Losing candidates through the hiring process? Here’s what to do
There’s nothing quite as exciting as seeing your job ad go live and hoping enquiries and applications flow in.

But in industries where job seekers are in short supply, it’s a possibility that candidates may withdraw their applications or will drop out between the initial interview and the final offer.

“Due to the lack of immigration, we are now in an extremely tight candidate market across all industries,” says Shay Peters, the managing director of Robert Walters NZ. “Organisations and businesses simply can’t afford to lose great candidates during the hiring process.”

These market conditions are being experienced widely throughout industries, and across Australia and New Zealand. 

Anica Weereratne, a senior consultant with specialist HR recruitment firm The Next Step says she’s directly seeing lots of candidates drop out from the recruitment process and also hearing confirmation from clients and colleagues.

“The market is flooded with opportunity,” she says. “Most candidates we are meeting with are actively interviewing for at least four or five opportunities at once.” This means candidates can be very selective about which opportunities they’ll pursue and which they’ll opt out of.

One of the impacts of candidates pulling out during the recruitment process is it means the time needed to fill the role is drawn out, which can put pressure on the team and ultimately result in increased organisational costs.

Why candidates drop out of the hiring process (and what you can do about it)

Weereratne and Peters say there are five main reasons why people may pull out of the process of competing for a role.

  1. The process is too long
    If other businesses turn around their hiring process quickly, a longer hiring process can make it harder for you to hold onto candidates throughout.

    Setting clear expectations can help. “Have a clear interview process set out prior to engaging candidates and set these expectations with candidates so they have a good understanding of the timeline,” Weereratne says. “Ensure there is flexibility to progress to second interviews quickly and avoid adding extra steps in at the last minute.”
  2. The salary for other opportunities is more competitive
    With job ads up 15% in May 2022 compared to May 2021 and applications per job ad down 4% month-on-month, salary is an important factor in attracting and retaining talent.

    “Do research to ascertain if your role is being pitched at the right level in the current market,” Weereratne advises. “Be transparent with candidates about what the role is paying and have salary conversations up front.”

    But remember, money isn’t everything. Even if you don’t have much room to move on salary, you may be able to offer other enticing work perks or benefits.
  3. The organisation doesn’t offer additional benefits
    More and more candidates are interested in knowing about the broader benefits an organisation can offer. Flexibility around work hours and location are two highly valued perks.

    Supplementary compensation may also include gym memberships or health insurance, while initiatives such as parental leave and volunteer days can also help to attract and retain candidates.
  4. Lack of clarity around the role or opportunities for progression
    If candidates aren’t clear about the opportunity for development or progression, or if there’s a lack of clarity about what the role is designed to achieve, you risk losing them.

    “Keep your messaging consistent with your vision and what you want from the role,” Peters says. “Ensure this is in your job description and ad.”

    Weereratne notes organisations that can demonstrate clear, structured development pathways and training opportunities will attract high potential talent.

    “I have spoken to many standout candidates who are willing to take a sideways step if an organisation will empower them to learn, provide them with opportunities and nurture their careers,” she says.
  1. A lack of contact or communication throughout the process
    “My biggest piece of advice is to keep the communication up,” Peters says. “Don’t be afraid to give the candidate a call and understand how they’re feeling about the role. The single biggest reason why candidates drop out is silence.”

    And don’t forget that letting candidates know they have been unsuccessful is crucial. Doing so means your process is transparent and candidates are more likely to positively regard your business and your brand.

The current candidate-short market means it’s more important than ever to know why candidates drop out of the recruitment process. Understanding the importance of clear communication, efficient processes and competitive offerings means you can respond to this proactively and reduce the chances of it happening to your business.

Source: SEEK Employment Report, May 2022