How to Measure the Candidate Experience

As recruiters, we have two main groups of stakeholders: the hiring managers whose teams we’re hiring for, and the candidates we are assessing and advocating for throughout the process. In comparing the two, it can be straightforward to understand how well we’re fulfilling hiring managers’ needs through frequent alignment meetings, a speedy process, and ultimately making an excellent hire. However, it can be tough to understand how our process is interpreted by candidates. I’ve spent a lot of time considering this as Director of Talent Acquisition at Greenhouse.

But despite this difficulty, it’s critical to understand the experience you are giving candidates because it can seriously impact their likelihood of taking an offer—and it can influence your ability to recruit for future roles by impacting your talent brand.

A month ago, I published a blog post here titled “Don’t Fear Candidate Feedback.” It explained all the very powerful ways that candidate interview feedback can help shape and improve your recruiting team’s process, and ultimately your ability to fill role vacancies with high-quality candidates. However, once you’ve decided that you would like to measure how candidates experienced your interview process, you still need to figure out how to measure their feedback.

There are a few different mechanisms for collecting feedback. This post will help you decide which route will be most impactful for your organization.

Option 1: Encourage candidates to leave online feedback

Glassdoor has been a really powerful tool for Greenhouse (check out our company reviews and interview reviews). By the end of Q3 last year, we had received a few organic reviews of our interview experience. They were helpful, but there wasn’t quite enough information to inform an action plan. So, we strategically decided to focus on getting more interview reviews because we wanted the feedback and we believe that candidates perform best when they’ve had a glimpse of the interview process from someone who has gone through it before.

To help boost the number of reviews we were seeing come through, we added an invitation to review us to the bottom of the “Thank you” note we sent to candidates after they participated in an onsite interview. That way, every candidate that comes onsite knows how much we value candidate feedback, and we make it easy for him or her to navigate directly to our Glassdoor Interviews page.

For us, the public nature of Glassdoor was positive—it made it really easy for our team to be reminded of new feedback and we like that it gave candidates a vehicle for understanding our culture and interviews. However, I know some organizations might be wary of public feedback, at least as their first foray into soliciting candidate feedback.

Option 2: Use your internal customer feedback tool

How does your customer service team learn about your customers’ experience with your product or service? You could leverage that tool for interview feedback as well! For example, at Greenhouse the Customer Success team collects a Net Promoter Score (NPS) using a tool called Wootric. An NPS uses the answer to a single question, using a 0–10 scale: “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?” You could ask the same thing about your interview process! I recently learned about an interesting way that Medallia collects candidate feedback. Medallia is a tool that helps businesses collect customer feedback, and the Medallia recruiting team used their own tool to create a customer experience survey for candidates.

Something to be mindful of is that collecting data in this fashion means that it will be harder to tie the results to the rest of your job and candidate data. For example, if you wanted to analyze candidate experience by department to see how Marketing’s candidate experience compares to Engineering’s, you’d need to rely on candidates telling you which role or department they were interviewing for, which may result in less accurate data.

Option 3: Automatic candidate experience surveys

At Greenhouse, we use the Greenhouse platform to email survey questions to our candidates! Greenhouse has a candidate survey that you can configure to automatically go out to candidates who reach a certain stage in your process. We have chosen to send a survey to every candidate who makes it to the onsite interview stage, which is one of the final stages of our process.

The survey automatically goes to candidates seven days after their application is closed, whether they were rejected from the process or ultimately hired. All candidates receive the same survey with eight questions about their interviewing experience. In fact, all Greenhouse customers use the same survey. That approach is powerful because it enables us to benchmark our survey results against other companies like ours who use the survey. We see that across Greenhouse customers, 73% of candidates report having a positive interview experience (which is great!). It also further proves that candidates will provide an objective report of their interview process, whether they receive an offer or not.

Choosing the right approach for you

You can evaluate the options by two criteria: which tool will give you the information you need to make your process better, and which tool will be easiest for you and your organization to get off the ground. Ideally, you’ll prioritize the tool that gives you the best information, by which I mean the data that is easiest to analyze, act upon, and tie into your other reporting activities.

For us, this was using the Greenhouse candidate survey feature to be able to analyze qualitative and quantitative data by department and compare ourselves to benchmarks. However, even if that approach is tough for you to put into place right now, don’t wait! Start collecting what you can, and remember, you can always iterate on your approach or add more data sources over time.