The candidate portal: the newest addition to the talent acquisition tech stack

Chris Connors

Co-Founder

February 20, 2024

There’s a story Talent Acquisition likes to tell about how the candidate experience (CX) is broken, but as far as we’re concerned, it was never whole to begin with. And not for lack of effort: Recruiting professionals and leaders care deeply about delivering both remarkable and meaningful experiences to every candidate that touches their organization. The truth is, sub-par candidate experience has been a technology problem. That’s because until recently, no one had tackled the automated engagement and self-serve logistics space.

At this point, we enjoy seamless, customer-centric digital experiences in virtually every facet of our lives—so much so that they’ve become table-stakes. Order your pet supplies from Amazon, a pizza from Domino’s, a dinner over DoorDash, a custom-made couch from Room & Board, a flower delivery, and you know exactly what stage those items are at along their journey from production to delivery by simply checking a temporary “portal” that tells you. The interview process is one of a handful of remaining exchanges that fails to offer consumer-grade experiences, dissolving candidates’ confidence and excitement in the company. Where are they in the process? What are the details of the next step? Why don’t they have easy access to all the information they need for that stage of their candidate journey? 

It’s not that anyone is actively denying candidates ease or transparency. At its best, the Talent Acquisition team works triple-time to manage candidate communications with speed, precision, and personalization, disseminating information over any number of disparate email threads. But something is always bound to fall through the cracks, and/or candidates are left to chaotically search through email threads to recover the information they need.

It’s not an overstatement to say the industry has been desperate for a way to automate and streamline candidate communications to provide world-class experiences at scale. Lucky for us, this is what the candidate portal (finally) does: It’s the source of truth for communication, interview scheduling, interview prep, employer brand content, real-time tracking of where candidates are in process, and more. It's frictionless to access and automatically updates as recruiters move candidates through the process in the ATS.

The status quo of mediocre candidate engagement is being challenged. Soon enough, every TA team will be setting aside budget for a candidate portal if they want to compete. Here’s how the candidate portal is revolutionizing hiring for its candidates: 

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“The portal provides an entirely new experience for candidates—what candidate.fyi calls a ‘candidate homebase’ for each stage of the candidate journey. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s clear to me this is the future.”

  • Kevin Grossman, VP of Research @ ERE

“Finally, an elegant solution to tackle improving the candidate journey.” 

  • Chuck Solomon, host @ The Candidate Experience Podcast

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40+% fewer candidate withdrawals thanks to centralized (and timely) employer branding content

Attracting talent is one thing; maintaining their interest and engagement through the hiring process is another. It used to be that the only places candidates could go to find company information were the careers page and the handful of emails full of linked content they received from recruiters while in process. That information was often onerous, if not impossible, to update or change—waiting on an overwhelmed developer to refresh the company website, for example. And the time that passed between email touchpoints—those gaps when candidates didn’t hear anything from recruiters—gave them plenty of time to become responsive to another role elsewhere.

The candidate portal, on the other hand, automates content delivery, empowering talent leaders to create (and update) a content archive in real-time. Talent can “unlock” photos, videos, blog posts, press releases, customer case studies, details on the organization’s vision and value proposition, and more as they move through each phase of the hiring process. That staggered content is a way of building and keeping momentum with a candidate—without losing their interest after a one-time information dump in an email. Your company remains top-of-mind for candidates through ongoing self-serve touchpoints—for as long as they’re in your process.

What’s the ROI on this new model of branded content engagement? Hiring teams have seen up to 41% fewer candidate withdrawals, meaning fewer resources wasted on disengaged applicants. (We’ll let you do the math on what that savings would mean for your org.)

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“[With candidate.fyi] I’m delivering no-code content in a single source-of-truth that I update myself. And candidates rave about the platform. For the first time ever, they have a central hub with everything they need. Within hours of enabling candidate.fyi, we received dozens of unsolicited emails from candidates telling us how excited they were to have a candidate experience portal and how surprising it was to have never experienced anything like this. It instantly elevated the talent team, and our ability to attract the best talent.” 

  • James Parker, Head of Talent @ Tropic

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Hours saved in comms and interviews thanks to self-serve information about the process

Recruiters spend a significant portion of their work weeks (8-10 hours, anecdotally) in back-and-forth communications with candidates around logistics. What time is their interview again? What time zone is it in? What skills will the assessment test? Who are they meeting with? What should they do to prepare? Where’s the Zoom link? Oh wait… can they reschedule? That’s a lot of administrative time looking up answers, copy-and-pasting responses, and more. Recruiting teams need to deliver answers more expertly and efficiently than hundreds of one-off threads.

A candidate portal supports this “do more with less” mentality. Within the portal, candidates self-serve the answers to those operational questions rather than wildly searching email threads or frantically reaching out to the team. (We’ve seen some candidates log in to the portal well over a hundred times over the course of their process—whether to resolve those logistical questions themselves, take a DIY approach to interview rescheduling, or deepen their own research on the company. Imagine the hours saved with those candidates.) Of course, there’s the obvious time-savings here—dozens or hundreds of hours per week, depending on the size of your recruiting team. But consider the ways it impacts the most significant stage of your hiring process—the interview:  

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“We’ve had almost no email back-and-forths with candidates since we started using the portal. The entire team is saving a lot of time—and closing candidates earlier now.” 

