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Applicant vs. Candidate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 22, 2024
An applicant is someone who applies for something, typically a job or position, while a candidate is a person being considered for a role or honor after the initial selection process.

Key Differences

An applicant is an individual who expresses interest in an opportunity, position, or membership by submitting the necessary documents. In contrast, a candidate is often someone who has been shortlisted or deemed suitable for the position or opportunity after an initial review.
In job scenarios, an applicant refers to anyone who applies for a position, regardless of their qualifications. A candidate, however, is usually among the selected few who move forward in the hiring process, having met certain criteria.
The term applicant is used in a broader sense and is not limited to employment; it can refer to anyone applying for various opportunities, such as loans or memberships. A candidate is typically used in contexts like elections, job recruitments, or awards, implying a narrower selection process.
An applicant's status remains until they withdraw or are rejected from the process or selected as a candidate. The term candidate implies a higher likelihood of success, as they have already passed preliminary stages of selection.
The word applicant is more associated with the action of applying, while candidate carries a sense of candidacy or potential for selection, often following an initial assessment or nomination.

Comparison Chart


Someone who applies for something
A person considered for a role after selection

Context of Use

Broad, includes job applications, loans, memberships
Narrower, often in jobs, elections, awards

Stage in Process

Initial stage of expressing interest
After passing initial review or shortlisting


Simply applying, no selection implied
Potential for success, implies selection

Associated Actions

Submitting documents, expressing interest
Being assessed, considered, or nominated

Applicant and Candidate Definitions


An applicant is an individual seeking admission or entry.
College applicants must often write personal essays.


In politics, a candidate is one who runs for office.
The candidate for mayor campaigned throughout the city.


Applicant refers to someone requesting consideration for a position or benefit.
The loan applicant provided all necessary financial documents.


A candidate is someone in contention for a particular role or award.
He was a strong candidate for the 'Employee of the Year' award.


An applicant is a person who formally applies for something.
The applicant submitted her resume for the job opening.


Candidate implies being shortlisted or nominated for selection.
The candidate for the scholarship underwent a rigorous interview process.


An applicant is one who puts themselves forward for something.
The applicant for the volunteer position showed great enthusiasm.


A candidate is a person considered for a position or honor.
She was a leading candidate for the managerial role.


Applicant implies the initiation of a request or claim.
The applicant for the club membership filled out the application form.


Candidate often refers to someone undergoing evaluation.
The job candidate impressed the interviewers with her skills.


One that applies, as for a job.


A person who seeks or is nominated for an office, prize, or honor.


One who applies for something; one who makes a request; a petitioner.
Our job advertisement attracted seven applicants.


A student who has nearly completed the requirements for a degree.


A party who initiates legal proceedings against another party.


The third coordinate (or z-coordinate) in a three-dimensional coordinate system.


One who apples for something; one who makes request; a petitioner.
The applicant for a cup of water.
The court require the applicant to appear in person.


A person who requests or seeks something such as assistance or employment or admission


What is an applicant?

An applicant is someone who applies for a position, opportunity, or benefit.

Are the terms interchangeable?

No, they refer to different stages in a selection process.

Can an applicant become a candidate?

Yes, an applicant becomes a candidate if they are shortlisted or selected for further consideration.

Is every applicant a candidate?

No, not all applicants become candidates; only those selected for further consideration.

Can there be multiple candidates for one position?

Yes, there are often multiple candidates considered for a single role.

What does candidate mean?

A candidate is a person being considered for a role, position, or honor after a selection process.

In what context is 'applicant' used?

'Applicant' is used in contexts ranging from job applications to loan requests.

When is someone called a candidate?

Someone is called a candidate usually after passing an initial selection or screening.

Is 'candidate' used outside of employment contexts?

Yes, it's also used in politics, awards, and other selection-based scenarios.

What is required to be an applicant?

To be an applicant, one simply needs to apply or submit a request.

Is being a candidate a guarantee of success?

No, being a candidate does not guarantee success or selection.

Can a candidate revert to being an applicant?

No, once an applicant becomes a candidate, they don't revert back to an applicant in that context.

What is the main difference in usage?

'Applicant' implies the act of applying, while 'candidate' implies being in contention after initial assessment.

Do applicants always know if they become candidates?

Not always, depending on the transparency of the selection process.

Are applicants always individuals?

Applicants can be individuals or groups/organizations, depending on the context.

Is the term 'applicant' formal or informal?

It is a formal term, often used in official or professional contexts.

How long does the applicant stage last?

The duration varies based on the process and context.

What signifies the transition from applicant to candidate?

The transition is marked by an official selection or shortlisting for further consideration.

What qualifications does a candidate need?

A candidate needs to meet specific criteria or qualifications set by the selectors.

Can a candidate withdraw from consideration?

Yes, a candidate can choose to withdraw from the process.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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