It is rare to have a good experience interviewing today. The main reason for this is that HR no longer drives the interview process; the people who are responsible for it don't care or don't give much thought to providing a good experience.
To have a good experience means with interviewing means you have to feel like that HR is there to answer questions, inform you of what to expect, make sure that you have been treated fairly and give you a credible reason if you don't get the job.
Companies spend a lot of money to delight their customers, but they don't seem to pay much attention in delighting candidates that they are interviewing. They often view both as easily replaceable not worthy of caring too much. The point of delighting customers come across as a PR exercise and soon customers will figure it out. Today, through social media, customers know very quickly if you are authentic.
For example, you can provide a good experience even advertising on Craigslist. I has placed an advertisement for a gig at my parents house to trim some hedges and remove weeds. I replied to everyone who responded. All I did was thank them for responding to the ad, inform them that I have given the gig to someone and made it clear that if, for any reason the person bails on me, I will get back to them. Most responded back and appreciated my candor in dealing with them. People want you to be honest, responsive and thank them. I may not have given the gig to all of them, but at least they had a decent experience interacting with me.
I am sure you have all been through bad experience when it comes to interviewing. Few years ago I interviewed with one of the top IT company in the world. I had two phone interviews that went well, so they invited me for a face-to-face interview. For the interview, I prepared a chalk talk and a formal PowerPoint presentation.
When I arrived, I was kept waiting for a while since one of the managers had not arrived. Also, I was informed that the manager's boss was unavailable to meet with me. When I started doing my chalk talk. I quickly realized that the pens were all dry, and there were no replacements that made it very difficult to write things on the white board. The second manager finally showed up as I was finishing my chalk talk, so I began my formal presentation. I quickly found out that what they were looking for was a lot different than what I had prepared. Lastly, when the interview ended the manager refuse to compensate me for my expense since she said that it was not in company's policy to reimburse for local travel expense.
The company made the experience worse by never contacting me. They absolutely did not care about my experience. Though I did not get the job, which did disappoint me since I thought I would have done a great job for the company and to show that I brought a lot at the interview to differentiate myself from other candidates. But what still upsets me to this day is the negative experience I had with the whole interview process.
This idea comes from the book by Robert B. Cialdini titled "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" in which he says that we like consistency. He writes "a high degree of consistency is normally associated with personal and intellectual strength. It is at the heart of logic, rationality, stability, and honesty."
The best way to use this research to prevent a bad experience during the interview process is to ask the company that you don't expect to get the job, but you do expect to have a good experience and then define what a good experience means to you and identify them. You want to get their commitment since as Cialdini writes that "Once a stand is taken, there is a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand." Below I have identified five things I would look for to feel that I had a good experience. Note, getting a job offer is not one of them since that is something you don't control.
You want to understand the company's process of interviewing and making a decision.
You want the company to be clear about what they like and dislike about you fit for the job upfront.
You want the company to let you know where they are in the interview process and where you stack up.
You want some feedback if you are not getting the job on what was the reason. You want to know if there was anything that would have made a difference.
You want to know if you were likeable and professional will the interviewers would be willing to refer you internally or externally.
If you get this commitment up front, then the interviewer will abide by it since he doesn't want to be inconsistent. It would reflect poorly on the interviewers and their company.
You may not get the job, but if you think the company treated you fairly and had a good experience, it will soften the blow of not getting the job. You, at the least, will hold the company and the interviewers with deep respect.