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Optimize Your Hiring Process

How to Incorporate Candidate Feedback Into Your Hiring Process

Written By April Bohnert | October 16, 2023

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In the world of tech hiring, there’s an often overlooked and untapped resource: candidate feedback. While companies regularly invest in refining their products based on user feedback, the hiring process — another pivotal touchpoint — sometimes gets left behind. Candidates, with their front-row seat to a company’s recruitment strategies and methodologies, offer invaluable insights that can reveal both the strengths and weaknesses of the hiring experience.

Yet, all too often, this feedback either isn’t collected, or when it is, it’s not always acted upon. The result? The candidate experience suffers. In a market where 49% of job seekers say they’ve declined a job offer due to a poor candidate experience, such oversights can be costly. Failing to listen to candidates doesn’t just mean missed feedback — it can also mean missed hires. 

Imagine, then, the edge a company could have by actively collecting and incorporating candidate feedback, creating a feedback loop that consistently refines and enhances the hiring journey. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of candidate feedback, discover actionable ways to integrate it, and set the course for a more streamlined and candidate-centric hiring process.

Why Candidate Feedback Is Crucial

In any technical project, continuous iteration based on real-world feedback ensures that the end product meets users’ needs and expectations. The hiring process should be no different. Candidate feedback serves as a goldmine of information in this context, supporting a range of hiring and employer branding goals.

Improves the Candidate Experience

Candidates step into the hiring process with hopes, expectations, and (often) a touch of anxiety. Their feedback gives us a glimpse into their journey, revealing areas where they felt valued and areas where they might’ve felt lost or undervalued. By addressing these concerns, we can tailor a hiring experience that is not just efficient but also empathetic and human-centered. An improved candidate experience isn’t just about the candidate — it’s also about showcasing the company’s values and culture. And as we mentioned above, the candidate experience has a direct impact on offer acceptance.

Improves Assessment Health

Well designed coding tests and interviews play a pivotal role in accurately and fairly assessing candidate skill, knowledge, and capabilities. Creating “healthy” assessments involves optimizing every aspect of the test, including content, difficulty, skill relevance, leak management, and test integrity, to name just a few. While not a catch all, candidate feedback can provide useful insights and datapoints into the overall health of your assessments. Their feedback can help with identifying potential areas for improvements, including test duration, difficulty level and the overall candidate experience.

Streamlines the Hiring Process

Every organization has its unique way of scouting and hiring talent. But how many times have we assumed that a process is foolproof, only to realize there are hiccups? Consider this stat: Two of the top three reasons candidates withdraw from the recruiting process are “My time was disrespected during the interview process” and “The recruiting process took too long.” Feedback can pinpoint exact bottlenecks, redundancies, or complications. Whether it’s an interview round that feels unnecessary or a technical test that’s disproportionately lengthy, feedback can guide necessary tweaks to make the process leaner and more effective. 

Builds Your Employer Brand

In the age of Glassdoor reviews and social media, word travels fast. A positive candidate experience can become a powerful tool in building a company’s reputation. On the flip side, a negative experience can just as quickly tarnish it. In fact, of the 60% of job seekers who report a negative candidate experience, 72% shared that bad experience online or with someone directly. By actively seeking and acting upon feedback, companies send a clear message: They care about their candidates just as much as their employees. This proactive approach can be instrumental in building a positive employer brand, attracting top talent, and establishing trust in the tech community.

To sum it up, candidate feedback is not just about gathering opinions. It’s about understanding the candidate’s perspective, refining the hiring machinery, and bolstering the company’s reputation in the tech world. Harnessing this feedback is the first step; the next involves translating it into actionable strategies and improvements.

How to Gather Candidate Feedback

Candidate feedback is a powerful tool for optimizing the hiring process, but for it to truly make a difference, it’s crucial to ensure this feedback is heard loud and clear. The challenge lies not just in listening but in actively seeking out this feedback. Here are some key strategies.

