Candidate Net Promoter Score | The Ultimate Guide

(Updated Nov 2020) A short background to Net Promoter Score and CNPS (Candidate Net Promoter Score)

Simon Werner-Zankl
Candidate Experience Analytics


When talking to customers, I often ask them:

What do your customers think about you?

They start chatting about how satisfied their customers are 😃. And about that time when one of their clients actually wasn’t happy ☹️. They then fixed the problem and got their unhappy customer back on track 👍.

Most are proud of collecting feedback and measuring their customers' NPS (Net Promoter Score). Some collect feedback for the sole purpose of collecting data, some act when customers are not satisfied, and others collect this every second month (that’s too often, isn't it?) or once a year.

The thing I want to highlight here is that almost everyone I ask collects this feedback from customers. They ask their customers how happy they are and measure the number of customers that would recommend their products or services to others.

The benchmark they all use is the Net Promoter Score question:

How likely is it that you would recommend X to a friend or colleague? You answer on a scale 0–10.

Something that I also ask my customers is:

What do your job candidates think about you?

What’s interesting here is that no one knows. Well, some tell a story when a candidate sent an email to show appreciation but no one collects this feedback systematically, although this can be done automatically using e.g a tool like Trustcruit.

So the Net Promoter Score runs down to the single question stated above, and is, of course, applicable to HR and recruiting as well by using Candidate NPS.

Let's continue and have a look at the birth of NPS.

Spoiler alert: It will help you grow your business and that is a fact through research. Keep reading.

The research behind Net Promoter Score (NPS) — ”The One Number You Need to Grow” 📈

Net Promoter Score is the outcome of an extensive study by author Frederick F. Reichheld. Reichheld has totally changed the way companies think and act when collecting feedback from customers, largely due to this statement from Reichheld:

“It turned out that a single survey question can, in fact, serve as a useful predictor of growth.”

Powerful, no doubt about it. Reichheld continues and also states that:

“…the percentage of customers who were enthusiastic enough to refer a friend or colleague — perhaps the strongest sign of customer loyalty — correlated directly with differences in growth rates among competitors.”

The implications of this are that the Net Promoter Score is a relative measure to predict growth. So to master this you need to understand these fundamental principles (here explained using examples):

  • a plumber’s NPS cannot be compared to the NPS of a real estate agent
  • a plumber’s NPS can be compared to other plumbers’ NPS
  • if compared correctly the ones with the highest NPS will have higher growth rates than its competitors

Of course, there are other factors concerning the growth rate of a company but in the extensive study by Reichheld he concludes that:

“customer loyalty is clearly one of the most important drivers of growth.”

If you're still not convinced that improving the NPS is one of the best ways to improve customer loyalty (which will give you a higher growth rate compared to competitors, please keep reading the full version of Reichheld's study here).

If you see and accept the connection between customer loyalty and growth, through my short summary of an extensive study 😎. Then it’s time to keep reading.

Calculating the Net Promoter Score (NPS) 🙁😐🙂

The NPS is presented on a scale from -100 to +100, calculated using the principle of the share (%) of Promoters minus (-) Detractors you have. This is best explained using an example of the fictional company Steve Jobs Inc.

Steve Jobs Inc. sells phones to 1,000 customers who all are asked the NPS question: “How likely are you to recommend Steve Jobs Inc. to a friend or colleague?” where they get to answer on a scale from 0–10.

The 1,000 customers answer as following:

  • 0: 10%
  • 1: 2%
  • 2: 2%
  • 3: 2%
  • 4: 2%
  • 5: 2%
  • 6: 10%
  • 7: 10%
  • 8: 10%
  • 9: 20%
  • 10: 30%

Now we need to sum the shares of Detractors (0–6), the Passives (7–8), and the Promoters (9–10) which gives us:

Detractors: 30%

Passives: 20%

Promoters: 50%

If we use the formula of %Promoters minus (-) %Detractors, we get 50–30 =20.

The Net Promoter Score for Steve Jobs Inc is 20.

Is 20 a good or bad NPS? An NPS of 20 is good if their competitors have a lower NPS score, which in turn means that Steve Jobs Inc. would have had higher growth.

Well, that’s enough about the NPS.

Let’s take a look at the CNPS (Candidate Net Promoter Score) and what HR and recruiting can learn from NPS.

