Using Candidate and Employee Feedback to Drive DEI

Think about the last time you requested feedback from a candidate after a round of interviews or sent out a quarterly employee survey. Chances are, you’ve conducted these feedback initiatives to help your team establish a wealth of data you can use to improve your company’s hiring and retention practices. 

And this data is crucial—not only for consistently iterating on those practices but for collecting insights into what motivates both candidates and employees. However, much of this data is left on the table when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

The reality today for most organizations is that making progress around DEI has to be data-driven, allowing you and your team to make the most effective and objective decisions about what you do to drive DEI, why you do it, and when you implement certain initiatives. 

To drive progress, you’ll need to leverage the employee feedback and candidate feedback you have, and the data that results from it. We’ll show you how your team can do that so you can drive DEI from hiring and recruitment through to engagement, retention, and beyond. 

But first, let’s look at what employee feedback is and how it differs from candidate feedback. 

Employee feedback vs candidate feedback

It doesn’t matter how many sources of feedback and data you use but, rather, that you use data at all. Because, whether we like it or not, sourcing candidates can be quite technical, and the data matters. 

The feedback and data your team collects today is vastly different from the data recruiters and hiring managers once collected—instead of relying solely on information from resumes, we’re now also collecting insights from interviews, referrals, assessments, surveys, and more. But not all of this feedback is equal, which means you need to collect all of it. 

Before we collect this feedback data, though, it’s helpful to understand how employee feedback differs from candidate feedback, and why you need to collect and assess data from both. 

What is employee feedback?

Put simply, employee feedback is any information exchanged between two or more employees (either formally or informally) relating to job performance, skills, or one’s ability to work as part of a team. 

There are many forms of employee feedback, including: 

  • Peer-to-peer
  • Manager to peer
  • Peer to manager 

Beyond these forms of feedback, there are also many types, like:

  • Praise
  • Criticism (constructive)
  • Evaluation (performance reviews)
  • Coaching
  • Encouragement 

To collect employee feedback, employers typically use: 

  • Employee experience surveys
  • Employee engagement surveys 
  • Anonymous team questionnaires 
  • Annual or quarterly performance reviews 
  • Weekly quizzes or pulse surveys

While consistent feedback may seem like too much of a good thing, collecting employee feedback is critical in driving a range of company initiatives forward—and, more specifically, DEI-related efforts. 

With feedback comes insight, and you’ll need to understand how employees feel about your DEI initiatives and the progress your company is making if you hope to get buy-in for those initiatives. You’ll also find that having this feedback is helpful when creating new roles or leveraging internal mobility to drive DEI

Our 2021 DEI Report found that, when measuring the success of their DEI initiatives, 55% of employers are using employee surveys, 48% are leveraging data around employee demographics, and 57% are looking to hiring results. 

What is candidate feedback?

Candidate feedback is any information exchanged between a candidate and a hiring manager or recruiter pertaining to a candidate’s overall experience with recruiting-related activities like applications, interviews, and assessments. 

Similar to employee feedback, there are many types of candidate feedback, including: 

  • Anonymous feedback surveys 
  • DEI-specific surveys 
  • Interview panel surveys 
  • Virtual surveys 

And, similarly, candidates can provide feedback to: 

  • Hiring managers
  • Recruiters
  • Interviewers 
  • Talent acquisition leaders

If you’re wondering why you should collect candidate feedback, the answer is two-fold: 

  1. Leveraging DEI surveys and EEO dashboards enables your team to make more objective, fair, and inclusive hiring decisions, which in turn drives diversity recruiting.
  2. To consistently attract diverse talent, your team needs data and insights into the experiences of diverse candidates (such as application and interview experiences) in order to consistently improve hiring practices.

How feedback can help you get buy-in for DEI initiatives

Driving DEI in your organization can feel like an overwhelming and sometimes frustrating effort. As a talent acquisition pro, you’re focusing on DEI not only during recruitment but throughout the entire hiring journey and beyond. DEI is an ongoing initiative, something that your entire company has to live and breathe—and yet, these efforts can feel overwhelming when you’re struggling to get buy-in from employees and leadership alike. Aka, diversity fatigue

With feedback, there is really nowhere for your team to ‘hide’ when assessing, reporting on, and improving upon progress with DEI. Data doesn’t lie— it shows you where you’re struggling versus where you’re succeeding, and prevents teams across your organization from passing off the responsibility of DEI to someone else. In this sense, the data and insights you gather from both employee and candidate feedback allows you to: 

  • Evaluate and prioritize DEI initiatives 
  • Empower your team around allyship 
  • Encourage transparent and frequent communication around your DEI initiatives and progress
  • Hold teams accountable for their participation in and support of those initiatives 

As you collect feedback from employees and candidates, you’ll also build upon the data you gather, which helps you plan for future DEI initiatives. That leads us to our next point…

What type of feedback should you be collecting for DEI?

