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Practical Guide to Candidate Experience NPS

Creating a recruitment process that gives everyone involved a high-quality experience can be critical to building and maintaining a candidate pool of top talent, ready to be tapped at a moment’s notice. The key to a successful process is candidate experience and a high candidate net promoter score (candidate NPS) from all parties involved. 

This means your organization needs to not only gather the right data points (conducting surveys and getting feedback at every stage of the talent lifecycle), but to target every key contributor or player in that lifecycle. 

You’re going to need to be able to measure NPS from three key segments: 

  • Candidates
  • Hiring managers
  • Individual recruiters

Armed with these scores, you’ll have a baseline against which you can work to improve your candidates’ experience, and increase the likelihood of securing top talent not only for now, but later as well. 

This guide lays out a step-by-step path to recruitment success and elevated candidate experience using candidate experience surveys and candidate NPS as your primary tools.

Why Candidate Experience Is so Important

A bad candidate experience can severely limit your talent pool, increase cost-of-hire, and negatively impact Quality of Hire. Consider the following:

Research shows that 72% of candidates will share a poor recruiting experience either directly with others or through an online platform.

A staggering 75% of workers say they have been “ghosted” by an employer.

81% of candidates agree that their overall recruitment experience could be significantly improved simply by employers communicating continuous status updates.


Job-seekers are more discerning than ever, and candidate expectations for employers are high when it comes to the hiring process. Improving candidate experience will help prevent the loss of top talent due to otherwise ineffective, disrespectful, or poorly put together recruitment strategies.

Understanding the Basics of Candidate Surveys

Basic candidate experience surveys consist of several questions and allow candidates to provide structured feedback. This allows recruiters and hiring managers to spot patterns in candidate praise or complaints.

Net promoter scores were originally used to measure customer experience. The answer to the simple question “How likely are you to recommend (product or company) to friends and colleagues?” provides a wealth of information about customer satisfaction.

Over time, NPS became the gold standard for satisfaction surveys, and branched out from customer-facing use to other applications, including for recruiting and HR. Candidate experience NPS surveys usually consist of just one or two questions such as: “How likely are you to recommend applying for a job at (company) to a friend or colleague?”

The Impact of Candidate Experience and NPS Surveys

Candidate experience surveys and NPS scores can have significant impacts on your organization. 

Candidate experience has a direct effect on hiring metrics and overall business performance. If highly-qualified candidates are continually leaving the recruitment pipeline early or self-selecting out after the interview stage, candidate experience surveys can help you pinpoint where and why they became dissatisfied with the process.

Create a high quality candidate experience based in part on feedback from constant surveying of the candidate pool at different stages of the hiring funnel. Then apply what you’ve learned to improve the recruitment pipeline. This primes your organization to hire people who come into their new job enthused and motivated, instead of with a sour taste in their mouth.

In addition to the benefits from broad candidate experience surveys, the simplicity of candidate NPS surveys has another, more far reaching effect. The most striking real-world examples/case studies of successful implementation of candidate experience benchmarking come from Graeme Johnson, who worked first at Virgin Media and later at BT Group.

Johnson applied candidate experience survey and NPS results to discover where bad recruitment processes were harming his companies’ bottom lines outside of employee engagement and productivity. He focused on candidates for open positions who had been rejected, who were also customers of the companies.

Specifically, Johnson looked at candidates who stopped being customers after a job rejection. The impact may not have seemed large to a small company - only 6% of rejected candidates canceled subscriptions - but at enterprise levels the financial losses were massive:

  • Virgin Media was losing £5.7 million annually
  • BT Group was losing £10.7 annually  

By figuring out where candidates were having the worst experiences (typically at the interview stage) and retraining teams to make the process better for candidates, Johnson was able to turn things around.

A Deep Dive into Candidate NPS Surveys

Candidate NPS surveys can help you benchmark your candidate experience and work to improve it. The science behind NPS scoring is based on comprehensive research, testing, and application, and the methodology originated with a partner at Bain & Company in 2003

The methodology was made available freely, and over time companies refined and expanded on it. However, many common misconceptions exist regarding NPS, especially as applied to candidate experience.

First, many talent acquisition specialists don’t understand how to use NPS properly or apply it to the hiring process. They may think that candidate NPS, or cNPS doesn’t even exist. Finding out that NPS can be applied to hiring can come as a surprise.  

Second, recruiters may disregard NPS as a tool with extremely limited capability, especially if they’ve never seen NPS used aside from the most common “Would you recommend” question. Learning more about candidate NPS surveys can help them explore cNPS’ true value to the organization.

Third, hiring managers can fail to see where candidate NPS fits into hiring strategy. However, cNPS can be critical to vital stages like the interview phase, where many candidates report their worst experiences occurring.


Educating your hiring team about candidate experience, candidate NPS best practices, and how to use candidate NPS survey scoring to identify problem spots in the funnel can lead to significant improvements in how and who you hire.

Candidate NPS allows candidates to score their experience across a scale of one to ten. The responses should then be divided into three categories:

  • 0-6: Detractors
  • 7-8: Passives
  • 9-10: Promoters

 The general formula for calculating candidate Net Promoter Score is:

cNPS = % of Promoters – % of Detractors

It’s important to understand the scoring tiers, because logically it can be somewhat counterintuitive. Any scores above 0 are typically considered good, while results between 30 and 70 are typically considered great. Scoring above 70 indicates excellence when it comes to candidate NPS.

The cNPS scores can be combined with feedback from Crosschq’s Candidate Experience Scorecard for even deeper insights.

