Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
6 Hiring Process Lessons Learned from Candidate Feedback

6 Hiring Process Lessons Learned from Candidate Feedback

There’s no better way to truly understand your hiring process than to tap into the candid experiences of your candidates. Accepting and processing candidate feedback might feel uncomfortable at first. After all, their unique insight uncovers the good, the bad, and the ugly of your hiring process. However, genuinely listening and implementing changes inspired by their honest feedback transforms your hiring process for future success. 

Here are six lessons real-life hiring professionals learned by listening closely to candidates’ concerns and feedback during the hiring process:

1. Candidate testing may be backfiring

Matthew RossMy business partner and I recently made changes to our interview process based on feedback we received from a candidate we ended up hiring. We hire many writers for our business and we typically give them a test assignment during the interview process to gain a better idea of their ability before extending an offer. 

Well, we ended up asking a recent hire for feedback on the test assignment. Luckily, this hire was candid with us. She told us the test assignment was hogwash and easy to cheat on. As such, we decided to change the prompt and how the test is administered. 

We now hold the test in person at our office and give the candidates limited resources and time to complete the assignment. So far, it seems the new test format is working. We have a much better idea of the actual writing ability of candidates before making employment decisions. 

Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO at The Slumber Yard

2. Unique interview styles can go amiss

Charles FloateOne surprising lesson I learned through candidate feedback was that our fun, informal, and off-center way of interviewing gave the impression the business was unorganized and had no direction. For the interview, I would set up a quick, impromptu phone call and ask them to do a spontaneous task in front of me. The ad hoc tasks made candidates feel uneasy and under intense pressure, as they had no time to prepare. 

After learning this, we decided to make a change and structured the process. All applicants were forwarded our hiring structure when interviews take place, what takes place in the interview, and what to bring. Plus, we let them know when we would share the results of the interview. 

Since this structure was put into place, we noticed an uptick in candidates replying to our interview request and actually turning up. The quality of the candidates was the same, but more of them, and they performed higher than their peers who previously took the test. This meant we could cherry-pick excellent candidates instead of trying to convince one of them to work for us. 

Charles Floate, owner of Godlike Marketing

3. Poor onboarding can damage retention

Gargi Rajan

Once, we hired a social media manager who left after two days of joining us, citing unexpected onboarding experiences. She wrote us a lengthy email about what she thought was wrong with our candidate experience and onboarding activities. We never knew these issues existed.    

She let us know we didn’t have a proper orientation regarding marketing and sales terms. We immediately called and conveyed our deepest regrets and asked for her genuine feedback. We patiently listened to her issues regarding our onboarding experience and convinced her to join us again with the promise that we would work on everything. 

We made thorough changes to our orientation, training, and initial information dissemination process. There’s also a survey form to be completed after the orientation process. We now focus on the continuous improvement of our systems and the bettering of our recruitment and employee experience endeavors.  

Gargi Rajan, Associate Director of HR at Unicommerce

4. Accessibility unawareness

Will CraigOur business is sited in an old tenement building in Glasgow City Centre. It’s Victorian and the only access to the office is up a winding staircase — there’s no lift. That obviously means the only way you can access it is by walking. 

We were scheduled to interview a candidate who uses a wheelchair, which we, unfortunately, didn’t realize until the interview itself. The candidate, quite rightly, pointed out the accessibility problems with the office and about how we should have mentioned that in job ad. We completely agreed and were very embarrassed. When it was clear that the candidate couldn’t get up the stairs easily, they withdrew from the interview. 

From that point on, we changed our interview practices to always mention the fact that accessibility to the office was limited. And we’re currently looking to move to an office that’s much more accessible for everyone. 

Will Craig, managing director and CEO at LeaseFetcher

5. Refocus away from candidates experience

Naomi AharonyOur job roles require niche skills so finding suitable candidates that tick all the boxes can be rare. We have evolved from our first set of interviews and recognized that we didn’t always ask the correct variety of questions at each interview stage. 

From both successful and unsuccessful candidate feedback, we realized we were too heavily fixated on molding our own job requirements to the past/present employment of the candidate. This meant our expectations were not easily met and we had a low hiring rate which was hindering the growth of the company. 

We started to focus less on work experience relevant to the role and placed much more emphasis on the candidates’ personality, enthusiasm, and extra-curricular activities such as team sports and life skills, which would be beneficial for the job role. Based on these changes we have employed some amazing people who are key members of the team despite not having the initial work experience. They have stayed with the company and grown with us for many years — becoming a valuable asset. 

Naomi Aharony, CEO and Co-Founder of Reboot Online 

6. Organizational fit matters

David RigbyRecently, while seeking feedback from candidates who were hiring for a senior-level role, I asked more than one unsuccessful candidate for a clear view of what they felt was missing. The hiring process had consisted of an application form, technical assessment, and panel interview. The missing part was organization fit.

Your typical interviews focus on technical ability and evidence of competencies. Technical abilities can be trained and developed, but individual behaviors are much more difficult to change. It’s important to make sure you are hiring someone who can live and breathe your organizational values. 

In a recruitment setting, organizations should have a values-based element to the recruitment process and need to understand what behaviors underpin the values. This means a set of behaviors reflecting the values needs to be developed so they can be thoroughly tested during the interview. 

Since my client developed their values and embedded them in the recruitment process, they’ve had massively positive results from their recruitment and astounding success in their hiring processes. 

David Rigby, Founder, and managing director at My People People


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.