How Candidate Feedback Saves the Onboarding Process? CNA IT Case Study

Volodymyr Bilyk
07 April 2021

Gathering candidate feedback is one of the things recruiters do. It is a precautionary measure designed to keep everyone on the same page. A couple of months ago, CNA International IT had an interesting case study regarding candidate experience and post-start retention. We’ve managed to avoid a high-profile breakaway candidate with the power of candidate feedback.

It’s an excellent example of how important it is to keep in touch with the candidate and how this kind of communication manages to overcomes even the bumpiest of onboardings. 

Find out how we managed to do it in our newest case study.

The context: Hiring tech lead position in Fintech

The client’s company was working on fintech solutions for the banking sector. They were looking for a high-profile specialist to fill the tech lead position on one of their projects. 

  • It was one hell of an exciting, complex position to close.

The requirements were highly detailed and very specific. Usually, it is not a problem; the more detail you have, the better you understand who to look for. 

  • But sometimes, you get some rare combinations – like DevOps and Java. 
  • When it comes to finding such tech lead candidates with a fintech background – we’re talking about a dozen matches over the entire IT segment at best. 
  • And it is not like these folks are walking around, banging the drums and saying that they’re looking for a job.  

Nevertheless, filling the position wasn’t all that challenging. Eventually, we’ve found a couple of suitable matches via recruiters networking. Convincing them to proceed with the application went as usual. The subsequent candidate feedback was nothing to worry about.

The recruitment process went smoothly. Some candidates got rejections, and then one of them managed to go all the way through and get the job offer. 

It seems like just another sweet success story, right? Well, that’s where it gets interesting.

Why is Onboarding Critical for New Employee Success? 

Before we go into detail regarding what went wrong in this specific case, we need to put things into context.

  • Recruiting matching candidates with full-on culture fit and tech stack to a tee is very important for a successful recruitment process. 

But – that’s not the end of the story. The candidates turn into employees and start working for the company. Hiring is easy. Retention is hard.

  • Because of that, onboarding is a much more critical element of the employment process. It can be a make or break stage for the candidate. 
  • Even if the candidate fits every conceivable position criteria, if the onboarding process fails to deliver – it most likely sets up a new employee for a fail and results in the new hire either quitting or being fired. 

That’s why it is important to maintain the connection with the candidate beyond the employment. In a way, this approach informally extends candidate experience into onboarding and probation period. 

But because of it, the chances of new hires quitting or getting hire and subsequent recruitment process restart is much lower. This approach allows CNA IT to maintain the percentage of replacements under 5% for over four years.

Onboarding a tech lead: What can go wrong?

how we managed to persuade the candidate to stay

The story goes: the candidate accepts the offer and starts his first day. 

  • His expectations are reasonable. Meet the team, get a little tour explaining who’s, where’s, what’s and why’s, get accustomed to the new workplace, gain all relevant accesses and start delving into the gist of it. 
  • Instead, Day One on the new job turned out rough
  • To paraphrase the candidate’s feedback: “It was as if the company wasn’t expecting anyone to start working as there were zero onboarding preparations.”
  • Not the best way to kick things off but let’s give it a chance.
    • A couple of days in, another thing comes to the surface. 
      • The company’s workflows are excessively slow and riddled with bureaucracy. 
      • It took forever to get all the required accesses and tune-in the management tools. And even then, it wasn’t finalized.
  • While the drive to deliver the goods was there, the motivation to persist in such an environment is an acquired taste.
  • The combination of these two factors seriously hampered the candidate’s onboarding. 
  • Even more so, they spawned second thoughts regarding the career decision. And when your new hire gets second thoughts – that’s trouble.

But it wasn’t just that. There was another thing.

  • In the meantime, the candidate, who just started working in the new company, received a counteroffer. 
  • It was a sweet deal and a major disruptor for the already doubtful candidate.

Things looked dim.

That’s where our candidate feedback came in handy.

How candidate feedback saves the day

candidate feedback


Gathering candidate feedback is one of the integral elements of the recruiter’s job. Here’s what Anna Mishuk, the responsible recruiter on this case, have to say about it:

  • “Candidate feedback is critical for maintaining candidate retention throughout the recruitment process. It is a beacon of sorts. 
  • It is a way of balancing things out and keeping everyone involved on the same page.
  • But you can’t just ask the candidate for feedback and expect him to tell how it is. It doesn’t work that way. Gathering feedback is a matter of trust. 
  • Some employers fail to understand that employees, especially the new ones, tend to keep their frustrations to themselves. The trust is yet to be gained. So when they quit, and it is the news. 
  • However, if you maintain proper communication with the candidate, you gain mutual trust, leading to the candidate opening up about his employee experience
  • Usually, it is just some general information that helps you to optimize your work approaches. Some details that allow you to prepare other candidates in the mix for this company. 
  • But sometimes, it uncovers problems and paves the way for keeping things from falling apart.”

That’s what exactly happened. 

  • Due to our recruiter being constantly in touch with the candidate, we’ve managed to find out about the situation as it went down. 
  • In fact, the candidate asked our opinion while weighing the options, all while expressing his deep disappointment.
  • Because of that, we’ve managed to communicate the problem to the client’s HR management. 

Here’s what happened next.

Our results: How feedback drives change?

Our timely interaction with the candidate and then the HR department caused corrections to the onboarding process. The candidate went through the rest of the probation period unscathed.

As for now, he’s still working for the company, leading the team and spearheading the project towards new heights. 

So what’s our solution? Constant communication with the candidate is critical for adjusting the various aspects that go beyond the recruitment process. That habit of asking “what’s up?” saved the day.

  • The root of the problem was in the “style difference”
    • The candidate wasn’t used to such a glacial onboarding process, but he kept it to himself. 
    • At the same time, the company was under the impression that things are going smoothly.
  • On the other hand, there was an expectations conundrum
    • Because of the high-profile status of the position, the candidate thought that the onboarding process would resemble a military operation – “1 2 3 4, go go go”. 
    • So when the reality turned out to be different, he was disappointed enough to consider counteroffers.  

However, now it is nothing more than a cautionary tale.

If your company requires executive search services and needs high-profile viable candidates – our recruitment consultant can help you out.