CandE Research Takeaway #5: Let Candidates Know Where They Stand

This is part five of Talent Board’s 10-part “CandE Research Takeaways” series. The previous posts are available on our Articles page.

Bravo, employers!

According to data from Talent Board’s 2020 Benchmark Research Report, more of you are embracing a practice that defines some of the world’s most successful candidate experiences: letting candidates know where they stand during the recruiting process. However, the data also show there’s still plenty of progress to be made.

Here are a few key statistics from the Report:


  • 33% of North American candidates were told about next steps when they applied (a slight increase from 2019). However, 33% of candidates said they were still waiting to hear about next steps a full two months after applying (up from 30% in 2019).
  • 42% were able to view a progress indicator showing how much of the application they’d completed.
  • 66% hadn’t made it past the application stage of a recent job search, but only 7% were had been informed they didn’t get the job. This is troubling because definitive closure (even in the form of an early goodbye) improves candidates’ perception that your process is fair and makes them feel respected.

Screen & Interview

  • 34% of North American recruiters were required to make a phone call when rejecting external candidates during this stage. Only 10% of hiring managers were required to do so. These percentages rise significantly in relation to internal candidates: 62% of recruiters were required to call every rejected internal candidate post-interview, and 78% of hiring managers were required to make a phone call.
  • When recruiters and HR explained what to expect after screening and interviewing, and followed up as indicated, 53% of North American candidates were more likely to increase their relationship with the company.
  • In Latin America, when recruiters or HR informed candidates of post-interview steps and followed up in the stated time frame, the number of candidates reporting a positive experience increased by 68%. In EMEA, this figure was 58%, and in APAC it was 49%.
  • Roughly 62% of North American candidates received an email from a “do-not-reply” address, saying they were no longer considered after the interview stage. Only 19% received a personal email from the recruiter or hiring manager, and only 6% received a phone call.

Offer & Onboarding

  • North American employers called only 6% of candidates in 2020 to tell them they were no longer being considered for a job (up slightly from 2019).
  • Candidates’ overall willingness to increase their relationship with employers rose 30% when they received a phone call versus a personal or automated rejection email.
  • 78% of EMEA employers said their hiring managers gave feedback to internal candidates but only 11% gave feedback to external or referral candidates. About two-thirds of employers in both Latin American and APAC said their hiring managers are required to make a phone call and provide limited feedback to candidates.

Is It Worth the Effort?

You probably tell employees where they stand on a fairly regular basis (via performance reviews, one-on-ones with managers, coaching sessions, etc.) because your company reaps some very definite benefits in return, including improved performance, higher engagement, and greater levels of trust and satisfaction.

Well, you get the same benefits from letting candidates know where they stand throughout your recruiting process. Their engagement with and trust in your employment brand rises, as do their satisfaction levels regarding your process—even when you’re letting them know they’re no longer being considered for a job. That’s how powerful simple, timely communication can be.

There’s a flip side to this coin, too: failing to update candidates on their status can inflict real damage to your employment brand. Your silence, which is often perceived as indifference or outright disdain, can convince people to drop out of your process, reduce or sever their relationship with you (a double whammy for consumer brands), and write negative reviews about you across professional networks, review sites, and social media. Although you don’t want every candidate to stay in your pipeline, the damage that silence inflicts on your employment brand isn’t worth the risk.

In short, let candidates know where they stand. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll benefit from it.

In my next post, I’ll focus on the structure and fairness of the interview process. As always, 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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