The relationship between hiring top talent and business performance is undeniable. Following the recent pandemic, candidate expectations have never been higher. They’ve increasingly expressed a desire for more balance and flexibility from their employers, as well as more meaningful work. 

Delivering a transparent and positive candidate experience has become a top priority for talent teams looking to win great talent. With more open jobs than candidates to fill them, it is critical to keep candidates engaged and excited. 

Guide, a candidate engagement platform loved by recruiters and candidates alike, takes the heavy lifting out of delivering a high-touch, personalized experience to every candidate. Today, PeopleTech Partners sits down with CEO & co-founder of Guide, Troy Sultan, to hear his story and why focusing on the candidate’s experience is so important.

Troy, I’d love to hear more about what gave you the idea to start Guide.

Actually, Guide is our second HR Tech Company after Resource (acquired by Gem). As an early-stage business with no brand and little budget, we couldn’t match the pay or benefits of large brands like Facebook, Amazon, or Google. But, we still required top talent to win. In order to compete, we got extremely resourceful and creative internally to deliver an exceptional candidate experience. We created a series of Google Docs for candidates who entered our process that laid out a hyper transparent set of expectations, assessment criteria, interview preparation material, and more. And that was pretty successful; we realized we were onto something. That hyper effective hiring process was actually what led to the creation of what Guide is today. I also have a background in talent acquisition and recruiting, so delivering a winning candidate experience is something I’ve spent my entire career thinking about.

How do organizations benefit from using Guide?

Guide initially started as a way to seamlessly deliver branded company collateral to candidates – things like company mission and values, prep material, interview schedules, and hiring team bios. Guide has since evolved into a candidate engagement platform that enables companies to keep candidates engaged and informed throughout the entire interview process. Candidates spend more than 95% of the hiring journey not actually interacting with anybody at the company. This makes keeping top candidates engaged difficult, even for proactive recruiting teams. Guide is designed to be a candidate’s home base, accessible to them throughout that entire process. They have greater transparency into the hiring process and an easy way to stay connected with the hiring team and company. The result of more engaged candidates? Less unwanted dropout, significant recruiter time savings, and faster time-to-hire.

What are some of the companies that are leveraging your tool to keep their candidates engaged?

Any organization trying to attract top talent and improve internal recruiting processes can benefit from a solution like Guide. Some talent teams struggle to break through the noise and stand out to candidates, while others need to improve efficiency and standardize their processes. Companies like Glossier, MongoDB, OneMedical, and Patreon use Guide today to save hundreds of recruiter hours and cut down on unintentional applicant dropoff – by over 50% in some circumstances. By automating the delivery of their most relevant collateral showcasing the unique company culture and brand with candidates at every step in the hiring process, Guide also helps customers to both decrease the time-to-hire and boost their employer brand.

You’ve just released the Candidate TRUST Framework. What is it and how was it created?

There is no consensus in the talent industry around how to define or measure candidate experience, or what specifically makes a winning candidate experience. So, we wanted to publicly share our thesis. 

After surveying thousands of candidates across hundreds of companies during the hiring process, we uncovered that trust was a core underlying emotional driver of a positive candidate experience. This learning was what led to the creation of the Candidate TRUST Framework – a new way to define, measure, and improve the candidate experience. TRUST is actually an acronym that highlights what we believe are the five core pillars that make a great candidate experience: transparency, reciprocity, unity, speed, and truthfulness.

Why would you consider this framework important to organizations?

Every company has a somewhat interesting story to tell that has been historically enticing for candidates – “Hey, we have great benefits! Here are our investors and logos!” So today the question becomes, how do you differentiate yourself in how you make the candidate feel? Our core thesis is that if you win the candidates’ trust you win the candidate. Using the Candidate TRUST Framework, that means:

  1. The candidate feels you’ve delivered a highly transparent experience (Transparency)
  2. The candidate feels like there was an equal amount of give and take (Reciprocity)
  3. The candidate feels they’ve been treated fairly and inclusively (Unity)
  4. The candidate feels you’re moving at a pace that’s ideal for them (Speed)
  5. The candidate feels the information you’re telling them is trustworthy (Truthfulness)

Using these five pillars, talent teams can calculate what we call the Candidate Trust Score. You can learn more about how to do that in the article here.

What should people leaders be thinking about candidate experience in 2023 and beyond?

Historically, candidate experience has been thought of as a ‘nice to have’ behind arguably more pressing issues. At one point, just understanding the data in our pipeline was tough to do. We now have incredible tools that give us insights on most of the important parts of our internal processes and hiring funnel. That makes candidate experience one of the last frontiers to conquer to truly deliver a quality and effective hiring process from top to bottom. So what I’d argue, is that the most progressive talent leaders understand that the biggest missing piece to winning more high quality talent and hitting your hiring goals is winning the actual candidate with a great experience. 

Candidates have been burned in the past by taking jobs that turned out to be something different than what they were sold. So they are often distrusting of an organization coming into a recruiting process, not knowing whether they can believe the information that they’re getting. Delivering a highly transparent and trusting candidate experience is not only a good thing to do, but there is a clear business case on how to lower your cost per hire, by driving up your passthrough and offer acceptance rates with candidates. It’s also much more likely that you end up improving your quality of hire, and therefore reducing attrition.

Why is this important in the current market?

Right now, there is a lot of movement happening in the market. There are a lot of people changing jobs and an increasingly concentrated amount of companies vying for that talent. This creates a more chaotic environment for companies and a much bigger need for efficiency, automation, streamlined workflows, and time savings. And often the first thing that goes when we need to save time is the candidate experience. It’s the thing that’s hardest to do. It’s the most bespoke thing. And so that often kills your ability to reach your hiring goals. 

On the other side, with both layoffs and the volatile market climate, candidates are feeling that it may not be safe to work with just any employer. They’re really hungry for information and to trust that they’re making the right decision. They don’t want to end up back on the market in three months. They’re very sensitive to the way that they’re treated during the interview process. 

That tells talent leaders and companies hiring that it’s critical now more than ever to deliver a human, transparent, personal experience. Candidates are extrapolating from that experience what it might be like to work at this company, and they’ll pick the company that gives them the best experience. 

What is next for Guide?

We’re excited about helping more and more companies earn the trust – and thus improve the experience – of their candidates. As we continue to lean into making a product both talent teams and candidates love, we will focus on not only making it easier for companies to communicate to candidates, but streamlining and centralizing all communication between the candidate and the company. 

Troy, thanks for sitting down with me today! How should folks learn more about Guide if they would like to?

If you would like to learn more about Guide, visit their website or book time with them to see how a centralized candidate hub can help you meet your hiring goals.


  • PeopleTech Partners

    PeopleTech Partners

    PeopleTech Partners is a network of experienced People Leaders committed to helping game-changing HR and Recruiting tools get to market and grow. Our People Leaders author content on innovative approaches for the future of work and drive thought leadership within the People community.