Nearly half of job seekers in competitive industries have rejected job offers due to bad recruiting experiences.

That means that, due to their own errors, companies hiring for hard-to-fill roles regularly miss out on their first choice.

Luckily, this type of lost opportunity is easy to avoid. With the right tools, you can get the data you need to improve your recruiting processes and keep qualified candidates in your pipeline. 

One of these tools is a candidate experience survey. This is a short questionnaire asking candidates to review your hiring process. Using data from the survey, you can understand what your team is doing right and what they need to improve on.

Keep reading to learn more about candidate experience surveys, including what information to gather, what types of questions to ask, and other best practices.

Topics your candidate experience survey could cover

Before you start putting your survey together, think about why you’re sending it in the first place. 

If you’re trying to evaluate your hiring process holistically, you might ask questions that cover every phase of a candidate’s journey. However, if you already know the specific area that needs improvement, you can choose to zero in on that step to get more specific information.

Below are a few specific ideas about what aspects of your recruiting journey you may want to ask questions about.

Your job ads or job site

A job ad for an open role is often the first time candidates will learn about your client. And they matter more than you may think. Everything from the length to the tone to the words you choose can impact candidates’ impression of your clients and how likely talent is to apply. 

By drilling down to the right questions, you can find out whether your job descriptions are concise, clear, strike the right tone, and more. 

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Did the job post include all the information you were looking for about the position and company? If not, what information was missing?
  • How easy was it to navigate the job site? 
    • Very easy
    • Somewhat easy
    • Neither easy nor difficult
    • Somewhat difficult
    • Very difficult
  • How closely did the job description align with the role you discussed with your recruiter?
    • Very aligned
    • Somewhat aligned
    • Neither aligned nor misaligned
    • Somewhat misaligned
    • Very misaligned

The application process

The application process also has the power to impact the quality of your talent pool. Reducing the amount of time that it takes for candidates to fill out an online application can increase job applications from desktop users by 1.5% — and by 2.3% for mobile applicants. So, it’s clear that a burdensome application process can result in abandoned applications — and a more limited candidate pool. 

Find out if your application process is too difficult, requires too much information, or asks irrelevant questions:

How difficult was the application process?
Very easy
Somewhat easy
Neither easy nor difficult
Somewhat difficult
Very difficult

Did you encounter any issues when you were applying? If yes, please describe.

Did you receive a timely response to your application? If no, please indicate how long it took to receive a response or if you never received confirmation.

Streamlining your applications will encourage more people to apply to open roles and help candidates start the interview process with a better impression of your organization.

The interview experience

Recruiters, interviewers, and hiring managers are representatives of your company. A bad experience during an interview can even deter qualified candidates from accepting a job offer.

Make sure your interviews are compliant, that interviewers behave professionally, and that candidates feel comfortable during the process:

How prepared were the interviewers?
Very prepared
Somewhat prepared
Neither prepared nor unprepared
Somewhat unprepared
Very unprepared

Did you find the interview questions challenging? Why or why not?

How comfortable were you during the interview? 
Very comfortable
Somewhat comfortable
Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable
Somewhat uncomfortable
Very uncomfortable

Please let us know why you gave this answer.


The recruiting industry at large needs to work on its communication skills. According to a 2019 Talentegy report, 63% of job seekers were dissatisfied with communication throughout the application process.

Learn how to improve communication with a candidate experience survey.

Use your candidate experience survey to figure out where and how your recruiters can improve communication with candidates. Was communication unclear, untimely, or simply nonexistent?

How satisfied were you with our communication throughout your job search? 1=Very unsatisfied, 10=Very satisfied

How frequently did our recruiters communicate with you throughout your job search?
Too frequently
Very frequently
Somewhat frequently
Neither frequently nor infrequently
Somewhat infrequently
Very infrequently
Too infrequently
I received no communication from recruiters

Did this level of communication meet your expectations? Why or why not?

Anything else we can do to improve our communication?

