New Research: Key Trends in Interviewing

For most companies, interviewing is still broken. According to our latest research report, one in three companies are not confident in their interview process today and one in two companies have lost quality hires due to a poor interview process this year. Companies face several challenges with interviews, including a lengthy process, too many interviews, inconsistency, lack of objective data, and bias. These challenges not only impact the efficiency of talent acquisition efforts but the overall candidate experience. As a result, only 24% of candidates are happy with the interview process. The challenges with interviewing are not new and the pandemic did not bring much change.

Here are some findings about what goes wrong and how technology can help.

Where Does the Interview Process Go Wrong?

Interview Process Is Too Long: The interview process can be frustrating for both employers and candidates. Companies that create lengthy interview processes do not necessarily collect data that can inform decision making. A longer interview process does not equate to more effective hiring. It puts a company at risk for losing talent. Forty percent (40%) of candidates stated that it was over two weeks since they heard anything from an employer after their first interview, and 52% of companies state that the interview process lasts four to six weeks.

Too Many Interviews: Over half of companies make candidates go through four or more interviews. For companies looking to reduce time to fill, too many interviews can impact efficiency as well as experience. Companies are at risk of losing quality talent when the interview process is delayed or too many interviewers are introduced.

Inconsistent Interviews: When companies lack a strategy for interviews, hiring managers and recruiters often go rogue and ask questions or conduct interviews with little guidance. Inconsistency in the interview process can create inequity and damage the employer brand.

Data-Driven Decisions: Organizations feel pressure to act quickly and may make decisions based on gut. Companies are not relying on data and insights to drive these decisions because they don’t have information beyond the resume, which only provides a limited, often biased view of a candidate.

Bias in the Interview: Companies must recognize and acknowledge bias in the hiring process. Only 30% of companies identified bias as a top challenge in talent acquisition, yet one in three candidates have experienced bias in the interview process. Relying only on human interviews creates inconsistent hiring standards and introduces bias. 

How Can Smart Technology and AI Help?

The right technology can help companies address the challenges they face with interviewing to:

  • Empower recruiters and hiring managers to make smarter decisions
  • Improve recruiter productivity
  • Improve hiring diversity by using blind smart interview technology from the start
  • Create consumer-grade candidate experiences through the convenience of a smart interviewer

The pandemic accelerated the investment in digital interview solutions. In February 2020, less than 60% of companies were using or planning to use video interview providers. One year later, over 80% of companies were using or planning to use a broader set of intelligent interview platforms. Video was the tool of choice at the beginning of the pandemic for asynchronous hiring. The problem was that many of these solutions merely replaced face-to-face interactions, with a less human way of interviewing. Many candidates do not feel comfortable with the format of a video interview, especially if they are timed. For many companies, abandonment rates are high on video.

Today, there are technology choices available that remove that cognitive load and deliver on candidate expectations. AI is fundamentally changing every aspect of HR and there is growing curiosity and appetite to understand it. According to Aptitude Research, 63% of companies are investing or planning to invest in AI solutions this year, compared to 42% in 2020. This study found that 39% of companies believe it brings positive benefits, and 32% of companies are starting to leverage AI in interviewing.

If you are interested in the full report (sponsored by Sapia), you can download it for free here.

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

New Research: Exceptional Experiences in Talent Acquisition

Experiences define and shape our economy. Consumers are more likely to make additional purchases, refer friends, and remain loyal to a brand when they have an exceptional experience – and a negative experience can wreak havoc on a brand. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs study, a dissatisfied customer will tell nine to fifteen people about their poor experience, and approximately 13% of your dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people. Companies realize the impact that a positive or negative experience can have on their brand and business success, and have invested in dedicated roles, resources, and technology to help improve customer experiences.

But, this level of attention is not given to the candidate experience. According to recent studies by Aptitude Research and Talent Board:

  • Fifty-eight percent (58%) of applicants who are screened out never receive a response (Aptitude Research)
  • One in three recruiters are feeling more burned out this year than ever before (Aptitude Research)
  • From job applicants who had applied over two months ago, 61% had not heard back from the employers (2020 Talent Board Candidate Experience Benchmark Research)

Although the talent acquisition experience has improved over the past few years, it still creates frustration and inefficiencies for both candidates and employers. And while 68% of companies are committed to improving these experiences in 2021, they often fall short.

