Why the Winning’s in the Follow-Through

An inside look at how furniture manufacturer Room & Board prioritizes the importance of timely candidate follow-up and follow-through.

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Mar 20, 2024

I keep hoping that hearing from talent acquisition professionals currently in the job market about their bad candidate experiences would subside sooner rather than later.

They are not.

Recently, at a conference, I had two conversations with TA candidates in the market with similar themes: They were told what would happen next after interviewing but not followed up with. At all.

Ghosted. The recruiters and hiring managers didn’t respond once, even after multiple follow-ups from the candidates.

If this was just the point of the application, then it’s more understandable, although indeed not a best practice, if the candidates never hear back because they weren’t qualified. No matter what, they should still get a rejection and closure. This is true for professional and hourly candidates.

In 2023, out of 170,000 North American candidate responses from our CandE Benchmark Research, 29% of hourly candidates were still awaiting the next steps after applying 1-2+ months later, and 33% of professional candidates were still waiting.

In 2024, out of 3,000 and counting North American candidate responses from our research, 37% of hourly candidates were still waiting on the next steps after applying 1-2+ months later, and 36% of professional candidates were still waiting.

That’s even more waiting to hear back than in 2023. We still have a lot of data to collect this year, but that’s how it’s trending so far.

Back to those interviewed, though. So far, in 2024, only 48% of professional candidates said after the interview, the recruiter explained what would happen next and followed up as indicated. It was only 34% for hourly candidates.

In 2023, only 46% of professional candidates said after the interview, the recruiter explained what would happen next and followed up as indicated. It was only 40% for hourly candidates.

For both years, less than 50% of all candidates were followed up with per the expectation set for them. This is true of the hiring managers as well, but that’s less than a third overall of those who said they were followed up with.

Here’s the thing, though. We see this every year for employers who are consistent with their candidate communication and feedback loops, especially for our CandE Winners, companies with the highest candidate experience ratings in our annual research.

Those candidates who said they were extremely likely to refer others increased by 121% when followed up with after the interview as they were told they would be, from only 14% extremely likely to refer others when not followed up with versus 57% extremely likely to refer others when they are.

That’s a big difference, and that’s why the winning is in the follow-through. Just ask CandE Winner Room & Board below.

CandE Case Study: Room & Board

Founded in 1980, Room & Board makes modern artisan-crafted furnishings designed to last. Room & Board employs more than 900 people across the country, from our Minneapolis, Minnesota, headquarters to stores and delivery centers nationwide. Learn more at (You can download our latest global 2023 CandE Benchmark Research and case studies here.)

1. What changes have you made to your candidate experience recently? What improvements are you most proud of? How do you know that your changes are making a difference?

We’ve made several enhancements to our recruiting process to improve the candidate experience. Some of the changes we are most proud of include:

  • Implementing a self-scheduling tool: This allows candidates to schedule their recruiter phone interview more efficiently and conveniently.
  • Inquiring about accommodations: We added a question to our application process that asks if a candidate requires any accommodations for their interviews.
  • Sharing a ‘personal commitment’ statement: Our recruiters support full-cycle recruitment and are the point of contact for every candidate we move through the process. We are committed to providing timely follow-up at each step and transparency in every conversation as we set expectations for every step of the way. During every recruiter phone interview, the recruiter clearly states to the candidate that they are committed to a respectful, transparent, and communicative process that will never leave them wondering.
  • Personalized feedback: We are committed to providing personalized interview feedback for each candidate. We aim to leave them in a better position than when we found them. Additionally, we’ve created over 20 email communication templates that allow a more personalized response when regretting candidates upon resume review (which represents about 90% of applicants).
  • More timely responses: We have raised the bar and are committed to replying to candidate applications within 1-5 business days, as opposed to 10 days in the past. We want to ensure timely communication upon application submission and inform each candidate that a ‘real human’ will review their application.

Our team continuously receives positive feedback from candidates, even upon extending our regrets. They often share how supported they felt throughout the process and how they appreciate our transparency.

2. Why did you decide to make changes to how candidates were being treated? What data or evidence prompted you to make a change?

We recognize that many companies have been treating candidates poorly for a very long time, and some continue to do so. Poor candidate behavior (e.g., no-shows, ghosting) can, in some situations, be attributed to a candidate’s lack of confidence in the process due to repeatedly poor treatment from companies. We wanted to differentiate Room & Board from other companies, especially in the current state of a candidate-driven market, by being true to our values of transparency and authenticity. We are known to be “one of the best places to shop” and “best places to work” and wanted to also be known as one of the “best places to interview.”

3. How did you build support and commitment within your team and the broader organization? How did you demonstrate the importance of candidate experience?

As a Talent Acquisition team, we built support by holding each other accountable, sharing feedback from candidates, and working collaboratively to continually make improvements that positively impact the candidate experience. In terms of building support across the organization, we had shared our commitment to the candidate experience in our broader HR team meetings, partnered closely with our hiring leaders, and shared our intention to participate in the CandE survey with all staff members through articles and updates on our internal employee site. Staff members understand that we uphold the same high-level standards in working with candidates as we do in working with our customers.

4. How do you measure candidate experience? How do you report on your recruiting process? How do you use that data to demonstrate financial impact and manage recruiter and hiring manager behaviors?

We rely on the results of the CandE survey to measure the candidate experience and the direct feedback we receive from candidates. As first-year participants, we are still considering how to use the data to demonstrate the financial impact. Additionally, we report time-to-fill, meeting target start dates, new hires per month, and new hire retention/ turnover. Our data on markets with higher turnover or longer time-to-fill roles allows us the opportunity to partner with our hiring leaders in these markets to develop recruitment strategies to drive more qualified candidates.

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