5 Lessons Medallia Learned About Providing a Great Candidate Experience

November 11, 2015

Medallia is a software company that helps organizations improve their customer experience. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that they would care a lot about how their own customers felt as well.

Using that same line of thinking, Medallia has always put a lot of energy into treating its employees well. Soon, that extended beyond just the people who worked at the company to people who applied to work at the company as well.

“The experiences people have with your company ultimately forms your brand,” Medallia Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition, Caitlin Mefford said. “And that certainly applies to candidates as well.”

So, the Medallia recruiting time decided to focus on its candidate experience and figure out ways to improve it. At a session at Talent Connect Anaheim, Mefford, Josh Budway, Vice President of Talent Aquisition, and Matt Frost, who works in talent acquisition and development for Medallia, shared what they learned during that process.

Specifically, their five learnings were:

1. It all starts with getting some hard metrics

The first thing Medallia had to do was figure out how to measure candidate experience. They opted to use net promoter score and began surveying every candidate who went through Medallia’s entire interview process so they could collect data each step in the process.

What they found wasn't surprising: People who went through the full interview process and were hired had a much better experience than people who went through the whole process and didn’t get hired (85 NPS score versus 22). Obviously, that let Medallia know that they had to focus on treating rejected candidates better.

2. Tell rejected candidates how they can increase their chances next time

One thing Medallia found with rejected candidates was that they wanted feedback on why they weren’t hired, which falls in line with LinkedIn’s own data. So, after a blessing from the legal team, Medallia began giving feedback on why exactly candidates were rejected.

To make it as effective as possible, Medallia recruiters generally focus on skills the candidate should learn to become more effective, and improve their chances of getting hired next time, Mafford said.

However, there have been exceptions where recruiters told candidates how they didn’t fit into Medallia’s culture, such as a candidate being too much about themselves, she said.

3. Going the extra mile can make a big difference

As a company built around providing great customer service, Medallia encourages its recruiters to go above-and-beyond when it comes to dealing with candidates.

On a company-wide level, they use Gemnote to send gifts to candidates – even candidates who aren’t hired, Budway said. But there are countless examples of recruiters going the extra mile on their own as well in regards to treating applicants well.

One example was the time when a candidate was sick, so the recruiter went to their house and gave them soup, Budway said. Or, one candidate said they liked to read The Skim, so the recruiter sent her a formal offer letter that mimicked a Skim newsletter.

4. A great hiring process begins with setting expectations

One of the chief complaints Medallia was seeing from candidates was about the length and rigor of their hiring process (more on that in the next point). But rather than change that, what Medallia did was set expectations at the beginning of the hiring process.

Just by giving candidates an outline of what to expect in the hiring process at the onset vastly improved the candidate’s perception of the hiring process, Budway said. Ultimately, the problem wasn’t the process itself, but the unknowns going into it, he explained.

5. Most importantly, a rigorous interviewing process doesn’t mean a poor candidate experience

Above all else, recruiting at Medallia is about getting the absolute best people, Budway said. Therefore, the company does have a pretty rigorous hiring process.

Budway didn’t want to see that rigor be removed for the sake of candidate experience. In other words, he didn’t want to make the interviews easier, or diminish hiring manager expectations, ifor the sake of making applicants feel better about themselves.

What he found was that he didn’t have to. Instead, by following the four steps above, Medallia was still able to be highly selective with the people they hired, while also providing a great candidate experience. Applicants respect a challenging hiring process, so long as they are treated fairly throughout it, he said.   


Nearly every company understands the importance of having great customer service, particularly in the world of social media where everyone has a voice. That same rule should apply to candidates as well, as candidates speaking poorly about your brand can be just as damaging as customers talking poorly about your brand.

Moreover, a lot of your candidates often are your costumers, and you don’t want your recruiting team to undercut your sales. So, it makes sense to really care about candidate experience, even for the people who don’t get hired.

The five lessons listed above are five actionable steps you can take right away to ensure your treating people great. After all, just think of the power you can have by turning all your candidates – even your rejected ones – into ambassadors who speak glowingly about your brand.

*Image from Medallia

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