A quick guide to improving candidate experience with candidate surveys

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4 mins, 44 secs read time

If you’re trying to improve your recruiting results, it makes sense to focus on the candidate experience. After all, if you’re not creating a positive experience for the applicants who walk in through your doors, it’s not very likely that they’ll want to join your company. But even if you realize that candidate experience should be a priority, it can be hard to know what to do about it.

In the latest Hiring Hacks webinar, Greenhouse’s Associate Recruiter Katie DiCioccio and Talent Board’s VP Kevin Grossman came together to discuss how companies can start improving their candidate experience.

Keep reading to learn why candidate surveys are essential to candidate experience and get a few ideas about how to use the information you gather through this process.

Why you should focus on candidate surveys

Data is your friend. It can help you see trends and identify problem areas. Taking a data-driven approach to candidate satisfaction also helps you to measure your progress over time. Think about it—if you just rely on one-off comments from candidates, you might not get much meaningful or actionable feedback.

At Greenhouse, we’ve found candidate surveys to be the best way to gather data and feedback on our candidate experience and recruiting process. We use this survey with candidates who interview for roles at our company. All Greenhouse customers also have the option of sending out the survey to their candidates. You can learn more about it here.

How to run your survey

The recruiting team sends this survey out to candidates one week after the interview process is complete. We think one week allows the candidate to collect their thoughts but still have what they experienced fresh in their minds. We also understand that candidates may be experiencing a range of emotions and it’s important to take this into account, especially if they didn’t land the job.

The nine questions prompt the candidate to rate their agreement or disagreement on a five-point scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” Each question also leaves room for candidates to write comments and further explain their reason for the rating they gave. For example, candidates are asked to rate their agreement with the statement: “The people who interviewed me were well prepared and conducted the interview skillfully.”

Sample chart of a candidate experience survey

As you begin to collect data, you’ll want to be able to benchmark. If you’re a Greenhouse customer, you can see how your survey numbers compare to our customers’ average. This helps you identify where your strengths and weaknesses are and makes it easier to figure out a plan for improvement.

Sample graph of Greenhouse Recruiting KPIs

How to take action when receiving candidate feedback

Here’s where the improvement part comes in! As candidates begin to respond to your surveys, it’s up to your team to decide what you do with that information. However, don’t just stop at the candidate survey part, look beyond that and also monitor company review sites like Glassdoor. Think big picture!

Here are a couple of real pain points our recruiting team heard from candidates and the strategies they took to improve.

What our recruiting team heard:

“I still don’t know what Greenhouse looks like.”

What they did:

Now, each candidate that comes on-site is given a tour of the office and is shown a product demo. This way they not only see what the culture at Greenhouse is like, they’re given context to what the product is and how that can be applied to what they may build, sell, support, or market for Greenhouse in the future.

What our recruiting team heard:

“I felt very cut off once I was rejected.”

What they did:

Our recruiting team now offers candidates time to connect on the phone when informing them that we’re not moving forward with their application. This allows the candidate to get better insight into the decision and recommendations for the future. This is also a great opportunity for recruiting to ask the candidate how they felt about the interview process, allowing for more candor and additional detail we may not get from the survey.

What our recruiting team heard:

“By the end of my on-site interviews, I was starving!”

What they did:

Interviewers and recruiting coordinators had always been trained to check in with candidates to see if they were hungry or thirsty, but we realized that candidates might not feel comfortable asking for something to eat or drink, especially if no one remembered to offer them something first. So we began stocking the interview rooms with snacks and beverages so candidates could serve themselves.

Putting it all together

We understand that improving your candidate experience takes time, but the good news is you can start taking action today. Begin by reading the reviews you have at the moment. Do you notice a pattern? If so, talk with you team and create a plan for improvement this quarter.

If your candidates aren’t responding to your survey, start putting yourself in their shoes. Look at the questions you’re asking. Are there too many questions in the survey? Are the questions you’re asking providing valuable insight for you to assess and improve?

Also, don’t forget about your current employees! They were candidates once, too, and could be a great source of information. Set up informal one-on-ones, bring cupcakes to the kitchen and hold a brainstorming session or open dialogue. Ask everyone to share what stood out from the interview process and what advice they have for improvements.