What Should You Include in Your Candidate Experience Survey? (+ Sample Questions)

5 min read

If you care about your company’s reputation, you need to care about your recruitment process. Too often businesses forget prospective employees can also be customers. And a bad candidate experience can knock both your brand reputation and your profits.

Don’t take our word for it.

A 2016 survey by Career Arc asked 1,200 professionals what they thought about their hiring experience. The results found 60% of candidates said they had a poor recruitment experience. And, 72% didn’t keep it to themselves. The majority of respondents said they shared their experience online or directly with friends. And there’s nothing like the power of word of mouth to ruin an employer brand.

A cautionary tale in candidate experience

Richard Branson learned this lesson the hard way.

Unsurprisingly, global giant Virgin Media is a popular place to work. So popular in fact, that hiring authorities at Virgin reject around 150,000 applicants every year. Of those 150,000, 18% are existing customers.

In 2015, rejected customer applicants hit back and cancelled their Virgin Media contracts, costing the company millions of pounds. Virgin Media tackled this head-on by immediately making a public commitment to creating the best candidate experience ever. As a result, Richard Branson saved $7 million in lost revenue. Nice move, Rich! 👍

You may think you have the best process in place but fact is, it’s an ever-changing landscape. Millennials and the newly arrived Gen Z’s are disrupting traditional working cultures. And if you can’t adapt, you can’t attract.

Smart hiring managers are never complacent. You need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening with today’s talent.

Enter, the candidate experience survey.

What can you learn from surveying your successful and unsuccessful candidates?


A recent eRecruiter survey discovered a big disparity in perception between how employers view their recruitment practice versus what candidates think. 66% of employers said they cared about the candidate experience at every stage of the process. And candidates? 57% claimed that actually no, the companies they interviewed didn’t care about their experience.

A well-designed candidate survey helps close the gap.

By getting insights straight from your candidates, you can make informed, data-driven decisions about how to better manage your hiring process. And by asking directly for feedback, you’re not just showing you care about the process itself, but that you care about the people who are a part of it.

You might be thinking, “That’s swell but…”

What should a candidate experience survey actually look like?

We love this summary from Danielle Weinblatt, the founder and CEO of ConveyIQ, in an article for SHRM.

“The ideal survey is one that captures as many qualities about the candidate [as possible], such as his or her status in the hiring process, source of application, and of course, position, without revealing the identity of the individual.”

Before you launch into crafting your questions, consider the following tips.

  • Keep it brief — If you them to actually fill your survey out, please don’t make it long and complicated.
  • Go for 5–6 questions — No more than 12 max.
  • Offer an incentive — Throw in a voucher, discount or gift as a way to thank candidates for taking the time to provide their feedback.
  • Ask succinct questions — Don’t waffle, be direct.
  • Avoid open-ended questions — Make it easy to get the insights you need through well-constructed closed questions that yield a fast answer.
  • Make sure you’re measuring experience — It can be tempting to throw in irrelevant questions, stay focused on the must-knows.
  • Leave space for general comments — If they have something they really want to say, give them a place to voice it.
  • Give them a heads-up — Get more responses by informing candidates about the survey at each stage of the recruitment process.
  • Keep it fair and balanced — Offer the survey to both rejected candidates and successful ones.
  • Make it anonymous — You’re more likely to get honest answers this way.

Sample questions for your candidate survey

The most common style of question is one that asks the candidate to rate the company. This gives you a ‘net promoter score’, which basically means how much a candidate is likely to recommend you.

A typical question that asks for a rating uses the following structure:

  • How likely are you to recommend our company to other candidates?

It usually comes with a sliding scale that the candidate will tick, for example, from 0 to 10. 0 is ‘I would never recommend this company’ and 10 is ‘I would definitely will recommend this company’.

If that sounds a little dry, don’t worry. You can apply this structure any question you think will give you the best insight.

For example:

  • How would you rate our career website? 1 is Terrible and 10 is Amazing.
  • How would you rate the application process? 1 is Mind-numbing and 10 is Fun.
  • How would rate the interview process? 1 Disorganised and 10 is Super Professional.

Or, you can create statements and ask the candidate to agree or not agree (along with a sliding scale if you choose).

  • Communication was clear and prompt (1 is ‘What communication?’ and 10 is ‘I was contacted within 24 hrs at every stage’)

Ratings-based questions are probably the most-used type of question in candidate surveys, but that doesn’t mean they’re the cure-all for your hiring process. Ultimately, every question you ask is only as good as the amount of logical thought you put into it, and of course, the strategy you use for applying that feedback.

Before you send out your survey, you may want to think about the current dark spots in your hiring process. Getting a clear reading on what has and hasn’t worked so far is a great place to start building a better experience for candidates.

Feedback is a two-way street

Finally, don’t forget to give candidates your own feedback.

Rejected applicants can leave with bad feelings. After all, we’re only human. Giving useful feedback shows you’re a company that respects every applicant. As a result, unsuccessful candidates are less likely to hold a grudge or speak a negatively about you as an employer brand.

And who knows? Maybe they’ll apply again. This time for a better-suited role, one they’ll totally rock. (Stranger things have happened.)

Creating a great candidate experience survey isn’t rocket science, but it can definitely feel like it sometimes. Breezy can help. From email, SMS, candidate nurturing and more — we make it easy for candidates to love you.

Start optimizing your recruiting process today.

Join the thousands of companies already hiring with Breezy HR.

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