Candidate experience webinar Q&A: Your questions answered

Published by:
Joe Caccavale
June 15, 2020
min read

During our webinar on candidate experience, we were inundated with great questions from the audience, and so didn’t get time to answer all of them.

We wouldn’t want to leave anyone hanging, so we’ve answered everything we missed below… as well as a recap of the ones we did get time to address.

Whether you attended our webinar or not, we’re sharing some nuggets of advice that anyone serious about improving their candidate experience should find handy. 

Here's the questions we didn't have time to answer...

How do you give feedback without being really picky about the decision and not making the candidate feel bad about their interview? Because sometimes they want to "argue back" about it.

By giving feedback in an objective fashion you should avoid these situations for the most part.

If you’re clear about how the decision was made (i.e. using data rather than personal preference) then it’s no longer a matter of being ‘picky’ - the (objective) top performer was offered the job.

If you do still encounter objections, there’s nothing wrong telling a candidate: “you did well, but someone did better… your answers were strong, this one was the strongest and this was the weakest”.

Suggestions on how to provide feedback to candidates where it is moreso about their personality? This is where I often struggle, when the person is not a strong communicator, came across as very negative or could not demonstrate their ability to lead a team.

Whilst they may seem like it, these aren’t purely personality factors. They’re important skills!

If you can objectively determine that someone hasn’t demonstrated communication skills in your hiring process (and you made sure all candidates had an equal opportunity to do so) then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeding this back to them.

Try explaining how they presented themselves in the process, which might not be exactly the same as what they can do. In practice, this is the difference between saying, "you came across as a little negative, rather than saying "you are negative."

You mention that during the attraction phase, it's important to provide candidates with key information. Are there any particular pieces of information we should be more aware of?

Be as transparent as possible and outline information that reduces uncertainty about the job and aligning expectations. This is especially important because there can be socioeconomic groups that can be more averse to ambiguity and uncertainty. So giving key information not only pays in terms of candidate experience, but also attracting a more diverse candidate pool.

Some examples of this information:

  • Key steps and dates of the application process. This could include details about tests or assessments that candidates will need to take.
  • Info about the role: specifying the salary range means talented candidates who have less awareness of their real value are treated fairly. You should also be clear about remote or flexible work arrangements if they're an option.
  • In some cases, letting candidates know how many candidates have applied. Being transparent and upfront about the application process improves candidate experience.

I am very interested in this Feedback software you are using?  Is it in-house system or is it readily available?

and a similar question...

What was the software you showed in the presentation for the feedback?

The feedback software shown in the webinar (which you can watch back here) was our own.

We have this built into the Applied platform so that once the process is over, candidates receive personalised feedback based on their performance. Please feel free to request a tour of our platform here.

You can, of course try hacking together feedback maps similar to the ones we use, although if you’re short on time, it can get pretty fiddly.

Is it okay to give sign-off or rejected feedback the same day the interview was made? Or is it better to wait one day? The earlier the better?

In our experience, it’s best to wait a day.

For a candidate, being rejected immediately following an interview could be extremely demoralising, and so it’s probably unnecessary to reject them straight away. 

Also, waiting a day gives you time to compile feedback from all sources and think about what feedback is most helpful for the candidate.

So yes, the sooner the better, although wait a day at least.

Confirming you have a maximum of 3 feedback opportunities for candidates?

Our hiring process generally consists of 3 stages, and so we have 3 feedback points.

However, you could have as many feedback opportunities as you have stages of your hiring process.

How would you recommend getting started with mapping candidates' journeys?

Start with speaking to the people you've recently hired and conduct inquisitive interviews with them on their experience.

That’ll help you figure out the key areas to focus on later

Without dedicated software, what platform would you recommend for gathering candidate feedback?  I've used Survey Monkey in the past but is there something better?

We’d probably say Google Forms.

In fact, that's how we collect feedback at the end of each webinar.

Other options include Typeform (great UX but tends not to focus on analytics as much); and Qualtrics (great for deeper analysis).

Is the feedback online process accessible to all as we are an equal opps employer so we ensure that our processes are accessible to all?

We’re always looking to make our recruitment platform as inclusive as possible and are continuously working on upgrades in this respect!

And a few questions we did answered in the webinar Q&A

You talk about automating feedback reports - is this really better than personal?

Giving feedback to each candidate personally is great - so long as you have time to talk to everyone. As businesses grow and receive increasing numbers of applications, this can be a tricky to scale.

