Leveraging Your NPS: A Guide To Using Data to Improve the Candidate Experience

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the process of measuring candidate satisfaction. Once you gather the data you need to improve the candidate experience, how do you actually construct and implement these changes? We’ll discuss how to evaluate and redefine your talent acquisition process so that your candidates are satisfied with the applicant experience, whether you’ve hired them or not.

Step One: Separate Data

Assuming you’ve used Net Promoter Score as a tool to measure candidate satisfaction, you’ll hopefully have a set of both qualitative and quantitative data. The quantitative data can be used to divide your candidates into three groups: promoters (9-10) detractors (1-7), and  passives (7-8), while the qualitative data (the reasons behind your candidates’ responses) can be used to help you uncover specific problem areas in your business.

While the quantitative data can help you to understand where your company falls in terms of overall candidate satisfaction, the qualitative data is the key to discovering what factors can make or break that satisfaction level.
With any given set of data, however, there could be a variety of factors that contribute to your company’s satisfaction level—so how do you know which factors to focus on? The important step here is to identify key trends in the data and find common themes of what is lacking in your applicant experience.

Step Two: Identify Trends

Go through your qualitative data and highlight the reasons that candidates gave for their responses. Then, divide those responses into broader categories. For example, if one candidate complained that they weren’t updated on their application’s status and another wanted to receive more immediate feedback about an interview, then you can assume that there’s a communication issue within your organization.

It’s important to identify and focus on the common flaws and positive attributes of your company’s candidate experience. Perhaps you received mostly glowing reviews, except for one portion that complained solely about your location. Positive reviews are undoubtedly an ego boost, but repeated feedback is more valuable for improvement.

If you identify trends rather than looking at each individual issue, you can gain a holistic perspective, which in turn makes it easier for you to get a grasp on the situation.

No matter which method you’ve used to gather data, your information should be easily divided into three categories: promoters, detractors, and passives. From there, you can ask yourself questions based on the data.

Step Three: Ask Questions

Promoters: “How can we keep doing what we’re doing and do it better?”

Play upon your strengths by emphasizing the positive aspects of your candidate experience. Whether that includes integrating those values into your company culture or incentivizing employees to elicit that kind of behavior, it’s important that you not only continue with the things you’re doing right, but to do those things even better than before.

For example, if hiring managers and recruiters are recognized for excellent knowledge in technology as opposed to a tendency to simply recite from a sheet of paper, give positive reinforcement. This can be in the form of monetary rewards or verbal recognition. Once your hiring managers recognize the importance of their knowledge, they’ll most likely work hard to continue that behavior, and candidates will continue to be satisfied.

Detractors: “Why are candidates dissatisfied, and how can we change that?”

To answer this question, you first must pool your detractors’ answers together and determine the core problems of your organization. For example, if out of three unsatisfied people, one stated that he/she had problems with public transportation, another had issues with parking, and another didn’t like the lack of restaurants in the area, then you can deduce that your location may be problematic—perhaps you could expand or branch out your office. Addressing these problems (and not simply talking about them) is pivotal in setting a game plan in motion.

Not only should you identify common trends to understand the flaws of your company, but you also need to observe both perspectives (employer and employee) to determine the appropriate accountability. From an employer’s perspective, ask yourself: do you have the right processes in place? Are you giving employees what they need to be successful? Have you trained them enough, or did you simply hire the wrong people?

Conversely, look at the situation from the recruiters’ perspective: are you following the right steps? Are you communicating with the candidate effectively?  For example, if a common theme is that candidates were asked irrelevant questions, then it’s an accountability on both ends of the business. Once you determine who is accountable, it will become much easier to solve the issue.

Passives: “How do we make these candidates care?”

Passive candidates are arguably the most difficult category to deal with. While satisfied and dissatisfied candidates almost always have a reason for their answers, passive candidates often make it harder to pin down exactly what you need to do in order to improve. Sometimes, a candidate’s ambivalence can be attributed to an innate quality rather than a problem with your applicant process.

To clarify, we’re talking about candidates who are neutral about their applicant experience, not candidates that aren’t actively on the job market. Unlike the latter, these candidates present a unique opportunity: they’re not complaining, but they’re not promoting your company either. This means they may be open to changing their minds, and they may help you in uncovering specific ways to improve.

Use these passive candidates as resources by following up with them to ask why they were so indifferent about the experience. Perhaps you could use the concept behind the question-asking technique “Five Whys,” which attempts to determine the root cause of a certain issue. For example, you could ask a passive candidate, “Why didn’t you feel particularly enthusiastic about your experience?” If they answer, “The hiring manager/recruiter didn’t thoroughly explain why I wasn’t hired,” you could then delve deeper internally. If you ask the hiring manager, “why?” they may respond with something like, “I didn’t think it was a priority” or “I wasn’t instructed to do so.” Then you know to emphasize this step while training new recruiters, or to reward those that give candidates thorough explanations. Sometimes, it only takes a few repetitions of asking why to uncover the problems of your organization.

It’s important to brainstorm some ideas that can engage these passive-minded candidates, whether it be to restructure your company culture to a more appealing one, to rebrand, or to focus more explicitly on your marketing strategy. Or perhaps your analysis leads you to conclude that these are candidates who don’t fit within the company culture—and that’s okay, too.

Step Four: Answer Questions

Whether a candidate was ecstatic, outraged, or neutral about his/her experience, it’s crucial to transform those feelings into information you can use to leverage your company. Continue to ask candidates questions, but more importantly, ask yourself questions—and provide a thoughtful answer after extensive analysis. This introspection and curiosity will not only help you to understand your company as a whole, but it will reflect well on candidates, who will recognize that you are genuinely striving for excellence when it comes to the candidate experience.
And here’s the final question to answer: what’s your plan? You know your organization, so you know your strengths and weaknesses. Pick one or two of the top trends you’ve gathered from your data and focus on making incremental changes over time.