Candidate experience metrics FAQ

Here are frequently asked questions and answers on candidate experience metrics to help you create a welcoming hiring process for candidates and strengthen your employer brand:

What is candidate experience?

The term “candidate experience” refers to candidates’ overall impression of your recruitment processes. From the moment candidates browse your careers page, until they receive a job offer or rejection email (or not hear back at all), they are forming an opinion about your company and how you treat candidates. Many share their opinions on sites like Glassdoor or with friends and colleagues, which can impact your reputation as an employer.

How do you measure candidate experience?

To get insight into your candidate experience, turn to candidates directly. If possible, hire a third-party research company that can create objective measurements and surveys. Alternatively, create a candidate experience survey yourself, using an online survey tool (e.g. SurveyMonkey, Typeform) and send it to candidates and new hires. Here are some sample questions:

  • Did the job description help you understand the role?
  • What did you like/dislike about your interview process?
  • How would you characterize your communication with recruiters/hiring managers through email or phone?
  • Would you apply for a future opening at our company?
  • Would you encourage a friend to apply to work at our company?

Keep in mind that new hires may be eager to impress, so their results may be skewed positive. Also, frustrated candidates may refuse to fill out your survey, but they may share their experience on social media and Glassdoor. Track those reviews to get a rounded view of your candidates’ impressions.

What is “applicant experience”?

Applicant experience is candidates’ overall impression of your job application process. This impression is influenced by:

  • Your job description. Applicants should understand the role they are applying for. Your job description should be clear, concise and provide all important information for applicants (e.g. job duties, requirements, job location.)
  • Your job application form. Effective application forms are short, clear and ask relevant questions. Applicants quit lengthy forms with unnecessary or complicated fields.
  • Your jobs page. Your potential candidates should be able to find your job openings and application forms easily. Make sure links to your careers page are visible and job listings are easy to navigate.
  • Your response to applications. At the very least, applicants expect to get an email confirming that you received their application. If you’re using an Applicant Tracking System, you can send a bulk reply to applicants you didn’t invite to interviews to thank them for applying.

How do you measure the applicant experience?

One way to measure the effectiveness of your job application forms is to track your application abandonment rate. This metric shows you the percentage of candidates who started filling out your forms but never actually applied:

If this metric is higher than you’d expect, consider shortening your application process. Add fewer or more relevant questions and measure how those changes affect your application abandonment rate. To gain insight into other aspects of the applicant experience, add relevant questions to your candidate experience survey.

What is candidate feedback?

Candidate feedback refers to your communication with candidates who you chose not to hire. Candidates expect companies to inform them about whether they are rejected, and possibly offer feedback on how they did during the hiring stages they participated in (e.g. how they performed on a pre-employment test.) But employers often neglect to contact rejected candidates and they don’t offer interview feedback for fear of upsetting them or inviting lawsuits.

Giving feedback is worthwhile when employers construct their responses carefully. That way, companies show candidates that they value candidates’ time and take their applications seriously.

What is a career page conversion rate?

A career page’s conversion rate is the percentage of your career page’s visitors who applied to your job openings. To measure your career page conversion rate, divide the number of unique visitors on your career page within a specific time frame by the number of applications you received within the same period. For example, if 1,500 job seekers visit your careers page in a month and 200 of them applied to your jobs, your monthly conversion rate is 200/1,500 = 13.3%.

Google Analytics is a good way to track unique users. Google’s User Explorer feature gives you even more detailed information about how people interact with your careers site.

How do you improve career page conversion rates?

To improve your career page conversion rate, take actions to make your page more attractive and functional. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Display your jobs prominently. Help candidates navigate through your job listings within a minimum number of clicks.
  • Aim for a hassle-free application form. Use a short, straightforward application with a few relevant and concise qualifying questions.
  • Showcase your culture. Demonstrate what makes your workplace a good option for job seekers.
  • Talk about your benefits. Mention both standard and unique benefits that are important to candidates.
  • Offer job seekers inside information. Include testimonials from employees to add a human touch to your page.
  • Build a mobile version of your careers page. Being able to look through jobs and apply through mobile devices is convenient for candidates and helps you attract job-seekers on the go.

Measure your careers page conversion rate consistently over time and especially after a specific change (e.g. page redesign.)

What is application time?

In recruiting terms, “application time” is the time it takes for a job seeker to complete their application for a job. Some employers require candidates to upload their resumes and cover letters, while others have application forms with multiple fields for candidates to fill out. Application forms take longer to complete, but they help companies better screen candidates through qualifying questions.

Lengthy applications risk driving away good candidates whose time is limited. Avoid asking candidates to answer irrelevant questions or fill out dozens of fields with information available in their resumes. Aim for a couple of qualifying questions and the absolute minimum number of required fields in your forms.

How do you measure application time?

Data analysis tools (e.g. Google Analytics) can tell you how much time candidates spend on your application form page. But trusting this data may not be a good idea, since some candidates abandon their application without completing it or complete it with interruptions.

A good way to know your application forms’ “time to fill” is to time yourself filling it out. Get into the mindset of the candidate and fill out all fields from beginning to end. If it takes you longer than you’d expect, shorten the application form by asking these questions:

  • Are all the fields necessary?
  • Are we asking for information that we don’t need at this stage?
  • Are we asking for information we can find on resumes and social profiles?
  • Does the format make sense (e.g. multiple-choice vs. open-ended questions)?
  • Are we asking for information that isn’t pertinent (e.g. college grades)?

What is a candidate experience survey?

Candidate experience surveys measure how satisfied candidates are with your recruitment process. Recruiters use candidate feedback to improve their hiring and enhance employer brand. Use online tools, like Typeform and SurveyMonkey, to build anonymous surveys. Include questions like:

  • How accurately did our job ad reflect the role you discussed with our hiring team?
  • Was email and phone communication prompt and effective during our hiring process?
  • What was the biggest issue you faced during our hiring process?

Build your survey questions based on who your respondents will be. For example, if you want to survey applicants, ask questions about the clarity of your job ad, application process and careers page. When surveying candidates who interviewed with you, add questions about your interview process too.

More Recruiting Metrics FAQs:

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Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta Bika is a writer and a researcher at Workable. She writes about all things HR and recruiting, with a particular interest in metrics, laws, interviews and technology. She's a relentless editor and loves to sneak in Oxford commas in her drafts. She tweets @Nikoletta_Bika.

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