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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is candidate satisfaction?

Candidate satisfaction is a recruiting indicator that expresses how satisfied applicants are with their experience of a company’s application and selection process.

Candidate satisfaction definition

Candidate satisfaction describes the satisfaction of candidates who have applied for a job.

An even more straightforward way to remember it is this: Candidate satisfaction expresses how your candidates perceive your company’s candidate experience during the process from application to employment.

Why is candidate satisfaction important?

First and foremost, it is an interesting indicator because it allows you to draw conclusions about the quality of the application and selection process. If, for example, many applicants drop out of the application process, this would lead to a low satisfaction rate.

But even beyond that, there are some good reasons for measuring satisfaction:

Finding suitable talent for one’s own company is becoming more and more difficult—especially in times of the Great Resignation and now that the number of vacancies is constantly increasing while the number of available skilled workers continues to decrease.

Applicants are not always that patient, and so a hiring process nowadays has to be fast and, above all, smooth to convince talent to work with your company.

What criteria are included in candidate satisfaction?

Here is an overview of the most important quality criteria for candidate satisfaction:

  • Attractiveness of the job ad

    The candidate journey begins with the candidate reading the job advertisement on a job board.

    It’s great for candidate satisfaction if the job ad not only contains a job description that is as precise as possible, but also information about what candidates can expect from a company (more on this in the next section).

    How to create an attractive job advertisement and what it should look like is explained in detail in our new guide on how to write a good job ad.

  • Existence and quality of the career site

    Employer branding plays a central role in the application process. On average, as many as 35% of all applications received go through a company’s career site.

    However, this usually only works if potential applicants can get a good impression of the employer brand, the benefits, and the company culture.

    We explain exactly what a career page should contain to attract the attention of talents in our blog post on how to create the best career page.

  • Handling the application process

    An application process that is too complicated will drive talented candidates away. Ideally, it only takes a few clicks to submit the application.

    An easy-to-use online application form that only asks for a few details and offers the possibility to upload the necessary documents is often enough to achieve a higher candidate satisfaction.

    With each additional step that applicants have to go through during the application process, the risk of abandoning the application increases and satisfaction steadily decreases.

  • Rapid response and communication

    A submitted application is a good start. Now it’s time to get serious about the candidate experience. The longer it takes for candidates to hear back from the company, the faster their interest fades.

    It’s a good start and does not require any effort to send an automatic confirmation email to candidates about the receipt of their application.

    After that, the structure and efficiency of the recruitment process will determine how quickly things move forward and whether the recruitment is successful.

  • Quick decision

    Too long a shortlist and too lengthy selection processes with too many intermediate steps (e.g., many interviews and assessments) unnecessarily drag out the recruitment process.

    Candidates want to know quickly where they stand—and they don’t hesitate to accept the (not always better) offer of the competition if it takes you too long.

    That’s why it’s advisable to keep the hiring process as a whole, meaning the time to hire, as short as possible to not lose great talent to the competition.

How can candidate satisfaction be measured?

There is no set formula for determining candidate satisfaction. Instead, it is measured with the help of a scale, the Net Promoter Score (NPS). So how do you get the necessary values?

The data that is evaluated with the help of the candidate satisfaction scale comes from the candidates themselves and is therefore very reliable. The survey works as follows:

1. Implement a questionnaire

To collect data on candidate satisfaction, it’s advisable to use a questionnaire that asks about the candidate’s experience and, above all, their satisfaction. All stages of the hiring pipeline should be taken into account. This means in detail:

The experiences and impressions during and between each individual stage (submission, screening, interview, assessment, decision). But also the overall impression of the company’s recruitment process should be asked using a value scale of, for example, 1-10.

The questions can be answered either in the form of a complete questionnaire at the end or between the individual steps. This can be done orally or (better) in writing.


The shorter the assessment after the completion of an intermediate step, the more precise the information. Nevertheless, careful consideration should be given to when and how questions are asked so that candidates do not feel they are being spammed.

2. Evaluate

The candidate experience scores received can then be broken down by stage and also evaluated as an average score for the whole process.

It is worth taking a look at the individual intermediate steps. These can help companies identify potential for improvement.

Note: The information from candidates who were rejected or dropped out is particularly useful. Instead of fearing bad feedback, companies should see it as an opportunity for improvement and gratefully accept it.

This shows that a company really wants to improve and learn, and this in turn has a positive effect on the image of the company.

3. Average the ratings

The average of the candidate experience ratings is the basis of the Net Promoter Score on candidate satisfaction. Generally, the more ratings a company can collect, the more accurate the result will be.

4. Determine NPS

The average values received are then evaluated as follows to determine the Net Promoter Score:

Scores from 1-6 are considered “detractors”, meaning applicants who weren’t satisfied and would not recommend applying to a company.

Scores of 7-8 are considered “passives”, meaning applicants who were largely satisfied, but not satisfied enough to make a recommendation.

Scores of 9-10 are considered “promoters”, meaning applicants who were completely satisfied and would recommend applying to a company.

Then the percentage of detractors (1-6) and promoters (9-10) is determined, and the percentage of detractors is subtracted from that of promoters.

The result should always be above 0, which means that a company and its application process are recommended among talented candidates.

How can companies improve candidate satisfaction?

All that is missing now are a few examples of how companies can ensure higher candidate satisfaction.

We recommend the following measures:

Review and streamline processes

Sometimes a company isn’t even aware that something is not running optimally. The current practices and processes around talent acquisition should therefore be regularly questioned and optimised.

On the one hand, it can be helpful to consult other key figures such as time to fill and channel effectiveness. On the other hand, our article on must-dos in the recruitment process, which we link to further below, provides many useful tips on how the recruitment process can be optimised.

Strengthen employer branding through career sites

As mentioned earlier, employer branding has a significant impact on the candidate experience and, respectively, on candidate satisfaction. And there’s no better place to present the employer brand than on the career site.

Companies that do not offer an appealing career page on their website should take action and do something about it. To do so, they can get inspiration from other companies—or from these four excellent career pages.

Simplify the application process

Companies that request a lot of data and documents should question whether they really need them. On the one hand, according to the GDPR, only absolutely necessary data may be collected anyway.

On the other hand, it’s also no longer relevant to request a classic cover letter, references, and certificates. Applications through e-mail or, worse, post are also slowly going out of fashion.

That’s why it’s essential to simplify the application process for more candidate satisfaction. For example, through device optimisation, an easy application form, and limiting the requested documents to only the most necessary (e.g., only a CV/resume).

If you want to go one step further and promote diversity in the team, you could also try so-called blind hiring.

Use an applicant tracking system (ATS) like JOIN

Using an ATS tool combines some of these measures, and can thus significantly speed up the hiring process and considerably improve the candidate experience with little effort.

With JOIN’s ATS, you get everything you need to offer candidates a modern and positive candidate experience from a single source. Included are multilingual application forms, a dedicated careers page, automated email messages, user-friendly login without password, and easy in-app communication with candidates.

More articles for better candidate satisfaction

As mentioned above, we also link to some additional articles that you can use to further optimise candidate satisfaction in the recruitment process:

Feedback after rejection

Asking for feedback from candidates can lead to them also wanting to receive feedback. This can be tricky, and many recruiters shy away from it. Here we explain how it can be handled professionally (and why you should do it).

Must-dos in the hiring process:

As mentioned above, the devil is often in the detail. With our must-dos in the recruitment process, we provide deep insights into what measures companies can take to optimise the process in the long term.

Social recruiting:

Younger generations conduct large parts of their business online and via social media. This makes social media a contact point that can ensure more candidate satisfaction, especially among younger applicants.

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