Better communication could encourage candidates with job offers to accept them. And even rejected candidates will leave the process feeling like your recruiters or hiring managers were helpful throughout the process. This could mean the difference between creating brand ambassadors and creating detractors.

Types of questions to include in your candidate experience survey

Once you understand which questions you want to ask, you can decide how you want to ask them. Below are a few different question types and the information you can get from them — we’ve used many of them above.

Net promoter score (NPS)

Net promoter score (NPS) is a popular survey option because it’s an easy question for respondents to answer and still gives you a lot of information to work with. 

NPS asks respondents whether they would recommend your company on a scale of 0 to 10. You can find out more about calculating NPS here. But for the purposes of this article, you should know that the highest possible NPS is 100, while the lowest is -100. 

Once you know your NPS, you can use the other questions on your survey to pinpoint where your hiring process needs improvement. You can also include an open-ended question, like “Why did you give this response?” after asking candidates to rate their experience.

Quick-answer questions

As much as possible, you should make your questions easy for candidates to answer. Some quick-answer questions could include:


Similar to NPS, you can ask candidates to rank different aspects of the hiring experience on a scale of one to ten. These types of responses will help you understand how the average applicant felt about interacting with your recruiters.

How satisfied were you with your recruiter throughout your job search? 1=Very unsatisfied, 10=Very satisfied

Multiple choice

Give candidates multiple options to evaluate your process. You can set these responses up to mimic a scale. 

Did you feel that you had all the information you needed at each stage of the interview process?
Most of  the time

Prompting these types of responses can help clarify candidates’ responses without asking them to write a novel about their experience.


Sometimes a simple yes or no is all you need to pinpoint where you can improve your process. If most people respond negatively, you know you need to make changes to improve your candidate experience.

Did you encounter any problems with our mobile job site? If yes, please describe.

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions that require respondents to write a short paragraph will give you the most detail about individual candidates’ experiences. However, they’re also questions that discourage responses from people who are in a hurry or don’t want to put in the time to give a detailed response. 

Since open-ended questions require more thought from respondents, think carefully about how you want to use them. One easy way to get more information from candidates is to ask a question like, “Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your experience?” 

Some best practices to keep in mind

Now that you’ve decided on the focus of your survey and who you’ll send it to, you’re almost ready to build it! But before you put your survey together, consider some best practices that will help you create a questionnaire that works.

Let applicants know your interview process includes a survey

You’ll increase your response rate if you let candidates know up front to expect a survey from you. It will be less likely to get lost in candidates’ inboxes if they’re looking out for an email after the interview process.

You can also set expectations by letting candidates know that you want feedback about your hiring process. Even before going into an interview, they’ll be primed to think about the feedback to share with you.

Make your survey short and simple

You might want to evaluate every facet of your hiring process, but your candidates don’t. Limit your survey to five to 10 questions so respondents aren’t asked for too much of their time.

You can include a few open-ended questions that require a short paragraph from candidates. But the majority of your questions should be some form of multiple choice, so respondents can answer in a few seconds.

Making sure your survey is easy to fill out will increase your response rate and help you get the answers you need.

Allow anonymous responses

Inauthentic responses won’t help you make the improvements you need. Candidates will be more likely to give you candid answers if they have the option to remain anonymous.

Get straightforward answers from candidates by keeping their responses anonymous.

If you really feel the need to follow up with candidates about their answers, give them the choice to opt in to further communication. At the end of your survey, include a question like, “Can we contact you for more information about your responses?” 

Take appropriate action once you’ve collected your survey results

Don’t start patting yourself on the back just because you’ve created a survey and gathered some responses. Plan to review survey responses regularly and take action to change your processes.

Improving the candidate experience is just one piece of the puzzle. Smart recruiting means keeping up with the latest tech, managing your team thoughtful, and remaining knowledgeable about the latest industry trends. Subscribe to our blog to get staffing and recruiting resources and best practices sent right to your inbox.