The talent acquisition leader’s guide to orienting your recruiters around candidate experience

Kristin Hunter
| Kristin Hunter
Talent Acquisition, Candidate Experience | 7 min read
the TA leaders guide to orienting your recruiters around candidate experience

Candidate experience is best defined as the way candidates and prospective applicants feel about their interactions with a hiring organization throughout the recruiting process. It begins before the job ad is posted and continues well after the position is closed. A candidate’s perception of the hiring organization is informed by the processes, methods, and approaches of the hiring organization. 

Why Candidate Experience Matters

How candidates feel about your recruiting process matters even more than you might think. Most people will not even apply to an open position without a positive perception of the hiring organization. For example, an IBM Smarter Workforce Institute study found that more than half of job applicants had a positive impression of the hiring organization before they applied.

Candidate Perception Impacts Recruiting Outcomes

This means that companies are much less likely to make cost-effective, best-fit hires when candidates have negative impressions of their hiring process. Imagine the impact on your organization if more than half of your candidate pool never applied. Your recruiting costs would skyrocket from increased use of internal and external hiring resources (e.g. head-hunters, job boards, and in-house recruiters). Now, imagine that your company is already experiencing this. If you aren’t effectively tracking and managing candidate perception, then it is! 

The willingness of candidates to apply with a company and candidate experience go hand-in-hand. This is because the perception of prospective candidates is largely based upon the experiences of other applicants from within candidates’ social networks. According to a recent Talent Board research report, more than 80 percent of applicants with positive candidate experiences and over 60 percent of applicants with negative candidate experiences will share their experiences with their inner circles.

These inner circles are partly composed of other qualified candidates in the same industry (i.e. your direct competitors), as well as your company’s customers and vendors. In fact, candidates who are satisfied with their experience may be twice as likely to become customers of the hiring organization. The very legs your business stands on may hold firm or wobble and collapse based on your approach to managing the candidate experience. 

How to Hold Recruiters and Hiring Managers Accountable for Candidate Feedback Metrics

Hiring Managers and Recruiters are expected to be employment brand ambassadors who facilitate and safeguard a positive candidate experience. The key to success in any role is understanding expectations and having the resources and skills needed to meet those expectations. Expectations should be as clear and objective as possible to create consistent results. In order for performance criteria to be clear and objective, it must be measurable. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to measure candidate experience.

Measure the Candidate Experience Throughout the Recruitment Life Cycle 

There are many decision-points that are reached by candidates and prospective candidates. The design of the company’s website, how long the application takes to complete, how friendly and transparent the Recruiter is and many other factors all impact a candidate’s willingness to move forward with the company. By understanding exactly where in the process applicants and prospective applicants are lost and why they are lost, talent acquisition leaders can better hold Hiring Managers and Recruiters accountable.

Track Metrics Around Meeting Candidate Expectations

Candidate experience is comprised of interactions and perceptions, and it hinges largely on how well expectations are established and met by those involved in the hiring process. Neuroscience has proven that unmet expectations, no matter how trivial, negatively impact peoples’ brain chemistry. When a recruiter tells a candidate that he will follow up with her in a week but he reaches back out in two weeks, he is causing the candidate actual harm!

In addition to the initial effects of unmet expectations, people are more likely to remember and recount negative experiences than positive ones. So poor communication can launch an initially optimistic applicant into a lasting negative campaign against a hiring organization. 

We’ve included some helpful information on a few of the best metrics used to gauge how well the hiring team met candidate expectations.

Interview Metrics

Interview metrics are data that report the quality of the existing interview process. They include such data as:

  • Percentage of candidates reporting that interviews took place on time, as scheduled with the expected people in attendance
  • Percentage of candidates reporting no surprises or misinformation in the hiring process
    • (i.e. Were pay, location, reporting structure and job duties all  explained correctly upfront? If any information was not known, did the recruiter let the candidate know what information would be made available in the next stage?)

Reputation Metrics

These metrics paint a picture of how the company’s reputation is impacting the company’s ability to attract talent. They are captured in a quantitative way by identifying the:

  • Percentage of candidates (both not selected and selected) who would refer their colleagues, friends and family to apply
  • Percentage of candidates who were referred by other current or former applicants

Satisfaction Metrics

Candidate satisfaction is measured using a candidate satisfaction score. This is another qualitative concept that is quantitatively measured. Candidates rate their overall satisfaction with the hiring process up to a given point from 1 – 10. 1 represents a very low candidate satisfaction, and 10 represents a very high candidate satisfaction. 

Candidate satisfaction scores should be measured at certain points along the hiring process such as after: 

  • filling out the job application
  • interacting with your chatbot or
  • speaking with a recruiter, etc. 

The average of all satisfaction scores along the hiring process touchpoints equals the overall candidate satisfaction score. Both the overall score and the individual touchpoints can be used to help measure Recruiter and/or Hiring Manager performance. 

Gather the Feedback Directly, Not Via Job Boards

Third-party job boards like Glassdoor or Indeed fail to provide meaningful, regular candidate feedback. This is partly because the results you see are almost always skewed. According to the Harvard Business Review, online reviews have a tendency to be highly polarized because people with extreme positive or negative experiences are the most likely to leave a review. And since people are significantly more likely to share a negative interaction than a positive one, a company with a decent hiring process could still end up with mostly bad reviews. 

In addition to biased feedback, third-party job boards fail to consistently solicit and collect information on candidate satisfaction throughout the recruitment life cycle. Candidates may leave feedback after an initial contact but not after a final interview, for example. The feedback on these two stages may have been vastly different, but the hiring organization would never know. And, because these job boards also do not collect pre-application feedback, you may miss out on important insights about why qualified people are not applying after reading your job ad.

Despite job board reviews being a poor indicator of the actual candidate experience, 48% of jobseekers in the US rely on them when deciding where to apply. This makes more effectively soliciting feedback from all applicants critical to understanding your employment brand.With accurate, complete information, you can more fairly and consistently hold your hiring teams accountable for their impact on the candidate experience.  

There Are Many Great Tools to Collect Better Feedback

Instead of relying only on onboarding satisfaction surveys or third-party job board reviews, use a tool specifically designed to manage the candidate experience to gather feedback throughout the hiring process, starting before they even apply. 

Surveys, Emails, and Feedback Buttons

360 feedback tools like SurveyMonkey or Survale can be set up to collect candidate experience information throughout the recruitment life cycle, but they have a few major drawbacks. For example, many of these tools require the Recruiter or the system to schedule or initiate feedback requests based on certain candidate actions.

This approach either

  • requires too much human-initiated follow-up, resulting in higher labor costs and mistakes due to human error, or 
  • is highly automated and efficient, but cold and inflexible.

Alternatively, some surveys require that the candidate initiate them by clicking on the feedback button displayed on your company’s career page.

This tactic relies upon the candidates 

  • noticing the button and
  • being motivated enough to click said button without any prompting.

Neither scenario accurately captures candidate feedback.

Conversational AI

Rather than settle for less than stellar data collection and candidate interactions, many employers have started turning to conversational AI. These companies use Conversational AI to engage and collect data directly from candidates in a way that constantly and intuitively reaches and responds to candidates. 

Companies like Mya offer AI that is engaging enough to get responses from candidates and hold their attention until the full recruitment workflow is completed in 89.3% of interactions! This allows recruiters and hiring managers to focus less on tactical tasks and more on recruitment and hiring strategy. By focusing on strategy, the hiring team can design better processes that improve outcomes. 

Employers that take full advantage of this technology hire many more best-fit candidates in a shorter amount of time, while simultaneously collecting and generating impactful feedback from candidates. The delightful data collected by Mya is then used to fairly and correctly hold recruiters and hiring managers accountable for results! 

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