2021 CandE Research Takeaway #7: Feedback Loops Are Critical

This is part seven of Talent Board’s new 10-post series on Key Takeaways from our 2021 benchmark research report. All previous posts in the series are available on our Articles page.

“It’s brutal enough to be turned down for a job,” Mary Faulkner reminds employers in her insightful article titled, Candidates Deserve Feedback, Not Excuses. “Don’t make it worse by refusing to say why.”

Right on, Mary! And just to be clear, her excellent advice applies to all candidates at all stages of the recruiting process, not just finalists who’ve gone through an interview.

Feedback and continuous communication are proven differentiators for the highest-rated candidate experiences, a fact that Talent Board’s benchmark research has borne out again and again over the past decade. Our latest 2021 data not only reconfirms this but it also reveals that TA teams are missing key opportunities across the recruiting process to provide and ask for feedback—actions that would improve their candidate experiences, their perceived fairness, and their candidate ratings.

What Our Numbers Reveal

When it comes to asking candidates for feedback about their experiences, our 2021 data shows:

  • Only 2% of employers in North America bother to ask candidates for feedback during the pre-application stage. Gathering crucial feedback at this stage could help employers significantly improve their talent attraction efforts.
  • Only 2% ask for feedback after candidates apply to a job (but prior to an interview), down from 9% in 2020.
  • Just 18% of employers ask for post-interview feedback; this figure also has fallen since 2020 (23%).
  • Only 44% of employers ask for feedback after candidates have been hired.
  • And, sadly, 16% of employers still don’t ask candidates for feedback at any stage of the recruiting process.

On the flip side of the feedback equation, there are strong reasons for employers to provide feedback to candidates. For instance, when TA team gave candidates feedback at any point in the recruiting process in 2021, candidates’ willingness to refer others increased nearly 25%, and their willingness to increase their relationship with these employers (including purchasing their products and services) increased 36%.

Let take a closer look at the 2021 data broken out by the various stages of the recruiting process:

At the Application Stage—The true test of a positive candidate experience at this stage is whether a candidate would re-apply to an employer’s jobs. When candidates are asked for their feedback once they’ve gone through the application process, they were 38% more likely to apply again.

At the Screening and Interviewing Stage—During the past 10 years of our research, candidates have had one abiding expectation of employers at this stage of the process: feedback. And, although things have gotten better, candidates still felt in 2021 that they don’t receive enough feedback and aren’t asked for enough of it either, especially after screening and interviewing. An astounding 60% of them received no feedback from employers after being rejected during this stage. As noted earlier, the reason this is such a major lost opportunity is that when employers did give feedback at this stage of the process last year, candidates’ willingness to refer others increased by 24%, and their willingness to increase their relationship with these employers increased 36%. (I also want to point out that the top 10 CandE Award-winning companies all provided feedback to candidates in 2021.) When candidates were asked for feedback after an interview, they were 74% more likely to refer others.

Prior to Onboarding—26% of North American candidates were asked for feedback prior to their start date in 2021, and these candidates were 91% more willing to increase their relationship out of the gate, a great retention starter. But it’s worth pointing out that with less than one-third of new hires being asked for feedback, there’s a huge faction of employers missing out on this retention benefit, not to mention the insights they’re passing up. One positive note: the percentage of candidates asked for feedback prior to their start date is up slightly from 2020, so maybe this is the start of an encouraging trend. Fingers crossed.

I understand that some recruiters and hiring managers are less comfortable than others when it comes to providing feedback. The Forbes Human Resources Council recently posted an article that offers some very useful tips for these folks. For instance, when you’ve interviewed several great candidates and don’t have a lot of specific feedback on improvements they can make. Instead, “you can reinforce what their strengths are and what they should continue to do in order to nail the next job,” the article states. It also offers advice on how to help candidates find closure, prepare for the next opportunity, and more. It’s well worth reading.

For more insights into the qualities and hallmarks of great candidate experiences, download our latest research report, and be sure to check back here soon for my post on Key Takeaway #8, “Timely Offers and Onboarding Make All the Difference.”


Be safe and well.

Kevin W. Grossman, Talent Board President

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