6 mistakes that turn candidates off

Attracting top talent is always a priority, and in the current balanced job market, it’s important to demonstrate value and stand out from the competition.

So, you’ve secured a list of top talent, but there are some common mistakes that might force your potential candidates to flee. Make sure you’re not making these six critical mistakes that will have candidates heading for the exit.

  1. Lack of communication during the recruitment process
    Regular and respectful communication during the hiring process ensures you won’t keep candidates in the dark. In fact, not hearing back from a recruiter/HR manager is a top frustration for 72% of New Zealanders. “Job seekers are constantly receiving little to no response from their job application and then out of the blue their phone might ring, and they are straight into a telephone interview or screening process,” says Sam Nutbean, the managing director of Forum Recruitment.

    “You want to inform candidates their application will be reviewed and responded to regardless of whether they make the shortlist or not,” he says. “You can invest in technology to automate this. Communication is a crucial step in creating a business that shows you appreciate every application that comes through.”

  2. Being deceptive in or leaving out critical information from your job ad
    “Many businesses say they’re inclusive and flexible in their job ads, but you’re wasting your time and money if you’re not honest,” says Sue Stanic, from Zenith HR. “If you’re not inclusive or flexible, don’t say you are because candidates want authenticity.”

    In addition to authenticity when writing your job ad, it’s also important to be transparent about the role and factors that candidates have identified as important. In fact, research for SEEK shows that 57% of job seekers find it frustrating when there’s inaccurate information on the job ad, and 64% say they look for salary upfront in a job ad.  Visible salary also leads to a 54.9% increase in applications per job ad, so it’s worthwhile having the salary range in there.
  3. Not being open to employing different kinds of people
    While it can be tempting to employ people who reflect your current employees, widening your hiring pool leads to a deep, rich team culture.

    “You also have a legal and ethical responsibility not to discount someone based on an aspect of their life that is irrelevant to whether or not they can do the job,” Stanic says.

    “Be open to who applies - whether they are older, neurodiverse, or candidates who want to work part time and so on. Being inclusive is crucial and makes business sense both during the pandemic and beyond.”
  4. Having a lengthy recruitment process
    If your recruitment process is lengthy and onerous, it’s likely you’ll miss out on candidates to businesses that move faster and more efficiently.When applying for jobs, 47% of job seekers say they have given up because the process was too long, and 59% find a slow recruitment processes frustrating.

    “In what is the hottest job market in a decade, there’s no time to waste,” Nutbean says.

    “Prior to the interview, explain to candidates the expected timeframe and what the streamlined process looks like so they are prepared to wait if it’s the right fit. Keep your interviews to no more than 2 – 3 maximum and ensure the process is completed in no more than 7 – 10 business days.”

  5. Hiding current challenges
    “This year, more so than ever, you need to prove your worth to a candidate, not the other way around,” Stanic says. “During an interview, it really is okay to say 'here's the good, the bad and the ugly'.”

    Stanic adds that it’s appropriate to broadly discuss some of the challenges the business is facing and the steps you're taking to overcome them. “Candidates respond positively to candour and are more likely to stick around,” she says.
  6. Interrogating, not interviewing
    A job interview is an opportunity for dialogue and conversation. While you should have a collection of questions to ask, don’t be afraid to insert some personality into the interview.

    Asking icebreaker questions can be a great way of avoiding templated questions that don’t relate to the position. “These questions also allow for greater spontaneity in the interview process and draws out the candidate’s personality to see if there is the right fit,” Nutbean says.

    There is also an increasing trend in candidates wanting to know more information about the managers they’ll be working for. You should be willing to be interviewed yourself, and ready to provide candidates insight in to your management style or team culture. This is a good way to show your openness.

To ensure you’re attracting and retaining top talent, you want to make sure your job ad is honest, your communication and recruitment processes are streamlined, and you’re open to the value different types of people can bring to your organisation. By knowing what turns candidates off, you’ll be well placed to avoid losing top talent throughout the recruitment process.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published July 2023.