Insight March 27, 2023 Lisa Sacchetti

Why Are Candidates Dropping Out of Your Hiring Process?

When you put extensive effort and resources into branding, awareness, advertising, and in-person recruitment, it can be devastating to see potential candidates dropping out of your hiring process entirely before you’ve had the chance to fully evaluate their viability. But still, 71% of candidates will drop out or consider dropping out of the hiring process, citing a poor recruitment experience, according to research from Talent International.

If you’re able to plug those leaks in your hiring process, you can dramatically increase the number of engaged candidates, which in turn improves the quality of talent that you can choose from. In this article, we’re going to explore why you may lose candidates currently and nine practical ways that you can retain them in your recruiting funnel to positively transform your hiring results.

1. There is too much friction in your application process.

The more complex the application process, the fewer potential candidates you’re going to see coming through. The simple act of reducing friction can dramatically increase the number of candidates who follow through with their application – which in turn improves the overall outcomes. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should lower your standards in terms of screening procedures because those certainly have their place, but it does mean that you should look critically at the whole process and identify places where simplification can make things faster and more efficient for people applying.

A few practical suggestions include trying to remove unnecessary administrative information that could be collected at a later date, ensuring that your application is mobile-friendly, using a progress bar to denote the current state of the application, and prioritizing the UI to make it as intuitive as possible.

To give you a sense of how important this is, research from Haley Marketing suggests that if your job application takes more than 5 minutes to complete, you will lose 75% of the people who try to apply. That is staggering, and so it’s easy to see how small tweaks to the candidate experience can go a long way to reducing the churn rate and increasing the pool of potential hires that you’re able to access.

2. Your hiring process takes too long.

There is merit in a thorough hiring process that covers all your bases because poor hires can be very costly, but you also have to understand that if it’s too drawn out, you’re simply not going to be able to retain the top talent that you’re looking for. Those candidates who can make a real difference for your organization likely have multiple offers on the table, and if your hiring process is too slow, you’re going to lose out on the opportunity to hire them.

Research from Matchr suggests that 57% of candidates lose interest if the hiring process drags on for too long, and that is typically around the 2-week mark, although it will depend on the nature of the role. The key thing is to avoid leaving candidates waiting for weeks while you work through various internal processes. Try to keep things moving as best you can so that you can remain in communication with them and nurture their excitement about the role.

This also has an ancillary benefit for your business because it will reduce your time to hire. There are significant productivity gains when you do this, and it can make all the difference in highly competitive industries that are always evolving. The more time you spend sitting with vacancies, the more hamstrung your growth becomes.

Person checking time on watch

3. Your hiring process doesn’t highlight your company culture.

Choosing where to work is a big decision, and candidates want to understand exactly what sort of environment they’re going to be entering. Your hiring process should not only seek to unearth information about your candidates themselves, but it should also communicate clearly about the specific company culture that is in place at your organization. By personalizing the steps of the hiring funnel and injecting your unique branding, messaging, and values, you’ll give potential candidates a much better sense of what sort of job they’re applying for, and it will attract those who are a better fit for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Stay away from the generic and use your hiring steps to champion the sort of work culture that you want to nurture. Then watch how the right people gravitate to you because of the way that you think and act.

Screenshot of laptop looking at job search

4. Your job description is too vague.

One of the biggest reasons for candidate churn is a lack of information about the specific job role itself. Potential candidates are considering many different options, and if you aren’t giving them enough context and detail, the listing is just going to look vague. You need to be able to clearly demonstrate the culture of the company, what’s in it for the person taking the role, and how you’re going to measure success. By putting effort into a clear, comprehensive, and differentiated job description, you are going to attract more serious candidates and they’re going to stay in your funnel for longer.

This is challenging because, in today’s business environment, we often ask people to wear several different hats. But if you aren’t able to clearly define what this new role is meant to accomplish, then maybe you should consider whether it is a hire you should be making in the first place. Being forced to come up with a detailed job description can often be an important litmus test for whether that new hire is actually required, or whether you should restructure internally instead.

