Article: It’s all about pioneering your Candidate Experience

Talent Management

It’s all about pioneering your Candidate Experience

The first keynote session of the TechHR 2016 by Gerry Crispin revolved around measuring, defining and understanding candidate experience.
It’s all about pioneering your Candidate Experience

Candidates who have had a great experience, 78% will go out of their way to encourage others to apply


Customers and Candidates care are two sides of the same coin. They are linked inextricably in value but they present a different face in at least one important aspect - nearly all Customers who want service get it, however, all candidates are not selected and some will be there who will be rejected.

And so it is that Customers [correctly] assume any disappointment will be minimized while Candidates [incorrectly] assume there are practices in place to soften their inevitable rejection. 

Unfortunately, Employers in the US and elsewhere have been so traditionally focused on the one person they will hire (and, possibly, the 3-5 ‘finalists’ the firm has invested in interviewing face-to-face) that they ignore the vast majority of candidates they touch but don’t hire. With more data now available, this error is now being addressed.

Today, a candidate includes anyone who submits their expression of interest, their resume, their online application. It is the act of submission, not the employers’ consideration of them as qualified that defines whether they are a candidate. 

In 2010, TalentBoard, was formed in the US and began in 2011 to collect data from companies about how they treated candidates at each stage of the recruiting process- then surveyed their candidates to compare notes. By 2015 the interest had grown to where 200 firms were participated globally and 130,000 of the candidates of these employers completed a comprehensive 20 to 40-minute survey. 80% of the candidate respondents were not hired. Mid-way through the 2016 campaign, 300 firms are involved in North America, EMEA and, to a lesser degree, Asia-Pac. So far in June and July 5,000 candidate surveys are being submitted every day.

Only the surface of this warehouse of data has been analyzed but new insights are steadily emerging about the attitudes and behavior of candidates and, especially about the impact specific recruiting practices that drive performance of the function and eventually the firm itself.

Initially we looked at a lengthy algorithm to measure Candidate Experience that involved satisfaction with each stage of the recruiting from when a candidate begins to research the employer to the onboarding of a new hire. We found however that a single Net Promoter Score question was as reliable an indicator as the full set of measures. In this context, asking whether a candidate would refer another person to apply could be easily measured and benchmarked was the best indicator of the health of their candidate experience and could be used by any firm. The employers who were rated the highest by their candidates become each year the ‘Benchmark’ for all participants and each received the year’s Candidate Experience Award

Based on the data we have gathered over the last 5 years we can confidently assert that the candidates (hired or not) whose experience is positive will reward the employers delivering it by re-applying in greater numbers (62%), by going out of their way to refer others (79%) and by improving a relationship (for retail firms) that can be measured by increased sales. Conversely, those firms whose candidate experience is negative have fewer candidates willing to re-apply (5%), more candidates who actively dissuade others from applying (40%) and can actually measure their loss (sales). 

Five Drivers stand out that have a direct statistical impact on how well a company delivers an experience that influences the way candidates rate their experience:

Setting Expectations: Clearly dening what will happen in each stage of recruiting—from sourcing and attraction, through the application, interview, hiring, and onboarding process—will improve your Candidate-NPS. 

Failure to set expectations means the candidates will operate on the expectations they have…about how long it takes to complete an application, the rationale for why certain questions are asked, how many interviews will be conducted, the types of questions that will be asked, the feedback that can be expected, the time that will pass before hearing what will happen next etc. etc.

Companies at the forefront of setting expectations offer details on their career-site, video, candidate journey maps and even concierge services from candidate care teams. One company even requires every candidate invited in for an interview to take an online training course in preparation.

Active Listening: Demonstrating that you are listening is essential. Despite this, 59% of all candidates who reached a finalist stage and completed interviews were never asked about their recruiting experience before, during or after. 

Even a candidate who is interested in applying but just wants to ask a question, has no way to do so for 50% of the employers in North America. 

Examples of listening to candidates include: 

  • Chat Rooms
  • Social media landing pages
  • Providing recruiter contact information
  • Invitations to reply to emails

Delivering an auto-response email that says “Do not reply to this email” is a default that is no loinger acceptable and would not improve your Candidate NPS 

While there are significant differences region by region, in North America, more than 50% of candidates who rate their experience positive will share it publicly, 34% with a negative experience will do so. 

The Perception of a ‘Fair’ Process. Candidates know there are many people applying for jobs. But delays in responding, lack of communication, expectations that are set but not delivered all make it seem “unfair”. 

Even within the application, if this question isn’t asked, many candidates will take it personally- “What haven’t we asked you that you think is important to share with us about your skill, knowledge and experience?” Employers are so focused on what they think is important to gather that they fail to elicit why the candidate thinks they are competitive and chose to apply in the first place.

Closure: Failure to tell a candidate that the position is closed and they did not get it cannot be excused. Not only will the company ratings drop but the longer it takes vis-vis expectations for when it should have occurred, the lower the ratings. 

Taking a moment to ensure that every candidate will receive something in return for their time and interest—even if it’s automated—will deliver long-term benets to your candidate experience. 

Accountability: Recruiters who are held accountable for candidate experience are rated higher. It is not rocket science. We do what is measured. The more accountable i.e. connected as part of rewards, bonuses, etc. the higher the rating. It is easier said than done. Demanding accountability requires creating a process for measuring performance, incentivizing performance, and enabling an environment of continuous learning as well as a balancing the recruiter’s scorecard with other stakeholders- hiring manager, etc. who are all critical to a world-class recruiting process.

Skilled professionals are in high demand, and that means they have options. This has catapulted the Candidate Experience to the top of most major companies’ lists of recruiting priorities. How can you attract, connect with and convert talent if your candidate experience is weak?

(This article is based on Gerry Crispin session on 'Customer & Candidates - 2 Faces of the Same Coin' at TechHR 2016)

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Topics: Talent Management, HR Technology, #TechHR2016

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