The job application is a candidate’s first interaction with your company and their entryway to the organization. But even talent acquisition teams who prioritize the candidate experience may overlook the application, focusing instead on providing a positive experience during the interview and offer processes. Here are the five job application metrics every recruiter needs to know to help improve the candidate experience.

Number of Applicants

A flood of job applications isn’t always a good thing; it can mean your job descriptions attract unqualified candidates. Monitor the number of applicants by position and department to set benchmarks and track application numbers over time. If a position receives 45 applications, similar openings should receive comparable application numbers in the future. Attract qualified talent with well-written job descriptions that help candidates understand the role, and track applicant counts to find out when to modify your talent acquisition strategy and recruitment marketing efforts.

Applicant Source

Do you know where your applicants come from? Is it through a job board, social media or organic search? Did you meet the applicant at a career fair? If you don’t track the source of the applicant, you may waste time and money. Consider adding a self-select button at the end of the application to encourage candidates to indicate where they learned about the position, and offer categories including:

  • Career Fairs: Did an applicant apply for a position after meeting your organization at a career fair? Understand which career fairs are most productive to refine event recruitment strategies.
  • Referrals: Track how many applicants are a result of employee referrals. Seeing low numbers? Build out your employee referral program to bring in more pre-vetted applicants.
  • Job Boards: With job boards for general positions, executive searches and specific fields, you could spend your entire recruitment budget on job board placements. Track applicant source to find out which placements work for you and determine cost per applicant.

Application Drop-Off Rate

Lengthy job applications may cause candidates, especially Millennial and Gen Z candidates on mobile phones, to drop out of the process. In the 2017 Yello Recruiting Study, 26 percent of recent grads report applying to a job from a mobile device. If your job application asks repetitive questions or is long and complex, the best candidates will often move on before hitting submit.

Track how many applications are completed, as well as how many are started. If you find a high rate of candidate drop-off before submitting the application, eliminate application questions that don’t collect essential information. Use resume parsing technology instead of requiring candidates to enter full work histories, and don’t ask for references until the candidate advances through the process.

Applicant to Interview Conversion

Do you know the rate at which applicants convert to interviewees? Understanding the number of applicants compared to how many result in scheduled interviews can indicate applicant quality. If your applicant to interview conversion rate is low and you don’t attract the right candidates, modify job descriptions to more accurately reflect the role or speak to the hiring manager to better understand qualifications.

The applicant to interview conversion rate may also be low because recruiters screen candidates with ineffective questions or fail to sell the business. Train recruiters to use screening questions that accurately evaluate candidates for the position, and coach them to present the unique opportunities your company offers potential employees.

Company Response Rate

Do candidates who apply for a position always receive a reply from your company? The 2016 Candidate Experience Research Report found 47 percent of candidates are left waiting two to three months for a response from an organization post-application. Improve the candidate experience by ensuring every applicant receives communication from a recruiter. Leverage candidate relationship management software to track candidate communications and responses.


The application is a crucial connector between the candidate and the recruiting team, and brings you one step closer to filling an open position. Track the right metrics during this process to become more strategic in your talent acquisition initiatives and continually enhance the candidate experience.