You had the best interview of your career with a candidate and you’re ready to make them an offer when suddenly, they let you know they will not be moving forward with your company. What happened? Where did you go wrong? It’s time for a candidate feedback survey.

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What Is a Candidate Feedback Survey?

These are brief surveys used to improve the hiring process as your organization learns from its mistakes or shortcomings. It’s a window into how candidates experience your recruiting process, giving you necessary information to keep pushing your recruitment efforts forward.

Why Are Candidate Feedback Surveys Beneficial?

Now that we know what candidate feedback surveys are, let’s review a few ways they can be beneficial for your organization.

  • Improve candidate experience. The main reason you’re doing these surveys is to improve the overall experience for the candidate. You’ll receive beneficial information to evaluate and change what’s not working. You can take the time to analyze the effectiveness of your recruitment process and team based on the feedback from candidates and adjust your efforts accordingly.
  • Improve company reputation. When a candidate has a bad experience with your organization, it hurts your brand. Taking direction from your candidate feedback surveys can help you fix what’s broken, allowing you to build back up that reputation and remain a competitive employer in the labor market.

Types of Candidate Feedback Surveys

There are several types of candidate feedback surveys your company could utilize. Let’s go over the most popular ones.

Interactive Surveys

These can be taken via text, email, website chat function, etc. If a candidate was in the process of applying for your company but hasn’t finished the application, deploy that interactive survey to find out why. Is your application process turning people away before they even get in the door? The survey could let you know. You could also utilize an interactive survey by sending a text or email prompt after an interview to generate dialogue about the process. Interactive surveys help move the process along and keep communication open between you and the candidate, establishing a good candidate experience right away.

Detailed Surveys

Creating a detailed survey asking candidates to go through their recruitment process and rate specific aspects is a great way to gauge the total experience. You can ask questions about the cleanliness of the office or the promptness of their interviewer as well as the communication prior to the first interview and wait time between interactions. Sometimes employers choose to add in some true and false questions, like My interview started on time,” in order to keep the candidate engaged with the survey but not take up too much time. Keep the questions brief, but gather data to find out specific details of your recruitment process that may be current pain points.

Overall Impression Surveys

If you’re not able to develop an interactive survey and don’t have the time to create a detailed survey, maybe the overall impression survey would be right for you. In these surveys, candidates rate the question you ask them on a scale from 0-10. Typically you’ll see questions like How likely are you to recommend applying to our company to a friend or colleague? or even “How would you rate your candidate experience with us so far?” It’s simple, fast, and most candidates will take the seconds out of their life needed to respond to these types of surveys. It gives you a snapshot into if your recruitment process is working, although it won’t tell you specifics as to why it’s not if the results are negative.

How to Implement a Candidate Feedback Survey in Your Organization

Let’s walk through some steps on how to implement these surveys.

Step 1: Select a Method

First things first: select a method. Maybe you’re going to go with the quick overall impression survey because your recruiting department has been running like a well-oiled machine without candidate withdrawals or declined offers. That’s great; feedback in any form is beneficial. Perhaps you’re going to do a more detailed survey and find gaps in your recruitment process. Whichever direction you choose, pick the one that makes the most sense for your organization currently and put it into practice right away.

Step 2: Qualify a Time and a Group

When do you send the candidate feedback surveys out? Would it be better for your organization to send them early on and strictly to those that withdrew or did not complete their application? Perhaps sending a bit later in the process to those who were interviewed and received denials would be the best course of action. Or maybe you send them at the end to those who were just hired.

It’s important to establish a time to send out the surveys and which group you target. You could certainly send one to each of these above-mentioned groups; just be sure to tailor your questions accordingly. Don’t send a survey asking about an interview to a candidate who withdrew, for example. Remember, the goal here is to get all the information possible to keep improving your recruitment efforts, so find the best time and group that will help you do just that.

Step 3: Inform Candidates of the Survey

The best practice is to inform candidates at the beginning of your interactions with them (which would be as they apply for a job) that there will be a candidate feedback survey at some point in their journey. Perhaps you say something like, To continually improve our hiring efforts, after you have completed the recruiting process you will receive an anonymous candidate survey to fill out. We appreciate your assistance in continually improving our efforts! This keeps candidates who are rejected from getting too excited about a follow-up email that’s just a survey and keeps candidates who withdrew from deleting the email altogether. A simple heads-up will give you a better chance of receiving the feedback.

Step 4: Keep it Anonymous

These surveys must be anonymous to avoid prejudice and bias, and that should be communicated effectively to the candidate filling out the survey. If they think you have a way of tracing back their feedback to them, candidates might not be as honest, especially if their feedback is more constructive than positive. Be very clear that while you appreciate their feedback, all information will be confidential and anonymous.

Step 5: Keep it Brief

Remember to keep surveys as brief as possible to respect the time of your candidates. Don’t expect them to take more than five minutes out of their day to provide feedback. Make sure candidates can easily access the survey. While you may think the more words and information the survey has the more comprehensive feedback you receive, that’s not true. The more wordy and detailed your surveys are, the fewer responses you’ll receive. Keep it brief!

Step 6: Evaluate the Data

As you receive feedback from candidates, be sure to document and review it appropriately. It may be beneficial for your organization to establish a process to best utilize this information moving forward. If you have a survey system that generates these for you (such as an online service or as part of an HRIS), see if the information can be stored there and referred to continually to strive for improvement. If you’re administering these without the use of a system, you may want to use a spreadsheet to track the information so you can use it to your advantage.

It’s important to note that the information you get might not be helpful every time. Maybe a disgruntled candidate just wants to complain for the entire feedback survey; it happens. Take it with a grain of salt, add it to your data, and move on. Evaluate the feedback as a whole and adjust your processes positively the best you can.

Examples of Great Candidate Feedback Survey Questions

You’re almost there, ready to implement the best candidate feedback survey your organization has ever seen. There are three types of questions you can use: open-ended, multiple-choice, and rating scales.

Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions invite candidates to share what’s most important to them by writing freely. This takes more effort than true/false or ranking answers, though, so use these questions sparingly.

  • How satisfied are you with our recruiting and hiring process? Why?
  • Was the recruiter helpful throughout the process?
  • Did we always respond to you in a timely manner?
  • How can we improve our hiring process?
  • How informative was our career site?
  • How did our communication live up to your expectations?
  • How did you find the interview process?
  • Are there any additional comments or suggestions you have to improve our recruiting and hiring process?

Multiple Choice Questions

  • How would you rate your understanding of the role after the hiring process?
    • I had a very clear understanding of the role.
    • I understood most parts of the role.
    • I understood the basics of the role.
    • I didn’t understand most parts of the role.
    • I didn’t understand the role at all.
  • Please rate the following statement: My interviewers were well prepared.”
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagree

Rating Scales

  • From 1-5, how satisfied are you with our recruiting process?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our organization to a friend?

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Candidate Feedback Survey

Yes, most surveys are designed to be completed online.
The number of questions to put on your survey truly depends on the nature of the questions (multiple choice, fill in the blank, rating scale, or open-ended questions). Best practice would be to keep the survey from 5-10 questions.
The survey should take no more than five minutes to complete.
The ideal would be to have every candidate complete the survey. Unfortunately, not every candidate will, so utilize the data from those who do and move forward.

Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!

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