A practical guide to candidate feedback.
We’ve already discussed how the trend around asking feedback in the candidate journey is helping companies in making sure candidates are promoters. As my colleague Alex wrote: “feedback in the candidate journey is a game changer.” The recruitment process is becoming more of a two-way street and you have to make sure every candidate is a promoter of your company every step of the way.
But, how to start? As a Customer Success Manager here at Starred I advise a lot our clients in everything related to the candidate journey: what steps in their recruitment process to evaluate, what questions to ask, and what to fix with feedback. In this practical guide I’ll give you some useful, practical tips on how to start. I’ll do this with the help of my fictional company called ACME.
ACME is a recruitment agency that focuses on placing candidates in the tech/ start-up space. Our placements typically run for about 1,5 years and our candidates come from 10+ different sources.
1. Map out your candidate journey
Take a piece of paper and a pencil and start mapping out the journey of your candidates. Start from where they come in (source) and map out the various steps until the candidate placement ends. Make it as comprehensive and elaborate as possible.
In the case of ACME, we’ve got a pretty straight forward journey. Candidates come in through all kind of sources, and after screening, interviews and assessments they are placed. At every step of the way there are rejected candidates and candidates that are not placed.
Note: this is a very modest representation of a candidate journey map. It’s better to include more information like: average days between steps, conversion rating, information you send and contact you have with candidates. This will give you an even better understanding of your candidate journey and will help in setting up your objectives with feedback.
2. What’s your goal with feedback?
Feedback shouldn’t be a means to an end. If you engage candidates to give feedback with no aim of what you plan to do with it, it’ll just end up gathering dust somewhere. Think about the goal you’re trying to achieve with feedback. Are you seeking to optimize your sourcing efforts? Do you want to maximize your recurring placements (or referrals)? Or are you validating how your brand resonates with candidates?. A good place to start would be to check your candidate funnel. How are your conversion rates? And how do they stack up against different recruitment companies?
Now in the case of ACME we struggle with the conversion rates between after the assessment step and we’re in the process of optimizing our conversions. With feedback we also hope to maximize our recurring placements (so candidates that we can place again after their placement has ended) and optimize our funnel. We already had a look at our candidate funnel and we noticed that there is a big drop-off after the assessment.
3. Success = map + goals
With your feedback goals established, it’s time to map feedback touchpoints onto your candidate journey funnel. At which stage will you ask for feedback? Keep in mind that it’s better to spread out feedback over multiple touchpoints than to send out a giant survey — this keeps the feedback experience short, sweet and relevant.
Now all of a sudden, our map looks different. As we discussed: ACME has two goals with feedback: one is to optimize our recruitment funnel and the second one is to maximize recurring placements. Since there is still a war for talent, making sure our candidates are satisfied will make sure they pick us as their recruitment agency again in the future, and recommend us to others — we can even build a referral step into our funnel. The first goal we cover by asking everyone that reaches the assessment step for feedback. The second is covered both by checking if candidates are satisfied after they have been placed, and making sure they were happy with their temporary job at the end of the placement.
4. It’s detail o’ clock
Now you’ve decided which steps you want to evaluate with which goals in mind, it’s time to think about the details. What questions do you want to ask? When do you want to ask for feedback? Do you want the feedback to be anonymous? In the case of optimizing conversion rates, think about the hypotheses (i.e. why do you think there is a drop-off?) you want to test.
In ACME’s case there are three different steps we want to evaluate, so three different forms we’ll have to build (luckily, Starred offers a survey store where you can find pre-build surveys). These three steps are:
- Survey after assessment. We want to know why we have a drop-off in our conversion at this step. The drop-off can be caused by the assessment being too hard, too easy or the process being too lengthy. It could also be caused by the steps before the assessment. That’s why this will be a slightly longer survey to gain insights in the effort the candidate has to put forth in every step up to the assessment. Since we want to know why people drop-off we should make this survey anonymous.
- Survey after placement. We want to know how satisfied our placed candidates are in general. There is no need for us to go to deep into specifics. We do want to know how their placement is going and how they’ve experience our recruitment process.
- Survey before end of placement. Once again, we want to know how satisfied our candidates were with their placement, how they’ve experience their placement and if they’d be open for future placements with us. This way we can keep them engaged and likely to work with us again.
Note: since ACME is trying to maximize recurring placements, we also want to evaluate the satisfaction just after placement. Reason being — if you only evaluate at the end of placement, you will be too late to resolve any negative feedback. You might also argue that (in case of longer than average placements) you’d need another touchpoint halfway through just to keep in touch.
5. Implement. Implement. Implement.
After mapping out your journey and combining that with your objectives you’re halfway done. Next have a good think about how you want to measure these objectives and how you should build your surveys. When implemented, keep measuring your objectives and see when it starts improving.
How are you going to make sure you’re monitoring and improving on your feedback? Consider automation of the process and tight integration to your recruitment software.
In this guide I’ve laid out a plan to get started with candidate feedback. There’s 5 main steps.
- Map out your candidate journey. What are the steps candidates go through towards placement?
- What’s your goal with feedback? This the ‘why’. What are you seeking to optimize with candidate feedback? Be concrete!
- Success = map + goals. Mapping candidate feedback touchpoints on to your Candidate Journey.
- It’s detail o’clock. This is more granular — the ‘how’: which questions are you going to ask candidates at which touchpoints?
- Implement. Implement. Implement. How are you going to make sure you’re monitoring and improving on your feedback? Consider automation of the process and tight integration to your recruitment software.
With this advice I’d be confident in my ACME example company making a success out of their candidate journey with feedback. Issues like dropoff post-assessment need not be a mystery. Fixes can be designed throughout your processes by taking opinions and turning them into data.
At Starred I help lots of recruiters with achieving their optimization goals through feedback. If you’ve got questions on getting started with candidate feedback just shoot me a message!