So what exactly is an exceptional experience in talent acquisition? How can companies create experiences that feel meaningful and personal for candidates through every stage of their journey? Aptitude Research and The Talent Board partnered with Symphony Talent on new research to help define exceptional experience, understand gaps in expectations, and the impact of technology. Below are some of the key findings:

Sustaining an Exceptional Experience Takes Work: Over 1,000 companies have participated in the Talent Board Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Program to date, but only five companies have won CandE Awards eight-to-nine times out of the 10 years since the program was founded — four North American companies (AT&T, Colorado Springs Utilities, Deluxe, and Lockheed Martin), and one in EMEA (Intel). In 2020 alone, employers had to navigate a series of external challenges including COVID-19, while also dealing with a cascade of resulting internal hurdles (budget cuts, reduced recruiting plans and talent investments, and shifts in business).

Companies Should Start With the Employer Experience: Candidates will not have a positive experience if recruiters are unhappy and disengaged. If hiring teams are overworked and overwhelmed, the candidate experience will be negatively impacted. Today’s recruiting and hiring teams are facing an experience crisis and remote work has created additional stress. According to Aptitude Research, recruiters spend up to 16 hours per week scheduling calls and 10 hours looking for candidates in their ATS. Additionally, 32% of recruiters surveyed are looking for other career opportunities. Companies that want to improve their external experiences need to look internally first.

Communication Is the Biggest Missed Opportunity: Candidates want to understand their progress and know where they stand. Companies need to better communicate with candidates earlier in the process when they are first researching the organization, provide a process indicator during the application process, and communicate next steps post-application. Currently, 58% of candidates do not receive any response (Aptitude Research).

 Exceptional Experiences Directly Impact the Bottom Line: A poor candidate experience impacts business performance, including brand and customer retention. Organizations that have improved talent acquisition experiences over the past year have seen improvements to NPS scores, customer retention, and employer brand. Companies that provide a more engaging and human experience see a direct impact on business performance, including a two times improvement on NPS scores.

Companies Are Increasing Their Investment in Automation: Automation can help improve experiences for both employers and candidates. While not new to recruiting, automated processes continued to increase this year to support leaner recruiting teams and more applications, especially with machine learning and other smart technologies. The reality is that most candidates who are interested in a job will research and apply, but never move forward. Most will have little to no human interaction and will be dispositioned automatically. Automation can help provide a fair and equitable experience, and allow companies to provide consistent communications to every candidate.


Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

Case Study: Iceland Uses Automation to Improve the Candidate Experience

Earlier this year, we published a report on candidate-first automation and the importance of trust, feedback, connection, and inclusivity. For most companies, the value of automation is perceived through the recruiter and hiring manager experience. And, the candidate is often ignored. Recruitment automation is more than simply moving candidates through the process quickly. Automation should enable companies to communicate in a meaningful and inclusive way, personalize all feedback, and build trust between candidates and employers. Companies that invest in automation and view it through a candidate-centric lens are two times more likely to improve the candidate experience.

A candidate-first approach to automation does not replace the human experience. It enhances it by giving candidates the confidence and the support they need through every stage of talent acquisition. To achieve this goal, companies need to shift their view of automation and invest in fair, consistent, and human.

This report included a case study on Iceland, a British food retailer with over 900 stores in the UK and a global export business that employs over 30,000 people. In early 2020, Iceland received over five hundred thousand applications in 4 months. It needed to automate candidate screening but found that few solutions ensured a positive candidate experience.

Iceland had several objectives when evaluating automation providers, including:

Save store managers’ time: It wanted to deliver a level of fairness to candidates and a level of consistency for store managers to reduce the amount of time they spent on recruitment. Iceland saved over 8,000 hours in screening time over three months, equivalent to £170k in savings.