Our early conclusions from the CNPS research

It is too early to see any correlation between candidate loyalty and growth

The Reichheld study that connects the dots between customer loyalty and growth, was conducted over the three year period from 1999–2002.

Our study has been done with data from a shorter period. Therefore the data is not valid to draw that type of conclusions from, yet. I promise you that we will get there and I will definitely tell you when we get there (subscribe here to receive it when we proved the correlation).

Note: In December 2019 Trustcruit is collecting data from on average 35,000 candidates/month and growing. In other words, we’re closer to a correlation between growth and candidate loyalty. You can read more about how to work data-driven with the candidate experience here!

The instant effect of starting to measure CNPS is that your score will improve☝️

I am actually not that surprised that the instant effect is that scores go up when CNPS is measured after interviews. The CNPS is so closely connected to the experience of the recruiter you meet and the recruiter represents the company in interviews.

A customer told us that the first month after starting to collect CNPS from candidates the recruiters started discussing, working with improvements, and internally making small changes that affected the CNPS in a positive direction. Just by starting to measure, your recruiters will bring up your CNPS.

Recruiters want to work with improvements using CNPS

How will recruiters react if they get a bad Candidate Net Promoter Score or bad feedback from candidates? Will they deny the facts or will they take action?

They will most certainly take action and roll up their sleeves to start improving!

If you, for example, use Trustcruit to collect feedback from candidates and to measure the CNPS, all feedback is collected in the exact same way. Data is collected systematically, and the comparison made against the industry standard validates the data and enables the ability to measure performance over time.

Note! The CNPS (Candidate Net Promoter Score) measures how many promoters, passives, and detractors your brand has after candidates have gone through your recruitment process. Other things like quality in finding the right talent, metrics for recruiters working in staffing, and so on are not measured using the CNPS. CNPS tells you how many candidates you turn into promoters. A key metric for measuring the strength of your employer brand.

Candidates want recruiters to work with improvements

We’ve been touching this already, but the best thing with recruiters is their willingness to work with improving the recruitment process and themselves! This stands out in our extensive interviews and the research we do every week at Trustcruit.

Our recommendations on how to use CNPS

Compare the CNPS within your teams

As I have mentioned the CNPS is a comparison score to measure the candidate experience by finding out the number of candidates you convert into promoters. Just measuring the CNPS only gives you a value that you can work to improve. Having a benchmark within the company is really good, so you know which recruiters are high performers — that turns most candidates into promoters.

Benchmark your CNPS externally

So you compare within the company but how about comparing externally? If your recruiters range from a CNPS between 20 and 40, how does that stand compared to other recruiters, working at other companies? If they score 0–20 you really stand out. If they score 40–60 you really need to improve your overall CNPS. I often get the question of how you get CNPS scores from other recruiters and one example is using a standard tool for collecting CNPS or calculate it by yourself using this site.

Discuss in weekly/monthly meetings with your recruiters and hiring managers

Almost every single one of our customers discusses the CNPS in weekly or monthly meetings just to get the mindset of continuously treating every candidate in the best possible way. Talking about the mindset and how that can help you and your recruiters to turn more candidates into promoters. I recommend reading this article, which presents a small but powerful shift in mindset that will make you go from an old way of thinking about recruiting, to a new and modern way.

Ask for a recruiter’s CNPS when recruiting to your organization

Did the recruiter measure CNPS before applying for a position at your company? Ask for the recruiter's personal Candidate Net Promoter Score. If it is important to work with improving your employer brand and turning candidates into promoters, you will need recruiters that have this skill.

Why you should measure CNPS

A metric to help individual recruiters improve

This is so powerful! Working closely together with your recruiters and showing them their own CNPS and comparing the scores both internally and externally will give your brand even more promoters 💪

More candidates will choose you instead of competing employers

This could be compared with the word-of-mouth effect. Promoters are those that actively talk about your brand in a positive way to people they meet. So start turning every candidate into a promoter, it will give you a huge advantage 😎

Promoters help boost your employer brand

More promoters, more positive thoughts about you as an employer. Of course, you want to have the key to attracting great talent.

As always I am more than happy to discuss recruiting and the possibilities with CNPS further so feel free to comment, add me on Linkedin, or send an email: 👋

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Simon Werner-Zankl
Candidate Experience Analytics

Passionate about data driven HR, startups and true believer that passion never fails.