Improve the Candidate Experience — and Your Hiring Process — With This One Simple Tactic


Over 60% of job candidates will share a negative candidate experience with their friends and family. And 35% will even share it publicly online. That’s according to the 2018 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report. And, needless to say, these negative reviews can impact companies’ employer brands — and their ability to attract talent.

That’s why companies are increasingly trying to improve their candidate experience with a very simple tactic — asking candidates for feedback. In fact, the report found that 79.2% of companies ask candidates for feedback about their experience at some point during the hiring process. That’s a huge increase from 2016 when just 56.3% of companies could claim the same.

Despite this trend, only 14.3% of companies conduct surveys at every touchpoint in the process, with many only gathering feedback from the people they hire. This makes it difficult to know which steps are causing the most friction and frustration for candidates, holding companies back from making meaningful improvements.

To truly boost the candidate experience, you first need to know what you’re doing right and where your areas for improvement lie. Below are four tips for getting more useful feedback from candidates in order to create a better candidate experience.

Ask for feedback from all your candidates, not just the ones you hire

While almost four out of five companies collect at least some candidate feedback, the Talent Board found that a large number (35.7%) only survey candidates after they’ve been hired. Considering that a tiny percentage of candidates ultimately land a job at the end of the process, this provides a limited window into the experience of most candidates.

For one thing, candidates that do accept an offer are likely to have had a good experience. If they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t have taken the job.

They may also be more inclined to provide positive feedback out of respect for their new employer. It’s hard to anonymize feedback from just one person, so they may gloss over the more negative aspects of their experience for fear of repercussions.


Related: Bad Candidate Experience Cost Virgin Media $5M Annually – Here is How They Turned That Around


This is not to say that surveying new hires isn’t valuable. But it shouldn’t provide the sum total of your candidate feedback because rejected candidates may have a very different experience from successful ones. And you’ll also want to hear from the job seekers who dropped out of the process voluntarily as a result of a bad experience.

Survey everyone, from early dropouts to new additions to the team and everyone in between. This will provide the most complete picture of what candidates think about your process.

Gather feedback at every important step in your hiring process, even before a candidate applies

Collecting feedback from every candidate is easier when you build touchpoints into every step of your hiring process. This allows you to pinpoint exactly where things are going right or wrong.

The Talent Board’s research shows that 14.3% of employers ask for candidate feedback at every significant step in the hiring process — double the number (7.1%) that did this in 2016. Another 1.3% survey candidates before they apply, 8.4% survey them after they apply but before they interview, and 19.5% survey candidates after the interview stage but before they’re hired.

The more information you can gather around all these touchpoints, the better. Before a candidate applies, the design of your career page or the ease of searching for open positions might sway them to take the leap — or to look elsewhere. After they’ve submitted their application, the lack of a confirmation email might leave them ambivalent about continuing, even if they’re offered an interview.

Asking for feedback immediately after a candidate has completed a step not only helps you gather input from a broader pool of applicants but also improves the accuracy of their feedback. Since the experience is fresh on their minds, they may be able to provide more detail about exactly what worked and what didn’t, and why.

Make it quick and easy for candidates to provide feedback so it doesn’t feel like a chore

To avoid making feedback feel like a burden, it should always be optional. Not every candidate will want to provide it, but you can increase your response rate by ensuring the request is quick and easy to complete.

While a more in-depth survey might be appropriate for new hires and late-stage candidates, it’s probably not the best approach to saddle applicants with a laundry list of questions during the earliest stages. This may actually hurt the candidate experience.

Instead, consider building a simple rating system into the process. This can be done in the form of a pop-up or feedback form on your website, or via a link sent in an email.

Software company Citrix, for example, uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric to measure candidate experience after onsite interviews. Candidates receive an email containing a single question: “Based on your candidate experience, how likely are you to recommend a friend or colleague to apply for a job at Citrix?” They can answer on a scale of 1 to 10 and have the option to write additional comments. They can also opt in to speak further about their experience if they choose.

This approach was so quick and easy to complete that Citrix saw an immediate response rate of 58% — much higher than its previously used survey, which involved more questions.

You can also use chatbots to gather feedback for you. Take Sutherland’s custom-built hiring chatbot, Tasha. Tasha will follow up with candidates who seem to hesitate or go dark at some stage of the process, like failing to schedule an interview or complete an assessment after being prompted. And if the candidate chooses to drop out altogether, Tasha finds out why.

The less it feels like work, the more feedback you’ll be able to gather. Limit work on your end by using online tools and automation to send quick surveys out to every candidate who reaches a certain point in the process. And if you don’t want to pay for a survey tool, you can create a survey yourself using Google Forms and include a link on your website or in your emails to candidates.

Put candidates at ease by assuring them their feedback is anonymized

Even if candidates want to provide feedback about the process, they may feel hesitant about being wholly honest if they think it could affect their chances of getting the job. That’s why it’s important to let them know that all feedback is anonymous and that your company respects their privacy.

It also helps to provide as much information around giving feedback as possible. Let candidates know early in the process that your company will ask for feedback at various points and that this feedback helps you enhance their experience. That way, if a request to fill out a survey appears in their inbox the day after they’re rejected, they’ll know to expect it and are less likely to hit delete.

If you don’t ask for feedback, candidates will post their thoughts elsewhere — sometimes to your company’s detriment

Gathering candidate feedback is a major trend for companies this year — but for many, the data they’re gathering isn’t telling the full story.

The truth is, most candidates are probably providing feedback already, and often in places you can’t see. While some of it will be public, like social media posts that name your company specifically, other applicants will share their experience with friends and family. That’s especially true if they’ve had a poor experience, as they may want to warn others about applying.

Actively asking for feedback shows that your company takes an active interest in improving the candidate experience for everyone it interacts with. This in itself can boost a candidate’s impression of your company, since they feel like they’re being listened to.

Better yet, you’ll gain insights into how and where you can improve your process. This may highlight problems you didn’t even know existed — and provide a clear path toward creating a winning candidate experience for all.

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