CandE Research Takeaway #2: Sustaining a Great Candidate Experience

This is post #2 in a 10-part series based on Talent Board’s 2020 Benchmark Research Reports.

  • 10+: The number of years Talent Board has been researching the candidate experience.
  • 1,000+: The number of companies that have participated in our research to date.
  • 1,000,000+: The number of individuals we’ve surveyed over the years to gather our CandE data.
  • 354—The total number of organizations that have won one or more CandE Awards.
  • Only 5—The number of companies that have won 8 or more CandE Awards over the years. Four of these companies are in North America (AT&T, Colorado Springs Utilities, Deluxe and Lockheed Martin), and one is in the EMEA region (Intel).

That final number makes one thing abundantly clear: sustaining a great candidate experience over time is even harder than creating one. Even so, the keys to sustaining a great candidate experience become equally clear when you read Talent Board’s 2020 Benchmark Research Reports and look over the data we’ve published across the past decade.

Let’s take a look at 3 of the most important tactics, which multi-year CandE Award winners excel at:


  1. Delivering steady candidate communication from pre-application to onboarding.

Poor communication is just one reason candidates abandon a company’s recruiting process but it’s a powerful one. Candidate dropout rates due to poor communication are 11% in North America and EMEA, 5% in Latin America, and 3% in APAC. If those figures seem small to you, remember they account for literally thousands upon thousands of candidates whom employers never even get the chance to meet or assess. That’s a major disconnect in any recruiting process and one that can be fairly easily remedied.

If you look at the case studies in this year’s North America Research Report, you’ll see both Auburn–Washburn USD 437 (a public unified school district headquartered in Topeka, Kansas) and Colorado Spring Utilities revamped candidate communications, which had a huge positive impact on the overall quality of their candidate experience. Indeed, both organizations cite these efforts as a particular source of pride and something that has measurably improved the consistency and timeliness of their interactions with candidates.


  1. Asking for feedback from and providing it to all candidates.

I’ll be writing an entire post devoted to feedback later in this series, but for now let me just point out two things that demonstrate the power of feedback. First, when candidates were given specific feedback on their job fit, the number who reported a positive experience increased by 31% in Latin America, 27% in EMEA, 15% in North America, and 4% in APAC. Second, when candidates were given feedback on assessments they took, the number who reported a positive experience increased by 22% in APAC, 20% in North America, 14% in EMEA, and 6% in Latin America.

As I’ve written in the past, the feedback candidates give you may be negative but the fact that you ask for it increases their positive impressions of you. Conversely, the feedback you give to candidates may be negative, but if it’s actionable and you deliver it respectfully candidates truly appreciate it.

One final point about the power of feedback and communication, as stated in all four of our 2020 Research Reports: “When communication and feedback gaps can be addressed by technology where there was little to no communication previously, particularly in the pre-application, application and early screening/interviewing stages, then (your) overall perceived fairness and positive ratings can be increased.”


  1. Setting better expectations with candidates about the recruiting process … and then following up when promised.

Candidates feel disrespected and even angry when employers don’t give them clear expectations for how the recruiting, interview, assessment, and hiring processes will unfold … or, worse, when they do set expectations but fail to live up to them … or, worse still, flout expectations and never bother to explain why.

On the flip side, when recruiters or HR professionals inform candidates of the post-interview steps and then follow up in the stated time frame, the number of candidates reporting a positive experience increased by 68% in Latin America, 58% in EMEA, 52% in North America, and 49% in APAC. When all of this is done by hiring managers, the reported rise in positive experience is 53% in Latin America, 51% in North America, 49% in EMEA, and 32% in APAC. More generally, 50% of candidates in North America find that knowing more about the details of their application and the next steps in their process to be valuable, a 19% increase from 42% in 2019.

Again, these are just three tactics that can help you sustain a great candidate experience year after year—and maybe even earn multiple CandE Awards for your own employment brand.

You can read more about the challenge of sustaining a great candidate experience (and how 2020 made the feat even more difficult) in two previous posts, here and here. In my next post, we’ll explore the increase in recruiting automation. And if you’re interested in participating in our 2021 CandE benchmark research program, click here.


Be safe and well.

Kevin Grossman, Talent Board President

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