Helpful Candidate Experience Survey Questions

Getting candidate feedback is essential in any recruitment process. Start with knowing the questions you want answered. Consider not just what questions you ask but how you ask them.
Candidate Experience
September 3, 2022
Helpful Candidate Experience Survey Questions
The best recruiting and hiring strategies are guided by steadfast objectives that align perfectly with what the business is trying to achieve. The same is true for any department in a business. We make sure that what we are doing here impacts outcomes over there. We set metrics to measure, and we optimise areas that we find lacking or underperforming somehow. We seek out the information we need by looking at the numbers and asking customers, stakeholders, and employees the right questions. But the book doesn’t stop there.

Just as it’s important to survey customers to find out what they want and need, it’s crucial to do the same for potential employees. How do we know our recruitment strategy contributes to business goals if we don’t know whether the process is working or not?

And these are just internal considerations; what about the external ones?

Your competitors are after the same talent as you. A fragmented candidate experience could mean top candidates are going somewhere else. For example, if your process isn’t fast enough, you could turn off the candidates you pick; 40% of people have turned down a job offer because another organisation was quicker to make an offer. The process itself may have turned potentials off; 51% of job seekers admit to searching for other roles even after receiving an offer.

A bad interview experience can turn people off a company entirely. 83% of talent change their perception of a role or company they once liked after having a negative interview experience. A positive experience can make all the difference too. 71% of people are more likely to buy from an organisation they had a positive recruitment experience with—whether they were offered the job or not.

The only true way we can know what went wrong is to ask.

The candidate experience needs to be in sync with business goals, and the key to this is consistent measurement and optimisation of the recruitment process. Getting candidate feedback is essential. Start with knowing the questions you want answered. Consider not just what questions you ask but how you ask them.

Before anything else, consider the questions you want answered

It’s impossible to move the needle on something if we don’t know where the needle stands. Here are some things you might want to find out from candidates after they’ve gone through the recruitment process:

  1. The average time spent by a candidate at every stage of the process
  2. The candidate drop-off rate and the reasons for the drop-off
  3. Application completion rate
  4. The percentage of candidates who didn’t reply to or read communications from hiring managers and why
  5. How they felt about the process as a whole, and what they would change

The answer to some of these questions might be a clear-cut number that we can find out through our hiring system, but others require a bit more work. Surveying candidates after the interview is a great way to do this.

Useful candidate experience questions and how to ask them

The questions you ask should strike the right balance between being easy for the candidate and effective for you. Survey respondents generally find it easier to answer questions they might have answered a lot in the past, like ‘What’s your highest level of education?’. A numbered scale works well for anything else that requires more thinking or an indirect answer. Using scales also helps to give an overall picture and presents the data visually rather than digging through the weeds of individual responses. You can intersperse a few qualitative questions to get answers to specific areas of the recruitment process, like what the candidate found challenging. Note that questions like this can be very individual, so an option-select format won’t be appropriate. It could also lead to bias if the candidate is somewhat prompted to choose an answer rather than look back on their own experience.

Example questions

Scale from 1 to 10
  • How challenging did you find the process?
  • How was the level of communication you received throughout the process?
  • How would you rate the interview?
  • How likely are you to recommend the company to another potential candidate?

Qualitative questions
  • How did you feel before, during and after the interview?
  • What is your single biggest takeaway from the interview experience?

How to ask candidates for their feedback

You may be thinking that candidates—especially those who didn’t get the job—might not be willing to give feedback. But you’d be surprised; 68.5% of job seekers would share their experiences if asked.

To start on the right foot, emphasise that all responses are anonymous and will only be used to improve the candidate experience.

Keep questions concise, and structure the survey in a way that mirrors their experience. Consider the timeline of events: application, interview, response, and all communication received throughout. If things are getting a bit long, but you still want every question answered, consider sending two separate surveys to two groups of candidates. Providing your sample sizes are large enough, you should have enough responses to draw meaningful conclusions from each.

According to Talentegy, there are two main blockers to seeking candidate feedback in the first place: fear of what they’ll say and no time or money to change anything based on the responses. The latter issue is serious and needs to be addressed before any feedback is sought, and it comes back to making sure recruitment goals are aligned with business goals. The former is a mindset that can be shifted. Candidates want to be asked, and they are happy to share their experiences. Responses—positive or negative—all contribute to you knowing more about the process to improve it. Knowledge, as they say, is power.

How to use the results once effectively

Crucial to this whole thing working well is actively wanting to find out what’s not working in the recruitment process. Companies need to be agile enough to change directions to fix problems.

So once you have the results, feed them back into the process and make appropriate changes, ensuring that the entire recruitment team is involved. Be transparent so that you have buy-in across the company and share the findings and subsequent optimisations with the entire organisation.

Don’t forget to include your hiring managers in this process too. Survey them to get their thoughts on the process so that you’re collecting feedback from all sides. Share findings with the wider recruitment team so everyone knows how the strategy aligns with the business needs and objectives.

With the feedback received from candidates, coach current and new hiring managers on how to interview candidates. Call attention to particular areas that they may be surprised by, or areas that the recruitment team is actively trying to improve.

Make sure recruitment managers are empowered to share interview intelligence; providing specific feedback to everyone in the hiring process by sharing insights gleaned from the candidate experience survey.

For more on improving the candidate experience from start to finish, download the checklist.

screenloop candidate experience checklist