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Measuring the candidate experience – learnings from using Trustcruit

To me the candidate experience is a very important part of my job as a recruiter. Providing a great experience to all applicants, successful or not, will only strengthen your employer brand, thus making it easier to recruit. Win win. The issue with this is that not everyone experiences your recruitment process the same way. What’s considered great by me, might be considered sh*t by someone else.

So about a year ago, I decided to start using Trustcruit at Toca Boca. Trustcruit is a tool to help you measure the candidate experience by providing you with a CNPS (Candidate Net Promoter Score). This is done by surveying the applicants. We opted to start off with the free version, giving us the ability to measure the candidate experience at rejection. (If you wanna know more about CNPS and how it’s calculated, you can read this)

Trustcruit is integrated with our ATS (Jobylon) and every time a candidate is moved to the stage “rejected” the survey goes out. They are asked about various parts of the process and give a score of 1-10. They also have the ability to give us some more input by adding comments. It’s these comments that can help us improve our processes.


Candidate Experience 

But what is “candidate experience”?
I’ve heard, and read, various definitions from “it’s all interactions ANYONE has with your company” to my own a bit more narrow definition of “It’s the experience someone has, starting from when they hit the apply button”. We did discuss this in an episode of the podcast Talent Savvy. Have a listen if you want 🙂 

What I find tricky when using the broader definition is to define where the line between Candidate Experience(CX) and Employer Branding(EB) is. Or is CX simply a subcategory of EB?
I’ll leave you to think about that one whilst I go on telling you about our journey.


The beginning

When we first started getting some of the surveys back we were really happy. We were getting excellent scores. We’re talking between 80-100 (benchmark being -10). The more answers we got in, the more nuanced were the results. Only looking at the score doesn’t give you much to go on, other than knowing there’s room for improvement (as there always is). What gave us a better insight and an idea of where to focus our improvement efforts, was the written comments some of the candidates chose to give us. Basically they are asked why they give us a certain score, being able to explain what they loved about their experience, or the other way around, what they really disliked about it.


The feedback

So far we have had about a thousand responses, with approx 20% of those adding a written comment. As I mentioned, it’s that detailed feedback that enables us to decide what to act upon. Because I do admit, we don’t act upon ALL the feedback we get, but more about that later on.

Let’s start with the positive.

People generally appreciate swift feedback. Whether they are rejected on CV level, or further down the process doesn’t matter. That fact that we are able to respond fast is highly appreciated.

They also appreciate the fact that they hear back from us, at all. So many job seekers are used to sending their application into space and not getting a response. I pride myself in sending a response to ALL applicants. I must admit though, that these responses can’t all be personalized, but we do our best in trying to give a clear reason.

But what about the negatives?

The number one complaint applicants have is the lack of personal feedback. As I’m sure most of you know, it would be quite time consuming to write a truly personal response to every applicant. So what did we do to try and improve this?

Let’s take a look at what actions we took based on given feedback.


Changes mades

My friend Liz has said “Feedback is like pizza. Pick out the bits you do like, and leave the rest” and this has kind of been my approach to this. No matter how hard you try you can’t please everyone. So, what bits of the pizza did we do for?

Is there such a thing as being too fast?

There are so many people out there talking about how fast you should be in your recruitment process, but is there such a thing as too fast?
I once asked this question on  Linkedin and my conclusion was that if you give specific feedback as to why you are rejecting someone, you can’t be too fast, but if it is a generic message to have to wait a couple of days or the applicant will feel you didn’t even look at their CV.

With this in mind I set up a workflow in our ATS to automatically reject applicants based on knockout questions an hour after applying. One such knockout question could be “Are you located in Sweden?” for positions where we are unable to support relocations.

The ad clearly states that the applicant has to be located in Sweden and no relocations will be offered. Next to the question we also remind the person about this. So the questions actually reads:

“Are you located in Sweden? (We won’t be relocating anyone for this position)”

followed by a yes/no option. Anyone answering “no” would get a message explaining we wouldn’t move forwards with the application as they were not located in Sweden. This message was sent one hour after applying.

