Creating Harmony Between the Candidate Experience & New Hire Experience

Recruiting teams spend a lot of time crafting the perfect candidate experience. But what happens once the offer is extended? Many companies pour time and energy into their candidate experience, only to leave new hires to fend for themselves—sometimes neglecting to even have a chair or computer ready for their first day arrival.

Putting a little extra effort into new hire onboarding can have significant benefits—according to SHRM’s recent onboarding report, new employees that were provided with a structured onboarding experience were 69% more likely to remain with the company for more than three years. It makes sense: Helping employees start out with intention and purpose leads them to feel more invested in the work they’re doing and care more about your company.

Creating a structured onboarding program sounds like a lot of work (and it is!) but we’ve got some good news: Many of those good habits you’ve been building up in your candidate experience can easily be translated into creating a meaningful new hire experience, too. Here are a few ways to promote harmony between the candidate and new hire experiences.

1. Set clear expectations across teams

In the hiring process, you know how important it is to set clear expectations between recruiters, hiring managers, and the rest of the hiring team. During onboarding, you’ll also need support from various teams (IT, HR/People, Facilities, etc.) to help new hires get set up. By creating a clear set of roles, responsibilities, and timelines for the onboarding experience, you can feel confident that your new hires will have everything they need to start off on the right foot, whether it’s building access information, a computer and workstation, and even someone to eat lunch with on their first day.

Hiring managers should expect to play an instrumental role in the onboarding experience. In addition to helping new hires learn about the working environment and expectations for their role, hiring managers can also ensure that everything else in the onboarding process is running smoothly. The People team at Elastic creates a list of tasks that’s shared with both the hiring manager and the new hires. This way, hiring managers know what should be happening at each stage of the onboarding process and can check in with their new hires to make sure they have everything they need and can bubble up any issues to the People team right away. Learn more about how Elastic manages this process in their “Hiring Managers as Impactful Onboarding Partners” presentation from Greenhouse OPEN 2018.

2. Align the experience with company values

The hiring process is an opportunity to showcase your company values, whether it’s through Culture Add interviews, introducing candidates to your CEO or executives, or inviting them to participate in activities like any other member of your team. The new hire experience provides another opportunity to solidify your commitment to those values and reaffirm the new hire’s confidence in their decision to join.

At PolicyGenius, the People team aims to create a continuous series of touch points with talent between offer acceptance and their first day so that by the time they start, they not only feel prepared, but that they’re already part of the company. One of the ways they achieve this is by sending an “accept gift” of a Kindle that’s pre-loaded with The Martian. The reason for this particular selection? It’s a lesson in problem-solving, which is one of the core company values at PolicyGenius.

It’s no surprise that employees at VaynerMedia, a full-service digital marketing agency, are particularly savvy on social media. The company celebrates this by handing new hires the reigns to a private Instagram account that’s just for employees. New hires can catalogue their first week on the job through photos and stories. This not only helps them build relationships with their new colleagues, but it lets them participate in company culture in a way that’s uniquely suited to VaynerMedia. PolicyGenius and VaynerMedia shared their approach to new hire onboarding with the OPEN audience earlier this year. Watch the “Building Onboarding for Your Business” presentation to hear more details.

3. Make sure onboarding is personal and professional

During the hiring process, you’re trying to get a holistic view of the candidate as a person. Once they join your company it’s important to encourage them to bring their whole self to work. A thoughtful onboarding program can achieve this by considering what employees might need to feel supported personally as well as professionally.

Cindy Gordon, VP of People at PolicyGenius, explains that “It’s important to think about the individual’s experience—not just the hiring manager’s needs.” That’s why PolicyGenius has implemented a cohort system so new hires go through onboarding programming as a group rather than on their own. Airbnb takes a similar approach, based on the belief that the cohort system creates strong bonds. Global Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb Mark Levy says, “We create belonging by enabling them to form a group that hopefully stays together as they progress here through their careers.”

Elastic has employees in over 30 countries all over the world, but flies all new hires to the company headquarters in Mountain View, California to give them a chance to connect with each other. Before the visit to Mountain View, the People team hosts a phone call where new hires can ask any questions they have about the logistics of onboarding or getting set up to work at Elastic. During their week at HQ, there are plenty of happy hours and dinners so new hires can get to know each other and connect.

4. Be open to feedback

A great candidate experience relies on input from candidates. By learning their strengths and areas for improvement, the recruiting team can iterate and make improvements over time. Similarly, a good onboarding experience relies on feedback from participants. This is especially important as your company grows and the tactics that worked in the past may no longer serve your team.

Greenhouse Onboarding makes it easy to collect feedback about your onboarding process through a new hire questionnaire. Elastic regularly uses this questionnaire to figure out what's working and what's not working in their onboarding process, so they can make adjustments as they scale. The questions are framed around the onboarding process, and are less about the new hire's overall performance. Common questions include asking if new hires have everything they need to perform their job, whether they've met people outside their team, and if they feel clear about their role and expectations. By gathering this data over time, People teams can work more efficiently with hiring managers, see the impact of onboarding efforts, and identify areas for improvement.


The onboarding experience is a critical step that sets the tone for the employee experience. That’s why it’s essential to take a thoughtful and intentional approach to every step a new hire will take in their first days, weeks, and months on the job. By putting some of the tips we discussed today into practice, you can create a seamless transition from candidate to new hire to successful employee.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Candidate Experience