The Biggest Candidate Experience Perception Gap

There are always perception gaps when it comes to recruiters and hiring managers ensuring fairness in the recruiting process and the candidates’ overall perception of that fairness. Our biases color our awareness and self-assessment of what really happened and what didn’t happen overall. And even when the candidate experience is good to great, and the perceived fairness high, it can all fall apart once the candidate is rejected for whatever reason.

The good news is that, when candidates are given general or specific job it and qualification feedback when they’re being rejected, their resentment rate decreases nearly 30%. Resentment rate meaning that when their experience was very negative they may no longer want to associate with that business and the brand – don’t want to apply ever again, refer others, and in the case of consumer-based businesses, make or influence purchases. And with specific feedback, their willingness to increase their relationship with the employer and brand increases by 20%. This according to our latest 2019 North American CandE Benchmark Research Report due out very soon (followed by our research reports from EMEA, APAC and Latin America).

Yes, there is some bad news. Of those candidates who received feedback, 78% didn’t find it useful. Surely there’s a subjective take on the feedback based on the fact that they were rejected, but unfortunately it does help increase the resentment rate by 57%. For the other 22% who found their feedback useful, their willingness to increase their relationship increases by 48%.

Before we take a deeper look at employer/candidate perception gaps by Net Promoter Scores (NPS), let’s do a quick review about NPS. NPS asks people how likely they are to recommend a product or service on a 0-10 scale.

Respondents are then grouped as follows based on their responses:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a promoter).

We simplify it even further for our CandE Benchmark Research and group results as follows:

  • Amazing (scores above 50) are loyal candidates who will most likely keep referring others based on their experience.
  • Okay (scores between 0-50) are candidates who are satisfied but may or may not be too enthusiastic about referring others based on their experience.
  • Not So Good (negative scores) are unhappy candidates who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Any NPS score above 0 can be considered okay. The global management company, Bain & Company, the source of the NPS system, suggests that anything above 50 is amazing, and above 80 is world class.

Not surprising is the fact that employers rate their candidate experience higher from pre-application (research) to being rejected (see Figure 1). Per our research methodology guidelines, most of the candidates surveyed did not get hired – 90% of them in North America. That said, the results will skew more negative than the employers’ perception of delivery, although candidate ratings go up when they’re in the running and engagement events are occurring (tests, assessments, interviews).

Figure 1. Employer and Candidate Journey NPS Perception Gaps

However, the biggest candidate experience perception gap is when the candidates are rejected. The employer NPS here is 20, which is still okay, while the candidate NPS is -39, which is far from okay and well into the not-so-good category. Statistically you can’t accurately determine the percentage difference with a negative score, but the chasm is quite evident and real.

Disposition communication can be quite a conundrum for recruiting teams. No matter what’s conveyed to the candidate, it’s tough to hear you’re no longer going to be pursued and rating the point of rejection itself will always be lower by job candidate standards. Also, 51% of this year’s North American candidates only remember applying as the last thing that happened in the recruiting process, so obviously the automated messages that so many employers have to send out for any regular volume of applicants doesn’t cut it with the candidates.

Improving the messaging, being clear and concise and personal, can all help lessen the negative impact of being rejected, most of which happens at the point of application. No matter what, it’s an uphill battle for employers being in the business of “no”.

Another interesting takeaway from Figure 1 is that candidates actually rate the onboarding experience much higher than employers do — 42% higher. While it makes sense that those who receive offers and are hired experience a halo effect in their perception of fairness because they were hired, it’s clear that employers feel they still have much work to do when it comes to onboarding new employees.

No matter the candidate interpretation of experience and feedback, we know every year that communication and feedback loops are key competitive differentiators in improving the recruiting process and overall candidate experience around the world. It’s been nearly 10 years since Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards was founded. And since the very beginning, our mission has focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience with industry benchmarks that highlight accountability, fairness and business impact.

Celebrate 10 years of elevating and promoting a quality candidate experience with us in 2020 and learn what your candidate perception gaps are and what they want from your recruiting and hiring experience versus what you’re delivering. The 2020 CandE Benchmark Research Program opens in January and we encourage companies big and small across industries from around the world to participate.

On January 15, 2020, we’ll launch #CandExperienceDay2020 – a social media event where we’re asking for everyone to share their best candidate experience across the worldwide interwebs using the hashtag #CandExperienceDay2020.

Join us!

Kevin Grossman


Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards

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