How to Prioritize Candidate Experience Problems

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Most organizations I talk with are very good at guessing what their candidate experience problems are. Some are good at identifying exactly what their candidate experience problems are (mostly Survale clients). But few have any real methodology to prioritize candidate experience problems.

I thought I’d share a great way to identify and prioritize candidate experience problems that a) eliminates your guess work so you “know” what the problems are rather than “think” and b) identifies the problems in rank order, highlighting the most critical problems.

Candidate Experience Feedback is Key

Gathering candidate feedback, including Net Promoter Scores and open ended questions, is how you “know” what the issues are in your hiring process (rather than “thinking you know”). This is the first step in prioritizing them. There are a few ways to accomplish this:

Periodic candidate surveys

As frequently as possible, send your past candidates a survey asking for feedback on the various aspects of your hiring lifecycle. Do NOT limit this data to candidates who have been hired. This is skewed data. These periodic surveys can give you clues as to where issues might lie within your hiring process. 

Pro: You’re getting feedback to confirm problem areas.

Con: It’s old data. Candidates have short memories, analysis is limited, surveys have to be long to get the data you need and this manual approach is labor intensive and notorious for falling by the wayside.

Participate in the Talent Board’s CandE Award Program

This annual program provides expert benchmarking of your candidate experience, that can uncover problems at a very general level and compare your experience to  other companies. Again, DON’T limit the feedback to hired candidates for the reasons above.

Pro: Proven method for auditing your candidate experience. A CandE Award is a powerful signal that you care about candidate experience and can enhance your employer brand. You get an intuitive platform for analyzing your results and you can export them for further analysis (Survale is the CandE research platform and a limited version is used to present and further analyze your results).

Con: Again, you must rely on candidates to remember their experience with you out of dozens and respond when they are no longer engaged in the hiring process. The survey can be long (although repeat participants can use an abbreviated survey). Data is not synced with ATS, so there is only limited capacity to tie data into specifics of location, recruiter, hiring manager, job req. etc.

Use a real-time candidate feedback platform

Organizations can get real-time experiential feedback, tied to steps and stages in their ATS. This is invaluable for optimizing the entire recruiting process, Systems like Survale automatically gather feedback as candidates move from your career site through the stages of your hiring process and beyond.

Pro: Once implemented, feedback is gathered in real time and anchored to specific steps in your hiring process. This results in shorter surveys, more specific to transactions. Feedback is gathered in real time when candidates are invested in participating and issues are top of mind. Issues that could affect results can be mitigated as they happen. Data fields in the ATS like location, hiring manager, job req, hiring stage, etc. can be used for analysis so fewer questions need to be asked and more data is available to filter and find specific issues. Feedback is triggered by recruiters moving candidates through steps and statuses so no need for any human actions to gather feedback.

Con: Higher cost than one off surveys or CandE Award Program. More up front time required to source and implement the solution

Prioritizing Candidate Experience Problems

Once you’ve gathered candidate feedback data, including NPS scores and open ended questions for each stage of your process, you can cross reference NPS by other data you’ve gathered. This is where an automated solution that is integrated with your ATS changes the game (but don’t worry, if you structure your surveys correctly, you can identify priorities in a more broad sense).

If you’re handy with Excel or other reporting tools, you can set up a four box matrix with NPS scores along the horizontal axis and the impact on NPS along the vertical axis. This allows you to plot various aspects of your hiring process against candidate satisfaction scores. These scores are then prioritized by their impact on the NPS for whatever your analyzing. This is accomplished by factoring the NPS scores into the number of responses received.

Prioritize candidate experience problems
Survale Four Box Priority Analytics

The above example shows the impact of various hiring managers on overall interview satisfaction. Overall, the interview experience score is 8.3. That’s good!  And the example shows Monica, Barbara, Nestor, Ozumi and Travis (lower right) are getting great interview satisfaction scores. But their efforts are not affecting the overall average very much. That’s worth a pat on the back, but there’s no urgency in the numbers. 

Jeffrey is not getting great interview satisfaction scores. This needs to be addressed, but he isn’t really dragging down the overall average very much. Likely because he doesn’t do very many interviews, but steps need to be taken before his performance impacts hiring and candidate experience more severely.

Luke on the other hand! You can see that he is not getting good interview satisfaction scores AND he has the highest impact on the overall score.

You can see how powerful this approach can be. Feeding candidate satisfaction data into this kind of four box matrix provides instant identification of priorities for improving candidate experiences in specific ways. Simply mine the candidate comments associated with the NPS score and the solutions become clear.

The possibilities are endless. You can identify and prioritize issues resulting from all facets of the hiring process that affect candidate experience. You can easily see what’s underneath NPS scores that may look good in the broad sense, but have problems in the details. This approach can be used to identify and prioritize factors like:

  • Interview experience by region, hiring manager, job family, department, diversity class, etc
  • Career site experience by job applied for, department, location, diversity class
  • Offer satisfaction by compensation, benefits, location, diversity class, recruiter, etc
  • Onboarding experience by region, recruiter, hiring manager, diversity class, location, etc.
  • Hiring manager satisfaction by recruiter, location, job family, diversity class, etc.
  • And much more!

As you can see, gathering feedback on the recruiting process can identify and prioritize candidate experience problems in ways never before possible. And the impact of this experiential data can be transformative.

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