Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Can you deliver a great candidate experience when hiring at scale? with Kevin Grossman of The Talent Board and The Candidate Experience Awards.

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
October 31, 2022

Welcome back to another episode of the High Volume Hiring Podcast, the podcast that features news tips, case studies, and interviews with the world’s leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high-volume hiring. 

The High Volume Hiring podcast

In this week’s episode, host Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter’s Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, talks with Kevin Grossman, President of the Talent Board, the first non-profit organization focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience.

The Candidate Experience Awards

In this episode, Kevin shares how his love for recruiting led his efforts in highlighting organizations that prioritize the job seeker. He outlines technology that has worked to improve the candidate experience in high volume hiring and how companies can utilize this tech to get better quality talent. Finally, he reveals results from the resentment rate, aka sentiments held by candidates who had a poor hiring experience. Steven questions the implications of those results, and ultimately, what we can learn from the data.

Catch the full episode here:

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Speaker 2 (00:14):

Welcome to the High Volume Hiring Podcast. I’m Steven Rothberg, the founder of College Recruiter Job search site at College Recruiter. We believe that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. This podcast features news tips, case studies, and interviews with the world’s leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high volume hiring. Thanks for joining us. Today’s guest is Kevin Grossman, president of the Talent Board, a nonprofit organization focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience. The organization, its candidate experience awards program, and its sponsors are dedicated to recognizing the candidate experience offered by employers throughout the entire recruitment cycle and to forever changing the manner in which job candidates are treated. As a bit of an aside, I was a committee member and judge the first couple of years of the candies. Kevin, welcome to the show,

Speaker 3 (01:11):

Steven. Thanks for having me. Great to see you.

Speaker 2 (01:14):

It’s good to see you as, as well. It’s it’s, it’s been a few years. I think there’ve been a couple things that have happened that maybe have prevented us from being in the same room at the same time.

Speaker 3 (01:22):

it, that pesky pandemic, right.

Speaker 2 (01:25):

Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s, I think we can, we can just all agree it’s your fault and then just move on. <Laugh>. Sure. you know, it’s that, you know, some people have a, like a vegan diet and some people are just like, they can’t get enough chicken. And, and I, I guess it’s possible that you’re the person who was eating bats, but, you know, whatever I d where that’s coming from,

Speaker 3 (01:45):

That’s why I started, that’s why I started drumming Steven. So, there you go.

Speaker 2 (01:49):

Exactly, Yes. See, Yeah. Your, yeah, your, your family, your wife and daughters are must be extremely tolerant to have a, to have an aspiring drummer in the family Uhhuh. Well I think when, when we first met years ago you were leading HR marketer and Yeah. A long time ago, doing a lot of it’s marketing work. Yeah. It’s like, whoa. HR marketer. That’s, that’s a blast from your past. If I’m not mistaken, and I’m often am so, set me straight. That work the past couple of decades, or your work over the last couple of decades, it’s almost always seemed in my mind to be sort of at that intersection of marketing and HR tech. Is that a fair thing to say?

Speaker 3 (02:35):

Yeah. For, Yeah. For the, for the most part. I mean, I’ve been in the, the HR recruiting technology space for over 23 years, and that’s been the bulk of it is primarily on that side. I always like to joke that I play HR and recruiting on TV <laugh>. But I, but I always loved the space and when I first came into the space, there was a startup that I worked for in Santa Cruz, actually, that was focused on helping to match. We had our own secret sauce algorithm matching candidates to jobs. This was heyday before the bust. And I did some kind of ad hoc recruiting and sourcing on behalf of some of our customers, cuz we leveraged our technology, but we still had human interaction and I really fell in love with, with recruiting, cuz prior to that I had been in high tech marketing communications, but nothing really to do with recruiting and hiring, not directly and ever since. I’ve loved the space. And so when I had the opportunity to run talent board I was jumped at the chance because it got me closer to working with the talent acquisition side with practitioners and to do the research that we do. And that’s, that’s why I, I loved, have loved doing it to date.

Speaker 2 (03:48):

Yeah, I remember hearing that you were gonna be leading the talent board and it was like, okay, whoever created this short list and then probably had you at the top of that short list, really good recruiter. Well,

Speaker 3 (04:06):

You know, it’s funny, I’ll give,

Speaker 2 (04:08):

I’ll give how logical,

Speaker 3 (04:09):

I’ll give credit to that recruiter because see I was also involved really on, just as you were, I was one of the early volunteers, as you remember. It was very volunteer driven. We, it was always a data driven process. The judge process that you referenced was when we got to, there was a judging aspect to it when we got to judge the, the winners on who had the most you know, the, the best story basically. So there, that was that process. Ever since we have, we’ve done less of that. We focused more on case studies, but it’s still very data driven. But the recruiter was Elaine Oiler, actually. She’s the one that recruited me. Oh. And then following then getting to know Jerry Moore, which I did back then, and then Ed Newman, who all three of them started talent board that Elaine’s the one that recruited me. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (04:58):

Well, so my suspicion about somebody being really good who picked you, spot on, that’s, I didn’t realize exactly, but it, that doesn’t Yeah. That if, if I had known it was Elaine and it was like, okay. Yeah, that makes total sense. She’s she’s a total rockstar. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 (05:15):

So question for you. When you’re thinking about the world of hourly workers particularly in high volume kinds of roles mm-hmm. <Affirmative> hospitality, retail call center, warehouse, et cetera, what would you say the state of the candidate experience is right now?

Speaker 3 (05:33):

It is, I would argue counterintuitive the way I think what most people would think, especially what happened in your, one of the pandemic when, when a lot of the folks got, a lot of people were laid off of work during the first year of the pandemic. And, and, and those industries, hospitality, retail, airlines, you know, were decimated. Right. for, for a while. But what, what we found interestingly enough is that the higher positive candidate sentiment and perception of fairness is much higher with hourly candidates than with pro Oh yeah. Than with professional or management manage of, it’s actually at some of the lowest positive marks overall. Now there’s a, there’s a lot of things to unpack though, right? Because we, I mean, we can’t control for all the variables in our data and research and, but I, I do know that with more seniority in the, when it comes to with certain job roles, there’s, there’s actually, there’s more hoops to jump through.


There’s more complexity. People who have been in the workforce a lot longer. You know, we don’t measure cynicism, but, I mean, there is, there can, there’s some of that that boils in. But what’s interesting though, what we’ve been starting to look at more, and I’m hoping that it comes out in, in this end of year’s, research reports from the 2022 benchmark that we’re still gathering data for. But what we’re, I think what we’re finding is that technology actually has played a bigger role in improving the candidate experience for high volume hiring than, than maybe even what we’d think. And let me be specific about that. So we know that texting today has a much higher deliverability when it comes to people, period. Job candidates in particular. Not only notifying candidates of jobs, but telling them what’s gonna happen next. If they’re in process, they can apply on their mobile devices.


In fact, a lot of these candidates don’t even, maybe even barely use email, Right. Depending on the industry in manufacturing and many other industries, they’re all on their devices. Texting is the way to reach them. So companies that have been, and we’ve seen an increase in texting on the employer side, candidates are prefer that I think hourly candidates and high volume candidates totally prefer that. And it actually has, we’ve seen a spike in positive sentiment. It’s, here’s the thing, Most of the, the candidates in our research, regardless of job time, they don’t get hired. That’s the reality of real life for any given job. Most don’t get the job. But when there’s more engagement and communication that’s consistent. Even if it’s not a human, We all wanna talk to humans, don’t get me wrong. But you know this too, but better than anybody for that, that the, there’s not a lot of human interaction at all for any high volume at the point of application.


At the point of application. There’s just not, That’s mostly automated. Basically. Zero. Yeah, zero. Right. But if there is engagement at communication, even if it’s automated, it makes a difference. Because before there was just a VA void of nothing anyway. You know, it’s just the black hole and, and email deliverability is so, is harder anyway every year because of those things that we just pointed out. So texting, chat bots, especially those that have more conversational AI that are learning and getting better at answering questions of, for candidates, not only at, on the career site, but throughout the application process, even into screen scheduling interviews. Now, all the, I mean, it’s going, it’s much more pervasive. So I, we’re starting to take a look at that more, it’s not a direct correlation, but there’s a relationship there. When there is more consistent engagement and communication, it’s the better experience.


And what’s interesting is that we also measure what we call the resentment rate. So the percentage of candidates who say, I will never do anything with you again cuz I had a crappy time. It’s much lower for hourly this even this year than, than than all candidates together in the data that we have so far. And we’re on our way to probably another 200,000 responses this year just for this year’s data set globally, most to nor North America, but globally as well. So it’s, it’s fascinating that to see that, that it, they say that it’s much more positive and their, their perception of fairness is higher than professional hires and then management hires.

Speaker 2 (09:49):

So let me dig into that cuz it’s fascinating. It’s, you started off by saying it was, you know, counterintuitive for many. Definitely. I’m in that group. I, I’m, I’m shocked and happy all at the same time. I I’m, I’m far more concerned about the millions and millions and millions of hourly workers than I are the handful of CEOs who might have been Oh yeah, I

Speaker 3 (10:10):

Agree with you. Applications

Speaker 2 (10:10):

Wholeheartedly, right? Wholeheartedly they can take care of themselves and they were a, a higher sought after commodity and they’ll be just fine. But people who are struggling to find work I, I think organizations when they’re focusing on kind of how do we improve our systems, how do we communi improve our communication? You can impact a lot more people when you’re, when you’re impacting your hourly then your top management. But question for you, do you think that the resentment and the satisfaction being higher amongst the hourly workers, is it because do you think that they’re being treated better? Is it that their expectations are lower? Where, what, where do you think it’s coming from?

Speaker 3 (10:59):

It’s, it’s, it’s all, it’s a little bit of all the above, right? Cause like I told you just a few minutes ago, there’s too many variables that we can’t even account for, even in our data. And we, and we only ask so many questions. I mean, if, if I could ask hundreds of questions of the candidates, I would, but then we would never get a survey answered, right? So it’s, it’s always been a BA balance. And we do ask a lot of questions. They only answer as far as they got in the process though. It’s all logic driven by their experience in our data and research. But, so I think it’s, I think it’s all of those things. I think definitely expectations are, are much different at maybe entry level positions. People that are new to the workforce, hourly positions that are not necessarily high skilled.


I dunno how else to put that, but I mean that are lower barriers to entry. I mean, there’s a lot of things that do make a difference. Expectations are definitely one, right? And, and the process as it, I would argue as it should be for candidates is to, to streamline the least glamorous part of, of recruiting and hiring is, is applying for a fricking job that is just, oh yeah, it is painful no matter what ATS you have <laugh> no matter what, what what you’ve done with it, you could have collapsed it a lot. And companies have done that. I mean, we’ve seen a big surge in getting it under 15 minutes. Not counting an assessment if you’re gonna do that too,

Speaker 2 (12:24):

But Right, Right.

Speaker 3 (12:25):

So I think that there’s a lot of factors that are involved, just as you mentioned. But expectations are definitely one. But I mean, you know, what we find is that, again, I think it’s the, they’re getting technology’s helping to keep shuffling them along and not falling through the cracks as much. I mean, there’s still the whole thing about the black hole, and I never heard back that. That’s happens a lot unfortunately. And in fact there’s still a good clip of, of candidates and we’re still looking at the data this year that after two months, still haven’t heard back from the company after they applied. And it’s like upwards of 50% ish. And I mean that’s, you know, and this is why we argue, especially for, I would argue any level of job type, but for high volume hiring. If, if out of the gate, if people are not qualified, if they truly are not, whether you’re auto screening them or there’s an actual human looking at them, if they’re not qualified, tell them within one to two weeks period

Speaker 2 (13:38):

At at college recruiter, there’s a, there’s a customer of ours that for they’re an intelligence agency and for security clearance reasons, you have to be a US citizen to work for them. So one of their questions in their application process is, what are you citizen of the United States? Yes. No. So if it’s a no, you know, something clear like that, that under no circumstances can we ever hire you, you should just tell the person Right, right then and there. Right.

Speaker 3 (14:09):

Exactly. Exactly. And, and you would, well you would also hope that those people would self select if they. I mean that the, and they don’t always do that either, but you should definitely tell them. Well, what happens is that there are, I, I find this again and again, no matter how long we’ve done this work there there’s too many employers that have a culture of their, especially of their hiring managers too, that let’s wait until we fill the wreck and then we’ll let everybody go. Even if it’s, even if it’s ever green hiring, even if it’s ongoing high volume. And the, the issue is that sometimes those are usually faster too, depending on if I’m hiring at the store level or a plant or, I mean, that’s, there’s variance there. But let them know. Don’t hold on to them because that can be, you know, weeks later.


And it doesn’t make any sense. The, these folks, if they’re not qualified out the gate for your job, they’re not gonna magically change in a couple of weeks. It’s just not how it works. Right? And if they do have something, then those are the people that you are screening, assessing, maybe moving along further and that’s great. But if they’re, if they’re not at all, then do not, then just let, let them know. Too soon is too soon as well, don’t have it set. So when, if your auto screening and they apply and a minute later they get a rejection, don’t do that either. Give it, give it a little breathing room, give it a day. You can set the dials. This is what I’ve been spotting now for the past, past couple of years, is that employers, you all control the dials. You may not be happy with some of your recruiting tech stack.


That’s not the point, though. You still control the, you still control the dials of what you’re saying to candidates when you’re saying it with what frequency and, and how the systems, how they worked. You control those things. So why are you still letting that, that same autoresponder that was out of the box that says, Thank you for your interest, we’ll be in touch if you’re qualified, you can do better than that. It, it’s, it doesn’t take that much work. And I just did a, a, a, a webinar with a, with a few hundred people yesterday that I was asking, and I always ask everybody this from workshops to whatever, how many of you apply for your own jobs? And this was still about less than 50% said that they did. And I’m like, this is a perfect opportunity. You don’t have to do it every month, week, or maybe once or twice a year if you implemented a new, a new ATS or system, do it after that too. Just walk through your, walk through the process, apply for a job, feel what it’s like. This is what we’re making candidates do. Even, especially for even high volume if it, if you’re doing a constantly a lot of churn and you don’t wanna lose potentially qualified folks cuz they’re like, I’m out cuz you’re making me create an account, upload a resume, then fill, then refill out the same frigging places <laugh> that I just loaded. I mean, so I think those are, but we, the, the employers, Do you control the dials?

Speaker 2 (17:01):

Yeah. Yeah. It, it reminds me, and not to go way into a tangent or anything, it reminds me years ago there was a, a national restaurant that was advertising part-time delivery drivers with us. And they were complaining that thousands of people were going to the position on their ATS and they had like six applications. You know, it was just like an absolutely atrocious conversion rate. Wow. And couple of questions that we’ll typically ask when we see things like that. It’s like, is it unusual that you’re seeing that kind of result from college recruiter? Are we the outlier? Like, are all of your other sources good and we’re bad? Well, that tells us something. Or are you seeing it across the board? It’s like, no, we’re seeing it across the board, but your audience should convert really well, blah, blah, blah. Fair enough. So, we tested the application process for part-time delivery drivers.


So, you know, what do you really need to know about that person? It was a 40-minute application process. It was the same process as if they were hiring a chief, chief operating officer. I heard, I heard secondhand, I’m gonna have to go look at it. I’ve heard that. They’re now down to three minutes. It’s like an, it’s like driving for Uber. How long does it take you to apply? That’s their competition. And so that’s what they’ve done. And I’m sure there are loads of questions that they need to have answered after, if they decide to hire you, what’s your social security number? Right? They need that, but they don’t need that and really shouldn’t be gathering that on the front end.

Speaker 3 (18:33):

No, no. God, I was just talking to somebody else about that yesterday. And I’m telling you, when our, when our daughters start actually applying for jobs, which now they’re a tween and teen. Wow, that’s an amazing journey. <Laugh>. That’s, and at some point they will, if that crap is asked for, they will never work for those places, Right? Like ever. You do not, you do not ask for their social security number or their, you know, I you just don’t, It’s not gonna happen

Speaker 2 (18:58):


Speaker 3 (18:58):

That point. Don’t, don’t do. And you at that point, oh no, no. Right? That’s different. And I, and cuz after, if they’re getting the job, then that’s a different scenario of, of information that I need. But one of the things somebody just reminded me of yesterday too is that I’ve been, you know, touting for so long, make it an easier process, streamline it for candidates, make it easier to get in the front door and then do your own whatever, how you screen, assess whatever. But you still gotta be compliant. Yeah. Because the EOC will come and knock in Yep. On your door if you don’t, So you can’t comp, you just can’t compromise. So I, I’m, I love that it, we’re all about a better candidate experience, but you still gotta be compliant,

Speaker 2 (19:39):

Right? And so, and, and also just to add a little color to that too don’t blame choices that create a bad candidate experience on compliance when it’s really not. Things like changing the autoresponder and your ats first of all, having it on so that, gosh, you tell people that they applied and we got it. And then when I was, when I was one of the judges, I think, I think it was year two of the candies and I think it was Enterprise Renta car, I was struck by how candid and forthright they were about the process that candidates were gonna go through. And it was something, I’m just making up the days, but it was something like within 10 days you’re gonna hear back from a recruiter and if you go to the next step that it’s gonna be in, you know, at most another seven days.


And then if you go to the next step, that’s gonna be at most another 14 days. And here’s our process. And I’ve talked to employer, after employer, after employer about that. I see more of them doing that a pledge outlining candidly, transparently what their process is. And the ones that resist the typical response is, well what if we don’t get back to them within the promised five days? It’s like, okay, you’re missing the point. What you do is that you say, what’s the most amount of time it could possibly take for us to get back to this person in, at this stage? And they over deliver, right? And then, so if it’s seven days, you, you promise nine so that you’re always gonna be a hero. And if there’s an outlier case, you know, a meteor strikes your city, then fine. Email the person. Apologize. I just did that today with somebody. I was like, supposed to send something to somebody today and it’s not gonna be today. So I told them, Hey, it’s gonna be Monday. And they’re like, Cool, thanks.

Speaker 3 (21:32):

Yeah. Just, it’s, it’s it’s about expectation setting. And, and so companies that, that I can tell you that we’re we’re we something else that we we’re diving into and we’re actually gonna start writing it up this month and release it when we announce the candy winners in mid-September. But we were looking at the, so the best place of a hundred best companies to work for. It’s a great list, right? I mean the, the work that Great Place to Work does and, and Fortune, it’s a great methodology. They do a lot of really good research around it. Employee, employee experience, feedback, all this good stuff. A question that we came up and it was actually a discussion that we, I had with with our current board. So Jerry Chrisman, Ed Newman, and Debbie McGrath from and we’re like, and the question came up technically if that those are the 100 best places to work for, they should have a good positive candidate experience. I mean, I would, I That’s the hypothesis.

Speaker 2 (22:34):

Yeah. Certainly a high correlation.

Speaker 3 (22:37):

Yeah. I mean it should be. And so, and, and so what we’re doing is that we’re doing our own review of those companies, but just at the point of research and application, not beyond that. So because we, we can’t, we can’t assess with screening, interviewing cuz we’re not gonna get an interview. We’re just looking at, based on what we know candidates won and what the highest rated companies in our research are doing. We have a checklist. And so we’re going through and then we’re gonna release those results. And there’s some interesting things that we’re finding is that not everybody does on the front end and and, but, but many do still. And that’s good. That’s what we are hoping to see. So this wasn’t like supposed to be a gotcha moment, but it was very, it was professional curiosity. So we’re gonna release those results in September for everybody to check

Speaker 2 (23:27):

Out. Awesome. And, and just before we close, I’ll just add my 2 cents for the, the gotcha reference. One of the things that I have always loved about the candies is that it’s part of the DNA to use a carrot not stick approach. You’re not calling companies out and saying, what a terrible experience or you are awful in this area and blah, blah blah. Correct. Right. And there are the glass doors of the world are very good at doing that. And there’s a place for that. If that’s what the, the candidate wants to see, at times, employers are gonna be receptive to that kind of criticism. But the candy approach was always much more on the let’s celebrate the successes. Let’s show what’s possible. Let’s, let’s aspire to be better rather than beating people up for, for not being bad. So employers who haven’t been a part of the process, I I, I would definitely encourage it is really, really informative to have an outside group come in and say, Here’s what you’re doing, here’s how it benchmarks against others. Here’s how you can get better. So in, in that vein so Kevin, if people wanna learn more about the talent board, the candies, your drumming skills how should they contact you?

Speaker 3 (24:48):

that either connect with me on LinkedIn and, and go visit the talent and I’ll tons of resources that are available on our site about what we do and our, and our mission of elevating and promoting a quality candidate

Speaker 2 (25:02):

Experience. Awesome. Love, love it. Thank you for joining us today on the High Volume Hiring podcast, a co-production of Evergreen Podcasts and College Recruiter. Please subscribe for free on your favorite app. Review it five stars are always nice and recommend it to a couple of people you know who want to learn more about how best to hire dozens or even hundreds of people. A special thanks to our producer and engineer Ian Douglas. I’m your host Stephen Rothberg of job search site college recruiter. Each year we help more than 7 million candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach me at Cheers.

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