  • Head of Talent @ AI company

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For one thing, every interview can be shortened by 10-15 minutes thanks to the candidate portal. Ultimately, this means managers are doing their jobs more because they’re interviewing less, which has downstream consequences (of the favorable kind!) for company productivity and revenue. If you can save your sales team 15 minutes per interview and there are 150 interviews in a quarter, that’s 38 hours—one full work week—that translates directly into dollars. 

Conversely, those minutes can be leveraged for more spirited and engaging conversations with candidates. Because all the operational information candidates need is readily-available in the portal, every conversation talent has with the hiring team can be animated by what’s most interesting to them. Rather than process and logistics, that precious time can be used discussing the product, the culture, or the future of the company—the details that actually matter when it’s time for the candidate to make a decision. 

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“I used to spend hours each week prepping candidates for interviews, or answering a multitude of questions about our company or our process. Now on calls, candidates recite details about Tropic they learned while exploring our portal. And because they arrive to our conversations more informed about our business, our product, and our process, a remarkable space has opened up for more engaging conversations with candidates.”

  • Matt Papa, Talent Partner

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On-the-fly optimization of the hiring process thanks to continuous candidate feedback 

A quality candidate portal not only allows talent to self-serve information; it also allows TA teams to collect candidate feedback on a stage-by-stage basis for a more granular view of the candidate experience. Collecting feedback through an ATS—which is how teams have traditionally gauged candidate sentiment, if at all—has its drawbacks. For one, waiting until the process is over to collect feedback invites recency bias. Candidates who were extended offers are more likely to give positive reviews; and while that might feel good, it won’t offer insights about how to improve your process for future candidates. It also won’t tell you which stages of the hiring process need the most attention. Finally, it’s not seamless: ATS surveys are delivered to talent’s over-full inboxes, where they have to actively click through to the survey.

With in-portal pulse surveys, hiring teams can collect candidate sentiment in real-time, meeting candidates exactly where they are in their workflows. The moment someone enters the portal to find out when their next interview is—and with whom—the survey pops up, which explains why teams see up to 61% survey completion rates, when the industry standard is only 20%. When recruiting leaders can deep-dive into every stage, they can deliver more precise feedback, hone in on hiring managers’ growth areas, and tailor coaching journeys. Conversely, stage-specific candidate feedback can be used for positive reinforcement and to establish best practices. So the portal supports optimizing the hiring process in real-time, uncovering areas of opportunity and iteration—which ultimately means faster, higher-quality hires down the road.

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“Because the pulse checks occur after every stage of the process, we get to see where we have room for improvement. I can see when certain interviewers are receiving above- or below-average scores. I can dig into what they’re doing to establish best practices across the team. That information is invaluable from a talent leadership perspective—not to mention a Recruiting Ops perspective.”

  • Sara Vošinek Gašpar, Head of Talent Acquisition @ Synthesia

“We’re getting great engagement on candidate surveys—about 10x the response rate compared to our automated ATS candidate surveys.” 

  • Kaitlyn Tarpey Borea, Director, Talent & People

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Full control of employer brand messaging

As candidates pass through your hiring funnel, they’re doing their own due diligence (aka “research”) on your organization. It’s impossible to know what they’re discovering about your business during that time—the good, the bad, or the ugly—unless you’re guiding their knowledge journey rather than leaving it to chance. Often, individual recruiters have their own set of resources that they share through Calendly or email templates, which results in inconsistent employer brand. But with a shared content library in the portal, where FAQs, videos, and other resources live, recruiters can drag-and-drop the content they want into the templates for their roles—and your business presents a steady, coherent story to the market. 

Anytime content is updated in the library, the portal updates every active job that content is associated with. If a recruiter once shared a LinkedIn post by someone who doesn’t work at the company anymore, they can delete that link from the template and it disappears across all open roles. (If that post had been shared in an email, on the other hand, that trail would be there permanently.)

What’s more, candidates lose access to the portal a predetermined number of days after dropping out of process or being rejected by the company, so the hiring team can safely share sensitive and changing data—annual recurring revenue, for example—that they wouldn’t otherwise give in writing. In this sense, the portal is essentially a content management system that gives recruiting teams the power to frame, share, and modify their messaging (no paper trail involved) and view engagement in an easy-to-digest dashboard. So you control the company message in a moment-to-moment way, observing behavior all the while to know if that message is resounding. 

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“The way I quantify the ROI of the portal is: How many people are logging in? We’ve had 13,500 sessions, averaging 5 ½ minutes each. Candidates are spending hours on our brand content. What that tells me is we now have a very cost-effective way of delivering a ton of information to people. That’s taking our brand to the next level.”

  • James Parker, Head of Talent @ Tropic

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The candidate portal: the newest essential addition to the recruiting tech stack

For years, big tech companies like Meta have had the internal resources to build their own bespoke candidate portals, helping them deliver some of the best candidate experiences out there. As for the other 99.9% of companies? Whether or not they’ve been able to articulate it, they’ve known something is deeply amiss with how they engage with candidates. 

That’s where candidate.fyi comes in. We’re helping revolutionize the hiring experience at companies of all sizes, with a candidate portal that integrates with recruiting teams’ ATS. There’s never been a tool like this for Talent Acquisition; but now that there is, expect the CX landscape to change. As a Head of Talent recently said: “The candidate portal is going to become table stakes. The more candidates have a taste of this experience, the more they’ll be asking other companies, ‘Hey, what’s the login to your platform?’ Candidates are demanding incredible experiences, and if a company can’t deliver, they’ll be considered irrelevant.”

At candidate.fyi, we want you to stay relevant. Want to know more about our all-in-one automated engagement platform? We’d love to tell you all about it.