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Using feedback to enhance the candidate experience

By James Bull, UK Country Manager at Starred

Thanks to the ubiquity of social media, every job candidate is now a publisher in waiting. If a company treats them poorly, they can return the favour with a negative review on Glassdoor or a scathing tweet that might be read by millions. They can also rub salt in the wound by never buying the company’s product or service again. Candidates are customers too after all.

All this means candidate experience is a brand issue now. Leave it to chance and a poor one can do real damage to a company’s reputation as an employer. But despite its importance, very few companies are actually bothering to measure the experience they are offering to candidates. This means the real impact is often going unnoticed.

When it comes to the quality of customer services, for many companies, nothing is left to chance. The customer journey is meticulously mapped out and measured to ensure the path to purchase is as good as it can possibly be. This is exactly the approach Talent Acquisition Directors (TAs) should be taking with their candidates as they progress towards the point of hiring or rejection.

The candidate feedback loop

As with the customer experience, the journey a candidate takes is a complex one made up of multiple touchpoints and interactions. If any of these aren’t up to standard, it makes candidate drop-offs more likely or, worse, encourages an inflammatory review on Glassdoor.

By far the most effective way to measure this journey and ensure each step is working as it should be is to implement a feedback process and get the insights from the candidates themselves with quick and easy surveys. It’s something that’s been done effectively in customer services for many years and is now proving its worth in the recruitment space as well.

A feedback process doesn’t have to place a burden on candidates. Rather than one, time-consuming survey being emailed out at the end of the journey, TAs can spread feedback requests across the various touchpoints, and ask candidates to rate each one based on their satisfaction levels and within 24 hours of the interaction. For example, a TA could ask a candidate to score the usability of the job platform or the ease of uploading their CV. After an interview has taken place, candidates could be asked if they felt the interviewer was well prepared or if their time was respected.

This approach allows a TA to gain insights on specific steps in the journey and make quick, reactive improvements to their interactions with a candidate. A TA could identify an unhappy applicant, for example, and reach out to them immediately, potentially preventing them from passing on a negative review. The insights can also help a TA to better understand how macro recruitment processes can be improved over time to enhance the journey at each stage.

There is no need to send candidates an invite after every single interaction but making sure you invite enough candidates to give feedback at each touchpoint is a good start.

What’s your candidate NPS?

If feedback is to be an effective tool for improving candidate experience, TAs also need to have a metric with which to measure it and benchmark success over time. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a widely used customer metric which can be just as useful for measuring candidate experience.

It’s based on the question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [Brand] to others?” Customers get to score the company on a scale from 0 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (very likely). Scores of 6 or below are considered Detractors, scores of 7 or 8 are called Passives, and 9s or 10s are Promoters.

Applying this approach to Candidate NPS, or cNPS, simply means asking candidates to score the company at strategic points, like at the end of the process (once they’ve been either hired or rejected), based on their willingness to recommend another person to apply to the company. With this metric, TAs have a measurement they can work with long term - not just randomly improving the experience and hoping for the best - but a score they can continuously benchmark it against.

Consider automation

If candidate feedback is sounding like it might be time-consuming, there are tools available which allow the process to be automated and integrated directly into an applicant tracking system (ATS). However, if a company wanted to informally start requesting feedback from small numbers of candidates over email, this will still help to generate rich insights for improving the journey.

With Brexit making it even harder for UK companies to attract the best talent, being able to measure and improve the candidate experience has become critical for businesses. Feedback will increasingly become the tool of choice for TAs. A company wouldn’t settle for losing consumers because of a poor customer journey, so why should the same be tolerated when it comes to converting the best talent into a new recruit?