Post-Assessment Surveys  

Seeking feedback on your coding tests can help determine if they’re providing a positive candidate experience and efficiently assessing candidate skills. The goal of a coding test is to evaluate a developer in a real-world environment while also getting them excited about the technical opportunities the role offers. Did the test assess real-world skills? Did the test content impact their interest in the role? Did the question difficult and test duration post a fair and engaging challenge? These types of developer insights are invaluable.

Post-Interview Surveys  

Just wrapped up a technical interview? That’s the perfect time to seek feedback. Implement short, concise surveys immediately after interviews. Ask candidates about their experience, the clarity of questions, the environment, and any suggestions they might have. Keeping these surveys brief increases the likelihood of candidates taking the time to complete them.

Feedback Sessions

Consider organizing dedicated sessions with candidates who’ve gone through your hiring process, especially those who reached the final stages. These can be informal catch-ups, offering a platform for open dialogue. It’s an opportunity to delve deeper into their experiences, thoughts, and recommendations.

Anonymous Platforms

Candid feedback is invaluable, but not all candidates will feel comfortable sharing openly, especially if they’re still going through the interview process. Offer platforms where they can provide feedback anonymously. This ensures that they can voice their true feelings and concerns without fearing repercussions or bias.

How to Analyze and Implement Candidate Feedback

Now that we’ve got our hands on valuable candidate feedback, the true magic lies in weaving these insights into actionable changes. Gathering feedback is half the battle; the other half is understanding, prioritizing, and acting on it.

Categorize Feedback

Feedback can span a wide range of areas — from interview techniques to communication delays. Start by sorting feedback into coherent themes, such as the interview process, communication clarity, technical challenges, or cultural alignment. This organized approach helps in identifying common threads and specific areas needing attention.

Prioritize Based on Recurrence  

While every piece of feedback is valuable, recurrent themes or concerns demand immediate attention. If multiple candidates mention that a particular coding challenge felt outdated or that a specific interview round seemed redundant, those are clear indicators of areas ripe for improvement.

Incorporate Feedback into Strategy Meetings  

Make feedback analysis a cornerstone of your hiring strategy. Schedule regular sessions where the hiring team comes together to discuss feedback, understand the underlying causes, and brainstorm solutions. This ensures that feedback is not just collected but actively integrated into decision-making.

Challenges and Pitfalls

Harnessing candidate feedback can be transformative, but like any tool, its efficacy depends on its wielder. As teams dive into the waters of feedback-driven hiring, they might encounter certain challenges and pitfalls. Awareness and proactive strategies can help navigate these hurdles.

Reacting to One-Off Feedback

While all feedback is valid from the candidate’s perspective, it’s vital to distinguish between individual opinions and broader patterns. Acting on every single piece of feedback without discerning its recurrence might lead to a constantly shifting hiring process that lacks stability and consistency.

Neglecting Implementation  

It’s one thing to collect feedback and another to act on it. Teams might fall into the trap of amassing a wealth of feedback but then stalling on the implementation front. It’s essential to keep the momentum going by translating insights into tangible changes, ensuring feedback doesn’t just gather dust.

Avoiding Defensive Mindsets  

Feedback, by nature, can be critical. It’s crucial for teams to approach it with an open mind, avoiding defensive postures. Remember, the aim is improvement, not validation. Fostering a growth culture where feedback is welcomed and not met with resistance can be pivotal.

Inconsistency in Gathering Feedback  

For feedback to be truly representative, it must be consistently sought across different hiring stages, roles, and candidates. An inconsistent feedback-gathering approach can lead to skewed perceptions and missed improvement opportunities.

Overemphasis on Quantitative Feedback  

While numeric ratings and scales provide an easy way to gauge feedback, the qualitative nuances of candidates’ comments can be equally enlightening. Striking a balance between the two ensures a holistic understanding of the candidate experience.

This article was written with the help of AI. Can you tell which parts?

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