Mystery candidate, Research 2019

Apr 4, 2023
In 2019, ERDA conducted a candidate experience study in which two mystery candidates applied to 85 job openings at Latvia's largest employers. The research revealed that many employers had unorganized and inefficient recruitment and selection processes, putting the reputation of their brand and the interest of suitable candidates at risk. Key challenges in the recruitment process were also identified.

Candidate experience and its importance

Candidate experience refers to the overall process of recruitment and candidate selection, including becoming familiar with a company's culture, and technical and physical security.

The experience of candidates greatly affects the external employer brand. 80% of candidates who had an unsatisfactory experience openly share this information, while 97% of those with a good experience would recommend the company's job openings to their acquaintances.

A successful candidate experience also reflects positively on a company's business results, as candidates are often also customers. Having a negative experience as a candidate also reduces their loyalty to a company's brand. 88% of candidates with a good candidate experience are ready to purchase more of the company's goods or services, and 55% of candidates with a good experience would be willing to share their experience on social networks. However, despite the significant impact of the recruitment process on business outcomes

≈60% of job seekers report a negative candidate experience.

Profile of the mystery candidates 

Two mystery candidates - millennials, both with higher education and foreign language knowledge, sent out 85 job applications to Latvia's largest employers. Only appropriate vacancies, not requiring previous experience, were selected.

The top 5 challenges for employers in the external recruitment process

1) Lack of timely responses and communication

According to Talentegy's candidate experience research, 63% of candidates are not satisfied with communication after submitting a job application. The research by ERDA also confirms this, revealing that 62% of employers did not respond that the application had been received and

only 27% of the employers contacted the candidate within the first three weeks since the application submission.
2) Unappealing job advertisements

With 75% of candidates looking for jobs on vacancy portals, 56% on professional social networks, and 31% on company career pages, an attractive job advertisement is key to success. However, 74% of job advertisements are not visually appealing and mainly consist of plain text and a list of requirements, usually in Word format.

3) Inconvenient application process

A quick application is a way to get candidates interested, but this process is not organized in most companies.

1) In 58% of cases, the application process takes place by sending a CV and motivation letter to the employer's e-mail
2) In 75% of cases, it is mandatory to attach the candidate's CV to apply for a job
3) Only 9% of employers offer accelerated applications using a LinkedIn or Facebook account

4) Untapped career page potential

Despite the fact that candidates nowadays evaluate a potential employer not only by looking at the salary offered but by critically evaluating other aspects also in the context of the employee experience, a large number of employers do not share additional information about the company on their websites. Most of the career sections on employers' websites (64%) consist only of information about open vacancies, whereas one of the main information sought by candidates on the career page is information about the company's culture and the benefits offered.

5) Unpreparedness for remote interviews

Since the beginning of the pandemic, online interviews have become the new norm, however, despite the wide choice and availability of free online communication tools, only 17% of employers were willing to conduct job interviews remotely, for example using a Skype interview.

A negative candidate experience can change an applicant's mind about a company that was previously attractive, so companies actually need to start looking at candidate experience in a similar way to customer experience. To get more tips on how to make the candidate experience more pleasant and to find out the criteria for an irresistible career section of the website, download the full research (only available in Latvian).



1) ERDA, Mystery candidate research, 2019

2) Forbes, Here's Why You Need ToImprove Your Company's Candidate Journey - And How To Make It Better, 2017.

3) PaulPetrone, LinkedIn Business, December 28, 2015.

4) WadeBurgess, A Bad Reputation Costs A Company at Least 10% More per Hire, HBR,March 29, 2016.

5) KeenanSteiner, Bad Candidate Experience Cost Virgin Media 5M annually. LinkedinBuisness, March 15, 2017.

6) Talentegy,Candidate Experience Report, 2019.

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