Candidate Experience

How to Measure Candidate Experience

Jan 24, 2022 - Cat DiStasio

Candidate experience impacts so many of your recruiting outcomes: the quality of your hires, the speed of your interview 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 in our communication with candidates.

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 from the perspective of your qualified candidates and recent hires. 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 recruitment experiences. 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 than candidate surveys alone. You could even use a hybrid approach, with candidate surveys 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, usually 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 and at every stage. Asking candidates for feedback throughout the candidate journey 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).

Good examples of questions to ask at different stages include:

After a Candidate's Initial Application

  • How easy was it was to apply for the role?
  • Were the application instructions simple to follow?
  • Did the job description leave important questions unanswered?
  • Can you rate the application platform/recruiting software for user-friendliness?
  • How much time did the application require from beginning to end?
  • Did you experience a positive candidate experience or a poor candidate experience?

After Interviews

  • Was the interviewer professional and well-prepared?
  • Were the questions asked relevant to the role?
  • Was the interview a productive use of your time?
  • Were the interview questions asked relevant to your background and experience as an applicant?
  • Did your interview improve or degrade your opinion of the hiring company?

After Hiring

  • How would you rate our recruitment process overall?
  • How would you rate our recruiting team?
  • Was your recruiter responsive and available to answer questions when needed?
  • What did you really like/dislike about your application process?
  • Did the job description accurately match the needs and requirements of your new role?
  • Was the hiring process a good match to our company culture?
  • What could be improved about our job application process?

After Not Choosing a Candidate for a Role

  • How likely is it that you would apply to future job opportunities at our company?
  • How would you rate the speed of the application process?
  • As a job candidate, has your impression of our company changed when compared to before you applied to this role? If so, how?
  • What did you like/dislike about our application process?
  • What could be improved about our job application process?

Once you start collecting feedback from job applicants and new hires alike, don't sleep on it. Read and respond to feedback (particularly from a bad candidate experience) on your current process when necessary. Create a plan for when and how you will reach out to candidates who report a negative experience, and be sure to follow through with this important candidate feedback. 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 strategy in recruiting is similar, and you might learn something valuable at the same time.

Track & Compare Data Over Time

So, you measured the starting point in your applicant tracking and you've been collecting feedback and candidate experience statistics 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, better interview preparation, updated career hub, new virtual event formats ). Use these insights to make data-informed decisions about future talent attraction strategies. What's working? What areas need improvement? What is our top priority in this tight labor market?

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, conversion rates 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, including their employer branding.

Deliver a Top-Notch Candidate Experience

Every employer wants to be an employer of choice for future candidates. 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 on creating an award-winning candidate experience. 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 experience for candidates (even passive candidates!) and which are letting the chips fall where they may.

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