How Citrix Improved Its Candidate Experience by Measuring NPS

January 19, 2016

Executive Director of Talent Acquisition Melissa Thompson wanted to better measure – and hopefully improve – the candidate experience at her organization, Citrix, an American-based software company with roughly 10,000 employees.

The reasons were the same most companies want to improve their candidate experience: it leads to happier employees, makes recruiting far easier and even is correlated with higher sales. The question then became how she was going to get it done.

Well, first thing she wanted to do was measure candidate experience better, which brought her to Net Promoter Score, or NPS. From there, she used that one-question NPS survey to find out what wasn’t working and how to fix it, which ultimately improved the company’s overall candidate experience.

“Net Promoter Score hasn’t caught on completely in the candidate experience space,” Thompson said at her presentation at Talent Connect Anaheim. “But it is my posit that it will.”

A quick overview of NPS

NPS is a common metric used by marketing departments to measure how likely a person is to recommend a service or product to their friends. Basically, it asks people how likely they are to recommend a product or service on a 1-10 scale.

Anyone who puts a 9 or 10 is a promoter, which helps your score. Anyone who puts a 7 or an 8 is neutral, and doesn’t change your score either way. Anyone who puts a 6 or less is a detractor and hurts your score.

The score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors to the percentage of promoters. Scores can range from -100 to 100, with anything over 0 being good and anything over 50 being excellent (if your eyes have begun to glaze over, here’s a free NPS calculator that explains it and does all the work for you).

Why and how Thompson used it to measure candidate experience

There are two innate advantages Thompson named to using NPS to measure candidate experience. They are:

  • It is a one-question survey, which should far increase the chances a candidate will actually take it.
  • It gave Thompson one metric – NPS – to measure candidate experience across her entire company

So, starting in Q4 in 2014, her team began emailing every candidate who came to an on-site interview at Citrix this question and asked them to answer it on a 1-10 scale:

“Based on your candidate experience, how likely are you to recommend a friend or colleague to apply for a job at Citrix?”

Below that one question was an area where candidates could write comments about the score they gave. Additionally, candidates were asked in that email if they’d be willing to talk more about their experience, with many candidates saying yes, Thompson said. Recruiters or recruiting coordinators who later call those people to get more detail on what they liked or didn’t like.

Overall, the response rate was high: 58 percent of candidates who were sent the email took the survey. That number was much higher than Citrix’s previous candidate experience survey, which had more questions.

The initial findings of Thompson’s NPS survey

One of the problems Thompson had using NPS was that, since few other companies were using it to measure candidate experience and it was the first time Citrix was doing it, she had nothing to compare it to. Still, the marketing team told her anything above 0 was good and anything above 50 was great, so she was hoping for something in that range.

She got her wish. In Q4 in 2014, when they used the survey for the first time, candidates gave Citrix an NPS of 28 for their candidate experience.

That’s a good score. But it also gave Thompson some room to improve.

“Twenty-eight, right out of the box, really isn’t bad,” she said. “But we are shooting for 50.”

To find out how to get that score up, Thompson and her team dug through the comments to look for problems they could address. Three stuck out:

  • Some hiring managers weren’t as prepared or professional as they should have been, including one story about a hiring manager texting during an interview.
  • There were too many interviews (one candidate complained about having 10 and still not getting the job) and too many people in the interviews.
  • Candidates wanted to get feedback from Citrix if they didn’t get the job.

How Thompson used those findings to improve Citrix’s candidate experience

Thompson worked to address the two biggest complaints candidates had: unprepared hiring managers and candidates enduring too many interviews with too many different people.

The latter was relatively easy to fix. She instituted a new rule that candidates could only be interviewed four times, at most. She also made it clear to hiring managers they were the ones to make the final hiring decision, and therefore should have fewer people interviewing a single candidate so that the decision was streamlined.

The other problem – candidates complaining that hiring managers weren’t as prepared as they could be – was a bit harder to fix. She took a two-pronged approach, one geared to recruiters and one geared to hiring managers.

For recruiters, she required they explain to the hiring manager their role in the process during the intake meeting. That means everything from making sure the job description was strong to posting the job advertisement on their LinkedIn profile to the importance of interviewing to ensuring a smooth onboarding process.

“We did this all under the umbrella of ‘hiring managers, we are helping you’,” Thompson said. “All of these steps would just make it easier for them to get the person they wanted.”

For hiring managers, she brought in a third-party to do training entitled “Winning Talent”, which revolved how a great candidate experience can lead to landing the best candidates. The training proved popular, with Citrix hiring managers giving it an NPS of over 90 (exceptionally high).

Thompson’s results after three quarters

Thompson gave her presentation in October, less than a year after she piloted and the fully implemented NPS Scoring to measure candidate experience across her company. And yet, her results were already strong: Citrix’s NPS for candidate experience improved 10 points in three quarters, from 28 to 38.

That said, she hardly declared mission accomplished, as her team was still on their journey to an NPS of 50. But she did give out the following pieces of advice, for any other company thinking of instituting a similar program:

  • The way the NPS survey email looks matters. Citrix was able to increase their response rate by sending candidates a more professional, branded survey email.
  • Just because a candidate takes an offer at your company, doesn’t mean they loved the process. Thompson said there were candidates who hired who still gave Citrix a low NPS for candidate experience.
  • Train some of your own recruiters on NPS. Thompson sent two of her own recruiters to get NPS certified as part of the process.
  • If you call a detractor to get more feedback about how to improve the candidate experience, listen instead of talk, Thompson said. Rather than being defensive, just hear their complaints and thank them for their time.
  • Tally the NPS once every quarter. This way, you have enough data to see if there are changes either way, without letting it go too long.
  • Google is your friend, Thompson said. If you are looking for answers that no one on at your company knows, use the Internet to help you find the answer.
  • Most importantly, don’t just read the bad comments, Thompson said. Read the good ones too, or else you’ll go crazy. “Don’t forget to read the good stuff,” she said. “Because when you read the bad stuff… it does make you a little bit edgy. Balance it out and read about the good things you are doing as well.”

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