The Ultimate Guide to Candidate Experience

CHAPTER 2

Why is Candidate Experience Feedback Important and How Do Feedback and Reviews Differ?

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Let’s face it, there was never a better time for us, the people, to air our opinions. Thanks to the democratization of the internet, it is so easy to express ourselves. It only takes one fingertip! And so we spread a bitter word or two about what upsets us. We vent about that hiring manager who never got back to us. We complain about that company that disappointed us by offering an unexpectedly low salary. We even mention that application process that took away 6 months of our lives, leaving us clueless about why they rejected us.

The tables are turning and it’s becoming a candidates’ market more and more. Especially once we acknowledge that online reviews are the new, amplified word of mouth.

As a recruiter or talent acquisition professional, this is what should keep you up at night. This is what you lose candidates to. And, when a candidate is also a customer, companies face being boycotted and a loss in revenue.

In some areas you can also face supplementary challenges. As mentioned in our Candidate Experience Benchmark Report, the Netherlands sees the shortage of candidates as the main challenge recruiters have to face.

Currently, in the recruitment scene, in-house recruiters seem to be more aware of the risks of poor candidate experience. Recruitment agencies come right after in terms of awareness on the matter, while temp agencies are just now realizing how crucial it is. The reason for this follows: in-house recruiters understand that poor candidate experience can have a huge impact on their brand perception. They believe that they can only be as good as their candidates’ experience. Recruitment agencies usually understand their reputation depends upon this and, therefore, try to make their candidates leave with a smile. Temp agencies have a very particular compensation structure. The number of placed candidates is the main KPI in their case, therefore it might seem counter-intuitive for them to need to focus on candidate experience. Yet…

Do you work for a recruitment agency or for a company’s talent acquisition team? A candidate’s words could have irrevocable consequences for your business. Let me show you how with some data.

There are so many potential pain points for your applicants, and if you don't listen to them, things will go wrong.

Workplace Trends claims that 60% of job seekers have had at least one negative candidate experience. A recent Glassdoor article quotes that 72% of candidates share their negative experiences online. If the company does not ask the right questions and act upon them, these bad reviews pile up. The majority of job seekers read at least 6 reviews before forming an opinion, and 55% of them will avoid a company after reading negative comments. Bad reputation strongly impacts referrals, which, as mentioned in the Candidate Experience Benchmark Report, are the #1 source of high-quality candidates.

There is another type of risk in ignoring Candidate Experience feedback (or CEf). This is of financial nature and is analyzed more in-depth in our article "What's the business impact of a bad Candidate Experience?". 42% of people would not buy a company's product if they had a bad candidate experience. It can be costly.

Once you do the math, it's way worse than you might imagine, as we explain in our article "Candidate Experience is clearly important, but who is responsible?". For one, ignoring CEf would have cost Virgin Media over 4 million pounds per year.

If you ignore CEf and deliver a subpar recruitment experience, you could suffer in the following ways:

  • Fewer people might apply because they hear about your poor performance. Alternatively, they could drop their application once they met relevant pain points. This would increase your cost-per-hire and time-to-hire.
  • Your reputation or sub-par approach to recruitment might make you lose out on great talent, leaving you with mediocre candidates, impacting your quality-of-hire.

As explained in the article Quality of Hire: The 5 Best Ways to Measure Recruitment’s Golden Metric, a wrong hire has two fundamental consequences.

First of all, financials. These mistakes cost, and for every poor candidate you pick, you have your business wasting up to $50k. Secondly, wrong hires act like rotten apples, spoiling the atmosphere and destroying the company culture from the core. Finally, those who had a negative experience with you might boycott your products.

The impact of these negative candidate experiences can be drastic. If you are dishonest or inept, disappointed job seekers will not work with you. They could even hurt the reputation of your company.

We just stated how impactful negative candidate experiences can be. It is also true that positive experiences matter. A LinkedIn Report shows that 87% of the applicants change their mind about a company they once doubted, after a positive interview experience. We also learn from Talentboard that those who rated their candidate experience with 5 stars are 82% more likely to refer you to other candidates.

Now you understand how important it is to focus on Candidate Experience and its feedback gathering.

You’ll find plenty of platforms online where candidates and employees report on their interaction with a company. But there’s a crucial distinction to make here between feedback and reviews. What’s the difference?

Feedback and reviews are ultimately quite different. The only thing they have in common is helping the candidates express themselves. Let's see how they differ.

Feedback can be collected by you or for you through surveys or ad hoc conversations with your candidates. It is private. It consists of what your candidates decide to share with you and no-one else, concerning your interactions. It allows you to improve your performance and, therefore, your reputation. If negative, it helps you grow. You can respond, it leads to a conversation.

Reviews are usually gathered on social media or websites such as Glassdoor, Indeed or Career Bliss. They represent what your candidates say about you, sometimes in an unstructured way, that is difficult to translate into insight. You can't change them once they're out. If they're negative, you can learn from them, but your reputation is damaged - they leave a mark. You cannot properly interact, therefore they do not lead to a conversation with your candidates. There is a possibility for companies to answer to poor reviews on websites like Glassdoor, but business answers are formal and depersonalized, PR-cleansed. These responses make the readers feel detached and aren’t very persuasive.

By now you should be aware of the relevance of Candidate Experience and might be wondering how to improve your candidates’ opinion of you. In the next chapter, we will see the difference between active and passive candidates, and we will take you down the Candidate Journey Funnel, showing you the experience pain points that your candidates can face during each phase of the recruiting process. By mapping out your own Candidate Journey Funnel you will be able to identify your weakest spots: the ones to prioritize your work on.