How Capital One is using data analysis to shape its job interview and hiring process

Capital One Financial wants feedback from its job applicants — even the ones it rejects.

The McLean, Va., banking and credit card giant has spent the past two years surveying every job candidate who interacts with its recruiters, asking them about everything from how staffers treated them to their satisfaction with their travel accommodations.

As a result, the finance giant has amassed a rich and fast-growing trove of data that its analysts are combing on a monthly basis to figure out how to improve the experience of applying for jobs at Capital One. Information-based analytics has long been at the heart of Capital One’s strategy for understanding its customer base. Now, the company is applying that sensibility to its human-resources practices, an effort it hopes will help attract and retain top talent.

Christina McClung, Capital One’s director of card recruiting, said the goal of these efforts is to deliver an experience that is more consistent and more personal.

“We were getting great results, the hiring was going well, but we wanted to go to a process that felt true to our brand,” McClung said.

Based on survey analysis, the company is constantly tweaking the details of its protocols. For example, it used to have a car service swing by headquarters every hour to pick up interviewees and take them to the airport or train station. But data showed that people were often frustrated by having to wait that long for their ride, so the firm switched car runs to every 30 minutes.

“It’s something so small, but it creates this significant impact,” McClung said.

Capital One also discovered that sometimes candidates felt that the job description they read in a posting didn’t quite match what they ultimately discovered they’d be doing on a day-to-day basis. When McClung and her team see those kinds of responses, they often review the job posting to see if it needs to be revised.

The data analysis has even shaped how Capital One communicates with prospective employees about its benefits. Candidates said they often had trouble recounting for their families the details of the offerings outlined in their interviews. Now the company provides take-home materials on those topics so that interviewees can share them easily.

Capital One crunches the survey data on an extraordinarily granular level. It even generates real-time assessments of individual recruiters, with each one receiving satisfaction scores from each applicant that they’ve dealt with.

“That has created a ton of transparency,” McClung said. “They know how satisfied their candidates are, and they know the information if the candidate is satisfied or dissatisfied and why. That’s so powerful because it allows them to course-correct.”

As part of the process of fine-tuning the job-candidate experience, the company has moved to train staffers at every level of the process, from interviewers to recruiters, about how to approach would-be employees.

“How do you change how you talk to them? How do you personalize the experience so that each candidate doesn’t feel like a number?” McClung said.

Though many candidates will ultimately be rejected, McClung believes it is important for them to walk away with a satisfactory experience. Maybe they’ll turn out to be a Capital One credit card or banking customer, or maybe they’ll pass along a great referral.

In the future, Capital One sees even more possibilities for using data to refine the candidate experience, such as incorporating social-media feedback into its evaluations.

McClung also hopes that eventually the survey correspondence can become more of a two-way street. She’d like it if Capital One could let applicants know that their specific idea was incorporated into the company’s hiring or interviewing policies.

Sarah Halzack is a reporter and Web editor for Capital Business. She covers the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. Previously, she was a Web producer for the Post's daily business and economic news section. She occasionally writes for other sections at the Post, most frequently in the form of dance reviews, dance features, book reviews and obituaries.
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