Incentivize Recruiters for a More Successful Hiring Process

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.23.47 PMThe candidate experience has become one of the most talked-about areas for improvement in the recruitment industry, in large part thanks to Gerry Crispin, who in 2010 announced his idea for the Candidate Experience Awards for Recruiters and Private Sector Employees. The idea was to develop a program to recognize and reward those companies who were providing a good experience to their recruiters and candidates.

Oddly enough, not a lot of attention seems to be paid to giving incentives to the people who actually provide the experience to candidates: recruiters.

First, let’s look at the candidate experience award 2013 results.

The North American Candidate Experience Awards 2013 surveyed 46,000 candidates who applied to almost 95 innovative companies. The data was analyzed and the results were compiled in the Candidate Experience 2013 report.

According to the report, career sites like are still the most popular methods for recruiting. Almost every employer (98 percent) said that they were “central and routine.” These were followed by the major social media networks LinkedIn (83 percent), Facebook (67 percent), and Twitter (63 percent).

Fortunately for me and my competitors, job apps and video interviewing seemed to be areas of high growth and interest from many companies. Video interviews in particular are becoming more useful as digital technologies become cheaper and more ubiquitous. Approximately 54.1 percent of companies had a video interviewing system in use, and about 23 percent are considering implementing one in 2014.

The winners of the contest included Capital One, American Airlines Inc, Wells Fargo, and General Motors, among many others. These companies used mobile services and video interviewing, branded employment services, and were very interested in getting feedback from participants through polls and surveys.

A New Model of Candidate Recruitment

Alongside this focus on candidate satisfaction should be a similar effort toward optimizing the people who actually work with candidates — the recruiters. In most cases, recruiters are judged on only two metrics: time-to-fill and cost-per-hire.

This needs to change to accommodate the candidate experience. Instead of rating recruiters based on these bare-bones statistics, what if companies redesigned the model to incentivize recruiters based on the candidate’s experience in recruiting, as well as their managers’ satisfaction? If recruiters were rewarded for their efforts and held accountable for their actions, it would drive the growth of other key performance indicators.

Article Continues Below

For example, candidates who never hear back about a job are not going to think very highly of the company. In fact, the chief complaint among candidates is not knowing if the job they applied for had been filled or not, and only 39 percent of the candidates surveyed in the above report acknowledged being notified by a personal email or phone call from the employer after the interview. Job seekers want to know if their applications are rejected, in line, or won’t be processed at all. If the time-to-hire is 60 days, in a slow, drawn-out process both candidates and recruiters suffer the consequences.

Both of these issues can be remedied by rewarding recruiters. If a system of incentives based on candidate experience is implemented, recruiters can finally understand in detail how their individual actions affect how the candidate feels about the recruitment process. They will be given feedback based on candidate and manager surveys, which will help them improve and provide a better experience moving forward.

With candidate satisfaction at such a high priority, there needs to be a system in place that can manipulate this metric directly. If recruiters only care about filling positions, they’ll have much less reason to worry about candidate and manager satisfaction than if they were held accountable for the details of how smoothly the recruitment process goes.

By using an internal rewards program to incentivize recruiters (based on how satisfied their candidates and managers are), candidate satisfaction will increase organically. A system like this gives recruiters a ladder of values to climb, and opportunities for personal growth that match the effect that they have on their candidates and managers.

Some of the Related Conference Sessions at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego:

  • Retaining Your Top Gun Recruiters: Identify, Recognize, and Reward, Thursday, April 24, 11:15 a.m.
  • Think Like a Marketer and Ace Your Recruiting Results, Thursday, April 24, 3:15 p.m.
  • Recruiting Recruiters: Strategies to Find and Develop Great Recruiters, Wednesday, April 23, 2 p.m.

