June 23, 2021

What Should You Include in Your Candidate Experience Survey? (+ Sample Questions)

candidate experience survey

If you care about your company’s reputation, you need to care about your recruitment process — because a bad candidate experience can have a big impact on both your brand reputation and your profits.

In fact, 50% of candidates say they’ve had a poor recruitment experience and turned down a job because of it — and it’s not just the candidates themselves who are left with a bad taste in their mouths. 69% of jobseekers share negative candidate experiences online or directly with friends, resulting in major reputational damage.

And unfortunately, that’s not the only thing threatening your employer brand rep.

Since Covid hit, the number of remote candidates has jumped, making it harder than ever to build strong relationships with potential new hires. From the beloved face-to-face sit down, to offering candidates their favorite beverage, the traditional tactics to ‘wow’ your potential new hires no longer cut it. 

But that doesn’t mean connecting with remote candidates is off the cards completely.

With a great candidate experience survey you can find out what candidates really want and give them the love they deserve, wherever they are.

Richard Branson’s cautionary tale in candidate experience 

You may think you have the best process in place but fact is, it’s an ever-changing landscape. Millennials and the newly arrived Gen Z are disrupting traditional working cultures — and if you can’t adapt, you can’t attract. 

Richard Branson learned the candidate experience lesson the hard way. 

Unsurprisingly, the household brand Virgin Media is a popular place to work. So popular in fact, that hiring authorities at Virgin reject around 150,000 applicants every year. Of those 150,000, 18% are existing customers.

In 2015, rejected customer applicants hit back and cancelled their Virgin Media contracts, costing the company millions of pounds. 

Virgin Media tackled the challenge head-on by immediately making a public commitment to creating the best candidate experience ever. As a result, Richard Branson saved $7 million in lost revenue. Nice move, Rich! 👍🏾 

The moral of the story? Smart hiring managers and recruiters don’t get complacent – they need to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening with today’s talent. And there’s no better way than with a great candidate experience survey.

What is a candidate experience survey?

A candidate experience survey is a (usually brief) survey used by hiring managers and HR pros who want to improve the hiring process for candidates, while optimizing the company’s recruiting strategies. Candidate experience surveys are typically used at different key touch points throughout the candidate journey, including after the initial recruitment process and interview.

And there’s plenty to learn from surveying candidates.

A recent eRecruiter survey discovered that although 66% of employers and HR professionals said they cared about candidate satisfaction, the candidates themselves disagreed — with a whopping 57% claiming companies didn’t care about their experience.

A well-designed candidate feedback form helps close the gap in your  interview process.

By getting insights straight from candidates, you can make informed, data-driven decisions about how to better manage your hiring process. And by asking job seekers directly for feedback, you’re not just showing you care about the process itself, but that you also care about the people who are a part of it.

You might be thinking, ‘That’s swell but…’

What should a candidate experience survey actually look like?

We love this summary on measuring candidate experience from Danielle Weinblatt, the founder and CEO of ConveyIQ:

“The ideal survey is one that captures as many qualities about the candidate [as possible], such as his or her status in the hiring process, source of application and, of course, position, without revealing the identity of the individual.” 

Before you launch into crafting your questions, consider the following tips.

  • Keep it brief — If you want candidates to actually fill out your candidate feedback survey, don’t make it long and complicated.
  • Go for 5–6 questions — No more than 12 max.
  • Offer an incentive — Throw in a voucher, discount or gift to thank candidates for taking the time to provide their feedback.
  • Ask succinct questions — Don’t waffle, be direct.
  • Avoid open-ended questions — Make it easy to get the insights you need through well-constructed closed questions that yield a fast answer.
  • Make sure you’re measuring experience — It can be tempting to throw in irrelevant questions, stay focused on the must-knows.
  • Leave space for general comments —  If candidates have something they really want to say, give them a place to voice it.
  • Give candidates a heads-up — Get more responses by informing candidates about the survey at each stage of the recruitment process.
  • Keep it fair and balanced — Offer the candidate experience survey to both rejected candidates and successful ones.
  • Make it anonymous — You’re more likely to get honest answers this way.

Post-interview survey questions your candidates will love

Rating-based questions

The most common style of question for a candidate experience survey is one that asks the candidate to rate the company. This gives you a ‘Net Promoter Score’, which basically means how likely a candidate is to recommend you.

A typical rating-based question looks like this: 

  • How likely are you to recommend our company to other candidates?

Candidate survey questions like this usually come with a sliding scale, for example from 0 (‘I would never recommend this company’) to 10 (‘I would definitely recommend this company’).

If that sounds a little dry, don’t worry. You can apply this structure to any question you think will give you the best insight.

For example:

  • How would you rate our career website? 1 is Terrible and 10 is Amazing.
  • How would you rate the application process? 1 is Mind-numbing and 10 is Fun.
  • How would you rate the interview process? 1 is Disorganized and 10 is Super Professional.

Statement-based questions

Another simple question type is to create statements and ask the candidate to agree or disagree (along with a sliding scale, if you choose).

For example:

  • Communication was clear and prompt (1 is ‘What communication?’ and 10 is ‘I was contacted within 24 hrs at every stage’)

Choose candidate experience survey questions wisely

Ultimately, every question you ask is only as good as the amount of logical thought you put into it, and of course, the strategy you use for applying that feedback.

Ratings-based questions are probably the most-used type of question in candidate surveys, but that doesn’t mean they’re the cure-all for your hiring process.

Before you send out your candidate feedback form, think about the current dark spots in your hiring process. Get a clear reading on what has and hasn’t worked so far (try asking for your current employees’ experience!) to start building a better candidate experience.

👉🏼 Looking for specific candidate experience questions? Check out our interview resources for ready-to-use candidate experience survey questions at your fingertips.

Feedback is a two-way street

Catching up with candidates post-interview is a great way to find out their thoughts — but don’t forget to give constructive interview feedback too.

Rejected applicants can leave with bad feelings — after all, they’re only human — but giving useful feedback shows you’re a company that respects every applicant. As a result, unsuccessful candidates are less likely to hold a grudge or speak negatively about you as an employer brand.

And who knows? Maybe they’ll apply again. This time for a better-suited role they’ll totally rock. (Stranger things have happened, as these recruiting success stories prove.)

Creating a great candidate experience survey isn’t rocket science, but it can definitely feel like it sometimes. Breezy can help. From email, SMS, candidate nurturing and more — we make it easy to build a real connection with candidates.