Candidates are customers too: using NPS for recruitment applicants

By Dominique Pomario and Carole Cooper

A few years ago we completed a Mini MBA in Marketing with @markritson,  which proved to be one of the most valuable courses we’ve done in recent years.

One of the key takeaways during our time spent immersed in the Min Marketing MBA was learning more about Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Net Promoter Scores are typically used as a customer satisfaction benchmark that measures how likely your customers are to recommend your business or services to a friend. It’s a measurement tool that companies use to evaluate and improve customer loyalty.

At the same time we were dealing with the challenge of how to improve the candidate experience and better protect the employer brand of a large retailer during the recruitment process, so, we took our new found and in-depth understanding of NPS to overhaul the system.

Research showed that NPS hadn’t really caught on as a candidate experience tool as yet but we had seen that Citrix in the US had been using it for a few years with some great results.

As a major Australian retailer, this employer received a large number of job applications for various roles each month, and as a result, the recruitment team had to regularly reject a large number of candidates.

With an acute awareness that candidates were also either existing or potential retail customers, it became clear that more needed to be done to protect the employer brand but also its consumer-facing brand.

In order to truly understand how candidates felt about their recruitment experience with the aim to improve it, we implemented an NPS system to easily translate feedback across the candidate experience.

As a process of continual improvement, NPS scoring enabled the recruitment team to make informed decisions to better protect both its employer and consumer brands.

Overall response rates were good, with 20 – 25% of candidates who were sent the email taking the survey. Overwhelmingly, candidates were also very willing to provide written feedback and answer three optional questions which proved invaluable in determining the different opportunities for improvement within the various stages of the recruitment process, as well as within the recruitment teams.

To establish where the biggest opportunities were to improve on the NPS score, the team explored the optional commentary to identify two key – albeit glaringly obvious – areas for improvement;
1.  email communication when rejecting candidates – what they actually wanted was an opportunity for personal feedback and less words spent trying to conciliate them;

2. the phone interview experience for candidates was inconsistent.

As a result of the initial first month in trial, we were able to overhaul all communication templates to really simplify the message and provide an opportunity for candidates to receive personal feedback if they desired.

Similarly, thanks to the comments received, it was determined that recruiters were conducting too many phone interviews in a day and in many instances, it was fatigue that was affecting how they were dealing with candidates.  With some simple adjustments to workflow and expectations to manage the volume of phone interviews, as well as the time between them, the team was able to improve on results within a short 3 month period (moving up -41 NPS points to a score of -25).

With the expectation of continuous improvement, this large retailer set its sights on achieving a positive NPS within 18 months  In June 2019, 19 months after the initial launch they received an NPS score of +8.

Today, NPS is an embedded program within the recruitment team’s processes and helps to better control the perception of its employer brand to ensure a positive experience for all those who engage.