Improve the candidate experience: Iceland also was committed to improving the candidate experience. It wanted to give candidates more consistency and create greater engagement. And, more importantly, it wanted to give something back to the candidates.

Iceland felt a duty to provide candidates with feedback. It partnered with PredictiveHire  to help candidates understand their strengths and development needs. 100% of applicants received feedback, and as a result:

  • 80% are more confident
  • 77% are more likely to recommend Iceland as an employer

Candidates are engaged far more with the brand and feel like they are getting something back. They genuinely feel like the process is more human which is reflected in 99% positive candidate sentiment from the more than 50,000 applications a week.

This latest research featuring Iceland, Automation with Humanity: Putting the Candidate First, is available on our website.

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

Talent Analytics Part 1: Candidate Experience

We published our latest research today, Redefining Success: Talent Analytics for the Future, sponsored by Modern Hire. Talent analytics is not a new topic in HR but I have been spending a lot of time thinking about why science doesn’t play more of a role in our talent acquisition decisions. Even with increased pressure and more accountability, we still make decisions based on guy rather than data.

One of the reasons that I am excited about this report is because it includes a framework for taking goals and turning them into actions for efficiency, candidate experience, quality of hire, and DEI.

Here are recommendations for companies looking to improve the candidate experience this year using this framework.


The candidate experience is a priority for companies looking to compete for talent, enhance their brand and strengthen customer retention. Despite an increased focus on experience, companies still struggle with understanding how to improve it. Companies need to create a candidate-first approach to better engage candidates and ensure quality of hire.


Even with increased unemployment, the candidate experience continues to be a priority for organizations, and the way that companies manage their workforce during this challenging period will impact how candidates view their brand. As a result, the candidate experience needs to focus on safety and communication but also on efficiency.

  • Candidate satisfaction: How satisfied are candidates with various stages of the talent acquisition process?
  • Candidate safety: Are candidates safe, and is their health and wellbeing considered during the screening, interviewing, and hiring phases?
  • Candidate engagement: Are candidates engaged throughout the process?
  • Candidate feedback: Are you collecting data on the candidate experience and asking for feedback through the process?
  • Time-to-fill: Are you moving candidates along through the process?
  • Time-to-respond: Once you decide if a candidate does not move forward, how long does it take to respond?


Companies can improve candidate experience when they enhance communication and collect feedback. Companies state that the candidate experience is a priority, yet communication with most candidates has remained unchanged. Below are some considerations to gain better insights:

  • Communicate throughout the entire candidate lifecycle: Communication is not an isolated activity and needs to integrate with existing recruitment strategies so that it is frequent and consistent.
  • Interrupt bias early: Certain attributes in a resume can introduce bias into the talent acquisition process early. Companies need to remove those attributes and stop bias early in the process. Blind screening and blind interviews can help companies to apply an equal experience to all candidates.
  • Use objective data: Companies tend to decide on candidates based on the resume or those attributes they recognize. Without objective data, not every candidate is going to get a fair opportunity.

Action Steps

Companies that want to improve the candidate experience should:

  • Understand what candidates want: Companies must consider the unique expectations and experiences of candidates. Collecting feedback and going through the candidate journey can help companies with a candidate-first approach to automation.
  • Use data to build trust: Both employers and candidates need to trust the data and methodologies for the technology they are using. Companies looking at automation should consider providers that will partner with them and provide transparency.

As companies look to improve the candidate experience, they need a better understanding of what data they have and what insights they can gather to drive change. If you are interested in a new approach to talent analytics, this report will help you get started.

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

The Forgotten Workforce: New Research on the Hourly Candidate

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 82 million workers in the United States are paid hourly, representing 58.5% of all wage and salary workers. Hourly workers comprise the largest segment of today’s workforce yet, these individuals are too often ignored.

I am so excited about the latest research study by Aptitude and Alexander Mann Solutions on The Forgotten Workforce. We found that only 62% of candidates hear back from an employer after they have applied for a job. This reality means that many hourly job seekers that invest the time to research and apply do not even get the courtesy of a response.

