Feedback For Candidates And Recruiters: Making It Work Both Ways

Feedback For Candidates And Recruiters: Making It Work Both Ways

Emily Smykal

Feedback has emerged as one of the most important things candidates want from the job search process. This visibility–being acknowledged by, and getting information from recruiters–gives candidates the attention and positive feedback they crave. But feedback doesn’t have to be a one-way street. In fact, it shouldn’t be when it comes to recruitment.

Talent acquisition leaders, recruiters, even individual interviewers can all get feedback. The most proactive recruitment teams will seek out these kinds of responses from candidates, to help drive their decision-making and improve their overall candidate experience.

So how can recruiters elicit, and utilize, feedback from candidates? By building a simple survey into their application process to measure their Net Promoter Score, or NPS. This metric measures candidate (read: customer) satisfaction, and gives recruiters a score that can be improved over time. In this post we’ll examine the differences between the feedback candidates and recruiters want, and how measuring NPS can promote an environment of improvement rather than stagnation.

Feedback for Candidates: What They Want

Job seekers who go through your application process want feedback, plain and simple. They want confirmation that they completed the application successfully and that you received their application. They want to hear from you if you need more information, they want to hear of the status of their application. They want to know when they might be invited for an interview… the list goes on and on.

This shouldn’t surprise recruiters, since the opportunity to get feedback from other processes has become the norm these days. Candidates know when their car is arriving, or when their package will be delivered, and they can get those updates from a multitude of communication forms. So they expect the same level of attention from the job search. LinkedIn research found that 59% of professionals want feedback whenever there is an update on their application, and 94% want interview feedback even if they are rejected after that stage.

Feedback for Recruitment: What They Need

Recruiters also want feedback, but they need to focus on the most useful and actionable responses rather than each and every finite comment that comes their way. A helpful method to gather useful feedback is to follow the model the Talent Board uses to select its Candidate Experience Award winners. In their 2015 North American Candidate Experience Research Report, the Talent Board describes three key questions that played a role in helping identify the winners:

  1. The overall candidate experience ranking per candidates surveyed
  2. Whether or not the “Not Selected” candidates would refer other job seekers to the organization
  3. Whether or not the “Not Selected” candidates would re-apply to the organization

Participating employers who got high scores from candidates on all three questions, whether or not those job seekers were hired, were far more likely to perform better and rank among the leaders in the study. As research on consumers and candidates alike has shown, a willingness to be repeat candidates and refer others is a crucial indicator of a positive experience.

Tips for Recruiters

So how can recruiters gather this kind of useful feedback? Setting up a process to measure and track your Net Promoter Score is easier than you think, and if worded in the right way, it will elicit the same kinds of responses the Talent Board gets from its surveys.

The NPS is actually a scale, typically from -100 to 100, although the scale can vary based on how you set it up. Candidates who respond with negative feedback will bring your score down, and vice versa for positive feedback. An NPS of zero is considered good, but an NPS of 50 or above is excellent. Candidates who respond with a positive rating are considered “promoters” of your organization as an employer, and those who give a negative rating are “detractors.” So your Net Promoters = % promoters – % detractors.

Now how can recruiters set up this scale? First establish the survey questions you’ll ask all applicants, limiting it to just one or two. The Talent Board’s questions, “How likely are you to refer other job seekers to our organization?” and “Would you consider re-applying to our organization?” are probably the best choices for most teams.

Next, build those questions into your application process. This could be easily done on the web. The NPS questions should come at the end of the application, and it should be clear to candidates that answering those questions is a quick and easy part of the process. You may initiate this small survey after the candidate has submitted his or her application, so not to negatively impact conversion rates. You could also send an email out after the candidate has come in for an interview, although feedback my be difficult to elicit before a hiring decision has been made and could also be biased for many reasons.

Then your talent acquisition team should begin aggregating your results, tracking the performance of your NPS over time. If you see a lot of responses that skew towards detraction rather than promotion, it’s time to consider why candidates don’t want to re-apply, or don’t want to refer others.

One final thought as you build your feedback-gathering processes: don’t forget about the feedback candidates want. Getting people to fill out surveys can be tough, but if you offer them something in return, you might get better results. So consider offering candidate feedback at the same time that you’re working on your NPS. Maybe offer job application status updates, or let candidates opt-in to job alerts for similar positions they’ve just applied to. Recruiting leaders will find that feedback is most successful, and most useful, when it’s treated as a two-way street.

Interested in data and analytics in recruiting? Check out our new eBook, “An Exploration into the Depths of Recruiting Analytics.”

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