Get Maximum Candidate Survey Response Rates

Candidate satisfaction survey interview

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When it comes to getting maximum candidate survey response rates, many organizations send out periodic candidate experience surveys. They gather up their past applicants from their ATS and mail out that survey they’ve a) created themselves, either alone or using a consultant, or b) obtained from the Talent Board because they’re very astutely participating in Talent Board’s CandE Awards program.

They soon realize that there are some major hurdles to get over in order to get maximum candidate survey response rates. If you haven’t faced this dilemma, here’s what you’ll find:

The truth is, you can have the best designed survey in the world, but if you don’t nail the following three elements, your data will suffer.

Candidate Survey Response Rates

Candidate survey response ratesIf you want your emails opened, the first goal is to ensure that they don’t end up in the candidate’s spam filter. Here are some quick tips for getting through to the inbox:

  • Have a great subject line. Some filters measure how many emails from the sender go unopened. Getting your emails opened, improves ongoing deliverability.
  • Validate your email addresses. Email’s go bad to the tune of double digits per quarter. If your list contains a lot of undeliverable addresses, your other emails are sure to end up in the spam filter. Use a validation service to check your list and purge old, undeliverable candidate addresses before sending.
  • Go easy on images. If your email contains a high image to text ratio, it could trigger a spam filter. Keep images small and tasteful.
  • Don’t use shortened URLS. These can trigger spam filters.
  • Check your email message with an online program such as

Here is a great resource for learning more about how to get your email out of the spam filter and into the inbox

Now that you’re solidly in their inbox, you need a subject that stands out and begs to be opened. Follow these guidelines to create compelling subject lines:

  • Keep it short. Concise subject lines under 50 characters are more likely to get opened
  • Consider a question. Subject lines with questions tend to get opened more
  • Don’t get too cute. Make sure your subject is relevant to the content of the email
  • Use your return address. Subtle messages in your return address can help with open rates, for example “ACME Corp” vs. “ACME Job Opportunities”
  • Be mindful of spam words. Despite common misperceptions, sparse use of words like “free” or “opportunities” won’t trigger most spam filters. But don’t overuse these kinds of words. 

Survey Email Click Rate

OK, so your candidate has opened your email. What do they see?

If you want them to click the link, the email better be short. Think about it. When you get an unsolicited email and it’s five paragraphs long, it just looks like a wall of words that you’d rather avoid.

It’s best practice to pare your word count down to the bare minimum. Try for 4-6 sentences. And only ask for one simple thing: for the candidate to click the survey link. Resist the temptation to wax poetic about your dedication to candidates, or the reputation of the survey provider.

Tell them you know and appreciate them, you have a short survey that will help you serve them better and then let them know what’s in it for them to complete candidate experience surveys. What could be in it for them?

  • A (better) future experience with your recruiting team.
  • An incentive. Be creative. You can use everything from digital coupons for coffee to entering them into a drawing for a $50 or $100 gift card. These kinds of incentives can be very affordable and will increase your click and completion rate significantly.
  • A free copy of the survey results. This promotes your brand by showing honesty and transparency and gives the candidate a reason to invest their time
  • A small time commitment. The least you can do is not take too much of their time. And be sure to let them know up front how long the survey will take.

Survey Email Completion Rate

Aside from the incentives identified in the previous section, the most effective thing you can do to increase candidate experience surveys completion rates is to keep the survey as short as possible.

If your survey is necessarily long, then here are a couple things you can do to make it more palatable, including:

  • Break it up into short sections.
  • Make sure your survey has a progress bar.
  • Make the survey visually appealing with large type and engaging response devices. Nothing kills completion more than a stale survey that looks like it came from the 90’s.
  • Use an incentive. If your survey is long, strongly consider spending the money to incent the candidates to complete it.

When it comes to getting your survey emails opened, your links clicked and your surveys completed, creativity is the name of the game, So take these guidelines and then use your imagination to create compelling survey campaigns that reflect your employer brand and activate your candidates to help you recruit more effectively.

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