improve the overall experience.
  2. Use tools like Qualifi to let candidates know almost exactly when they can expect a response from you with a quick and easy interview process.

What’s more, let candidates take control of the hiring process. Utilize tools in your hiring process, like Qualifi, that allow candidates to decide when they want to interview. Qualifi found that giving candidates the option to respond to interviews outside of typical business hours brought in 75.5% more responses than traditional phone interview hours.


One of the biggest factors in creating an improved candidate journey and experience is improving your time-to-hire in the hiring process. A slow speed-to-offer is leading many recruiters to lose candidates to their competitors. In fact, 60% of recruiters say they regularly lose candidates before they’re even able to schedule an interview. Candidates have come to expect a faster hiring process.

Recruiters and hiring managers must seek solutions to speed up the hiring process. A prime place to start would be the interview stage. On average, recruiters report spending two-thirds of their overall hiring time on the interview process alone. Of this time, 30 minutes and 2 hours are spent on scheduling interviews per candidate. Utilize a tool like Qualifi’s on-demand interview platform which automates interview scheduling for you. Therefore, your recruiters spend less time scheduling interviews, and more time screening. Plus, Qualifi cuts down on screening too by allowing your recruiters to reach the most qualified candidates faster by using machine learning and keyword recognition to quickly sort your candidates’ responses.

Recruiting teams that include Qualifi as part of their hiring process drastically cut their speed-to-offer. With Qualifi, you can invite hundreds of candidates to one-way phone interviews at the click of a button, enabling your recruiting team to essentially interview candidates 24/7 and screen faster than ever before.

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