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An Introduction to Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS)

Measuring candidate net promoter score can be an effective way to track the success of your recruitment process. Let's jump into what cNPS is, how to calculate it, and most importantly, how you action on it. 

What is Candidate NPS and why it matters

You may know of Net Promoter Score (NPS) as the metric companies use to measure customer loyalty and engagement. So why are we talking about it in a recruitment setting? Well, just like NPS can measure client satisfaction, it can be adapted to measure Candidate Experience. Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS) tells you about a candidate’s experience with your hiring process and how likely they are to recommend applying to your company to others. By delving into how candidates perceive your company, process, and recruiters, you can ultimately improve your hiring by identifying selling points and detractors.

How to calculate candidate NPS

When calculating an NPS, companies ask customers to answer one simple question: how likely are they to recommend a company, experience or product to their friends and family on a scale from 1 to 10? Similarly, when making use of the cNPS, candidates are asked to rate how likely they are to recommend your company to a friend or colleague on the same scale. These 1-10 scores can be broken down and used to categorise candidates into three different groups:

  • Promoters: respondents who give a rating of 9 or 10.
  • Respondents who provide a rating of 7 or 8 are considered passive
  • Detractors: respondents who give any rating between 1 and 6

The overall score itself ranges from -100 to 100 and is calculated as the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. So, for example, if your final cNPS score is -100, that would mean that you only have detractors. Contrastingly, if your cNPS score is 100, you’re lucky to have only promoters.

That information is all good and well, but let’s apply it to a real-life setting with some quick maths. Let’s say you have 300 promoters, 50 passive respondents, and 250 detractors out of a total of 600 responses; your cNPS is 8.3.

cNPS = (300 [Number of Promoters] - 250 [Number of Detractors]) / (600 [Number of Responses]) x 100 = 8.3

One important thing to note here is that you should only include passive responses in the total number of responses.

A company should strive for a positive cNPS, as this indicates that your promoters outnumber your detractors. A cNPS of 50 or more is considered excellent.

The benefits of using NPS for candidate feedback

There are many benefits of incorporating cNPS into your recruitment process, but one of the most important reasons is that you can keep a pulse on candidate sentiment - both the good and the not-so-good. By adding what is known as the “Ultimate Question” into your candidate survey, you can determine the likelihood of referrals and the overall general satisfaction candidates have with your process. Additionally, by collecting candidate feedback and calculating the cNPS on a constant basis, you are able to compare past and present interactions with your hiring process and determine if your initiatives are working.

Another benefit of cNPS lies in its capability to act as a benchmark. Asking someone how likely they are to recommend is universal in nature and is most likely used by many other organisations. You will therefore be able to compare your scores with that of your competitors. However, you must take into consideration when this question is asked in the candidate journey so that you are not comparing apples with oranges. For example, comparing the cNPS you received from candidates who only made it to the first interview in your process with your competitor’s cNPS from the candidates who made it to the offer stage will not provide you with an accurate comparison. Additionally, it is always safe to assume that your cNPS will differ amongst your hired and rejected candidates, so be sure to separate these scores as part of your analysis.

Tips for measuring Candidate Net Promoter Score

Now that you know more about calculating cNPS and its benefits, let’s dig into how you can optimise it! This process is more than just adding one question to your candidate survey, and here are some pointers to keep in mind to make you derive the most value from measuring cNPS.

1. Send out cNPS surveys to rejected candidates.

Rejected candidates will be the most candid about your process and the improvements you can make to better the experience. It is better to let them vent their feelings in an anonymous feedback survey than in a review on Glassdoor. This way, you will have more control over your public’s perception of your brand, the follow-up questions you ask, as well as act on the review in real-time (i.e., not just when someone on your team checks your Glassdoor profile). By following up and addressing the issues presented to you by those who gave you a low score, you will better understand what you need to change.

2. Divide your cNPS even further.

We touched on this a bit earlier, but it is crucial to divide the cNPS into the different stages of the candidate journey. Those who have been rejected after applying with their CV have a different experience than those who had an interview. Once you have gathered this data and analysed it, it is essential that you start making improvements and begin tracking the progress of cNPS over time. However, dividing your cNPS responses at the different stages of the candidate journey is just the beginning. Yes, you will be able to create a clearer picture of the diverse experiences of each step in the process, but in time, you will notice that you can derive even more insights from this data. One way to do this is to filter your cNPS by departments or job roles. For example, a marketing manager candidate is a different persona than that of a backend developer, and separating them will provide you with more granular information to tailor experiences to different types of people.

Additionally, you can categorise your cNPS data per recruiter. This way, you will be able to measure how each of your recruiters is being perceived by candidates and look for areas where they can improve. Just be sure to collect somewhat identifying information, such as department or recruiter, so that you can do these sorts of granular analyses. Head over to our blog, How to Design Better Candidate Surveys, for more information on how to loop in identifiers while still keeping the survey anonymous.

3. Set attainable improvement objectives.

While the main objective of measuring cNPS is to consistently improve your candidate journey, it is also important to remember that this will not happen overnight. By setting SMART goals, you can create clear objectives with timelines. Moreover, by making use of historic cNPS data, you can track your progress and results.

Your SMART goals can focus on improving your overall cNPS, for example: Increase our cNPS by 15% by the end of the year.

Alternatively, you can further break down your goals to focus specifically on the different categories that make up the cNPS. An example of this could be: Decrease the share of detractors from 30% to 20% by the end of the third quarter.

Once these SMART goals are in place, you can break these up even further into actionable to-dos. For example, if you know, candidates detract because they didn’t have enough time to complete their case, make an action plan to integrate more working time between case send-out and second interviews. If you find that you have promotors of early-rejected candidates, that’s great insight too! It gives positive signals that your top-of-funnel process has positive momentum behind it. By investigating why candidates detract or promote, you can create clear initiatives to capitalise on or tackle here and now.

In conclusion, measuring candidate NPS is an effective way to track the success of a recruitment process and gain insight into how candidates perceive your company, process, and recruiters. By calculating the cNPS score, companies can identify promoters, passives, and detractors and make improvements to their recruitment practices. Additionally, cNPS can be used to compare performance with competitors and set SMART goals to improve the candidate experience.


Author profile Meagan Leber

Growth Marketing Manager at Amby, who loves writing about the tech, venture capital, and people space.