How to Apply NPS to Candidate Experience

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In recent years NPS has evolved from being primarily a customer/marketing metric to an expanded set of use cases: HR and recruitment are realizing the potential of NPS as an indicator of their performance and future success. In this article, I’ll discuss the relevance of NPS to recruitment in the realm of Candidate Experience.

Definition of Candidate NPS

The NPS in recruitment is also known as the Candidate Net Promoter Score, or cNPS in short, and is leveraged by companies to measure the Candidate Experience. The Candidate NPS tells you how candidates experience your recruitment process and if they would recommend applying to your company to friends and family. The cNPS will help you improve your recruitment, strengthen your employer brand, and identify detractors and promoters.

How to use Candidate NPS

It is very simple, your candidates will give an answer to the question: "Based on your application, how likely are you to recommend applying to our company to others?". Candidates score this question on a scale from 0 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (very likely).

Detractors: are all scores of 6 and below
Passives: are scores of 7 and 8
Promoters: are scores of 9 and 10

The Candidate Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
How do you calculate the Candidate Net Promoter Score?

Your Candidate Net Promoter Score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.

Let's say you've gathered the following cNPS scores from five candidates: 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. This means you have 1 detractor (20% of everyone), 2 passives (40% of everyone), and 2 promoters (also 40%). This means you have a Candidate NPS score of 20 (40% - 20%).

Candidate NPS ranges from −100 (meaning everyone is a detractor) to +100 (meaning everyone is a promoter). An NPS of, for example, +50 is excellent.

The Candidate NPS, of course, came from the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a widely used marketing metric. It’s based on the question: “How likely is it you would recommend … to others?” I’m sure you’ve been asked that a thousand times. Research by professor Fred Reichheld showed that high scores on this question correlated strongly with repurchases, referrals, and other actions that contribute to a company’s growth. That’s why the likelihood-to-recommend question is often referred to as the "Ultimate Question".

A very important aspect of Candidate NPS has become the opportunity to benchmark. As the question is universal you should be able to compare your scores with other organizations, although you always need to take into consideration where and when in the candidate journey ‘the ultimate question’ has been answered, to be able to compare apples with apples. Think about it, your cNPS score for hired candidates will be different than for rejected candidates. Starred collected NPS data from thousands of candidates and piled it together in a benchmark report. Feel free to download it here and compare yourself to recruitment leaders worldwide.

Starred measures Candidate NPS at each stage of your recruitment process and benchmarks your scores to the industry.
Measure cNPS at different stages of the recruitment process

Measure Candidate NPS along the Candidate Journey

You want to know whether your candidates are satisfied with your hiring process regardless of the candidate journey scenario, but the real learnings come from your rejected candidates. They outnumber the hires and will have the most impact on your reputation as a company to apply for a job. What we highly recommend is to measure Candidate NPS at every touchpoint of your candidate journey. What stages do you have in your ATS? Make sure you know your cNPS at all of these stages so you can pinpoint what moments in the candidate journey need improvement. If your candidate experience is positive you’ll have ‘superpowers’ in hiring. If it’s bad you’ll not only lose the hunt for talent, but it may harm your business too, as Virgin Media found out.

One of the most important things in applying NPS to Candidate Experience is concentrating on measuring cNPS with rejected candidates, at any stage in the hiring process. That’s the score you could benchmark against those companies, like Intuit, that have an amazing candidate Net Promoter Score. Spoiler alert! They claim to have a cNPS of 64, measured from rejected candidates.

A couple of tips to get started measuring cNPS

1. Automate your Candidate NPS process

You’ll want to ask all your rejected candidates for feedback, allowing them to vent their feelings in a feedback survey that is sent anonymously. This will let you solve issues in the candidates’ feedback before they go and share their experience on Glassdoor. This way you keep control of your employer brand, and you'll see that you can change a negative experience into a positive one, just by following up and talking to them. So please, do get back to candidates, especially those who gave a low score, and address their issues.

2. Measure cNPS for rejected candidates

Rejected candidates are the ones who’ll tell you what to improve in your candidate journey and how to better your Candidate Experience. Compare your recruitment NPS with other organizations - Starred can provide you with benchmarks. It's even more important for you to start improving and tracking the progress of your cNPS over time. Make sure you separate the Candidate NPS on all stages of the candidate journey. Candidates who have been rejected after application or a CV screening will have a different experience than rejected candidates who have had an interview. Also, consider sending NPS surveys to candidates who withdrew their applications.

3. Filter your cNPS on different levels

So, you have your cNPS scores on different stages in the candidate journey. This will already help you get a clear picture of the experiences of the different candidates. You will notice that after a while you'll want more data or deeper insights. Feedback software like Starred will let you zoom in even further. For one, segmenting your cNPS data per 'recruiter' will tell you how well your different recruiters are at delivering great experiences. A software developer is a different persona than a sales representative, so being able to filter on job roles or departments will let you tailor experiences to different types of people. Filter the cNPS on the interviewer or hiring manager so you can link back data to the business and offer coaching and training. Starred lets you filter your scores on any business level imaginable. If this sounds like a lot of information, schedule a call with us and we'll show you the impact cNPS will have on your recruitment.

4. To improve the cNPS, ask more questions

To improve your Candidate Net Promoter Score, you need to find out 'the why' behind the score: that is, why someone would recommend you or not. Limiting yourself to asking the NPS question won't tell you enough. To find out what's causing the score, you should ask 3 to 5 other questions that are going to show you the reason why.

Imagine asking all your candidates who've had an interview the NPS question and 5 other questions about their interview experience. You'll find that maybe their experience has been influenced by the interview preparation, by how well the interviewer listened to them, and by whether they felt like they could bring their whole self to the conversation. If you're looking for a list of survey examples, you should visit our survey templates page.

The next thing you'll want to do is to correlate those questions to your NPS question. To make an example, you could see a particularly low score in terms of satisfaction towards the preparation of the interview, and this score has a strong positive correlation to your cNPS. This means that if you improve the score of the preparation of the interviews, you will improve your candidate NPS. If you focus on these things, you're going to make data-driven improvements to your Candidate Experience.

Strong positive correlations? Huh? We get it, no one wants to manually do statistical analysis. You want to collect your feedback and get cracking with the insights. In comes the Starred Priority Matrix. This matrix does these calculations for you and ranks the drivers behind your NPS. Just focus on your priority ranking and you will see improvements in no time.

The Starred Priority Matrix shows you what is impacting your cNPS the most and what you should focus on first.
The Starred Priority Matrix shows you what is moving the needle on the cNPS

5. Define the business impact of cNPS

Finally, make an effort to find out what the business impact could be of an increase in cNPS. For sure a bad Candidate Experience will be damaging to your business. So if you increase your NPS score the business will benefit, but how much? You might have to make some assumptions here and there. There might not be an absolute truth, but the Virgin Media case, mentioned earlier and this VodafoneZiggo case, can help you develop an indication. Once you have an indication, albeit more directional than factual, you’ll be able to get much more buy-in from ‘the business' to free up resources to improve the candidate experience and monitor it continuously.

Read more about Candidate Experience on Starred:

How should you measure Recruiter Performance?

When should you send a Candidate Experience Survey?

Serious about measuring your Candidate Experience? Starred helps you go even further - we'll show you the drivers of your cNPS so you'll know how to improve Candidate Experience.

Get in touch and let's discuss your challenges.

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