How to get started measuring candidate experience (without fancy tech)

How to measure candidate experience | Sapia Ai candidate experience software

Candidate experience: Everybody’s talking about it, few companies are actively investing in it.

According to a Sapia-sponsored Aptitude Research report from earlier this year, 68% of companies admit they have no plans to address the interview portion of their candidate experience throughout 2022 and 2023. Despite this, 50% of these companies know they’re losing talent due to their application and interview processes. What’s more, according to Forbes, companies that prioritize candidate experience can see their average quality-of-hire improve by 70%.

Why the unwillingness to address such an important facet of recruitment? In most cases, the teams responsible for enacting change to candidate experience are steeped in the everyday throes of talent acquisition, and don’t have time right now to examine their processes. Statistically speaking, this is probably where you’re at. Totally understandable; the 2022 labor market is tough. If your house is on fire, you’re probably not focussed on how well you treat the visitors at your doorstep.

Recently, on our Pink Squirrels! podcast, we sat down with Lars van Wieren, CEO at Starred, a candidate experience measurement tool. Lars offered some practical tips on getting started with candidate experience: Benchmarking it, measuring it at different stages of the process, and setting your business up to review and act on the findings.

Step 1: Benchmark your candidate experience

As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets managed. Lars recommends starting with a basic benchmark for your candidate experience. This need not be difficult, and you don’t necessarily need a fancy tool to start gathering these data.

Simply ask your candidates: How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague? This is, in essence, a Net Performer Score (NPS) question, and the scale (1 to 10) should reflect that.

The impact of useful candidate experience | Sapia.ai candidate experience software

Ideally, you should be gathering feedback on your candidate experience at each stage of the application process, but to begin with, ask the question at the very end. And to get the best, least-biased data, you need to ask all applicants whether or not they’ve been shortlisted or hired – if you only ask those who have been shortlisted, or the few people who have been successful, you’re likely to get magnanimous results that don’t reflect your true candidate experience.

The NPS tracking question is easily configurable and embeddable into automated emails, meaning it can be set up through your ATS with little additional work.

When you begin to analyze the data, keep things simple: Dump the data into a spreadsheet, and look at your average numbers. If your score is below 0, you’ve got work to do – if it’s 0 to +30, you’re doing well. 30+ and over, well done!

(If you’re reading this, it’s probably not likely that you’ll get a 30+ score on the first go-round. That’s okay – the goal is to find out how much work you’ve got to do.)

The benefit of benchmarking NPS is that it gives your business a single, easy-to-understand proxy for the health of your candidate experience. Once you’ve got the number, you can start to make small changes to your application experience and see how that affects the overall number.

For example, you might consider making the following changes to improve your candidate experience:

  • Maybe we don’t need to ask for cover letters. Most candidates don’t like writing them (statistically speaking), and they’re a time-suck for our team.
  • Maybe we can shorten the content on our careers page. It’s long, and difficult to navigate.
  • Maybe we should consider using Easy Apply functionality.
  • Maybe we are running too many interviews in our process. Let’s do fewer, and see how that works.

At the same time, you might consider looking at your candidate abandonment rate – we’ve got a post on measuring and improving it here. Candidate experience scores and abandonment rates are almost always linked. Improve one, you improve the other.

Step 2: Gather more data on each step of your job application process

Our joint report with Aptitude Research uncovered some interesting data on the importance of two-way feedback between candidates and employers.

Gathering and acting on mutual feedback:

  • Boosts quality of hire from 36 to 58%, on average
  • Boosts candidate experience from 34 to 44%, on average
  • Improves first-year retention from 35 to 50%, on average

Feedback is critical. And, to make it as accurate and indicative as possible, your feedback should ideally be gathered at each stage of the application process: Application, screening, interviewing, assessment, offer, and rejection.

By doing this, you’ll know exactly where your candidate experience is lacking – and you can make fast, effective changes.

Multi-step candidate experience feedback may not be easy to do with your current setup, but it is relatively simple to configure if your ATS/chosen software solution has the capability.

Step 3: Get your team around the candidate experience data

Generally speaking, the task of improving candidate experience is that of your entire talent acquisition or recruitment team. But it’s a good idea to appoint an internal candidate experience champion – someone who is responsible for collating the benchmark data and regularly reporting on it.

What’s the reporting cadence? Depends on the amount of applications you have, and the length of your application process. A monthly score update check-in works best for most. Monthly measurement will likely give you an insightful trendline.

While the task of improving candidate experience is never done, it needn’t require an overhaul to your entire recruitment business. Start small, make iterative improvements over time, and focus on making at least one more candidate smile.

(P.S. Candidate experience is a natural benefit of using our Ai Smart Interviewer – in fact, more than 90% of the 2 million candidates we’ve interviewed have loved our process, and 84% of them are highly likely to recommend you to a friend or family member. Reach out to us here to find out more.)


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