The latest chapter talks about strategies for improving the candidate experience for hourly job seekers. In industries like retail and hospitality, there is a direct correlation between the candidate experience and the success of the organization. The majority of companies that have filed for bankruptcy in 2019 include organizations in industries that hire hourly workers. Comparing these companies’ business performance and Glassdoor employee ratings, it becomes clear how closely the consumer experience and the candidate and employee experience are intertwined.

The average rating on Glassdoor is 3.4.

  Stores Closed Glassdoor Ratings
Sears 263 (by January) 2.8
Payless 2300 3.0
Gymboree 800 3.4
Charlotte Russ 416 3.2
Perkins 29 3.4
Forever 21 350 2.8
Shopko 363 3.0

Glassdoor announced its top 10 places to work in 2019 and number 3 on the list was In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out Burger is close to $1 Billion in revenue and has a loyal customer base. It is a company that has not moved to a franchise model or gone public despite pressure to do so in the past few years. One reason for In-N-Out’s success is its commitment to its employees. In-N-Out pays its employees $14 an hour – well above minimum wage and supports policies and programs that recruit and retain talent.

We have three more chapters to publish in this report series that will look at topics such as age discrimination, industry trends, and candidate communication.

Blog Uncategorized

The Modern Talent Acquisition Function: Roles and Responsibilities

As talent acquisition becomes more complex, the role of the recruiter and the recruiting function must evolve. Recruiters must juggle multiple hats to be successful. No longer just focused on relationship-building or administrative tasks, the modern recruiting function requires a new set of skills and competencies that often seem contradictory. Just take data analysis and relationship-building as one example. Talent acquisition professionals need to build long-term relationships with candidates, interpret data, sell and market their employer brand, and consider a more flexible workforce- all responsibilities that did not exist a decade. While these responsibilities present new opportunities for talent acquisition departments to align with business goals, it can also create confusion around what roles are critical for a modern talent acquisition department.

Aptitude’s latest research looks at the evolution of the global talent acquisition function and identifies several roles that are helping to influence strategies, technology decisions, and the candidate experience. Below are some of these roles and how they are shaping talent acquisition decision-making.

Candidate Experience Manager: The Candidate Experience Manager role is influencing decisions around recruitment marketing solutions and candidate communication tools. This role helps companies such as Thermo Fischer Scientific, Wayfair and Qualtrics create a candidate-centric talent acquisition strategy. Aptitude research found that 30% of companies in APAC have a Candidate Experience Manager role compared to 21% of companies in EMEA and 18% of companies in North America.

Digital Specialists: Some companies are adding digital specialists to support their digital transformation such as Delta Airlines and Verizon. This role can help with evaluating and adopting digital solutions that can improve efficiencies and the overall experience using mobile solutions, AI, automation and video. Aptitude research found that 6% of companies in APAC have a Digital Specialist role compared to 12% in EMEA and 8% in North America.

Data Scientists: Industries such as financial services are hiring data scientists to join their talent acquisition teams and help them leverage analytics. Data scientists can help to evaluate AI solutions and predictive analytics solutions. These roles at companies like Warner Brothers and Morgan Stanley can help talent acquisition use data to drive decisions and create more consistency between disparate solutions. Aptitude research found that 10% of companies in APAC have Data Scientists on their TA team compared to 13% in EMEA and 12% in North America.

There is no one size fits all for the modern talent acquisition department. Companies will have to decide what roles will help to drive efficiency on meet new expectations of the business and the candidates. We are covering this evolution in our upcoming digital transformation report.



New Research: The Informed Candidate

Today’s candidates are making smarter decisions about what they want from an employer. They are diving deeper into job sites, career sites, and social media to get a clear picture of an organization before making a connection. They want to understand if the skills they have are the skills needed for the job. This more “informed candidate” brings significant benefits to organizations by improving efficiency and helping companies stay more strategic in the hiring process. And it is becoming clear that companies that want to successfully compete for talent need to embrace the informed candidate and manage their online brand to provide the most accurate and relevant information.

