A Practical Guide to Candidate NPS

Written by Gem Siocon
8 minutes read

Measuring candidate Net Promoter Score helps you improve your candidate experience and make your recruitment process more effective. Let’s dive into how to measure and calculate candidate NPS and learn about cNPS best practices.

What is candidate NPS?
How do you calculate candidate NPS?
Why should you measure candidate NPS?
Candidate NPS best practices

What is candidate NPS?

Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS) measures how candidates like or dislike their experience with your organization during their application and recruitment process. It’s based on a well-known Net Promoter Score metric, which measures customer experience.

cNPS is a recruiting metric and KPI that companies use to evaluate their candidate experience to improve the recruitment and selection process and employer brand.

Organizations typically gather cNPS data through candidate experience surveys by asking a variation of the following question: “Based on your experience as a candidate, how likely are you to recommend applying to [company] to others?” Candidates answer this on a scale from 0 to 10 – very unlikely to very likely.

Candidate NPS: Calculation and How to Improve
Find out more about candidate NPS best practices below!

How do you calculate candidate NPS?

You can calculate cNPS with the candidates’ answers on a 0-10 scale divided into three groups: 

  • 0–6 are called Detractors – Not likely to recommend the organization as a place to apply for a job
  • 7–8 are called Passives – Not actively recommending your organization as a place to apply, but are also unlikely to damage your employer brand with negative word of mouth or bad feedback
  • 9–10 are called Promoters – Extremely recommend the organization as a place to apply for a job

Then, you need to look into how many people you have in each group and what their share of the total is.

The general formula for calculating candidate Net Promoter Score is:

cNPS = % of Promoters – % of Detractors

Scores above 0 are generally considered good. Results between 30 and 70 are great, and scoring above 70 indicates excellence.

For example, you got a total of 20 candidate survey responses.

Based on the scores, you need the percentage of the groups to calculate your cNPS (which will be given a total of 100%). 

  • 4 people/20 – 20% – are Detractors
  • 6 people/20 – 30% – are Passives
  • 10 people/20 – 50% – are Promoters

Passives are not included in the computation. Now, subtract Promoters from Detractors. The formula would be: 

cNPS: 50 – 20 = +30

cNPS Score = +30 

Why should you measure candidate NPS?

First and foremost, tracking candidate NPS helps you improve your candidate experience. Let’s break it down.

The ongoing mass resignation and skill shortages flipped the situation from employer-dominated labor conditions to a candidate-driven job market. 

Gone are the days when candidates only review job offers before signing an employment contract. They now check out employer review sites like Glassdoor and Comparably before applying for a role. 

Research shows that about 1 in 3 candidates have turned down job offers because the company had bad online employer reviews. In other words, negative feedback from job seekers could tarnish your brand and reputation.

Tracking cNPS helps you create better candidate experience to reduce those bad reviews; if not, get more positive feedback. Good employer branding can help organizations beat the competition and hire highly competent people.

And candidate NPS is not only relevant to current staffing needs. You can use your candidate NPS score to create a business case for future talent acquisition initiatives. 

Candidate NPS best practices

1. Track cNPS for rejected and hired candidates

Closely monitoring your candidate survey results will give you a well-rounded picture of how candidates experience your recruitment process. Their opinions might be impacted by whether or not they got hired.

You should ask the candidate NPS question to all job seekers, whether hired or not. The ideal results should indicate that all candidates had a positive experience with your organization.

In reality, that may not be the case. You may receive negative feedback from rejected applicants because they didn’t get the job they wanted. However, they will also likely evaluate their application experience more honestly than those hired. Use these candid assessments to improve your candidate experience. 

Measuring candidate NPS is not just a one-time action. Track your progress to understand where you’ve improved and where work still needs to be done.

2. Measure cNPS in multiple stages of the process

Measure candidate NPS at multiple stages of your recruitment process to get a richer and more nuanced picture of how the applicants experience the different steps of the candidate journey. 

Doing this will help you uncover potential stage-specific issues. For instance, maybe candidates see your application process as a bit clunky, but their interview experience is fantastic. That shows you that you need to work on rehauling your application stage.

43% more candidates at companies leading in candidate experience were asked for feedback at the end of the interview stage compared to all other employers. 

However, you must balance collecting enough data and overwhelming candidates with surveys. If you ask for feedback while the candidates are still in the process, communicate to them that their feedback won’t impact your hiring decision.

And not all feedback is the same. You may get a different response from an applicant who got rejected during the resume screening from someone who didn’t pass the job interview. 

Also, include job seekers who have decided to withdraw their application. What prompted them to cancel their application? Did they wait too long to get a callback from the recruiter? Did they get a better job offer from a competitor? 

