When Good Intentions Result in Poor Candidate Experience

This is what Poor Candidate Experience looks like

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In supporting Survale’s Candidate Feedback Platform, we see a fair amount of good candidate experience and a fair amount of poor candidate experience.

The fact is that most organizations try to put their best foot forward and avoid poor candidate experience, but it happens. But if you collect candidate feedback, that poor candidate experience can ultimately point the way to great candidate experience.

Poor Candidate Experience Example: Too Much, Too Soon

This is a great example of how multiple programs, designed to optimize hiring and serve candidates, turn into a poor candidate experience once they are combined and inserted into the candidate lifecycle. It’s also a perfect example demonstrating why we tell employers that open ended questions are crucial to discovering breakthroughs in the hiring process. Here’s the real feedback that provided this example:

This is a former applicant who took an entire 83 question assessment when filling out my application yesterday just to be rejected via email only 2 hours later and then asked to fill out ANOTHER follow survey for new applicants? You guys are something else I bet my app wasn’t even seriously reviewed. What feedback could you possibly want from someone so unfit for consideration?”

Now, where to begin? What would you do to avoid poor candidate experience? Ditch the survey? Delay the rejection email? Pare down the assessment? All of the above?

We’ll get to that in a moment. The first point is that the assessment likely makes a lot of sense for this particular position (giving the employer the benefit of the doubt), so that is a good thing for selection.

The rejection email shows transparent and timely communication. That’s one of the hallmarks of great candidate experience. No one is being ghosted by the employer after applying, nor are they waiting weeks or months to hear about a decision that was likely made shortly after applying. That’s a good thing.

The survey also shows transparency and respect for the candidate by asking them for their feedback about what can be done better. Plus, it uncovered this little piece of poor candidate experience that can be easily cleaned up and help to improve the entire recruiting process.

So What Would You Do?

Let us know in the comments, but I would start with the assessment. Too much too soon. Instead develop an initial screen of candidates and later invite a smaller cohort to take the full assessment.

One of the concepts that comes up consistently in our partner, the Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Research is “valuing and respecting candidates’ time.” It’s foundational to providing good candidate experience. Whether it’s not showing up on time or being unprepared for an interview or providing a difficult and time-consuming application process, disrespecting candidates’ time will affect your ability to hire the talent you desire.

Save the full assessment for a smaller universe of candidates, not all applicants.

As for the rejection email, even if there were no assessment process to gobble up this candidate’s time, put a 24 to 48 hour delay on your rejection emails. Obviously, initial screens can be done through basic screening questions, or more complex matching algorithms. But candidates don’t know there are knock out questions, and even if they knew, many would be sure that their abilities would make up for their shortcomings.

Be timely, but there is no prize for fastest rejections.

This is what Poor Candidate Experience looks likeFinally, the survey is rug that holds the room together. Now act on it. An angry applicant has pointed out a problem using your survey. Respond right now. Thank them for alerting you, accept their anger and apologize. Look into their specific situation and take another look at their application and assessment. If there is a bottom-line deal killer, be honest about it and explain it from your point of view. Take the edge off by recommending some other positions or sending them a T-shirt or other merchandise to soften the blow.

This is how you keep bad reviews off social media or Glassdoor and it’s also how you defend and strengthen your employer brand.

The Poor Candidate Experience Sum is Larger Than Its Parts

At the end of the day, this is not rocket science. My breakdown above is candidate experience 101. The point is that combining multiple “good” programs into an overall process and then running it for thousands to millions of applicants often results in unintended consequences that can work against hiring the best people. This is just another example of why constant feedback is so valuable to talent acquisition excellence.


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