According to Aptitude research conducted in 2018, companies define the informed candidates as having the right information for an interview, the right skills for the job, and someone who has conducted his or her own research. When candidates know what to expect, recruiters are able to better meet those expectations and provide a positive experience. Last month, we published some new research on how companies can do a better job engaging the informed candidate. Here are some of the key findings and recommendations:

• Provide Accurate Information: Only 22% of companies communicate with candidates in a timely manner and much of the information provided is not accurate. In fact, only 32% of companies are confident that they know where they are advertising jobs to candidates. Companies need to pay close attention to the information they are providing candidates whether through advertisements, career sites, or even job descriptions. The more accurate and relevant the information, the more likely the candidate will be the right fit.

• Invest in Employer Branding: Thirty-eight percent (38%) of companies say that employer branding is still a significant barrier in the hiring process. In Aptitude Research Partner’s 2018 Hire, Engage and Retain study, companies identified employer branding tools as one of the top 3 most effective sources of hire for every position from executive level roles to hourly workers. Companies that invest in employer branding efforts are empowering the informed candidate with information that can help them through their journey. It gives them information about the company as well as relevant jobs.

• Manage Online Reputation: Candidates are doing their own research and companies should be involved in that process. Eighty percent (80%) of candidates have accurate information from companies that manage their online reputation compared to only 36% of candidates from companies that do not manage their online reputation. Managing an online reputation could include employer branding efforts, social media sites, as well as employee feedback sites. Candidates are 40% more likely to apply for a job at companies where they recognize the brand.

The key to building a successful candidate experience is understanding that it begins well before an individual is actually a “candidate”. It begins during the attract phase of talent acquisition when employers leverage a variety of channels and content to engage and inform both active and passive candidates early in the process. This experience begins when a candidate starts to gather information on a job or an employer.


Hiring Success 2018: Top 10 Key Takeaways

The ATS market is not really about the ATS anymore. Companies are investing in solutions that are less about compliance and workflow and more about strategic talent acquisition. This is a market where differentiators go beyond product capabilities and include services, customer support, and leadership. This new reality certainly rang true at SmartRecruiter’s Hiring Success event in San Francisco last week. Over 1000 companies came together to discuss topics such as diversity and inclusion, recruitment marketing, and collaboration. Most of the sessions didn’t even mention ATS.

SmartRecruiters’ CEO, Jerome Ternynck, kicked off the conference defining what success looks like including a positive candidate experience, hiring manager accountability, and recruiter efficiency. It was a refreshing and simple message for a very complex topic. In addition to some very meaningful discussions about the role of talent acquisition, SmartRecruiters made some significant product and company announcements last week.

For those of you not there, here are the ten things we think you might want to know:

  1. SmartJobs: SmartRecruiters has launched its own programmatic advertising solution that will help companies with job advertising and attracting talent.
  2. Recruiter Assistant: As most talent acquisition providers are marching down the path of AI, SmartRecruiters is offering its own AI solution to help communicate with candidates and enable better decision making.
  3. SmartStart– If you have been in talent acquisition for the past ten years, SmartRecruiters original vision back in 2008 was to offer a free ATS to companies. They are continuing that commitment with SmartStart, a free ATS for companies with under 250 employees.
  4. CRM: In our latest survey, we found that 1 in 4 companies are looking at their ATS for CRM capabilities. So, it is no surprise that SmartRecruiters has developed a CRM solution to help attract and nurture leads.
  5. Shelley Winner– SmartRecruiters included candidates in their agenda. Shelley Winner presented a truly inspirational story about her candidate journey from prison to her role as an impressive Microsoft product leader.
  6. Leadership: Jerome’s passion for recruitment is hard to deny. He is the type of CEO that greets every customer and employee with a hug. With so many startups and ERPs dipping their toes in talent acquisition, this expertise and commitment to this space is rare. (Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, and Colin Day, CEO of iCIMS, also fall under this category.):
  7. Ecosystem: Most talent acquisition user conferences do not have a large expo or partner presence. Hiring Success was an exception. Many of the leading talent acquisition providers were in attendance at this conference both in sessions and in the expo.
  8. Diverse Industries: It is hard to find a company in the Bay area that is growing outside of the tech market. So, it was encouraging to see a wide mix of industries including retail, hospitality, professional services, and healthcare.
  9. Moving Up Market: Like many of their peers, SmartRecruiters is moving up market with significant customer wins in the past year including Adidas and Avery Denison. Avery Denison said that integration with LinkedIn and Workday were key factors in their decision to move to SmartRecruiters.
  10. Nor’easter: With 18 inches of snow headed for the east coast last week, I was very happy to be in San Francisco and in no rush to go home.