Another thing is categorizing your candidate NPS data per recruiter. It will show you how your recruiters deliver a great candidate experience. 

You can also consider segmenting via open roles. That way, you can understand the differences per team and per role and dive deeper into the issues. For example, while candidates for senior roles might find a multi-step recruiting process reasonable, applicants for part-time junior positions might consider it too demanding.

3. Set realistic improvement goals

As we’ve already mentioned, the main objective of measuring cNPS is to consistently create a positive candidate experience.

You can set SMART goals for the improvements to keep you focused and motivated. An example of such a goal could be: Improve our cNPS by 10% in one quarter. Making use of historic cNPS data makes it easier to track your progress and improvement.

Another goal could be to increase the share of promoters, e.g., Increase the share of promoters from 15 to 20% by the end of the year.

4. Determine what questions to ask in your cNPS survey

Your candidate NPS questions will depend on what information you want to get from the candidates. 

The primary question to ask in your cNPS questionnaire is: 

On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend applying to our company to your friends and family?

But to get more accurate data on your candidate experience, you can also have the candidates rate your organization on the following:

  1. How easy was it to submit your application on our website? 
  2. To what extent did the job description accurately reflect the role during the interview with the hiring team?
  3. How prompt and effective was the email and phone communication during our hiring process?
  4. What was the biggest challenge you faced during our hiring process?
  5. How fast did the recruiters contact you with the hiring result?
  6. How helpful were the recruiters?
  7. Would you apply for a future job opening at our company?
  8. To what extent the hiring process needs to be improved?

5. Employ automation

Dedicated candidate experience tools will help you send surveys after application, interview, rejection, and onboarding. 

Some candidate experience tools allow for integration with your ATS. Candidate surveys are then automatically emailed when a candidate enters a specific step in your ATS, e.g., applied, had been interviewed, rejected, or onboarded. Candidates can also get automatic pop-up prompts to fill in the survey when they submit the application or finish the pre-employment assessment.

After the collection of data, the software consolidates the result.

Platforms that help you measure candidate experience include Starred, Trustcruit, and Talenthub.io.

6. Segment your data

You most likely don’t have a one-size-fits-all recruitment process, but it differs per role, department, location, business unit, or recruiters.

That’s why you need to go granular with your candidate NPS data. Segmenting the feedback based on different criteria as well as the recruitment process stage will allow you to gain relevant insights and design targeted improvements. You can also break down feedback to see the answers to individual questions.

Furthermore, you can include different segments in your cNPS dashboard and show the data as graphs or tables. For example, see how you’re doing in the interview stage, how candidates rate your application process or compare candidate experience per role. 

7. Gather qualitative data, too

An easily accessible source of qualitative data is your newly hired candidates. You can conduct short interviews with them to find out details about what they liked and didn’t like about your process. Encourage them to be honest with you – after all, you want to do better. 

It’s tempting to focus only on positive feedback, but never ignore your detractors or those candidates who didn’t get hired. Take proactive steps to uncover the reasons for their negative reviews. 

You can also check what candidates say about your recruitment process on employer review sites like Glassdoor.

8. Benchmark against industry standards and your own results

You can compare your candidate NPS score to industry benchmarks. For example, a benchmark cNPS score for candidates rejected after the interview is -1. You can check out the Candidate Experience Benchmark report from Starred to get detailed information about candidate NPS benchmarks.

Even better, you can compare the progress of your results over time and create internal benchmarks for the cNPS scores. That way, you can continuously monitor how you’re doing and work on improving your candidate experience.

9. Act on the results

Your chosen cNPS tool, whether it’s your own survey or a dedicated candidate experience platform, will record the results. Then, you can monitor the uptick or decrease in the score and see the insightful feedback from applicants on what needs to be improved. The information helps review team-specific practices that either contribute to or detract from your candidate experience.

When you survey candidates about their experience, it’s imperative to design improvements based on the results to make your recruitment process smoother, fairer, and more enjoyable for the candidates. And with realistic goals set, you have a path for how to achieve them.

A final word

Candidate NPS is a valuable metric for building an effective and enjoyable recruitment process. Improving your cNPS score will help your hiring efforts in the long run. You’ll never know when a rejected candidate can be a future employee after a year. 

And cNPS effect can even go beyond employment. If a person didn’t have a good experience while applying for a job in your company, it might also affect how they see your organization as a whole, including your products and services. 

So that means losing that person as a customer. Even if they don’t answer your cNPS or go on Indeed or Glassdoor to leave scathing reviews, they may spread the word to their friends and family to avoid your company and brand.

That’s why you need to use your learnings from the data to boost your candidate experience and turn candidates into your fans.

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Gem Siocon

Gem Siocon is a digital marketer and content writer, specializing in recruitment, recruitment marketing, and L&D.

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