In recent years NPS has evolved from being primarily a customer/marketing metric to an expanded set of use cases: HR and recruitment are now 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. Does it work the same way as it does for customer NPS?

A quick refresher: How does NPS work?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) 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 it 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”.

Here’s a quick reminder of how NPS works. You get to score the likelihood-to-recommend question on a scale from 0 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (very likely). Scores of 6 or below are Detractors, scores of 7 or 8 are called Passives, and  9s or 10s are Promoters. Your Net Promoter Score is your percentage of promoters minus your percentage of detractors. NPS ranges from −100 (meaning everyone is a detractor) to +100 (meaning everyone is a promoter). An NPS of, for example, +50 is excellent.

A very important aspect of NPS has become the opportunity to benchmark. As the question is universal you should be able to compare your NPS with other organisations, although you always need to take into consideration where and when in the customer journey ‘the ultimate question’ has been answered, to be able to compare apples with apples.

NPS & Candidate Experience

NPS has also been applied to employee engagement, transforming into eNPS. It modifies the question into something like the following: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it you would recommend this company as a place to work?”

So how do you apply NPS to the candidate experience? NPS in recruitment will be the Candidate NPS, or cNPS. The ultimate question will be: “how likely is it that you would recommend someone else to apply at … (name company)?” You want to know this in any candidate journey scenario. So when you hire someone, for sure. But the real learnings you’ll find 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. 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 thing 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 other companies, for example Intuit, who have an amazing cNPS. Spoiler alert! They claim to have a cNPS of 64, measured from rejected candidates.

A couple of tips to get started measuring cNPS

1. Make sure you’re automating your NPS process.

You’ll want to ask all rejected candidates for feedback and not allow for any cherry picking. Also, when you ask everyone you can solve issues in the candidates’ feedback, before they’ll go and share on Glassdoor, and so keep control of your recruitment reputation. Do get back to candidates, especially those who gave a low score, and address their issues.

2. Focus on rejected candidates

Rejected candidates are the ones that’ll tell you what to improve in your candidate journey and how to better your candidate experience. Compare cNPS with other organisations. Starred can provide you with benchmarks. But more importantly – start improving and tracking progress of your cNPS over time. Don’t forget to ask for more than just the likelihood-to-recommend question, as you’ll want to find out what the drivers of your cNPS are. Starred’s Priority Matrix will show the items that really make a difference.

3. 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, can help you to 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:

Candidate Experience is clearly important, but who’s responsible?

Why feedback is the gamechanger in building a great Candidate Journey


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.