The one Talent Acquisition metric to rule them all

Start using real Candidate Feedback to design a winning hiring strategy

To build a successful Talent Acquisition function and a winning hiring strategy, we all know that we need to put several metrics in place that we can measure and optimise. The most common ones are time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, offer-acceptance rates, quality-of-hire and retention rates. Nothing new so far. In the 15+ years that I have worked in the Recruitment sector, I myself have also been focussing on helping companies with optimising their hiring processes mainly based on this kind of recruitment (business) metrics. However, the thing I have never been able to put my finger on clearly is that, even at companies where all the metrics were optimised to the max, we could still encounter high candidate-drop-out rates, high offer-rejection rates, low numbers of quality candidate referral and negative (public) comments from previous applicants hurting the employer brand. So what were we doing wrong??

How we turned our hiring strategy upside down

At the end of the day, what we were doing is forcing these metrics onto our candidates under the excuse of “this is what our business requires”. However, what we need to realise is that our candidates are our ‘customers’ and they basically do not care a single thing about our recruitment metrics. They do not care if our average time-to-hire is 10 days or 4 weeks and they do not care about how much our average cost-per-hire is. On the other hand, unknowingly, our candidates have a huge impact on our key recruitment metrics as they decide to either:
  • Accept or reject an offer
  • Continue the process or drop out of the process
  • Delay or speed up the process
  • Refer us other candidates or not
  • Publically write a positive or negative comment about our company or process.
So looking at it from this angle we came to the following conclusion that completely changed the way we looked at our hiring metrics:

It is the Candidate Experience metric that drives the other key recruitment metrics (not the other way around).

In other words: When we improve the Candidate Experience (metric), it will automatically also improve our other key metrics. At the same time, a poor candidate experience will not only hurt our employer brand but will also prevent us from optimising all other hiring metrics that are important to our business. Or how Gandalf would put it: “Candidate Experience is the one metric that rules them all” A better Candidate Experience will result in more committed- and interested candidates. More committed- and interested candidates in our pipeline will:
  • Improve offer/acceptance rates
  • Lower the candidate drop-out rates
  • Attract more quality direct applicants (employer brand)
  • Generate more quality candidate referrals
  • More quality direct applicants and referrals = less spent on sourcing and advertising
  • Decrease the number-of-candidates-per-hire
  • etc
The following image shows how the results of a better Candidate Experience impact the other key hiring metrics: If we want to hire the best people in the market we need to start putting “what matters to our candidates” at the heart of our hiring strategy. We need to start listening to them, as only our candidates can tell us what is important to them in a recruitment process. Great! So let´s change our focus to improving the Candidate Experience metric.

We have identified 5 steps for creating a successful Candidate Experience strategy:

Step 1 ) Run your current interview process

The process is based on improving our current process 1 impactful step at a time. Therefore we use our current process as a starting point.

Step 2 ) Start generating actionable candidate feedback

To improve our current hiring process one step at a time we need to start with asking our candidates how they have experienced our recruiting process. We have underlined the word “actionable” for a reason. If we want to start implementing improvements into our process based on the feedback from candidates, we need to know in as much detail as possible, what is causing a negative experience with our candidates. With very general feedback it is difficult to decide what change to make, therefore asking the right questions is key. Read how to generate actionable candidate feedback here (including 5 tips on a creating a successful Candidate Feedback Survey)
Collect and display this feedback in a way it makes sense
Although this step seems obvious, we do want to focus on it in more detail. In step 5 it will become clear why this is so important. Often a general survey form is used and all feedback is visible in a large excel type sheet. We found that many Talent Acquisition managers or internal recruiters have started collecting candidate feedback, but because the results are so difficult to interpret and analyse no real further action or follow up is taken.

Step 3 ) Define and prioritise the improvement that has the most impact

After collecting sufficient candidate feedback, we now have to analyse what part of our process has the most impact on the Candidate Experience. In other words: what causes most frustration with our candidates. We want to address that exact pain point when implementing our first improvement.

Prepare a case to show the benefit of this improvement to the hiring team

As a Talent Acquisition Manager or internal recruiter, there is only so much we can do ourselves to offer a great Candidate Experience. Whether we like it or not, our hiring manager and interviewers have the most impact on how positive- or negative a candidate thinks back on our recruitment process. It is therefore imminent that we get these stakeholders on our side when we want to implement a change based on the feedback from our candidates. We will dig deeper into how we can build a winning case later.

Step 4 ) Implement the improvement with the biggest impact

As soon as we got the buy-in of our stakeholder(s) we can implement the change that will have the most impact on the candidate experience (defined in step 3).

Step 5 ) Measure – and show the impact of the improvement you have implemented to your hiring team

As with everything, we need to measure the impact of the change we implemented to define if it has been successful. You can easily measure this if you have implemented a proper way of collecting ongoing candidate feedback. And don’t forget to show the data to your hiring manager, interviewers and everyone else who has been involved in this improvement. Keep in mind that you are going to need them on your side again for your next improvement. After step 5 we will automatically continue to step 1 again because implementing a Candidate Experience improving strategy is an ongoing process.
Implement 1 impactful improvement at a time
We strongly advise to implement one improvement at the time, rather than forcing too many changes at once. Not only will it be easier to measure, but it will also be easier to get the right people on board with you rather than asking the whole organisation to change the way they are involved in the hiring process. Important is then to prioritise the improvement that will have the most impact on the Candidate Experience. By following this process you will find that spotting impactful improvements and implementing them will become easier en easier. Every time you can show the positive impact that your improvements have on the hiring process (step 5) you will create more credibility within your organisation as well as getting your employer brand to take off.

Our 5 step Candidate Experience improvement process

The We Like Talent 5 step Candidate Experience improvement process

Click here to learn why this process is so important

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Our promise to you:

  1. We generate all the actionable insights for you on the background
  2. We show you which element of your process has the most impact on your Candidate Experience
  3. We generate candidate referrals and automatically boost your Glassdoor interview ratings
  4. We personally help you every step of the way to become a magnet for top talent