Candidate Experience

The Best Candidate Experience Survey Questions

Feb 07, 2022 - Valery Caputi Lopez

Is measuring candidate experience important for organizations and hiring teams today? Absolutely. Measuring candidate experience through surveys allows you to collect valuable feedback, identify weaknesses and blindspots in your application process, helps you strengthen your employer brand, and boosts your hiring and retention rates.

It also pays to keep your pulse on the candidate journey, because:

  • 60% of candidates will quit and abandon a recruitment process if it is too long or complex.
  • Almost two-thirds of job seekers consider their job seeking experience to be “poor,” and 72% of them will complain about it to others in their networks or publicly on social media or company review sites (yikes!).
  • On the flip side, good word of mouth is key, as over 80% of job seekers would be willing to share a positive candidate experience with their networks and peers.

So let’s go over the foundational elements of every great candidate experience survey and start with the most important things you should know before building out yours.

Download 12 Things Recruiting Teams Forget


How to Start: Survey Creation Best Practices

  • Keep it brief: Survey Monkey found that abandon rates increase for surveys that take more than 7-8 minutes to complete and that the quality of answers also decreases the more survey questions you have. Keep survey questions between 5-15 questions at most, and put your most pressing questions closer to the top for optimal results.
  • Be direct: Your candidates' time is precious, so be sure not to waste it by making questions too broad or vague. Focus on what you want to learn and craft your questions to be as clear and succinct as possible.
  • Make feedback anonymous: This is an incredibly important best-practice that is easy to forget. Without anonymity, prospective candidates will be hesitant to say anything negative about the company or hiring process, especially while they're in the middle of it. Let people know at the beginning of the candidate survey that you will not be recording their personal data in order to get truthful and accurate answers particularly about a poor experience.
  • Craft surveys for every stage: Candidate satisfaction should be measured at every important step or junction in the application process. Rather than have one giant survey at the end that many will automatically dismiss, consider using shorter questionnaires that target different stages' specific characteristics while the experience is still fresh in the candidates' minds.
  • Include both "Open" and "Closed" questions: Closed questions are faster to answer and tabulate but limit respondents' choices to the options you proposed. Think outside the box and let candidates decide for themselves what's worth sharing through a limited number of open-ended questions on your surveys.
  • Survey everyone, not just new hires: In order to see the bigger picture, you'll have to accept the good along with the bad. New hires will have very little incentive to say anything negative about the company that just employed them, so you're most likely to get your most candid answers from people who did not make it through your entire application process. Implement different strategies to collect candidate feedback and test which ones work best for you and your applicants.
  • Pick a good survey software or platform: The tools that you use to conduct your surveys have to be as user-friendly as possible. You don't want them to become a negative or disruptive part of a job seeker's candidate experience, so stick with software and integrated solutions that you know and trust (like Brazen!).
  • Offer incentives: Potential employees will be much more willing to give you their feedback if they feel they're getting something worthwhile in return. If offered correctly, something as simple as a gift card or small prize will go a long way to ensure a better response rate and a more positive candidate experience for job applicants.

What Should I Ask in My Candidate Experience Survey?

What you ask is just as important as when and how you ask it. So always think about the context of the questions (i.e. the stages of your process) and your learning goals when crafting your candidate experience surveys. The following examples are excellent questions to ask your talent pool during each stage of the candidate evaluation process:

At the Application Stage

This is the point when you identify top-of-funnel issues that may be keeping people out of your hiring process from the start. Ask about job descriptions, resume submission forms, your careers page, and ATS platform. You can also ask about your marketing and advertising to gain insight into how applicants became aware of your open roles in the first place.

Sample Questions:

  • What role did you apply to?
  • Where did you hear about this opportunity?
  • Was the description of the role clear and easy to understand? Y/N
  • How long did it take you to submit your application?
  • Rate our career application process, from easy to difficult.
  • Rate our careers website/job board, from worst to best.
  • What could be improved from our initial application process? (Open-ended question)

After Interviews

A number of your job candidates have made it past the first screening and had a chance to talk to a real-life representative from your company or a third party partner. So what now? Now is the time to evaluate the interview process itself in search of strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Mostly, we’ll want to know if recruiters and hiring managers did a good job of representing their organizations while moving qualified candidates through the pipeline, so focus on performance-related questions specific to the interview process itself.

Sample Questions

  • Rate your interview experience (from very positive to very negative on a sliding scale)
  • Were interviewers professional and polite? Y/N or sliding scale
  • Was your interviewer knowledgeable about the role? Y/N or sliding scale
  • Were all your questions answered? Y/N
  • Did your interview improve or degrade your opinion of the hiring organization? How so?
Download 12 Things Recruiting Teams Forget


After Not Picking Candidates

Failed job applications don’t need to end on a sour note. Did you know that candidates who had a good candidate experience the first time they applied are 95% more likely to reapply at the same company? Therefore it is key to make sure that everyone has a good candidate experience, especially the candidates who weren’t selected. While you can always ask candidates to fill in a survey under their names, anonymizing their responses helps get you more candid and useful feedback about your processes, so be sure to mention this at the very top of your survey email or form to get their honest opinions.

Sample Questions

  • How likely are you to apply for future roles at this organization?
  • How would you rate the speed of our application process?
  • What did you like/dislike about our application process?
  • What could be improved for future applications?

After Hiring Candidates

Since these are the only candidates that get to experience your entire recruitment process in its entirety, new hires have the most holistic view of your recruitment funnel. Try to send new hires a survey very early in the onboarding process so important details aren’t left out or forgotten, particularly when it comes to longer application processes that last weeks or several months. While they may not be as candid as job seekers who didn’t get the job, it is still important to compare their feedback and look for patterns that emerge between both groups to get to an accurate approximation of the truth.

Sample Questions:

  • How would you rate our application and hiring process from beginning to end?
  • Which was the most difficult/challenging part?
  • What did you like/dislike about our application process?
  • Were your initial expectations from the hiring process met?
  • What would you change from our application process for the sake of future applicants?

Don’t Just Sit on Your Data: Use it to Create Better Candidate Experiences Over Time

Building a good candidate experience doesn’t happen by itself or overnight; it takes intentional, continuous effort to create, evaluate, and improve. So check on your survey results often and regularly, then use those answers to build out actionable strategies to address your hiring process’ weaknesses and strengths in real time. That way, no matter how candidates’ expectations shift, you’ll be ready to meet (and surpass them!) them head on.

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