Defining and Measuring the Candidate Experience Part 2 of 2 #thecandidate

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Defining and Measuring the Candidate Experience Part 2 of 2

Earlier this week I talked about the absence of current definitions and ways to measure the candidate experience in part one of the series. Part 2 will be used to help define comment stages in the candidate life cycle in hopes that recruiters and HR professionals will be able to create a better candidate experience for everyone in their pipeline.

Absent agreed upon common definitions, I have used the following:


Individuals who have been sourced but not contacted. The recruiter knows who they are and may have an interest in them. An example might be a list of attendees completing a course that teaches a specific programming language. Relevant recruiting practices involve (data analysis) whether the individual is worth approaching; comparing strategies surrounding approaches and methods of contact that yield more prospects (conversion), timing (business alignment), and objective (predicting results)


Any Lead that an employer has contacted (or individual who has found their way to the employer and made themselves known) but who has NOT yet applied. An example would be most of the individuals who have opted into a firm’s talent community and many that reside in a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) database. The relevant recruiting practices are those which help the prospect choose to apply; refer others, or maintain a high regard (i.e. customer, admirer, advocate). What are the series of touchpoints, and in what order, that a recruiter/employer would use to develop prospects over time.


Any Prospect that completes an application (formally expresses interest) for an open position. Every person who ‘throws their hat in the ring’ is a candidate. There may be different flavors of candidates but ALL deserve a few basic practices- to set expectations, acknowledge their interest, appreciate their effort and offer some closure. In my opinion, when these practices are absent, recruiting fails long term.  Employers should be measuring the practices that involve the application process itself, expectations that are ‘understood’ by the candidate and the speed and methods the organization (and recruiters) use to dis-position unqualified candidates and deliver against the promises made or implied.


Any Candidate who is considered and qualified. The recruiting practices impacting the candidate experience of an Applicant are likely tied to the speed and methods to dis-position those who are qualified but not going to be competitive for [this] position.


Any Applicant invited to compete. Perhaps all Applicants are automatically Finalists selected, tested, screened and probed but, given that a typical position has approximately 85 candidates who apply with perhaps 40 of them qualified, it’s not unusual that Applicants are quickly screened to a final *five* live (or 4 or 3). These practices central to the candidate experience are commonly focused on an interview day, although many models exist, and heavily emphasize expectations, debriefing and next steps- especially on whether the next steps are delivered as promised.

New Hire

The Finalist selected by the employer (who, by the way, has made an equally critical decision to become an employee). The practices around conversion and onboarding are central to this phase and the extent to which the new employee will transition in a way that enhances their willingness to refer others, get quickly up to speed and contribute is a central outcome.

The above are examples of the underlying definitions used by the TalentBoard whose volunteers recently helped organize, define and measure specific candidate experience practices for the 122 firms that participated in the non-profit’s 2013 benchmarking initiative- TheCandEs (now in its 3rd year).

By early December we expect to deliver a benchmark analysis to all 122 firms comparing “how they treat candidates” with those employers whose candidates a) view their practices as positive overall and on 5 separate dimensions; b) are more likely to refer candidates as a result of their treatment; and c) are more likely to increase their purchase of the products and services of the employers they applied to…even if they didn’t get hired.

The analyses are based on data acquired form 46,000 candidate surveys who applied to 90 employers (75%-90% were not hired). No employer paid for the privilege of looking in the mirror. It was free. The whitepaper we publish in December will also be free. Stay tuned.

Final note: Imagining the ‘Candidate as a Customer’ is a tempting approach that appeals to many recruiters for the right reasons but the analogy breaks down in the so many ways. I encourage an alternative approach: consider your candidates as partners in a process that helps them select the best job for their career…at this time…in their life (while we simultaneously select the best of them). I would argue (perhaps in another article) why this will produce more actionable results and better practices for improving your recruiting process but it is the context for this articles definitions and the CandEs intiative.

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Gerry Crispin

Gerry Crispin, sphr, is a life-long student of recruiting. He is fascinated by the playing field where employers tout their latest openings and job seekers game the system. Gerry travels around the world to watch recruiters recruit. Together with his business partner, Mark Mehler, he facilitates peer-to-peer conversations with recruiting leaders compelled to improve what they do and willing to share their current practices at invitation-only, small-group meetings. (Gerry conducted their 68th CareerXroads Colloquium last week in London). Gerry is a co-founder of TalentBoard and the Candidate Experience Awards

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