Candidate Experience Survey Best Practices 

Candidate experience best practices should be expanded to include frequent surveys to gauge how candidates feel about each phase of the recruitment journey, from application stage to interview and offer stages. 

Check out our Candidate Experience Cheat Sheet to find out what’s really important to candidates in 2023.

When and how to administer candidate experience surveys

Candidate experience surveys should be conducted at each key point along the hiring pipeline. These surveys can have multiple questions, which can be answered in text format by candidates.

Candidate NPS surveys can be conducted at every stage of the recruitment funnel. These surveys typically only have one or two questions, which can be answered simply by selecting a number between one and ten.

Design tips for effective surveys

Candidate experience survey questions can be easily formatted and deployed using candidate experience software. Keep questions short and to the point, avoiding complicated subjects to make them easier to answer and analyze. 

Likewise, candidate NPS software can help you develop simple questions and provide an easy selection process allowing candidates to simply select a number on a scale of one to ten. Simpler is better when it comes to NPS surveys.

The critical thing is to keep the questions upbeat and to prompt all candidates to provide honest, unfiltered feedback.

How to analyze and interpret survey results

The primary function of your survey analysis should be to inform future recruitment campaigns, but there is also room for learning more about your candidates by the way they answer questions.

Leverage candidate experience software and recruitment analytics to make sense of your survey results, from NPS scores to Quality of Hire impact and more. The right tools can help you turn your results into actionable next steps.

Establishing Benchmarks for Candidate NPS

Understanding industry standards and norms is the first step to establishing benchmarks using your candidate experience data. Look at your competitors’ metrics when it comes to candidate experience, and then analyze your own data to see where your numbers currently stand.

Setting realistic, achievable benchmarks

Breaking down benchmarks by department, position, and other factors can help you gain more insight into your current candidate experience metrics. You might find that your overall score is fairly mediocre, but one department is far and away superior. 

Alternatively, your company could have great candidate experience scores, but when you drill down, candidates applying for specific types of roles have a poor experience. Ferreting out these differences is part of what makes candidate experience surveys so valuable.

Once you know where you are at, set NPS benchmarking goals that you feel are achievable, such as “improve cNPS by 5% over 60 days”. If you beat your expectations, so much the better. The best way to get buy-in for the necessary investment in candidate experience surveys is to be able to underpromise and overdeliver.

Tracking progress and measuring success

By repeating candidate experience surveys and candidate NPS surveys at regularly timed intervals (every 12 weeks at the outside), you can see your progress and identify problem areas that need direct action.

For some industries, an improvement of just a few percentage points is a remarkable success. For others, merely getting away from a negative overall NPS score may be your initial goal. Positive progress is key, even if it seems to move slowly at first.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing Your Own Surveys

Implementing candidate experience surveys and measuring candidate NPS starts with internal discussions and staff education. Preparing your team and setting clear goals is key. 

A small team should be charged with conducting the first round of candidate NPS surveys, and can include current employees and new hires. This data can be used to arrive at preliminary benchmarks, which can then be explained to the team to prepare them for rollout of surveys across the hiring funnel.

Creating, deploying, and collecting survey responses must be a team effort, particularly for enterprise organizations using multiple methods of recruitment. Ensure every candidate entering the pipeline is presented with surveys at regular intervals. 

The easiest way to do this is through automation using candidate NPS software connected to your ATS. Create triggers that send out a candidate NPS survey at each milestone along the candidate journey.

Analyzing data can be done by using Crosschq’s analytics program designed to track and improve Quality of Hire. As your candidate experience metrics improve, you’ll notice you are able to hire and retain better candidates, bringing up your baseline Quality of Hire.

Understanding your survey results will help you make informed decisions about your future recruitment strategies, and leave even candidates who weren’t selected for a role with a positive feeling about their interaction with your company.

The Future of Candidate Experience and NPS Surveys

Predicting trends and upcoming innovations when it comes to candidate experience can be achieved by doing three things:

Acting on candidate survey feedback

Soliciting and analyzing candidate feedback is no good if you don’t make a plan to act on those insights. That’s why tools that help you identify weaknesses in your hiring process and give you easy ways to measure and improve candidate experience metrics are so important. 

Embracing technology for improved candidate experience

AI, machine learning, and other tools are the future of recruitment across all industries. Automation is just the first step. Can you imagine an AI that could use candidate survey responses to identify potential quality of hire and fast-track such candidates to the interview stage?

Preparing your team for the future of candidate experience strategy

Even with the best candidate experience software and understanding of NPS scores, your attempts to improve your recruitment strategy and analytics will go nowhere without buy-in from your team and even your candidates themselves.

Make the case for customer experience investment to higher ups, then educate and train your talent acquisition team in candidate experience best practices for superior results in hiring. As your benchmark and track your progress, you’ll see the proof that customer experience surveys work as your entire recruitment pipeline starts working faster and better.

Taking the Next Steps: Action Items for Improved cNPS

It’s time for HR professionals to start improving and leveraging candidate experience surveys and cNPS scores for faster, better hiring and more enjoyable candidate experiences. 

This can be accomplished by leveraging the Crosschq platform, which includes comprehensive pipeline management and digital reference checks as well as automated, integrated candidate surveys, robust ATS analytics and ongoing Quality of Hire reporting

The future of talent acquisition is data driven. Collecting information directly from your candidates is the best way to answer the ever-present question “How is hiring going?” from the talent’s point of view.

Are you ready to move forward with improving candidate experience and Quality of Hire? Contact our team for a demo today.



Katie Kennedy

by Katie Kennedy

Talent Consulting Lead

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