To ensure you’re implementing all of the actionable insights you gather from your DEI-centric employee and candidate feedback, it helps to know what feedback to collect! Below, we outline a few ways you can collect feedback, and the type of feedback you should be looking for. 

Focus on employee and candidate feedback for DEI

You can collect both employee and candidate feedback via quick surveys. 

For example, you can use a tool like Lattice to send weekly surveys through Slack to your team members, while LeverTRM’s EEO surveys can be sent post-interview to candidates to gather insights about their recruiting experience. 

These can include employee engagement surveys, eNPS surveys, pulse surveys, and interview surveys. The goal is to consistently gather feedback that gives you a better understanding of how employees and candidates feel about DEI in your organization and recruiting. 

Depending on the type of survey, your questions or statements will differ. For instance, an employee engagement survey will typically use statements that participants can either agree or disagree with based on a fixed or sliding scale (think: 1-10 ratings)

Here are a few examples of statements you might use in an employee engagement survey when it comes to DEI

  • I agree that leadership understands and values DEI’s role in our company’s success
  • [Name of Company] invests time and energy into building diverse teams
  • The process for career advancement is equal and transparent for everyone 
  • My manager encourages me to seek support from ERGs in our company 
  • I agree that [Name of Company] is making progress with our DEI initiatives 
  • I am motivated by leadership to participate in and support our DEI efforts 

When sending pulse surveys to employees, you may include questions like: 

  • How familiar are you with our DEI initiatives? 
  • Do you feel you have the information you need to participate in DEI efforts?
  • How likely are you to join an ERG at [Name of Company]?
  • Do you feel comfortable sharing feedback around DEI with your manager?
  • How confident do you feel in [Name of Company’s] ability to achieve our DEI commitments?

If your team sends diversity and inclusion surveys to candidates, you can ask questions related to gender, sex, and sexual orientation; race and ethnicity; and disability and impairment (inclusive of seen and unseen disabilities). You’ll also want to collect feedback from candidates on their actual recruiting experience, which can include asking questions about the diversity of stakeholders in interviews, how inclusive and fair they felt their conversations were, and whether they were given enough information around the company’s DEI initiatives. 

Here are a few examples:

  • During your recruiting process, did you receive information about our company’s ongoing DEI initiatives?
  • How important of a role do you think DEI plays in our company and recruiting?
  • Was your interviewer able to answer your questions about DEI efforts? 

You’ll find collecting this array of feedback helps you not only improve your diversity recruiting practices but also your candidate experience. 

Conduct frequent belonging and inclusion surveys

Before you can iterate on your diversity recruiting practices, you’ll need to have a firm understanding of how employees and new hires feel about belonging and inclusion (B&I) within your organization. 

Belonging and inclusion refer to the initiatives your company works on to make everyone in an organization feel that they’re a part of something that matters. Feedback on how employees (especially new hires) feel about B&I gives you greater insight into your culture, so any questions or statements you include in these surveys or studies should be geared towards collecting the most direct feedback possible. 

Here are just a few examples of questions you can ask employees and new hires when conducting B&I surveys: 

  • Do you feel supported in your career growth at [Name of Company]?
  • Do you believe everyone is treated fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or seniority? 
  • Do you feel safe bringing your authentic self to work? 
  • Do you believe you’re given equal opportunity to grow and advance at [Name of Company]? 
  • Do you feel [Name of Company] is living its values when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?
  • Do you believe our recruiting practices are fair and inclusive of all? 

Notice that, in B&I surveys, many of the questions will be subjective, as they pertain to the individual’s perspective on DEI in your company, and not just your company’s DEI initiatives. 

Try entry interview surveys for candidates and new hires

Imagine this: you’re ready to interview top candidates for an open role, but before you do, you send them a survey that allows you to get to know each candidate. 

The idea of a pre-interview survey sounds odd, right? I mean, the purpose of an interview is to get to know a candidate…

However, it’s not uncommon for recruiters to hire candidates for roles they may not be the best fit for—and yet, they’re perfectly qualified and well-suited to a different role. As a hiring manager or employer, you may feel this is a ‘recruiting fail,’ but an entry interview survey is a great opportunity to put talent in the right role from the very start!

Here are just a couple of benefits of these surveys:

  1. For both candidates and new hires, these surveys can provide you with a wealth of insight into each person’s specific skills, interests/passions, and experiences, rather than placing them in a role based on their resume.
  2. For new hires, you can use these surveys to have meaningful conversations about what motivates your talent to do their best work and bring their most authentic selves to work, too.

Think about questions related to working in diverse cultures, inclusive workplaces, diverse teams, and career development for underrepresented groups like POC and neurodivergent candidates. 

Once you gather enough feedback from candidates and new hires, you can implement the data and insights at every step of your hiring process—especially your interview process

Drive true change with DEI

DEI is a promise, not a checkbox—but when you prioritize diversity in every aspect of your recruiting process, you help drive true change for your organization. To do that, focus on building a tech stack that empowers your diversity recruiting initiatives. Our complete guide to building a DEI tech stack shows you how.