Candidate Experience Endings That Can Elevate

After he said it, the words kept rattling around in my head.

“We prefer endings that elevate.”

Because it’s true, and Dan Pink shared this among other insights from his latest research about the science of timing at the very engaging 2019 California HR Conference.

We want the bad news first, and then give us the good news. These positive endings, even a modicum of positivity, can truly energize and elevate us.

It was exciting to hear him connect his research to HR, recruiting, hiring and retaining people. More specifically around the importance of endings included his 5 key takeaways:

  1. Shine a light on endings to energize yourself and others.
  2. Consider short fuses rather than long fuses.
  3. Always give the bad news first.
  4. Use endings as meaning makers.
  5. Highlight the last chocolate.

That last one was especially fascinating because Dan Pink referred to an experiment where people taste tested Hershey’s chocolate kisses and were given one right after another to taste.

Here’s the next one.

And the next one.

And the next one.

And then another group of people were given the same kisses, but this time the last one was stated as the last one.

Here’s the next one.

And the next one.

And here’s the last one.

There was a significant difference in taste ranking when the last one was denoted as the last one, although they weren’t any different.

“We prefer endings that elevate.”

So, these words kept rattling, and I kept thinking about the business of no. Recruiting that is. The fact that we’re saying no to 99 out of 100 candidates for any given job. Over and over and over again.

No one likes the bad news of not being pursued for any given job. Or, the worse news of not hearing back at all from an employer.

How do you end on good news for those you’re rejecting?

Feedback loops. Really.

First, you ask for feedback. Let candidates tell you what they thought of your recruiting experience – the good, the bad and all the in between. In the nine years we’ve being doing candidate experience benchmark research at Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards, feedback loops always result in higher positive candidate ratings and a higher level of perceived fairness.

We’re nearly done collecting the 2019 North American benchmark data to determine which companies have the highest positive candidate ratings this year, and which will win our coveted CandE Awards, from nearly 200 companies and over 160,000 candidate responses (although we’re still collecting data from EMEA, APAC and Latin American and companies can still participate, even in North America if they only want the benchmark data, through November 1).

Here’s want we’re finding this year – that there are again dramatic decreases in candidate resentment (not willing to ever apply again, refer others and buy stuff if and when applicable) and dramatic increases in great experiences (very willing to again apply again, refer others and buy stuff if and when applicable).

Even before candidates apply. For example, when feedback is asked for from candidates at the research stage, there’s a 36 percent decrease in resentment and a 72 percent increase in overall great experience, although only 16 percent of all the candidate responses were asked for feedback (see Table 1).

Table 1. Resentment and Great Experience Feedback Differences

And what about when job-specific feedback is given to the candidates? There’s even more impact (see Table 2). However, only 22 percent of the candidates thought the feedback was useful, which underscores the subjective complexity of feedback loops.

Table 2. Feedback on Qualifications / Job Fit

Every year we see that communication and feedback loops are competitive differentiators in candidate experience, impacting whether or not candidates apply again, refer others and/or buy stuff. And while most candidates are rejected, and the taste is usually bittersweet, it’s the candidate experience endings that can elevate your business and your brand over time.

Just let those words keep rattling around in your head.

–Kevin Grossman, President, Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards


If improving your recruiting processes and the candidate experience for both external and internal candidates are key priorities for you and your organization, then we highly recommend you come to the 2019 North American CandE Symposium and Awards Gala on October 14 in Washington DC. We have a full day of amazing speakers and sessions and we’re also running this event in conjunction with the ERE Recruiting Conference on October 15-16.

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