9 Key Takeaways from the Just-Released Candidate Experience Research Report

February 5th, 2018
Jon-Mark Sabel
Candidate Experience

Every year the Talent Board surveys more than 180,000 candidates applying to roles at 200 companies. The resulting research report is the most comprehensive annual study of candidate experience. 

Let’s dig into what’s improving, what’s moving in the wrong direction, and other important trends that came out of the report. 

What’s Improving?

There’s a lot that’s getting better for the average candidate. 

 1) More Companies are Surveying Candidates About the Experience

When it comes to how candidates are surveyed, things are looking up. Below you can see how 2017 stacks up to 2016:

 Where candidates are   surveyed in the hiring   process: 2017 2016
 Before the application 1.6% 1.5%
 After the application 7.1% 9.1%
 After the interview 13.6% 15.2%
 After hiring 26.6% 23.4%
 All of the Above 9.8% 7.1%
 Candidates are not surveyed 41.3% 43.7%

With a couple exceptions, we see small increases across the board. (Likely what happened here is companies who were exclusively surveying candidates after the application or interview moved into the “All of the Above” bracket.) 

While these aren’t massive shifts, they do show a trend in the right direction. 

2) Mobile Apply is Everywhere

In 2016, the percentage of employers who offered mobile-enabled applications jumped from 67% to 79%. In 2017, it jumped even higher, from 79% to 91%. 

2017 2016 2015
 Percent of   employers offering   mobile apply 91% 79% 67%

This is great for multiple reasons. Smartphones are the sole source of internet access for many people, and preferred by most. With 91% of employers offering mobile apply, it’s practically universal.

3) Pre-Hire Assessments on the Upswing

As a screening tool, traditional pre-employment assessments can be a mixed bag. On one hand, they provide a scientific measurement of a candidates’ aptitude and relevant traits. On the other, they tend to prolong the hiring process and cause higher than normal rates of dropout (most assessments consist of 60+ closed-ended questions).

89% of all employers had assessments and testing systems in place, up from 81% in 2017. Oddly enough, the percentage of employers using each type of assessment went down across the board:

assessment distribution

This probably means that while employers are more likely to use a pre-hire assessment, they are less likely to use them in conjunction with others (moving to a single test vs. a battery of tests). Since additional assessments usually add time to the hiring process, this sort of consolidation is generally good for candidates. 

What’s Moving in the Wrong Direction?

There are also some areas for improvement.

1) Time to Complete the Application

While the Talent Board didn’t break down application time the same way they have in previous years, we get enough information to see that it’s moving in the wrong direction.

2017 2016
 Percent of applicants who   took <15 minutes 20% 26%

In 2016, 26% of candidates reported that their application took 15 minutes or less. In 2017, that number dropped to 20%.  The labor market is tight. Most candidates in a tight labor market are already employed; a long application is an easy way to lose their interest. 

Learn more about how a great candidate experience helps you attract candidates who are already employed.

2) Feedback for Applicants is Declining

On the whole, feedback sent by a recruiter is being replaced with automated messages. Here you can see the difference between 2016 and 2017: 2016:

response 2016

2017: response 2017 This isn’t really surprising - automation plays an important role in making hiring more efficient. It also looks like a percentage of organizations who did not require contact shifted into the "automation" category - this shift is a good thing. But the “human touch” is a prime opportunity to give candidates a great experience, especially when it involves sensitive situations like dispositioning. You can’t hire every candidate, but you should make every effort to ease the pain of rejection. A solid trade-off might be to ask candidates for feedback, even if you’re using automated messaging. 85% of candidates who gave their experience the lowest rating received no opportunity to provide feedback. 

Other Important Trends

The candidate's experience doesn't just impact their perception of your brand.

1) Candidate Experience Has a Huge Impact on Referrals & Repeat Applications

Below you can see the difference between candidates who rated their overall experience one star (the lowest) and five stars (the highest).  referrals What’s surprising is the massive impact a great experience has on referrals. 82% is huge. That’s nearly every candidate phoning a friend to recommend your open roles. Of course, the experience also has an impact on whether they’ll apply to your organization again: apply again Intuitively, this makes sense. Candidates don’t want to put their close friends and colleagues through a bad experience. If they did, it wouldn’t just reflect poorly on the employer; it would reflect poorly on them too. 

2) A Bad Experience Makes Candidates Withdraw from the Recruiting Process

Of the candidates who gave their experience the lowest possible score and withdrew from the recruiting process, 46% said it was because their time was disrespected during interviews. 26% said it was because the process took too long. why with draw The Talent Board also points out that of candidates who gave their experience the highest rating and still withdrew from the process, only 1.4% left because they felt their time was disrespected. It’s interesting here that a negative candidate experience has more of an impact on the choice to withdraw than something like salary, though this could be because they’re withdrawing earlier in the process.

3) Candidate Experience is Still a Business Driver

In 2016, 64% of candidates who rated their experience five stars out of five said they would increase their business relationship with the employer. 41% of those who rated their experience one star out of five indicated that they would sever it.  cande business relationship In 2017, we can see both of those numbers go up, with the most noticable increase (a 10% bump) for candidates who had a great experience.

4) Job Research Continues to Dilute

A company’s career site is traditionally the primary place candidates look for job-related information. This is still true in 2017, but we can see the traffic diffusing across different channels:

 Research   Channel 2017 2016 2015 2014
 Company   Career Site 58% 57% 64% 65%
 Referral   (employee,   candidate, etc) 36% 33% 19% 17%
 LinkedIn Career   Page 34% 30% 30% 27%
 Job Notification 28% 28% 35% 34%
 Online Groups   (LinkedIn, Slack,   etc) 24% 24% 26% 24%
 Review Sites   (Glassdoor, etc) 29% 23% 24% 20%
 Mobile Career   Site or App 26% 14% 13% 11%
 Professional   Associations 15% 12% N/A N/A

This isn’t good or bad, per se - but it does mean TA leaders should spread their focus beyond the careers site.