The Role of Candidate Feedback in Refining Your Selection Process

The Role of Candidate Feedback in Refining Your Selection Process
How candidate feedback can be a game-changer in refining your recruitment strategy

Sir Richard Branson, the mastermind behind Virgin Group—a conglomerate spanning 35 countries—once famously said, 'Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your business.' With decades of business experience, Branson's wisdom is worth its weight in gold.

While most people think that taking care of the employees starts on their first day at work, in this fast-paced world, it seems that it starts the moment a potential employee gets in contact with a company, especially during the recruitment process.

Also, naturally, the sooner you find candidates with adequate knowledge and experience levels that are a strong cultural fit, the better. A streamlined employee selection results in time and cost efficiency as one of the most important resources.

There are multiple ways to fine-tune your recruitment process. In this blog, however, we focus on an often-overlooked goldmine: candidate feedback.

Optimize What’s Possible, Retain What’s Useful

What insights can a candidate offer about your selection process? Quite simply, invaluable ones.

Regardless of whether the candidate is about to become your employee or if they haven’t made it past the initial stages, their feedback may shed some light on the process's strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, it’s their feedback that will help you identify potential biases you might not be aware of. Is it possible that you are unconsciously discriminating against a candidate who took a career break due to mental health or to raise kids, for example? You may be reading too much into their situation, thinking they aren’t capable of long-term engagement - basically, making conclusions that aren’t based on facts and thus missing out on a perfectly capable employee.

One of the aspects candidates complain the most about is the so-called “black hole,” that is, not hearing from the company at all after the interview. Like many other HR company representatives, you might not be aware of how highly regarded this is amongst those on the lookout for a job. They would probably mention this - if only someone asked for their feedback.

And how about your job ads? Do you sometimes wonder if you can write them in such a way so that your targeting is better? The answer lies with the candidates you want to attract and those your ad is currently attracting. Once you start thinking in terms of the candidate-focused job posting, keeping an eye on the click-through rate and the analytics in general, and asking those who participated in the selection process what they thought about it, you can expect more success in this area.
Candidates’ feedback can also confirm the methods you do well - generally speaking, you can use the data you gather to benchmark your performance against industry standards and competitors.

Elevate the Candidate Experience Through Feedback

Now that we can agree that we can get useful information from the candidates to make the recruitment process more effective, it’s time to ask: Is there any other benefit to their feedback? As a matter of fact, there is - enhancing the candidates’ experience.

Of course, in some companies, the management may think that making candidates “happy” is unnecessary - a waste of time and energy, because why would you want to satisfy people who aren’t going to be working for you? Well, there are several reasons to change that way of thinking.

  • People talk, a.k.a. Brand Reputation - a candidate you end up employing will probably toot your horn, but if those you haven’t hired spoke about their positive experience, the word about your company will spread naturally.
  • Generate a bigger candidate pool - the better the reputation, the more people will want to apply, especially if you keep in touch with the runners-up and invite them when a new position opens.
  • Attract the top talent - a bigger pool is also diversified, which means more people to choose from and a bigger chance of “catching” the top performers. Skilled and high-potential candidates can mean all the difference in terms of growth.
  • Enhance current employees' experience and morale - a well-handled recruitment process is a confirmation that the company’s communication is transparent, that they practice what they preach, and that the company’s atmosphere is “healthy.”

In essence, enhancing the candidate experience signals your dedication to treating candidates respectfully, regardless of how they performed during the process. It highlights your company's professionalism, values, and unwavering commitment to fostering a positive work atmosphere right from the initial interaction.

Acquiring and Assessing Feedback

Now that we are 100% certain about the numerous benefits of the candidate feedback, we can start thinking about how to gather it and analyze it.

An online survey form provides a straightforward method for collecting candidate responses. It's advisable to include open-ended questions, allowing for candid opinions and improvement suggestions. For tracking long-term trends, the survey should prompt candidates to specify the position they applied for and the corresponding date.

The survey distribution can be fully automated, triggering at specific stages of the recruitment process. If your setup allows, AI-powered chatbots can also efficiently manage this task within a recruiting platform.

As opposed to these mass surveys, you can always opt for a more personalized one - in some cases, you may want only the opinions of those who applied for one particular position, for example, a higher management role. In such situations, a personalized approach is a better option to learn what’s good and what needs improving, as the candidates feel more appreciated.

There are always some people who won’t leave feedback to the company personally, but they will post their honest opinions online. This is why you should keep an eye on the social media buzz, i.e., your company’s profile and pages on which those who are looking for a job share experience. If you get a negative comment on social media, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. The candidates will see it and decide not to apply, and you, on the other hand, might be ignoring a very useful piece of advice just because it’s negative or said in a somewhat rude manner.

Besides social media, another very useful source of data is the candidate experience platforms. They are equally important for candidates and companies - candidates take the opinions listed there seriously and go through them before interviews to get some tips and tricks or to decide whether to apply in the first place. Some of them allow companies to respond to the reviews, and if you have an opportunity to do that, you should definitely take it. Otherwise, you need to check it regularly and strive to address the negative things people mention.

Once you gather all the feedback, you need to analyze it. But naturally, in what way depends on the data and changes you are seeking to make. You will also need to prioritize: not everything is urgent, and some things probably need more time and effort to be introduced. Also, some of the things candidates mention will not be relevant, at least not at that particular moment. Once you are introducing a change, making graphs can help visualize the progress and effectiveness.

It’s safe to say that incorporating good practices learned from feedback is a long-term game.

What’s the verdict?

Some doubting Thomas would say that feedback may be biased, and they would be right this time. But if more than one candidate expresses the same opinion, the least you can do is look into it.

Just like any process, the selection needs to be continually refined to ensure you’ll acquire top-notch employees - whether they are top-notch because of their skill level or because they are beginners with an earth-moving passion for that job. For some candidates, the timing just isn’t right; some have acquaintances who would be a great addition to your company. Be that as it may, it would be unwise to disregard feedback from people who (almost) became your employees.