Sample Candidate Experience Survey Questions

User gives rating to candidate experience on laptop pointing at a smiley face.

When candidates are desperate for work, it might not matter so much if you’re slow to respond to applications or if your interviewing skills aren’t up to snuff. In a competitive market, however, the experience a candidate has during the hiring process can be a determining factor in whether they accept your offer or choose to work somewhere else. 

If you want to boost your acceptance rate, maximize the ROI of your recruiting efforts and ensure a positive employer brand, every aspect of the candidate experience matters. We’ll explain how candidate experience surveys can help you set goals and measure your progress toward providing a stellar recruiting experience, plus share some great questions to ask in your surveys.  

What is a Candidate Experience Survey?

A candidate experience survey is a brief survey sent to candidates by HR or recruiters at various points during the hiring process. The goal of candidate experience surveys is to improve the hiring process for applicants while optimizing the company’s recruiting efforts.

Candidate experience surveys are brief, usually just a few questions, and ideally include a mix of fixed-answer and open-ended queries. 

Why are Candidate Experience Surveys Important?

Surveys are essential to improving your candidate experience. Just as you need to talk to actual customers to learn about the pros and cons of your products and services, you need to talk to actual candidates to learn where there’s room for improvement in your hiring process. 

Candidate experience surveys give you first-hand feedback about many elements of the application process that can be hard to ascertain when you’re on the inside–what the communication looks like on the candidate’s end, for example, or how your messaging comes across. These surveys can yield rich details about what it’s like for someone applying to work for you and the overall impression the process leaves with them. 

On a broader level, candidate experience surveys can help you spot trends that are indicative of larger problems or holes in your recruiting strategy. 

Related: Candidate Experience Best Practices and Why You Should Follow Them

Benefits of Conducting Candidate Experience Surveys

Increase acceptance rate

Getting more qualified candidates into open positions is priority number one for many companies that are struggling to hire. Candidate experience surveys can help you provide a better candidate experience, which increases the likelihood of getting a ‘yes’ to more of your offers. 

Strengthen your employer brand

Your employer brand is the reputation you have among current, former and prospective employees. What do people think it’s like to work for you? Would they want to apply based on what they’ve heard?

When you have a positive employer brand, it’s easier to get talented workers to hand in applications–and it requires less effort and financial investment, too. For example, applicants who do not receive a job offer are 80% more likely to apply with you again if they already had a positive impression of the company when they first applied.

Related: How to Elevate Your Employer Branding to Attract Top Talent

Reveal holes in your recruiting strategy

How candidates view their experience can sometimes be wildly different than how companies view it. For example, 78% of employers think they do a good job setting expectations and communicating during the hiring process, but only 47% of candidates agree that’s the case. 

Candidate experience surveys can help you pinpoint these discrepancies so you can continuously improve your recruiting strategy, providing a better, more streamlined experience for applicants. 

Gain and retain customers

Candidates aren’t one dimensional. They’re consumers in addition to being job applicants, and they may have an opportunity to purchase your product or service in the future. If they had a great experience interviewing with you, they’re more likely to feel happy spending their money with you than if they had a poor experience. So, candidate experience surveys have the secondary benefit of helping you protect your financial interests. 

The Best Candidate Experience Survey Questions to Ask

For best results, use a mix of rating scale (on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate X), agree/disagree, and open-ended questions. Here is a selection of strong questions in each of those categories.

Rating scale

How would you rate…

  • The communication you received during the application process?
  • The ease of submitting an application?
  • The speed of the recruiting process?
  • Your understanding of the role after the recruiting process?
  • The preparedness of your interviewer?
  • Your overall satisfaction with the recruiting process at [company]?
  • The likelihood of recommending [company] as an employer?

Agree and disagree

  • The careers page was helpful
  • The careers page was appealing
  • The job description was thorough
  • It was easy to fill out an application
  • The recruiter was knowledgeable
  • The recruiter was professional
  • The recruiter clearly described the job and its requirements
  • The recruiter was able to answer my questions
  • The recruiter responded to my inquiries promptly
  • The recruiter clearly explained next steps
  • I would recommend applying at [company] to others

Open-ended

  • Describe how you feel about the recruiting process at [company]. 
  • What did you like about the recruiting process?
  • What did you dislike about the recruiting process?
  • What could we do to improve upon the application process?
  • How likely are you to apply at [company] again? Why?

Tips for Conducting an Effective Candidate Experience Survey

1. Conduct them in a timely manner

Candidate experience surveys should be designed to gauge a particular phase in the hiring process (application, interview, etc.) and should be sent immediately after that phase. This ensures the experience is fresh in the candidate’s mind so you can get the most accurate, detailed responses. 

2. Send surveys after important touchpoints

While it’s fine to send a general candidate experience survey at the end of the process once you’ve either made an offer or rejected a candidate, it’s also a good idea to do them at key points during the hiring process. Viewing your careers page, submitting an application, speaking with a recruiter and completing an interview are all good touchpoints around which to send surveys.

Also, be sure to send surveys to candidates to whom you make offers and those you reject. While it’s presumed that rejected candidates may have some feelings of bitterness, they offer a unique perspective you can learn and grow from. Ultimately, your goal should be that great candidates come back to interview again even if they weren’t hired the first time around.

3. Optimize surveys for a smartphone

A smartphone is the device candidates are most likely to be using when they receive your invitation to complete a survey. So, make it quick and painless for them to follow through on your request by optimizing the experience for mobile devices. They shouldn’t have to download an app or wait until they’re at a desktop for the survey to work properly. 

4. Offer anonymity

Candidates are more likely to speak their mind when their identity is masked. They’re also more likely to feel comfortable applying again in the future if they know their feedback won’t have a bearing on their candidacy. So, offer anonymity whenever possible and make candidates aware that their responses won’t be tied to their name. 

5. Leverage automation

These days, there’s a wealth of technology that can help you automate the sending and collecting of candidate experience surveys. Automation ensures surveys are sent promptly and can help you follow up to maximize the completion rate. 

Use the tactics and sample questions above to create insight-generating candidate experience surveys that will continuously improve your recruiting process and ultimately, make more great hires. 

Related: What is Recruitment Automation and How Can You Use it to Hire Smarter?

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.