Candidate Experience

How to Measure Candidate Experience

Jul 22, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

Candidate experience impacts so many of your recruiting outcomes—the quality of your hires, the speed of your hiring process, your brand’s reputation, and even how long your employees stick around. Broadly, candidate experience is the series of interactions between job seekers and potential employers (i.e. your organization) throughout the recruiting process. And the good news is that you have the power to shape candidate experience and affect your recruiting outcomes in positive and meaningful ways. Like anything we seek to improve in business, the first step is assessing our current state.

Here’s a look at how to measure candidate experience so you can create effective strategies to improve your interactions with job seekers, strengthen your employer brand, attract more and better candidates, and hire the right talent to keep your business moving forward.

Identify a Baseline

Before you change a thing, start by evaluating where you are. What is your candidate experience currently like? To answer this question, you’ll want to have qualitative and quantitative measurements in place to tell the whole story. (More on this below.)

Start simple, by asking current employees and recent hires about their experience with your recruiting process. Ask them specific questions about each stage of the recruiting process. If you let them know up front that you’re collecting this information to improve candidate experience, you may be more likely to get candid responses. It’s also important to measure the candidate experience of job seekers you do not hire, as they may be able to share valuable insights that can help you improve your process.

To get started, decide how you want to gather this feedback. You may be tempted to create an online survey and shoot off the link in an email but if your organization’s culture and size allows it, you may get more engagement and better quality responses through one-on-one interviews. You could even use a hybrid approach, with an online survey as your initial phase, and then follow up with individual interviews for people who shared thoughtful responses that may warrant further unpacking.

Ask for Feedback Frequently

Many employers make a big mistake by sending out a feedback request once, at the very end of the recruiting process (and often only to candidates who received a job offer). To truly evaluate and investigate your candidate experience, you need to ask often. Asking candidates for feedback throughout the recruiting process is one example of a qualitative measurement that provides meaningful insights. On the quantitative side, you don’t have to overthink it. You could use a single question scale rating at each specific stage of the process (such as your online application, after a virtual event, or following a video interview).

Once you start collecting feedback, don’t sleep on it. Read and respond to feedback (when necessary). Create a plan for when and how you will reach out to candidates who report a particularly negative experience, and be sure to follow through. As we all know from our experiences as consumers, sometimes the most important thing you can have when you’ve had a negative interaction with an organization is someone to hear you out. The candidate experience in recruiting is similar, and you might learn something valuable at the same time.

Track & Compare Data Over Time

So, you measured your starting point and you’ve been collecting feedback on the regular for some time. Now what? This is where the data nerds on your team will really shine. Look for trends in candidate experience survey responses, and overlay the timeline with any changes you’ve made to your recruiting strategy (i.e. revised job descriptions, updated career hub, new virtual event formats). Use these insights to make data-informed decisions about future recruiting strategies. What’s working? What areas need improvement? What is our top priority?

Once you benchmark and start regularly measuring candidate experience, you’ll be equipped to dive deeper into other questions down the road, like how candidate experience impacts key metrics in your recruiting process (time to hire or offer acceptance rates, for instance) as well as employee retention and engagement. Many employers who invest the time and effort into measuring and improving candidate experience begin to see benefits in other areas over time.

Deliver a Top-Notch Candidate Experience

Every employer wants to be an employer of choice. Measuring candidate experience is an often overlooked step in the journey toward that goal. Start small if you have to, but do make it a priority to get started soon. As more employers adopt virtual recruiting and competition for top talent continues to heat up, job seekers will notice which organizations are invested in providing a great candidate experience and which are letting the chips fall where they may. 

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