Measuring Candidates’ Perceptions of The Hiring Process

I’ve heard people say many times that ultimately you should run your selection process so that even those applicants who are unsuccessful still want to work for you. To me this makes complete sense – while among the unsuccessful applicants there are likely to be individuals you wouldn’t want to hire into the company at all, there are also likely to be a number of individuals who would be great employees in different roles, different teams or just at a different time. It is essential that these individuals go away with a positive impression of the company not only so that they will apply next time, but also because they will pass their impression of your company on to other potential applicants. Even for those individuals you won’t ever hire, their perceptions of your organisation are still important, as they will go on to discuss their experiences with others – thus marketing their own image of your company to possible clients. Studies have found that applicants who view the selection process in a positive light are also more likely to view the organisation positively.  In addition, they are more likely to want to accept job offers and recommend the employer to other individuals (Hausknecht, J.P., Day, D.V. & Thomas, S.C., 2004).

So, it’s not surprising that the majority of HR practitioners regularly state that candidates’ impressions of the recruitment process are important to them.  So why is it then that so few organisations actually measure candidates’ reactions to the selection process?

While it may be easy to assume that you know how candidates feel about your selection process, it is unlikely that any assumptions we make are realistic. Mostly, we gain candidates’ perceptions of the selection process through discussions with successful applicants. Needless to say, these individuals may not be completely honest about how they found the selection process, given the fact that you’ve just hired them. Furthermore they probably have a different view of the selection process from those who were unsuccessful, or those who opted out. So how can we accurately measure the full range of candidates’ perceptions?

I believe there are a number of potentially very simple solutions. The most obvious one would be to send a ‘short and sweet’ survey out to all applicants once the selection process is completed. It could include both quantitative and qualitative questions. Short enough so that some applicants will actually fill out it, and long enough to gather valuable information on how candidates view the process, and thus how your organisation is viewed by potential employees.  This information could be vital in informing how selection processes should be structured in order to improve favourable perceptions of your organisation, thereby increasing your chances of attracting good applicants and keeping good clients. Sounds easy right? Well, let’s get to it then!

Hausknecht, J.P., Day, D.V. & Thomas, S.C. (2004). Applicant Reactions to Selection Procedures: An Updated Model and Meta-Analysis. Personnel Psychology, 57(3), 639-683.


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