When Candidate Experience Hot Takes Backfire

When candidate experience hot takes backfire

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The thing about hot takes is they are usually worth about what you pay for them and these two candidate experience hot takes are no exception. In talent acquisition we often look to experts for their insights into a number of different aspects of hiring. In turn, that puts pressure on those who fancy themselves as experts to create content.

This last week I came across two candidate experience hot takes that just floored me so I thought I would share them. Each represents a misconception of the value of understanding and delivering great candidate experiences, so from an instructional standpoint they can be useful.

Candidate Experience Hot Take Number One

When candidate experience hot takes backfireThe first is a tweet(?)( An X(?) from a content creator reacting to the statistic that candidate experience response rates from hired candidates are vastly higher than from those who are rejected. Here’s the hot take:

Candidate experience surveys are so statistically skewed that they’re really pointless. Using new hires as a baseline is like benchmarking your NPS based almost exclusively on responses from your own marketing or sales team…”

This is lazy thinking reinforcing some pre-existing misconceptions about survey data.

The reality is that the ratio of hired candidates to rejected candidates is 100+ to one. In other words, yeah, you get a higher percentage of response from hired candidates. But because you have 100 rejected candidates to every single hire, you get a much larger absolute number of responses from rejected candidates. 

He’s right when he says surveying new hires for candidate experience feedback is useless. But if you survey all your candidates, you will get a MUCH larger number of responses from rejected candidates. If anything the feedback will skew negative. But that’s OK. You want to hear the bad stuff. That’s how you get insights, fix problems and improve your hiring outcomes.

Hot Take Number Two

The second is from an article by another content creator called “Reality check! Your candidate experience is probably fine.” His basic premise is that, despite what experts tell you, candidate experience is not that important. Most companies are just fine. As long as you let candidates know you got their application, you give them some sense of why they do or don’t fit  and you treat them like human beings, you’re fine.

He imagines that the genesis of concern about candidate experience probably stems from a theoretical  executive with a relative who applied for a job and never got contacted. Then, in an effort to conceal the personal nature of his dissatisfaction, the executive declares that candidate experience is important and we must treat candidates like customers, blah, blah, blah…and then candidate experience is born.

Not sure if that is an attempt at humor, but it’s about as smart as the post gets. As someone who actually knows something about the value of candidate experience, here’s  another scenario: Some executive reads a blog post that says candidate experience is easy and tells his team not to worry. Just to do their best to let candidates know their application was received, give them some feedback and treat them like human beings. Oh yeah, and do that with 60,000 applications per year, 10,000 interviews and 3,500 hires annually. And use 25 vendors for everything from technology to assessment to sourcing. It’ll all be fine. Everything will work flawlessly, hiring managers will show up for interviews prepared and candidates will be thrilled whether they get the job or not.

It’s amazing to me that anyone in the industry would think treating candidates well at any kind of scale is easy. But hey, if the hot take is not to worry about candidate experiences then why would you measure them? In which case you are basically saying that a whole segment of hiring data isn’t very important.

For both candidate experience hot takes I am reminded of Stephen Covey: Seek first to understand and then to be understood.

For more about the value of understanding and delivering great candidate experience, check out the Data Driven Candidate Experience Maturity Model here.

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