Whilst the personal touch can be comforting, there’s also the fact that automated feedback has a more objective feel. We’ve actually found that customers using our feedback feature encounter fewer contentions from candidates

How does feedback work for interviews/assessment centers? They may have different structures and the information is not automatically collected like online tests.

Here at Applied, the majority of roles would have an initial screening stage (no CVs, we use work samples instead), followed by two interview rounds.

We collect data from interviews by objectively scoring candidates’ answers against set criteria… and we’d urge you to try doing the same - you can get the scoop on how we do this here.

You could start by deciding on what key skills are required for the role and then crafting questions to test these. If you score each answer out of 5, you should be able to map candidates’ performance against the average and best performers, similarly to how we do things.

It may take some time to properly structure your process and collect data, but it should make your life easier in the long run.

Aren't the work samples you mentioned really time-consuming?

Work samples do require some investment of time, especially when first setting them up, but you’ll see a return on this investment later on.

By using a more predictive means of assessment, you’re essentially ensuring that you only spend time interviewing suitable candidates.

Some of our customers have reported a 3x interview to offer rate, as well as their time spent hiring reduced by ⅔.

You said that negative things are more salient - do you know why?

Our brains encode negative experiences far more readily than positive ones, which is in part evolutionary. Remembering negative things was essential to our survival e.g. not walking into a predators territory again or not eating a plant that made us sick,

There’s also the fact that negative experiences tend to be coupled with a sense of injustice or wrongdoing that we feel we need to take action and rectify in order to restore equilibrium.

What other metrics could I use to check that I'm delivering a great candidate experience?

So the two general categories of metrics you could look at are:

Behavioural metrics

Conversion rates, no of applications submitted - these are general measures of engagement

Sentiment and satisfaction

Candidate NPS, review score, recommendations - these metrics are to get a feel for how your process is generally perceived.

At what point in the recruitment process do you recommend work samples? We like to use them as a screening stage, but it is a manual process so we wouldn't want to send it to every applicant, nor require people to spend more time if they are not a match.

Work samples have been proven to be the most predictive form of assessment (you can check out the meta-study by Schimidt & Hunter here), so we’d strongly recommend using them as early in the process as possible.

It’s also worth mentioning that although it does require effort on the employer’s part, you should see fewer, but higher quality applications - well-crafted work samples should deter less suitable candidates. We wrote this guide to creating work samples you might find useful.

We appreciate that without any tech to manage this for you, this can be a little laborious, which is actually why we built the Applied platform to begin with - check out this page on how our sift process works.

Is it okay to have a question/answer playbook for candidates so they more-less can know what are they going to be asked or is that too much? 

This is a great idea unless the job you’re interviewing for requires very quick thinking on the spot (e.g. sales roles). 

In this case, what you’d ideally want to be testing is the quality of candidates' answers. So, you could give them more time to answer, but with this sort of role we’d advise steering clear of giving away the questions upfront.

Bottom line: we’re all for the playbook, just not in relation to certain roles.

Which kind of feedback is appropriate to give candidates to be fair with all candidates?

From a candidate’s perspective, the most useful feedback will help them with their job hunt. 

This could translate into a snapshot of their strengths and areas for improvement.

To keep things fair and objective, you’ll want to keep feedback centered around their performance and how they answered questions - not their character or values.

Quick tip on phrasing: remember to say "this is what we saw evidence of" as opposed to "you're not good at X"... you want to maintain an objective, impersonal stance.

Many of our managers feel like we should keep candidates in the application until it is closed, to have as a backup, even if it is not a fit for this specific job. I prefer (as a recruiter) to decline people as I go, to be able to ensure I respond in a timely manner and to keep track of who I have already viewed, but really I’m going off of a quick screening (which is naturally biased). Do you have feelings on this? 

You can let candidates know that they’re not quite right for the role, but you’d like to talk to them about other opportunities.

Be mindful of the time candidates spend in the process - if you wait 6 weeks to call them back, they’ll probably know they’re a backup option. 

So, have an engagement plan if they’re really strong contenders. Alternatively, you could say: “We loved you and want to keep you in our pool, although we don’t have any suitable roles right now - here's some feedback in the meantime.”

How would you transition from a classic feedback excel sheet to a more robust platform like the one that you showed, what would you suggest for a timeline?

It’s worth thinking about ROI. For instance, how long does it take you to do it manually?

It might be that investing in a platform to help you - whether it's us or another - is very much worth it.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to ask questions in our webinar, we hope you found our answers useful!

Missed our candidate experience webinar? The recording is now live! You can also check out our upcoming webinars and watch back any you missed