Candidate experience: The good, the bad and the unsuccessful

“Why should I care about the views of unsuccessful candidates? I spend long enough processing the ones we hire to worry about those we don’t.”

This is something a lot of recruiters generally don’t say out loud but often think as the workload increases. Organisations frequently only gather feedback on the recruitment process from successful candidates because of the perceived challenge associated with gathering feedback from all applicants including rejected ones – in one recent instance that meant ignoring the views of 98% of their candidates. These are fairly weighty numbers to ignore. We can’t help feeling that they are missing out on valuable feedback from candidates who had at least ‘bought in’ to the organisation by their application, and here’s why.

Research published for the 2013 UK candidate experience awards found that 49% of candidates claimed some form of relationship with the company they were applying to including nearly 1 in 5 being an existing customer and 12% had family and friends working for that organisation. What’s more, another survey found that 38% of candidates state a change in their consumer status based on the recruitment experience. Are they leaving the recruitment process after a good candidate experience or a bad one? Do they now have a positive or negative view about the organisation? Might they take their custom elsewhere? By and large, the truth is that many employers just don’t know because they don’t ask.

Mystery Applicant has been designed to measure the views of all candidates to give employers a true overall picture of what it’s like to apply. The rationale is simple – if you really knew what candidates thought of your recruitment experience, what difference would it make to your business? A pretty powerful statement when you think of the wider possibilities.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

We’ve covered the experiences of unsuccessful candidates in previous blog posts for good reason. There is plenty of research suggesting that candidates are increasingly willing to share their experiences with their networks (good and bad) and many have said that negative experiences would make them less likely to buy products from the company. Considering again the quote that started this article – for large organisations (and particularly those with a consumer brand) not to worry about their candidate experience is not only bad practice, it’s bad for business and ultimately, profitability.

To those organisations who feel that, by seeking the views of successful hires they are already participating in candidate feedback – we, of course, applaud any candidate engagement. The downside as we see it is, rather like asking your family for feedback on a presentation, is the feedback really going to expose the real issues or merely reflect what they think you’d want to hear? By ignoring unsuccessful candidates and only focusing on those pre-disposed to a positive view, is the ‘candidate experience box’ being ticked without really seeing the true picture?