How to Measure (and Optimize) Your Candidate Experience

How to Measure (and Optimize) Your Candidate Experience

Mike Roberts

candidate experience metricsThe combination of a number of variables has given job seekers an unusual amount of power. Job vacancies are at a 15-year high, time-to-fill is soaring, and professionals fear the talent shortage has yet to hit its worse. At the same time, sites such as Glassdoor and communication platforms like social media are adding more pressure. All these variables are resulting in an increased focus on candidate experience.

Although there are many different definitions for candidate experience, at a high level the concept revolves around the experience someone has as he or she applies and is considered for a job. So many companies are focused on this because the strength of their candidate experience could mean the difference between attracting or deflecting talent—and the Internet has only amplified the consequences of deflection.

They say for something to improve, it first has to get measured. So to make sure you’re in the best spot to measure and optimize your candidate experience, in this post we’ll share a few strategies and best practices.

What the Experts Think About Measuring Candidate Experience

We’ve got lots of ideas for how to measure candidate experience, but first let’s turn to several thought leaders in the industry. Rightly so, these three influencers are all involved in the CandE Awards, a candidate experience competition and benchmark data initiative we’re proud to be sponsoring. More info on the awards as well as previous and future research can be found here.

  • Gerry Crispin, Principal & Co-Founder at CareerXroads: “Ask this one question of every person who applies to every job within a few days of filling a position, ‘Based on your experience applying here, would you refer others to apply?’ Analyze the responses by subtracting the percent who are most negative from the percent who are most positive and ignore the neutral responses. Your numbers using this Net Promoter Score (NPS) approach won’t tell you ‘why’ but it will help establish a baseline for candidate experience. Very positive (or any negative numbers) are worth digging in to.”
  • Matt Charney, Executive Editor at Recruiting Daily: “The only way to measure the performance of candidate experience is to actually ask candidates whether or not they’d recommend applying for a job at said company to a friend or family member once they’re out of the process. This is called Net Promoter Score, and how well a company rates in terms of NPS is easily the best baseline to measure how much they’re moving the needle in terms of providing a great experience to candidates. Since they’re customers, too, makes sense to use the same metrics to measure this as consumer marketers.”
  • Chris Hoyt, Talent Engagement & Marketing Leader at PepsiCo: “You’ve got to measure something if you want to improve upon the work you’re doing. One option is to do this through various touch points in your candidate flow, quick surveys and new hire and/or exit interviews, but I think this makes it harder for you to really benefit from the big picture if done in a vacuum.”

These are just three out of the eight responses, but clearly there are some common themes. In particular, it seems the best way to get feedback on candidate experience is to ask for it. We’ll discuss this a bit more in the next section.

Applying Continuous Improvement to Your Candidate Experience

We subscribe to a similar method for measuring and improving candidate experience. Because it’s such a subjective term, using assessments following an interview or a hire can help to standardize your feedback—which is crucial for identifying trends. But it’s not just the trends worth taking note of. As Gerry Crispin said, “Very positive (or any negative numbers) are worth digging in to” as well.

It is within these outliers that we can take the time to examine with greater care what made such a good or bad candidate experience. For instance, a candidate may have had a great experience that was driven largely by the recruiter interaction. To follow a continuous improvement model, you’ve got to find out what separated that experience from the rest and then build on that or adapt your recruiting strategy where possible.

But it’s not just the recruiter interactions that are part of your candidate experience. There’s also the interaction the candidate has with your career site and apply flow—something fewer thought leaders seem to be talking about today. Measuring and optimizing this aspect of candidate experience has a whole new set of variables. And this is where recruiting analytics are key.

By leveraging recruiting analytics, some talent acquisition professionals are starting to measure and optimize their career site candidate experience in the same light that a consumer-facing company would with the customer experience on its website. Recruiting analytics, for example, allow you to analyze the apply flow to see what’s causing people to drop out. From there, tweaks can be made and iterated upon to drive improvements.

It is the combination of assessment questions and analytics that will drive the future of candidate experience forward. Companies need to break free of their mindset that changing the candidate experience is out of their control or not worth the time, because as the job market continues to heat up, the battle for talent will be won and lost on candidate experience.

Interested in taking the first steps in your recruiting analytics journey? Read our new whitepaper below.

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