Candidate Experience: Can You Keep Them Out of the “Black Hole?”

Illustration by Dreamstime.Illustration by Dreamstime.

A couple of months ago I shared some data from an Aberdeen Group report about benchmarking quality of hire best practices.

It’s a great benchmark list of outcomes. But how about the inputs?

More specifically, in terms of quality of hire, how about benchmarking the quality of the candidate experience? Call me crazy, but it seems to me that a higher quality candidate experience translates into a higher quality of hire.

Evaluating the candidate experience

As background, The Talent Board was formed in January 2011 to assist recruiting organizations in understanding and evaluating the experiences of their candidates.

While there is an inherent dissatisfaction that comes with rejecting employment candidates, the Talent Board believes that it is possible to:

  • Treat all employment candidates with professionalism and respect.
  • Shrink the recruiting “black hole” effect on candidates.”

Talent Board founders, Gerry Crispin, Elaine Orler and Ed Newman and their colleagues have just produced the 2012 Candidate Experience report from their survey and awards program. In its second year, the research was based on survey responses from 90 companies (up from 57 in 2011) and more than 17,500 completed candidate surveys (up from 11,500).

To be clear, that’s 17,500 candidates for employment answering questions about their experience as an applicant in four defined phases of the talent acquisition process:

  1. Candidate attraction;
  2. Expression of interest;
  3. Candidate dispositioning before the finalist stage;
  4. Candidate evaluation & selection.

 When candidates fall into the “black hole”

The report gives data from the employer questionnaire as well as from the candidate questionnaire.

But for most, the topic of most interest is the infamous “black hole” – that old familiar experience of applying for a job by filling out an application on line, attaching a resume to an online application or email, or using snail mail to send in a resume, and never getting a response.

Worse, the black hole could happen after a phone interview. Or after a face-to-face interview. At the entry level. At the professional level. At the executive level.

Yes the black hole is everywhere. In every industry, geography and size of company. We’ve all experienced it. And we’ve all derived meaning from it.

The 90 employers that participated in the Candidate Experience Survey last year are paying attention to the black hole. And while a boilerplate email message from a “do not reply” address notifying an applicant that they won’t be a candidate is only a smidge better than the black hole, bad communication is better than no communication and it’s a baby step in the right direction. The report goes on to show guarded optimism that while some employers are beginning to provide feedback to disposed candidates when asked, not many are making it a standard practice.

One-third of candidates get zero feedback

But here’s the kicker: fully one third of candidates from employers who care about the black hole were provided no specific feedback about their application. And nearly half received a standard email template with no specific information.

One third got no feedback. Zero. Zip. Nada.

That’s a massive black hole, right there. And think what meaning is derived from it about the employer’s brand, culture, management, products and services. Connecting those dots isn’t hard.

So, while a few employers are connecting the dots between quality of hire and quality of candidate experience, it’s clearly not enough. If your organization is beginning to look at quality of hire metrics, don’t forget the candidate experience. I’m not sure you can improve one without improving the other.

And check out the process for participating in the 2013 CandE Awards program. You can’t improve future performance without a clear understanding of current performance. That includes quality of hire – which surely includes the candidate experience.

Time to get rid of the black hole!

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.