Christopher Young is the CEO of Async Interview, a technology and service company meeting the needs of corporate and outsourced recruitment professionals through its video interviewing technology. He writes about all things related to recruiting, innovation, screening, and video interviewing  Follow him at@chrisyoungr or Async Interview at @AsyncInterview or on Google+


16 Comments on “Incentivize Recruiters for a More Successful Hiring Process

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been banging the drum for some time that candidate experience needs to be measured based on real feedback from candidates to raise performance standards and accountability. Only by measuring can you accurately manage and reward.

    Good post.


  2. Thanks, Christopher.
    I also think we should be incentivized for what we’re expected to concentrate on.
    It’s made me think of a new saying:
    Quality and affordable butts in chairs- on time and within budget, manager satisfaction, candidate experience: PICK ANY TWO.


  3. It’s nice those companies are paying attention to the experience, has it affected their recruiting practices in terms of results in any quantifiable way? Has it driven their time to hire down, their quality of hire up, their cost of hire down, etc? That will be the key in getting companies to acknowledge this as a problem to be addressed, there has to be a plausible ROI proposed and concrete results. Since this is really a newer issue, my guess is it won’t go anywhere until a tipping point hits and it starts materially affecting recruiting efforts. Right now, most companies see it as a cost with a feel-good justification and not much more.

  4. I am a big believer in the candidate experience. Does anyone have any suggestions/tools for how to measure candidate and manager feedback? At one of my former companies we had a fairly complex/convoluted process. Just curious to learn how others have measured this successfully. Great post!

  5. Survey Monkey is a basic tool, just write up a standard survey aimed at each participant, employee or manager, and ask everyone.

  6. For manager experience, our recruiters are measured twice per year via Survemonkey. This feedback is given to each recruiter and is included in our performance reviews. We strive to provide a positive candidate experience but haven’t found an efficient way to measure this. We have systems in place to notify every candidate once a job is filled. We encourage our hiring managers to make personal calls to those whom they interview and do not select. We provide a link to our talent community in every notification email so candidates can subscribe and learn more about jobs of interest to them. The tough part is that we are typically managing 1,300 applicants at a time in all stages of the process for 20-40 openings so it is extremely difficult to provide completely individualized feedback. We do understand and remember that our candidates are often our patients/members so we strive for a great experience so they will keep coming back and refer others to our company.

  7. Jessica,

    Sounds like a very good effort on your part. At this point in time you guys are doing way more than most. But, like you say, what’s the measure? Negative reviews via surveys can be useful, but people who don’t get the job are inherently unsatisfied as it is. In a sense you’re only talking to customers who didn’t get what they wanted.

    Which is why some recruiting standards along the line of what Keith talks about are a good idea. A lot of pissed off people aren’t necessarily the recruiter’s fault, but in other cases they can directly be the recruiter’s fault. It’s hard to determine which, and does it even affect their hard results like time, cost, or quality of hire.

  8. @ Jessica: I commend your organization- it “walks your talk”.
    “The tough part is that we are typically managing 1,300 applicants at a time in all stages of the process for 20-40 openings so it is extremely difficult to provide completely individualized feedback”.

    Actually, I’ve proposed a solution to this for several years:
    Hire one or more (You’d need a lot more than one) offshore Virtual Candidate Care Representatives for a few dollars/hr a (a fraction of U.S. minimum wage) to act as CC point-person and able to answer all questions re: the application process, applicant status, etc. leaving the recruiter to deal with candidates who are actively moving forward at the moment. While I’m only guessing how many applicants a VCCR could handle, I’m thinking that all 1300 or so could be handled very professionally at the cost of 1-2 sr. contract recruiters, thus both creating a very positive image in the applicants mind and increasing recruiter efficiency.


