The Ultimate Guide to Candidate Experience


What Kind of Metrics Should You Use to Improve Your Candidates’ Experience?

Candidate Experience Metrics


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The expression “Candidate Experience” (or CandE) has been on everyone’s lips for a while; however, not every company has yet set its plan in motion to improve on it. As mentioned in the article A Better Candidate Experience - the Metrics You’re Missing, surprisingly, around 75% of companies do not measure candidate satisfaction effectively, despite them being so critical to talent acquisition! In The 7 Deadly Sins of Recruiting (and How to Overcome Them), Jennifer Kim says that ignoring data and candidate experience metrics is a severe mistake.

“The payoffs from becoming more data-savvy are huge: by measuring and tracking your progress, you can make a business case for more resources, and ensure your efforts are strategic, as opposed to reactionary to the volume of work.”

In this article, we will show you the best candidate experience metrics for your talent acquisition team. They will help you estimate your job applicants’ perception of you, and boost their opinion of your business.

Let us start by saying that there are 3 different kinds of metrics. We will begin with the most straightforward category to use: quantitative metrics. We will then follow with the survey questions and, finally, with candidate Net Promoter Score.

Quantitative Metrics

Quantitative Metrics are the easiest for you to use. They are simple mathematical formulas giving you results that make it easy for you to benchmark your performance in those areas they address.

These metrics are divided into the subcategories: time- and quality-related.

Candidate Experience Metrics

1. We all know that applications should be short and simple. Therefore it’s essential to calculate application time. To do so, you can try and apply for one of your job vacancies. This will let you understand how long it takes for a candidate to do the same. Your vacancies might be too complex and annoy the candidates to the point that they give up on their application. Often you see vacancies for which the candidates have to upload their CV and then answer questions that could be answered by the CV itself. For benchmarking purposes, the article 8 Recruiting Metrics You Should Be Tracking states that your average job application takes about 30 minutes to complete.

2. The metric time to hire helps the recruiters understand how long the whole process takes, from the very start until the contract is signed. Although it is crucial to calculate time to hire, it might turn out to be a bit broad. Calculating your time to hire relative to different categories of candidates, such as “candidates who applied online” or “employee referrals”, might help you understand which are the problematic areas in your performance. Ignoring time to hire might mean that your overall process is too convoluted. Were you to segment your candidates and learn that your “candidates who applied online” category has to wait for a long time in between their application and their contract signature, this would be a red flag to act upon. Ignoring this would mean losing job applicants. As stated in the report How Long Does it Take to Hire? Interview Duration in 25 Countries, the average length of a job interview process in 2017 was of 23.7 days.

To understand how long it takes for you to get in touch with the candidates with a final answer, you can use time to inform. How much time does it take for you to tell a candidate whether he is offered a position or sent away? If your timing is wrong, candidates will feel neglected. Let’s see in which scenarios this reality can manifest itself:

  • You let the candidates know that they’ve been rejected too soon
  • You take too long to make the candidates know they have been rejected
  • You take too long to send an offer to the candidates

4. Do you want to understand how long it takes for a candidate to accept an offer, both verbally or in written form? Then, you should calculate time to accept. You start counting the moment the business has approved the contract. If your candidates show little to no hesitation in accepting your offer, you have little to worry about. Not dedicating attention to the time it takes your candidates to accept your offers might mean ignoring their underlying ambivalence towards you. If you notice they mostly take longer timespans, you have the chance to investigate these reasons: was the interviewer impolite? The salary too low? The vacancy description unclear?

The metric called time per stage indicates the average amount of time it takes a candidate to go from one recruitment process step to the following one. By ignoring this metric, you might end up not being aware of some inefficiencies in your process. Analyzing the time needed per stage, you might be able to locate some bottlenecks. This could help you understand the areas your teams should be focusing on.

Candidate Experience Metrics

1. Your applicants’ experience starts before they send their CV and cover letter your way. For this, we can dedicate our focus to Pre-Candidate Experience, too. Your candidate might start getting to know you through reviews or articles about your business. Therefore, this metric concentrates on your candidate marketing efforts.

2. The number of applicants per open position should let you understand how appetizing your job openings are. If you don’t have nearly enough applicants, you might want to adjust your marketing efforts. For benchmarking purposes, the report 2019 HR Statistics: Job Search, Hiring, Recruiting & Interviews indicates that each corporate job offer attracts an average of 250 curricula. Not estimating your candidates per open position can lead to issues. Notably, it could mean your online vacancies are not visible enough.

3. Your page conversion rate tells you how many of the job applicants that visited your vacancy page actually applied for that position. Your communication might be not appealing enough, or perhaps the offered salary is too low? Either way, if too little people convert, this will drag the recruitment process. The formula for it is:

Candidate Experience Metrics

4. Another vital element to consider in nowadays’ world is mobile readiness. Need-to-Know Mobile Recruitment Stats says that out of all job seekers who own a smartphone, 78% of them would use it to apply for jobs! However, only 13% of companies are investing in mobile recruitment. The Importance of Mobile on the Job Apply Process recommends putting in place a “nothing-but-mobile” apply. To measure how mobile-ready you are, you can take advantage of Google’s Search Console with their Mobile-Friendly Test. You should examine your career site with this tool.

5. To understand what percentage of candidates started applying, but then gave up, calculate your abandonment rate. Improving this metric allows you to improve your candidate experience. Furthermore, it lets you gain easier access to high-end talent: skilled candidates will not tolerate a less than great application process. Amongst others, this can be interrelated with your application time and mobile readiness. But also, it can be influenced by the amount of unnecessary information the candidate might not be comfortable sharing with you. It is notably frustrating for candidates, for example, to have to upload their CV during an online application, to then have to answer questions about it in the following page.

Candidate Experience Metrics

6. How many candidates did you reach out to, in percentage? This gives you your contact rate. Letting them know which stage of the process they’re in is crucial. The article Candidate Experience: All the Stats, Facts and Data You’ll Ever Need to Know says that more than 75% of people said that not hearing back after an interview was more frustrating than having someone ghost them after a first date.

Candidate Experience Metrics

7. Are you curious to reverse the previous metrics and see how many candidates answered you when you reached out? It’s time to calculate your candidate response rate. It will let you understand how engaged they are with you. The formula is:

Candidate Experience Metrics

8. Recruiter Response Time tells us how much time it takes a recruiter to answer the candidates. Recruiters are quite often the first point of contact a job applicant has, during the selection process. It is very frustrating not to hear back for an extended period.

9. Out of all of your applicants, only some are fit for the job. If they’re too few, perhaps your posting is not attracting the right kind of talent. To calculate how many of those candidates are qualified, you can use the submission to acceptance rate (SBA). Are your job applicants of good quality? Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report says the percentage of applicants that then moved forward to the interview stage was 12% in 2017. This can be your benchmark. The formula:

Candidate Experience Metrics

Note that this influences your hiring managers’ happiness profoundly! It indicates how skilled you are in finding and assessing candidates.

10. The metric present-to-interview helps you quantify the percentage of the candidates showing up to interviews, out of all the invited ones.

11. Interview-to-offer-ratio tells which percentage of your candidates gets hired. Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report tells us that in 2017, 28% of interviews led to job offers.

12. If only a few people accept the job, after the offer, it’s because their needs were not met during the recruiting process. You can then investigate the reasons: was the lack of fit due to the salary, the role, or the company? Offer acceptance rate helps you calculate how many candidates accept the job they’re offered. It is very straightforward to calculate:

Candidate Experience Metrics

Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report indicates the percentage as 90% in the year 2017. The article 8 Recruiting Metrics You Should Be Tracking in 2019 tells us that, if your Offer Acceptance Rate is far below average, this might be due to your offers not being competitive enough. Otherwise, your applicants might be uncomfortable with your workplace.

13. How many candidates are still working with you within a certain timespan? You can calculate this through the retention metric. Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report shows that 28% of employees leave their job within the first 90 days. This could be due to an overlooked poor fit during the selection process, bad on-boarding, or poor working conditions. In A Better Candidate Experience - the Metrics You’re Missing, Kip Soteres from Soteres Consulting, said that on-boarding metrics are often neglected by hiring managers.

“Not enough organizations are conducting pulse surveys of new hires at the 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year marks. The employee experience within the first six months is a strong indicator of whether an employee will stay through the middle years of employment (years 3-10) when companies are getting the most out of their people.”

As you might have noticed, metrics give you a measure of an issue but do not tell you the reasons for it. To go deeper, you need to investigate in different ways. One could be to interview your candidates, which is what you will do with both Candidate NPS and the survey questions.

The Survey Questions

There are questions you can ask your candidates to understand if their candidate experience is positive. They’ve been divided into sets, activated by actions the candidates take. A first survey can be sent after the application, a second one after the interview(s) and, finally, one after their rejection or withdrawal. As for the latter, it is recommendable to wait for approximately a month before sending the survey over - this might help you avoid biased answers from resentful candidates.

After the Application

  • Is the company's job platform easy to use?
  • Was it simple to upload your CV on it?
  • Did the vacancy description help you accurately understand the role?

After the Interview(s)

  • Was the interviewer punctual?
  • Had they properly prepared for the interview?
  • Did they carry on the interview for a reasonable amount of time?
  • Was the conversation pleasant? How was your experience going to the office?
  • What did you like/dislike about the selection process?

After the Rejection/Withdrawal

  • Rejection: Were the reasons you were rejected clear?
  • Did the rejection take too long to reach?
  • Was the communication friendly and respectful?
  • Would you apply to a future vacancy at our company??
  • How likely are you to encourage a friend to apply for a job at our company?
  • How likely are you to buy our products/use our services again?
  • What was the biggest issue you faced during the application and selection phases?
  • Withdrawal: Why did you reject our offer?

The Candidate Net Promoter Score (or cNPS)

Candidate Net Promoter Score is nothing but an adaptation of the very popular NPS. It allows you to gather precious information concerning your applicants’ level of satisfaction and might be one of the most popular candidate experience metrics.

It is calculated by asking the candidates the likelihood with which they’d apply for another job at your company or through your agency after the recruitment process is over. Other questions could be centered on whether they would buy your products again - that is mostly relevant if you’re in the FMCG industry.

The candidates will have to answer on a scale from 0 to 10. Those respondents that will answer with a 9 or 10 will be called Promoters. The ones answering with a score below 6 will be called Detractors. By subtracting the % of Promoters from the % of Detractors, you’d get a result ranging between -100 and +100. While every positive score would already be considered good, to reach excellence you’d have to get a rating above 50.

Candidate Net Promoter Score allows you to understand how loyal they are. Asking these kinds of questions while the candidate is still being selected can lead to a bias.


Now we’ve shown you all the relevant metrics you could utilize to understand how to improve your Candidate Experience. We ran through time- and quality-based quantitative metrics then suggested some survey questions and, finally, we showed you what is cNPS and how to calculate it. We hope that these tools will help you improve your applicants’ level of satisfaction. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to