Candidate Response Rates

Improving Candidate Response Rates For Digital Interviewing

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What are healthy candidate response rates for digital interviews?

A healthy response rate will vary from company to company, industry to industry and position to position.

You can calculate a healthy benchmark for each of your positions by taking these three factors into consideration:

Here’s a closer look:

Part 1: Calculate Your Historical Candidate Response Rates

Calculating your historical response rates, or the response rates you traditionally experience with phone screens, provides a great benchmark to begin our discussion around healthy benchmarking. Follow this simple formula:

(# of phone screens conducted) / (# of attempted phone screens) = historical response rate

Notice you are eliminating these groups of candidates:

For example: Say you reach out to ten candidates to schedule a phone interview. If nine of them respond and eight of them show up to their interview, your response rate is 80% for that interview.

Now that you have your historical response rate for your position, you have line of sight to what a healthy response rate should look like. Across our clients, we find that a healthy response rate should fall within 5-10 percentage points of your historical response rate.

Keep in mind that if your response rates are lower than a standard phone screen, this may not always be bad news. Candidates that are not seriously interested in your position or organization will take any excuse to self-select out of your process. If a candidate is lukewarm on your opportunity, then it’s a good thing if they opt out.

Part 2: Assess Your Employer Brand

The number one factor that can impact your response rate is your employer brand.

Candidates are more likely to go through the full interview process with companies that they are excited to work for. The stronger your employer brand is, the higher your response rate will be. It’s shocking how easy it is to make a positive impact on an employer brand and how so few companies actually invest the effort.

Part 3: Six Best Practices to Boost Your Response Rates

Now that you have a benchmark for health, let’s look at the factors of your interview process that can have a positive or negative effect on your response rates:


Transparency throughout your interview process is a critical element in enhancing the overall candidate experience. Imagine that you go through a 10-round interview process with a company over a 10-week period. This points to bigger problems if your process is this drawn out.

Positioning and Messaging

How you position a digital interview to a candidate is critical. Candidates have to know why digital interviewing is a part of your process and how it will benefit them. They have been asked to do enough phone screens by now that they understand why a phone screen is part of your process. You have to assume this is the first time your candidate has conducted a digital interview, so answering the ‘why’ for them is crucial.

The messaging you provide to candidates is critical. Give special attention to crafting your email invitation, and the introduction and closing messages.


How quickly you respond to candidates after they apply is a critical element to a great candidate experience and will greatly impact your response rates. Think about it this way: You’re a candidate that is applying to quite a few opportunities at companies that excite you. Companies A, B, and C all respond within one week and start the interview process. Company D reaches out four weeks after you apply, but at this point, you are already at the final stages with three other companies that you are excited about. How likely are you to start another process from scratch? You see my point.


When you first roll out digital interviewing, it will feel unfamiliar at first for all involved. Don’t let this concern you. You are changing a process that likely has not seen any innovation at your organization, ever. To see the full impact of this change, you have to stick with the process through the painful first few steps.

You may have a hiring manager give you negative feedback straight out of the gate or response rates may start out lower than you anticipated. The knee-jerk reaction is to scrap the new process, pick up the phone and revert back to your old ways of screening candidates.

This will undermine all the work you have put in and continue to erode your response rates! If you start checking in on candidates, they can tell that you’re not committed to your own process and this puts the candidate in the driver seat to bypass screening steps.

Stay on course even if things are a bit rough or the initial feedback is not ideal. There is light at the end of the tunnel and your managers will quickly start seeing the value of adding digital interviewing to your process (they always do!).

Length of Interview

With a digital interview, as with a phone screen, a good rule of thumb is to keep it to 30 minutes or less. This means you need to be sensitive to the number of interview questions you ask in your digital interview.

Keep in mind it takes a candidate on average 15 minutes to read your welcome message, watch your video(s) and take a few practice questions. This means you have approximately 15 minutes to fill with interview questions. So how do you best fill that time?

Let’s say you are asking questions that allow for 90 seconds of response time and 30 seconds of prep time per question. You could comfortably fit 7-8 questions into that window of time. If you are asking questions that require longer response or prep times, we recommend reducing the number of questions you ask to fit the 30-minute window.

Responses rates start to drop off at the 30-minute mark, so it’s always recommended to use the 30-minute rule when designing your digital interview to keep your response rates as high as possible.

Investment in Candidate Experience 

A healthy dose of empathy is essential in crafting an amazing candidate experience. Before you roll out digital interviewing at your company, make sure to create a plan for how you will invest in your candidate satisfaction score. Yes, it’s some added work upfront, but you only need to do it once and the impact will be lasting for your organization. Below is a checklist to ensure your candidate experience is the best it can possible be:

Get in the mindset of what you can teach candidates about your company as they go through your interview process. It’s all give and take. Make sure you take the time to invest in their experience.

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