It is amazing to see how much talent acquisition has evolved in the past few years and how companies are thinking more strategically about the way they recruit and hire talent. These conferences are a reminder of how critical talent acquisition is in both hiring success and organizational success.


Improving the Candidate Experience Through Better Communication

I have been thinking a lot about the candidate experience. For the past two years, companies we have surveyed cited improving the candidate experience as a top priority yet, only 40% of companies are actually successful at achieving this goal. If companies spend so much time and energy focused on the candidate experience, where does it go wrong? And, why has something so basic become so complex?

Sure, there is something to be said for the fact that candidates who don’t get an offer, may view the experience as less than stellar. But, overall, companies that have a systematic approach to communicating with every candidate in a way that is frequent and meaningful see results. Communication is the most important element of the candidate experience. When we asked companies what the candidate wants, they said to be notified when they are screened out of the process (52%), to receive information on the company (52%), and to have a single point of communication (50%). Candidates want to be informed and here are some recommendations:

Provide Transparency: Too often, employers try to paint some picture perfect scenario of what life is like at their company. The reality is some jobs are not fun. And working for your company might not be ideal for everybody. Why do we try to pretend differently? The more we can be transparent about the company and the job, the better. Companies should think about creating more meaningful and candid content on career sites and in employer branding efforts. Also, job previews are one way companies can show candidates a more accurate depiction of a job or your company.

Consider Recruitment Marketing: The primary reason that companies fall behind in improving the candidate experience is that they don’t have a mechanism to engage with candidates before they apply. Recruitment marketing is where the candidate experience starts. Companies need the right strategies and a single solution to attract, nurture, and engage with candidates. Many of these solutions give companies a way to provide relevant and meaningful content to candidates to inform them about the company and potential jobs.

Use a Variety of Tools: Companies tend to rely on email as their primary mode of communication with candidates. Yet, few candidates read their communication. Companies should use a variety of communication methods including chat, video, SMS, and phone calls.

Set Expectations: Candidates want to know where they are at in the recruitment process. They want to know if they will hear anything after they apply and how long it will take before they are called in for an interview. Candidates want to know how long background screening will take and when they will find out if they have an offer. It sounds basic but companies do not set expectations and they don’t communicate consistently with everyone that applies.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to improve the candidate experience, The Talent Board conducts some great research every year and the latest research is available now.


The Human Capital Experience Economy: What Does It Look Like?

Would you pay more for a good experience? Would you be more likely to come back again? You probably already do. We live in a world where experience trumps everything – including cost and quality. According to a study by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 80% of US consumers would pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience. It is the experience that gives companies a competitive edge even when their products fall short. It creates loyalty and a powerful commitment to a certain company or brand.

Companies recognize the impact of experience on their growth and profitability and are making changes to how they communicate with, engage, and support their customers. In fact, according to Aptitude Research Partners’ 2016 Hire, Engage, and Retain research, 60% of companies have an executive level customer experience role in place. But, creating an engaging experience does not and should not end with the customer. It must extend into our workforce. Surprisingly, only 37% of companies have an executive level role focused on the internal culture and experience of the workforce. Just as companies are prioritizing customers, they must also focus on the experience for the individual candidate, employee, manager, contingent worker, and leader in order to ensure continued economic success.

The elements of this important balance are at the core of Aptitude’s new Human Capital Experience Economy model- take a look here: