2020 Candidate Experience Report from The Talent Board: 6 Actionable insights for Talent Acquisition Leaders

Mar 04, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

Each year, Talent Board measures candidate experience across industries, identifies top employers, and gives them a CandE Award. The CandEs acknowledge organizations with the highest positive candidate ratings in Talent Board’s benchmark research and the accompanying research report highlights what employers are doing well and illuminates areas for improvement.

Talent Board recently published its 2020 North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report, encompassing the experiences of 152,000 candidates across 133 organizations in North America. This year, Talent Board reported that great candidate experience increased from 25% to 31% since 2019 and the resentment rate, which was identified as the biggest challenge in the 2019 report, fell from 14% to 8%. While the increase in positive sentiments alongside the decrease in negative impressions is certainly cause for celebration, employers cannot afford to get complacent when it comes to delivering a stellar candidate experience.

Here are five key insights from the 2020 benchmark report that can help you improve your candidate experience.

Lead with empathy

Among employers who ranked highest in candidate experience, Talent Board recognizes the important role empathy has played. Employers improved the candidate experience with transparency, by communicating with candidates about the challenges amid the COVID-19 shutdown, high unemployment, hiring freezes, and changes to recruiting processes. When employers keep candidates in the loop and tell them where they stand, candidate experience improves.

“Many organizations posted more empathetic language than usual on their career sites to the same effect, and did the same for ongoing candidate communications. The overall impact of this transparency? Candidates appreciated the empathetic communication and adopted a more forgiving attitude than we’ve seen in recent years,” Talent Board reports.

Understand and manage candidate expectations

Managing (and improving) candidate experience relies on understanding candidate expectations. The path to understanding is paved with consistent communication and transparency (more on this below). To improve candidate experience, employers must set candidate expectations by communicating clearly about the requirements and structure of your recruiting process, next steps, and demonstrating fairness at every stage. Asking every candidate the same questions can help, and Talent Board reports that CandE-winning employers conduct structured interviews 23% more often compared with other organizations.

Consider your technology partners

In 2020, technology dominated the talent acquisition landscape, from virtual career fairs and video interviewing to online onboarding and remote work. How, when, and where HR technology is used has a profound impact on candidate experience. Employers must make conscious choices about which technology to use at every stage of the recruiting funnel.

Talent Board reported on how some of the most common recruiting technology tools affect candidate experience: chatbots, video, and texting. The benchmark research found that the use of chatbots has increased by 15% since 2019 and candidates are more likely to refer others

when a chatbot answered questions on the career site (up 25%) and when a chatbot answered questions during the application process (up 29%). When TA teams incorporate a recruiting chatbot into their strategy, candidate experience is enhanced.

Unsurprisingly, the use of video interviews skyrocketed since 2019, with a 129% increase. Talent Board’s research also found a big hike in positive candidate experience, up 51% when candidates were provided with a video preparing them for the digital interview process. Using different types of video throughout the recruiting process and honing your video interview skills helps create a more robust candidate experience as well.

The use of text recruiting is also up, with a 50% increase since 2019. Candidates are more likely to report a positive experience when employers follow key best practices. Talent Board found a 32% increase in positive experience when candidates can launch a job application directly from a text message and a 35% boost when candidates receive text messages about next steps.

Put feedback to work

Asking candidates for feedback is the only effective way to understand the candidate experience and collect crucial insights to help you improve your processes. Talent Board reports that CandE-winning employers had an 80% higher score among candidates for ‘great experience’ (willingness to increase the relationship) than those who didn’t get feedback.

Giving feedback can be as important as getting it, and many employers underestimate the need to share feedback with candidates, especially after interviews, aptitude tests, and when candidates are not selected to move forward. In 2020, Talent Board found that the number of candidates reporting a positive experience increased by 15% when candidates are given specific feedback on their job fit. There was also a 20% increase when candidates were given feedback on an assessment they were asked to take. Review your recruiting process and look for opportunities to share feedback with candidates, and then follow through consistently.

Transparency and accountability

Throughout Talent Board findings is a common thread: transparency rules. A big part of delivering a stellar candidate experience is earning trust, and the easiest way to do that is through transparency and accountability. This doesn’t require expensive systems, complicated processes, or a six-week seminar. It can be as simple as keeping candidates informed, following up, and delivering on your promises throughout the process. Your efforts will be rewarded, too. Talent Board found a 52% increase in positive experience when recruiters or HR professionals inform candidates of the post-interview steps and then follow up in the promised time frame.

There was also a 51% boost when the hiring manager informs candidates of the post-interview steps and follows up in the stated time frame.

Design experiences that draw candidates in

We can’t control what candidates want, what they think, or what they do. But savvy talent acquisition teams are learning more each day about how to design recruiting experiences that deliver the information, feeling, and motivation that candidates need to seal the deal. It all starts with understanding their expectations, and creating events and other interactions that satisfy those needs. Using the right recruiting technology at every stage helps employers do more with less, break geographic barriers, and compete with larger organizations that are now recruiting in your local talent pool. Following the best practices of CandEs-winning employers is a sure fire way to level up your candidate experience to help you attract and hire better talent.

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