Breaking Up’s Not Hard to Do: Why Candidates Are Walking Away from Recruiters

Woman searching for jobs

If you work in human resources (HR), you’ve heard stories about job candidates who give up on the process. Maybe they blow an interview, decline a good offer, or even fail to show up for their first day of work.

The general labor shortage probably explains why it now takes 82% longer to fill open positions than it did in 2010, but what about fickle candidates? Do they share responsibility for your hiring difficulties?

Maybe not.

A recent survey from the American Staffing Association reveals what candidates have to say about rejecting recruiters and the hiring process.

Discovering the deal-breakers

In 2019, the American Staffing Association’s Workforce Monitor® survey identified the top deal-breakers for candidates during the application and placement process.

Sticking points include:

    •  Inappropriate interview questions
    • Unrealistic job or skill requirements
    • Misrepresenting job duties
    • Aggressive or unresponsive recruiters
    • Poor follow-up and/or limited contact

More than half of adults surveyed named off-kilter or inappropriate interview questions as their top reason for abandoning an employment opportunity. Women express more concern with this issue than men — 56% of women versus 50% of men. Misrepresentation of job requirements runs a close second, followed by recruiters who are either to aggressive or inattentive and unresponsive.

Some of these problems stem from the recruiter/candidate relationship. Job candidates are “high touch,” requiring personal attention and frequent communication from recruiters. But some recruiters embrace aggressive, overbearing tactics that drive candidates away. At the other end of the spectrum, a 2018 Glassdoor study found that unresponsive recruiters risk losing applicant confidence.

What can recruiters and HR personnel do to build and maintain relationships with the talent they need?

Smiling Woman with earphones

Relationship-based recruiting

Companies now recognize the link between their public image and a candidate’s recruiting experience. The risk of negative social media exposure demands vigilance from recruiters regarding their effect on a company’s reputation.

Since every candidate interaction can build or destroy a corporation’s image, recruiters must maintain a balance between company and candidate needs. In the hiring process, recruiters are advocates and emissaries — working on behalf of employers and their potential employees.

It is possible to balance corporate reputation and candidate expectations if recruiters focus on improving an applicant’s experience at every stage of the hiring process. Begin with the initial application. Does it facilitate completion or complicate application to such a degree that a candidate gives up before they really get started?

Clear application instructions and functional, user-friendly processes reduce applicant frustration. Automate as much as possible — from the first form to the final follow-up — to ensure easy access, smooth execution, and a secure exchange of information.

After application, recruiters must establish rapport with chosen candidates. Open communication and transparent, actionable feedback get talented applicants invested in the recruiter relationship and engaged in the hiring process. Map candidate experience — from application to offer letter — from the applicant’s perspective. Understanding every side of the recruiting and hiring process improves the experience for all involved.

Road with two-way arrows

Breaking up is a two-way street

As recruiters and employers work on connecting, building, and maintaining relationships with candidates, they should be vigilant and proactive in response to negative interactions. And sometimes, despite all efforts and evidence to the contrary, a talented candidate will simply walk away. Recognize this for what it is — a clear indication of unsuitability.

Other applicant red flags include:

    • Failure to provide specific answers to basic interview questions
    • Repeated challenges to job parameters and compensation limits
    • Reply times, language choices, and general responsiveness indicate engagement and interest. If an applicant’s focus is otherwise engaged, breaking up’s not hard to do.

Evaluating and improving job candidate experience is a key recruiting strategy. TERRA Staffing Group is devoted to best practices for building your firm’s reputation and increasing efficiency in your hiring process. Contact us today!