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How to Measure Candidate Experience

How To Measure Candidate Experience in Internal Recruiting

Recently, Reddit user kelseymarieg posted in r/recruiting asked: How To Measure Candidate Experience in Internal Recruiting?

“I’m an internal recruiter and I am looking measure candidate experience. Would love to identify any pain points candidates may have during their interactions with me or just in general during the interview process. Since it is a major employer market right now, I truly want to make sure the company is putting its best foot forward and prioritizing a positive candidate experience as much as possible.

How would I go about implementing a system? Do you literally just send out surveys….even to folks who don’t end up being hired? Not really sure if candidates who are upset about not being hired would skew the results negatively? Would you send out surveys to get feedback from new hires once they’ve been onboarded? Something tells me they wouldn’t want to make negative comments as to not “rock the boat” when being brand new to a company. Thoughts?

Open to any and all suggestions. For Q2 I am hoping to tackle this project and be able to collect actionable data.


Candidate Experience feedback surveys need to capture a few specific topics. Getting meaningful insights is tough because many candidates do not want to respond to another survey from a company that didn’t or may not hire them. However, I do not mean to imply that you may not get many responses to deter you from deploying a candidate experience survey; rather, I meant it as a warning. Many HR professionals fall into pitfalls with surveying because they are not trained in survey design and analysis. 

One pitfall is that low respondent rates limit your finding’s significance. If you have a 10% valid response rate, then you only have a sliver of insight from the total candidate population. Therefore, you should be careful about applying findings based solely on responses from a minority group to the majority, as they may not be representative of all the candidates or may be representative of a few roles. For example, if the majority of your respondents are from your customer service hiring, their reported experience may not provide valuable insight into your other recruitment areas. It may also heighten issues with the survey design, which is why it is important to evaluate not only what but how you ask questions on survey matters. 

First, asking too broad or non-specific questions will lead to confounding variables (elements that impact or are unintendedly captured in the candidate’s response). For example, if you ask, “How is/was your experience interviewing with us on a scale of 1-5?” you may additionally capture their response on their experience with your organization’s HRIS/ATS, scheduling process, interviewer experiences, candidate outcome reflections, etc. A better alternative is asking questions that capture actionable insights. 

Before putting together a candidate experience survey, ask what you are trying to capture or what you can improve or change about the process. Some of the important areas include transparency, informativeness, participation, feedback, procedural fairness, organizational justice, competitiveness, controllability, and stability. For example, asking a candidate, “On a scale of 1-5, did you believe our evaluation process was fair?” can provide you insights into effectively communicating the evaluation process to the candidate and minimizing bias. Another example would be, “On a scale of 1-5, did the interview process provide you with a clear understanding of the role’s expectations and responsibilities?”. This can provide insight into interviewer training and improve candidate communications, job postings, descriptions, etc. 

Without going too much further into the weeds of survey design and analysis reveals complexities, including reverse-coded questions, question clarity, types, sequencing, and wording, alongside reliability (internal consistency, test-retest), validity (content, construct, criterion), and accuracy (bias analysis, pilot testing, cross-verification). While not all surveys require scientific precision, incorporating these elements enhances the quality of findings. Alternatively, consider leveraging the expertise of professionals like myself, with extensive training in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, to skillfully craft and interpret employee surveys, ensuring robust and insightful results.

What Candidate Experience Data can you use, and what does it mean?

In the comments of the post, u/Maleficent_Rent3271 asked, “What other data point do you have to measure the candidate experience unless you ask?” This is a great point, and many organizations have started to ask the same question. In response to this, I have been helping more and more companies integrate surveying and employee experience systems like Qualtrics with ERP/HRIS/ATS, such as WorkdayOracleSAP, and Netsuite so that HR leaders and executives can use employee experience data in conjunction with other people analytics to better recognize and react to employee retention, engagement, satisfaction, and performance trends, many of which are impacted by the recruitment process. As a result of the importance of this data, more and more organizations are including this type of talent data in their dashboards and reporting alongside the more common recruiting metrics.

Integrating employee experience surveying and people analytics can capture a variety of important insights. Still, from a candidate experience and recruitment perspective, they capture the negative organizational outcome of poor candidate experiences, such as self-selection (qualified candidates withdrawing from the process) and job offers being turned down for a competitor’s role. There isn’t much worse than your competitor hiring or losing a qualified talent, which your organization spent time, money, and effort trying to attract. Using this data, organizations can implement recruitment and HR practices to improve hiring practices and reduce quality candidate losses.  

Additionally, organizations can gather information on their employer brand by looking at reviews on websites like GlassdoorIndeedFishbowl, etc. These websites, among other things, collect information on candidates’ and employers’ experience with recruitment and interview processes. I could probably write a book about it, but one approach I use is to utilize AI to conduct sentiment analysis and identify common positive and negative comments and topic areas. Then, cluster (clump together like topics) into target analysis and improvement areas. It is also important to use this data to solidify and train in the positive areas to maintain them. As the OP (original poster) mentioned, you can also gather intel from new hires, as well as from the interviewer panel. A common concern is that new employees may not want to or feel comfortable about mouthing the company, but this can be somewhat avoided by wording the questions in a way that they are improving something that just became a part of. 

In summary, the optimal approach to Measuring Candidate Experience combines surveying (candidates, interview panel, and new hires) with behavioral indicators, employer branding, and interview/employer review analysis. Deploy this approach in a continuous process of assessing and improving your organization’s recruitment process, employer branding, and hiring effectiveness, and benefit from better employee engagement, satisfaction, retention, and performance of those you hire.

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