Candidate Experience

Key Insights from Talent Board’s 2021 Candidate Experience Report

Feb 28, 2022 - Cat DiStasio

There are countless surveys and studies published annually that can offer talent acquisition leaders some ideas about how to conquer their organization’s goals. Since 2001, the Talent Board has published a yearly report which is the largest study of its kind. Talent Board’s candidate experience research supplies TA leaders with proven benchmarks based on insights from organizations’ with high candidate experience rankings, including the processes and practices that improve talent acquisition outcomes.

The 2021 Candidate Experience report is especially valuable, as candidate experience has soared to the top of TA priority lists for 2022 and beyond.

We’ve devoured Talent Board’s most recent research and put a spotlight on its most crucial findings for you. Our feature on Talent Board’s 2020 report was one of our top performing blog posts for last year, and we can’t wait to dive into the fresh research. So let’s not wait any longer. Here we go!

Candidate Experience is More Important—and More Polarized

Each year, the Talent Board names a list of organizations as CandE Award winners, based on the highest rated candidate experience responses from actual candidates. The Top 10 award winners represent the gold standard in today’s candidate experience priorities and results. In 2021, the Top 10 award winners found 47% of candidates had a “great” experience and possessed a willingness to continue their relationship with the company, compared to an average of only 30% for all companies. The substantial gap between the average and the top performers illustrates how much candidate experience matters to job seekers.

We’re also learning more about what happens when candidates don’t have a great experience. In North America organizations, the Talent Board found that candidate resentment rose from 8% in 2020 to 14% in 2021, a 75% spike. This is the largest increase since this research began a decade ago. When resentment climbs, the pump is primed for other undesirable outcomes, like candidate ghosting. (More on this later.)

Key takeaway: Organizations that aren’t investing in improving the candidate experience may inadvertently alienate candidates. Adopt practices to measure candidate experience, set goals, and create a strategic plan for progress. Working on candidate experience proactively not only results in better hiring outcomes, it also helps you protect your employer brand (which benefits both your recruiting and your employee engagement).

Structured Interviews Result in a Better Candidate Experience—and More Fairness

If you’re not using structured interviews, you might be gambling with your candidate experience. Talent Board’s evaluation of the 2021 Top 10 companies in North America found that those organizations conduct structured interviews 14% more often than the average for all organizations.

Structured interviews were also linked with high candidate experience in the previous report, affirming this isn’t a passing trend or a blip on the radar. Job seekers—especially Millennials and Gen Z—want to see a commitment to equity in potential employers, and a fair recruiting process shows them the tip of the iceberg.

Key takeaway: Writing standardized interview questions and following a structured process help you deliver a more consistent candidate experience, and improve the likelihood of more fair hiring decisions—especially when you rely more heavily on objective information, like skills and potential, than on subjective impressions.

Speed and Communication Matter—a Lot

Job seekers want employers to move quickly, and keep them informed about their status and next steps. The enduring question is, “How fast is fast enough?”

Talent Board’s research found that the 2021 Top EMEA companies have to review applications within three to five days to reject or move forward 11% more often than the average for all companies. Moving quickly is just part of the equation—following up with candidates is also crucial. 2021 Top 10 companies in North America give feedback to external finalists 125% more often and to internal finalists 63% more often than the average for all companies, rising to the demands of today’s top talent.

Key takeaway: These findings mean you need to improve both your speed of evaluating candidates and communicating feedback to them. Does your team do this well? We have some counterintuitive but effective advice on speeding up your recruiting process and boosting candidate experience.

Recruitment Marketing Needs to Tell Your Organization’s Story

Candidates want to learn about a potential employer’s history, mission, and culture early on (sometimes even before they decide whether to apply). So your recruitment marketing content needs to tell these stories in a way that connects authentically with what candidates want from the workplace today.

Candidates who said they had a great candidate experience also say they want to learn about the following from potential employers’ recruitment marketing content: company values (99%), diversity and inclusion (83%), and why people want to work there (80%).

Key takeaway: Incorporate authentic stories throughout your recruiting content. Use videos on your careers site and in social media campaigns. Host different types of virtual informational events with a combination of expert speakers, recorded and live video, and Q&A sessions. Focus on topics that your ideal candidates care about, and collect feedback after events to learn how you’re doing and get ideas for future events.

Poor Candidate Experience Leads to Candidate Ghosting

Candidate ghosting has become a big massive challenge for employers. Talent Board’s research helps us understand why candidates might ghost a potential employer, supplying specific calls to action for recruiting teams to work on. The 2021 Candidate Experience report reveals the top three reasons candidates drop out of the recruiting process: (1) their time was disrespected during the recruiting process, (2) the recruiting process just took too long, and (3) the salary didn’t meet their expectations.

Key takeaway: We’ve long thought of candidate ghosting as something beyond the influence of recruiters and hiring teams but with insights on the reasons behind it, talent acquisition teams are better equipped to minimize it. TA teams need specific strategies to combat candidate ghosting as part of their larger candidate experience plan.

Taking Charge of Your Candidate Experience

Talent Board’s new research confirms many of the growing trends we’ve been watching over the last year, and gives us solid proof of how employers of choice enjoy improved outcomes after prioritizing a great candidate experience. These fresh insights help TA leaders inform their organization’s specific roadmap from where you are to where you want to be. The findings from the 2021 Candidate Experience report add valuable perspective that help TA teams understand the broader talent market and create strategies to attract and engage with today’s top candidates.

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