As the reason was clear I thought an hour delay would be ok, but I started seeing feedback in Trustcruit that people didn’t like this fast response. Despite not being qualified they wanted to feel like a human had looked at their CV. Therefore I extended the delay to 27 hours. I did this quite recently so haven’t yet gathered enough feedback to see if it has made a difference or not.


More rejection templates

The most difficult part to get right is the rejection at CV level. In an ideal world every candidate would get individualized feedback, but let’s face it – it simply isn’t possible. But what can be done is preparing more than one rejection template. Based on the feedback we have received through Trustcruit we have created several versions, with the most common rejection reasons such as not being located in Sweden for roles where relocation support isn’t available and so on.

One of the first amendments I made to our rejection templates at Toca, long before we started using Trustcruit, was to remove the sentence “we have decided to proceed with other candidates” because most of the time that simply isn’t true. The main reason we reject someone is because they don’t have the desired requirements for the position, it has nothing to do with the other applicants.


Different message to recent graduates

Being a gaming company we get a lot of applications from recent graduates who have studied game development. Unfortunately, Toca has been in the situation lately where we have been unable to hire juniors and the focus has been on more senior level developers. But that doesn’t stop the graduates from applying (who could blame them!).

We did get some frustrated feedback along the lines of “how am I to get experience if I can’t get a job”. The fact that we can’t hire inexperienced people at the moment remains, but how we communicate with these recent graduates could be improved. With that in mind we created a different template specifically for these people, with more empathy, expressing an understanding for their situation, explaining more why we can’t hire them at the moment. We also give some words of encouragement and tell them to keep trying.

Did it work? Well, since we started using this template we haven’t had any more frustrated feedback so I’d like to say it has worked.


Portfolio page

Another popular role at Toca Boca is that of 2D Artist. We literally get hundreds of applications making it virtually impossible to please everyone by giving individual feedback on their portfolios. It just isn’t feasible.

So instead we have worked a lot on being clear in the ad about our expectations but we still felt that wasn’t enough. We wanted to give people even more information about what types of portfolios make it past the screening so we created a one pager called “What we will be looking for in your portfolio”. This page gives more details about what we look for and we link to this page in the ad as well as in our rejection letter. 

Even though we aren’t giving individual feedback, we are giving better general feedback and so far the feedback has been great. I have had replies to the rejection message thanking me for providing detailed information, making it clear what can be improved for the next time they apply. One person even went as far as saying it was “the best rejection message they have ever received”.

These where just a few example of improvements we have made. There are more, I could go on forever. But I just wanted to give you a taste of how we have worked with the feedback, and hopefully inspire some of you to start improving on your candidate experience.


The conclusion

You can’t please everyone. One person will appreciate the swift reply, one will think it was too fast. One person will love the sincerity, the next one will find the same message rude. And sometimes people are simply frustrated about their job search in general. All we can do is our best, and try to give people the best candidate experience possible.

But we can’t act upon all feedback we get. If we were to listen to all the feedback, we would:

  • have a coffee with everyone who applies.
  • adapt our requirements to suit the applicant (for example not requiring certain experience). 
  • never make any changes to our ads, or update the title (as in perhaps adding “senior” to the title when discovering we’re getting sooooo many junior applicants.)
  • be open to juniors even though a senior is needed
  • give CV advice. Not just based on the job they applied for, but CV advice in general.
  • Respond to every e-mail everyone sends out, even though the answer they are looking for is detailed in the ad.

Pleasing everyone simply isn’t possible, but we can try to look at things from someone else’s perspective and do what we can to improve our communication. Cause that’s the main cornerstone of a great candidate experience – communication.

Sofia Broberger

Sofia Broberger

Sourcing Trainer

My name is Sofia Broberger and I’m a freelance sourcing and recruitment consultant focusing on IT/Tech recruitment.

I have a background in teaching and really enjoy combining my experience as a teacher with my love for sourcing. I’m available to give tailor-made workshops and lectures/talks on sourcing, tech recruitment and employer branding.