5. Your communication is poor.

Much of the murkiness that exists in a hiring process is a misalignment of expectations between the company hiring and the candidate. You should aim to be as clear as possible regarding when you’re going to contact people, and then you need to keep that promise. When you simply don’t get back to candidates, they don’t feel like they’re getting the attention they deserve, and that means they’re more likely to drop out of the process altogether. Strong communication is the most important part of the candidate experience, and it often comes down to agreed-upon follow-ups that keep candidates in the loop as to what is happening.

Another common mistake is not following up all the way through the process. It’s as important to check in with someone after they’ve accepted the role to ensure that they aren’t experiencing ‘buyer’s remorse’ a day after the adrenaline wears off – so that you can support them right up until they start with you. Research from The Talent Board shows that investing in communication and engagement during the pre-boarding process can improve the onboarding experience by 83%. By following up right until the start date, you keep them engaged and ensure that their experience is positive from the beginning right until the end.

6. Your interviews are being held by the wrong person.

To optimize the movement of candidates through your process, thoughtfully consider who you choose to interview and interact with your potential hires. While a first interview might be conducted with someone from HR as an initial screening, candidates eventually want to meet with the person whom they are going to report to. For them, it’s important to know who their potential boss might be in order to evaluate whether that is someone they think they could get along with. If they don’t get that opportunity, it greatly decreases the chances that they’ll want to take the process further.

Additionally, the hiring panel needs to be aligned to the role that is on offer. If someone is hiring for an executive position, they expect to meet with key decision makers as opposed to a junior staff member who, however well-intentioned, is not at the right level for meaningful conversations about the role. Carefully select the people who do the interviewing itself, and you’ll be much better for it.

View from behind candidate sitting with two interviewers

7. Your process isn’t a two-way street.

As the hiring company, it’s tempting to think that the process is all about the evaluation of potential candidates to find out whether they would fit into your organization. This mindset leads to a one-sided hiring process that doesn’t take into account the fact that the candidate is also evaluating you. The top talent that you want to hire has many options at their disposal, and that’s why your hiring process needs to be a two-way street.

You need to create the space and time for candidates to ask you questions so that they can get a better sense of what they would be signing up for if they were to join the fray. When you don’t give them enough time and information to evaluate you as a company, you’re going to lose them. Hiring is a two-way process where both parties need to get comfortable with the agreement that is eventually placed on the table.

8. Your compensation and/or benefits are not competitive.

Simply put: we are in a skills shortage at the moment, and if your compensation and benefits do not track with what is competitive in the market, your funnel is going to leak great candidates. Go through the appropriate salary benchmarking and market research to determine where your compensation levels should sit, and then optimize your budgets accordingly. This ensures that when you find the right person, it’s not the money that gets in the way of you bringing them on board.

9. You aren’t giving candidates the ‘warm and fuzzies’.

A decision to take a job is a largely emotional one. Often what gets someone over the line is a gut feeling that this is the place I want to dedicate most of my waking hours to. Too many companies neglect this fact, and so their hiring process remains bland and soulless. As a result, you can gain a competitive advantage by injecting energy, empathy, excitement, and charisma into the hiring process to inspire and engage with those candidates who are giving you their time.

It’s impossible to measure this, and it’s notoriously difficult to engineer, but if you realize that the ‘warm and fuzzies’ are an important part of this equation, you can make decisions that prioritize a little bit of magic – setting you apart from the rest.

Interview candidate at desk with interviewer

Be intentional in your hiring approach and retain more candidates

What can you do to blow the socks off your candidates – flipping their expectations of what a hiring process can be on its head? If you take heed of these nine tips, you’ll find that you will have fewer and fewer candidates dropping out of your hiring process. It requires effort and the right strategic direction, but a well-thought-out approach can make a world of difference for the people you want to attract to your organization.

Here at The Renaissance Network, we help our clients build and optimize hiring funnels to attract, hire, and retain the right people to take your company to the next level. If you’d like to explore how we can help your organization, be sure to get in touch today, and let’s see how we can help!

Lisa Sacchetti Headshot

Lisa founded The Renaissance Network in 1996 with the mission of building world-class teams and quickly developed a focus on the growing Education and Technology vertical.

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