  9. @Keith, interesting proposal, though unfortunately I don’t think this would fly in my nonprofit organization. Though, I like the idea. People like this could actually probably sit down with those repeat types of applicants, to discuss techniques for them to tailor their resume to fit the job they are applying for. I think some candidates start to get frustrated with not getting jobs and then just start applying to any job in the company, even ones they don’t qualify for i.e. nurses even if they are not an RN. Yes, we have tons of those types of applicants. It can also be tough because when we do notify candidates they aren’t selected, much of the time we hear nothing from candidates. Other times, we get thanked by candidates for the communication, which I value. Most of the other times, we get angry emails from candidates (sometimes up to the CEO) as to why they can never get jobs. So, that’s where I could see a sort of counselor/candidate experience specialist, helping in these situations. We do have an email address and general voice-mail phone number listed on our career site (the site has actually won awards recently). Our intern and coordinator handle these questions that come in such as, I cannot figure out how to fill out my application or what is the status on my 15 applications. I do think candidate experience is a tough metric to even get buy-in to measure though.

  10. Great discussion going on here. I’m working on putting together some additional details around this to help an organization get to where @Jessica is and possibly further.

    While it’s great to get this feedback quarterly, gathering it on a per job basis will help to understand where there are real challenges. With that said talking about it and implementing it are two different things. I suggest you first see if you can create a workflow in your ATS that sends the hiring manager & candidate an email once you change the requisition status to “hired / closed”. This would allow you to drop a Survey Monkey link into a template and automate the process and then gather the data quarterly out of Survey Monkey.

    If you absolutely cannot automate it, try sending out a survey twice a year like @Jessica. Baby steps…


  11. Thanks, Jessica. As a NPO, our organization may approach how it deals with regular people differently than many FPOs do- less of an: “I’ve got mine, you get yours (unless I want yours, too)” attitude.


  12. @Christopher, we have discussed collecting hiring manager feedback using our workflow and an automated email trigger with a surveymonkey link. The problem we have often been concerned about is, our managers are constantly taking surveys for one thing or another. So, if they get a survey every time they fill a job, they may stop filling out information. But, I am a proponent of this strategy because surveys twice a year don’t collect realtime feedback. Like you stated, baby steps. 🙂

  13. Yeah Chris, great chapter. In my opinion HR depts need leaders or move talent acquisition/strategic recruiting under CEOs. To more multi-skilled teams. Why? Cause as Richard Araujo wrote: what could be the measurement? You can easily measure time-to-fill or cost-per-hire but candidate experience? But yes, you can measure it. Through brand survey focused on brand’s association, in a long term. And that’s the point. Recruitment should be “lead not manage”. You can’t get quick wins, just a long term superiority.

  14. We created an online tool that automates candidate feedback via ATS for all applicants ( – whether successful or not. By providing real-time feedback that goes into a centralised dashboard we can monitor feedback by job family, department, recruiter, diversity profiling etc.. as well as alongside Hiring Manager feedback. This not only enables organizations to pinpoint areas that need improving by different groups, but also means there is real accountability and the opportunity for those at a senior level to reward good practice.

    Jessica’s solutions and approach are highly commendable and it is great to see organizations recognizing the importance of collating feedback and in a timely manner as well as the fact that these candidates also have a relationship with the organization as customers/patients.

    An important element of all this for me as well is that we continue to evaluate and measure the groups within the groups. Particularly in areas such as diversity – and veteran recruitment – so we can ensure that experiences are consistent and that we can identify particular areas for improvement. These are the tools required to manage and create a positive candidate experience for everyone.

  15. Measurement is all well and good (Who’s going to be doing the measuring, where will the money for that come from, who will be doing the analyses, etc?) but what will the positive and negative incentives for improving it be? Will recruiters who are being paid for 40 but working 55 hrs/week be given something else (apart from putting quality buts in chairs affordably and on time) we’re responsible for? Will they say: “Hey, let’s hire some of those Virtual Candidate Care Reps suggested and improve CE while easing our recruiter’s burdens to concentrate on their core duties”? Will they go against the arrogant high-level people who have deliberately and purposely (or even accidentally) made the CE so bad, or will they say to recruiters: “We aren’t changing ANYTHING- but YOU’RE responsible for improving the CE”?

    Folks, on which of these above would YOU place your bets?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *