Candidate Dispositioning - What does it mean and why does it matter?

When we started out with Mystery Applicant, we set the goal that every job applicant would be given the opportunity to give their feedback on the process. Every single one. Every minute of the day.

This is a key part of our offering as we wanted to hear from the rejected candidates who would form the huge majority of our database.

We didn’t know what to expect, in terms of response rates or appetite, for a candidate who didn’t get the job to take time out of their day to give us and our clients constructive scores and feedback.

But we live in a feedback society and this is reflected in the fact that we have hundreds and thousands of  candidates giving us feedback every day, even though they didn’t get the job. Structured and valuable feedback on their perceptions of the employer, how the process could have been improved, why they applied for the job in the first place and ultimately their first hand experiences of just what it felt like to be a candidate applying for a job at that organization.

It is an absolute goldmine of data.

This came to mind when I was reading about candidate dispositioning in the latest of the Candidate Experience Awards, published in their excellent e-book wh....

But what is, “Candidate Dispositioning”?

In HR terms, candidate dispositioning is usually applied to the process of informing a candidate they are no longer being considered for a particular role – essentially a status position or closure. The importance of this from a candidate experience perspective is that from the moment a candidate becomes a job applicant they will have a set of expectations that will lead to an outcome and it is the process of managing this throughout that will have a significant impact on how the employer rates in terms of its candidate experience.  

But this isn’t just about final communication on ‘complete’ stage when the candidate is no longer going to be progressed. Disposition management begins before a candidate has even applied for a role. Clearly setting out expectations, managing and meeting those during the process and setting high standards for treating the candidate with a respect that maintains strong brand reputation and continuing engagement opportunities in the future.

“Structured expectations allow organisations to more easily craft disposition data collection stages, codification schemas and final communications that provide greater value and context to candidates.”

Candidate Experience 2013,

We know candidates value feedback and that communication is vital to building a good candidate experience. But it is also the value and quality of that feedback that will result in a higher value return in your candidate experience metrics.  The challenge is managing the quality of feedback when organisations have hundreds and thousands of applications to any one requisition alongside tailoring suitable feedback geared to the candidates qualification of the role, stage reached and scale of the position.

But don’t let current reality be a perceived obstacle to solving the problem.

Whilst in essence we may not be talking about anything new here, the techniques, challenges and expectations around how communication with candidates is evolving,  as our own data at Mystery Applicant and the Candidate Experience Awards are demonstrating. This is going to become increasingly important as the economy improves and the value of maintaining  strong brand recognition and ROI in candidate experience will have a noticeable impact on an organisation’s ability to recruit the right people for the right roles.

So I  expect to hear more about ‘Candidate Dispositioning’ or Candidate Disposition Mangement or maybe just CDM in the coming months so expect to see it a conference/unconference near you soon.

And if it gives more focus on the ‘how’ recruiters communicate to all their candidates throughout the whole process and managing those who don’t make the cut for a particular job,  as opposed to the ‘if’ or the ‘why’,  that’s good enough for me.

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Comment by Matt Charney on April 22, 2014 at 10:43am

@Nick - great post. Incidentally I had a similar conversation with Gerry yesterday that if the tech companies would only make notifications when requisitions close a canonical workflow requirement - aka dispositioning - then most of the candidate experience issues we talk about would literally be automated away. Unfortunately, most of these start-up whiz kids or product guys haven't actually ever applied for a real job to think of this.

Comment by Nick Price on April 22, 2014 at 10:47am

Thanks Matt. Nice comment - like the term 'canonical workflow'.

Comment by Matt Charney on April 22, 2014 at 12:30pm

Sounds sexier than "process automation," that's for sure.

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on April 22, 2014 at 1:42pm

@ Nick: to your knowledge, have any Staffing Heads of major organizations either been highly rewarded for having a very positive CE throughout the organization, or been reprimanded/fired for not fixing a very negative one (all else being equal)? ISTM that until there are strong positive/negative reinforcements at the highest levels, very little besides lip-service will occur.


Comment by Nick Price on April 24, 2014 at 5:52am

@Keith - Good point. I have seen reward structures put in place and bonuses related to having good candidate experience at Recruiter level. These organizations are the more progressive. There has to be the accountability at the highest levels as you rightly point out but at the first step it's getting those who are at the forefront of recruiting to also be held accountable and taking it seriously as a business initiative.

People who suspect they may get a poor score are also more skeptical of asking for feedback and it has to be higher enough up the chain that people aren't just marking their own homework.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on May 6, 2014 at 10:09am

@Nick, I've seen it as well. Back in the late 90's, I was Jr. Recruiter (Corporate org) and we were measured on cost per hire, time to fill, quality of candidates and customer service. My boss sent feedback notices to the hiring manager that asked about the quality of candidates, response time, etc. The same went to candidates asking about their experience. They were questioned about our knowledge of the job, communication, etc. 

We received spot bonuses for high ratings. I'm glad a learned about those important factors early in my career. 

Comment by Nick Price on May 6, 2014 at 12:35pm

@Tiffany - that's great to hear - clearly it was a forward thinking organization!


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