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Candidate Experience, Employer Branding, News

How Mystery Applicant is changing the face of candidate experience measurement

Some weeks ago I posted a blog on measuring the candidate experience. Whilst it is no coincidence this is an area I’m actively involved in with Mystery Applicant, the origins of this are embedded in the wider aspects of employer branding research that includes understanding the perceptions, motivations and experiences of prospective employees and existing employees when working with large corporate organisations.

Introducing Mystery Applicant

Mystery Applicant is a new company we launched the end of last year to measure the candidate experience. Utilising technology it reflects the an organisation’s current candidate landscape, can benchmark data and contrast this across an organisation’s department and resourcing centres. We also have diversity monitoring and help companies ensure all their candidates are treated in line with their values, behaviours and expectations.

We also wanted to create to create a candidate feedback mechanism that reflected the feedback landscape that we live in. Ebay, Reevoo, Amazon etc.. all have consumer feedback tools that allow people to share their experiences and enable companies to refine and improve their customer experience. So why not do this with candidates?


Traditional employer branding projects would involve a number of research exercises, of which, asking candidates about their perception  and experience of the organisation was one of them. This would sit alongside a number of research exercises would involve a combination of focus groups, surveys and interviews with both internal and external groups. The legwork involved in this type of project is very labour intensive. Just as a snapshot you would need to:

1)   Find the people you wanted to talk to. For external groups this is a significant challenge. Identifying the sample group for any research requires time and selection. Even for the internal exercise this is not straightforward as anyone who has ran this type of project will testify.

2)   Decide how you are going to talk them and listen to their opinion. Usually this would be a combination of focus groups – qualitative – and online surveys – quantitative.

3)   Prepare questionnaires, scripts and interview structures.

4)   Prepare online surveys – go through various approval processes.

5)   Analyse the data – a sizeable task

6)   Present all results back in a meaningful format that demonstrates purpose and outputs.

The downside with this type of approach is that it is set in time. As soon as you have taken in the results of this exercise and  implemented the necessary interventions you want to see the impact of this changes and you want to carry on benchmarking this over time. Also, you also want to compare and contrast different groups and often understand from an external perspective how this compares with other sectors or organisations.

Utilising Technology

Mystery Applicant overcomes a number of hurdles that are often barriers to gaining deeper insights into employer branding research by:

  • Automating the survey process.  Anyone who has ever done a survey using one of the many survey tools out there such as Survey Monkey or Zoomerang, knows that designing the survey is one part of the job (after numerous discussions and internal consultation), but you also have to generate the invites and manage the responses. With Mystery Applicant we are linked to a company’s ATS that notifies us when a new applicant is in the system so we can automatically invite them to give their feedback on the application process. Their results are sent through to the database and then into the dashboard. This also means this process is ongoing and is not limited by numbers as our clients often have tens of thousands of applicants in a single month, 24 hours a day.
  • Automating the analytics and reporting. Having spent many years writing questions and pulling together the analysis and charts we have used this insight to build an interactive, user friendly dashboard that people enjoy using and provides data in real time. Drop down filters, clickable graphs and the ability to instantly see comments from applicants at all stages of the process literally means analysis is at the fingertips of all permitted users. And all the pages of open responses that take hours to analyse are fed through to the dashboard as they come through from candidates. This also means that someone at the very top of the organisation can look at data for different regions, departments and resourcing managers to monitor feedback and performance.
  • Trackable and benchmarkable data. The advice we always give to clients is to review, monitor and track the results over time. This would mean initiating a follow up project or survey in 6-12 months. This was sometimes budget prohibitive or just another project on the list that was one step too far. I would find this frustrating as having invested so much in gathering the views of both prospective candidates and employees at any one point in time you really want to measure the effect of any interventions. 
  • It looks and feels good. This is important, particularly in an environment where we are used to the functionality of Apps and iPads. The user experience has to be a good one and the data easy to find, utilise and understand. This encourages its usability and also improves response rates on the feedback interface and has a familiarity from using other feedback tools. The dashboard has been designed to have a nice looks and feel too and the feedback we have had to far reflects the benefits of investing in this. And I like things to look nice, feel polished and create a great user experience! 
This isn’t an exhaustive list of Mystery Applicant’s features and nor is it intended to be, but from a personal perspective we need to give a fresh perspective to how data is used within HR and particularly in areas around employer branding and the candidate experience. I want companies to use Mystery Applicant because I know the value the data has, the innovative way it is presented and used and not least the scalability whatever the size of the organisation.

Having a handle on the data and metrics from what candidates perceive an organisation to be like, the motivations and influences that drive them and an understanding of the experience they have when they first come into contact with you leads to effective monitoring and more efficient and knowledge based resourcing. We are taking our approach and metrics into following up data when a candidate becomes hired and seeing how this components translate from perception to reality.

The technology behind Mystery Applicant along with the experience of the team behind it means we are in for a very exciting time. It’s scalability on a global scale, which we are undertaking now, and the ease of access to real time candidate data and being able to influence real change is something I’m looking forward to.

To find out more about Mystery Applicant along with our series of seminars please visit our website www.mysteryapplicant.com.


Mystery Applicant will be the proud sponsor of a series of seminars led by resourcing expert and futurologist Matt Alder. As guest speaker, Colin Minto, Global Head of Resourcing at G4S, will have the opportunity to talk in more details about his experience of planning and implementing a candidate experience-focused resourcing strategy (for more information on the seminars, you can contact Mystery Applicant here).


About Nick Price

Employer branding and communications, insight and engagement, talent attraction and HR analytics


2 thoughts on “How Mystery Applicant is changing the face of candidate experience measurement

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