BLOG: Hiring turn-offs – and easy fixes: Part 1

The logo of NPA - the Worldwide Recruiting Network
BLOG: NPA membership can help Macstaff benefit employers
April 19, 2019
A man writes notes during an interview process
BLOG: Hiring turn-offs – and easy fixes: Part 2
May 21, 2019

BLOG: Hiring turn-offs – and easy fixes: Part 1

A man interviews someone across a desk

The interview process is a turn off

With more jobs than candidates in the market at the time of writing, employers need to make the hiring process as smooth as possible to attract the people they want. So Anthony McCormack has listed the top 20 ‘complaints’ about that process – and then held a mirror up to them to propose some obvious solutions. Here is the first 10 on either side.

There’s currently a lot of talk in the recruitment industry about ‘candidate experience’ and ‘employer brand’. This is largely because it’s still becoming increasingly difficult to attract good staff in most industries in UK regions (in 2019).  

Put simply there are more jobs than candidates in the market and has been for some time.

You would think that employers would be bending over backwards in their hiring process to woo new prospect candidates right?  


As a recruitment professional dealing in skilled, technical and professional recruitment across the UK, I can confirm that while some employers are making their process ‘user friendly’ many are not … in fact I’d go so far as to say most are not!  

Research is now showing that candidates who are ‘turned-off’ during an employers hiring process, will not only, not complete the hiring process for the job in hand, but will also likely not apply to the said company in the future.

I thought I’d pull together the top 20 ‘complaints ‘ I hear from candidates about employers hiring process and then hold a mirror up to them to propose some obvious solutions.

Here are the first 10. I’ll cover the other 10 in my next blog.

  • 1 Application forms – Starting off with a big bug-bear which can prevent candidates from even applying in the first place… applications forms. Is it really necessary to transcribe what’s in a CV and LinkedIn profile in order to satisfy employer bureaucracy?
  • 2 Cover letters – I can see the benefits of a cover letter explaining a candidates motivations and desires. But is this a worthwhile trade-off worthwhile given that a significant proportion of candidates will not even bother applying because to the time and effort required to craft a tailored cover-letter. This is especially pertinent if cover letters are not likely a strong suit in your candidate target market.
  • 3 Process takes too long – Employer hiring processes can take weeks, sometimes months. That’s far too long. Candidates lose interest in a position if the process takes too long; plus active candidates will likely have other offers and options and the best ones will always get snapped up first! Don’t assume your target candidates will stick around and wait.  #YouSnoozeYouLose
  • 4 Process has too many stages  – Often recruitment processes, either by design or poor planning, can end up with too many stages. There can be ‘just another’ interview with another stakeholder that wants to ‘cast their eye’ over the candidate. Sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth.
  • 5 Lack of flexibility process/timings – The likelihood is that your ideal candidate is gainfully employed at another company and is not willing or able to throw unlimited holiday at your hiring process. It’s still extremely rare for a Hiring Manager (HM) to voluntarily meet out of office hours. 
  • 6 Too much work involved/time investment – It is understandable for the hiring company to want evidence that the candidate can do the job, or even to get an idea of what their plans would be if successful. But when hours of work are required in terms of preparation, testing or presentations, this can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. Plus, time is money.
  • 7 Poor communications – Expectations are typically high in terms of candidates’ correspondence. Yet correspondence from the employer can also be poor in terms of timing, and interview confirmations. Good and bad impressions cut both ways.
  • 8 Lack of feedback – Possibly the top cause of frustration from candidates I speak to is a real lack of interview feedback. CV feedback is optimal every time but interview feedback should be common courtesy too. People have invested time and money to attend the appointment.
  • 9 Cancellations or worse, no-shows – Hiring Managers are only human. They can be sick and even make mistakes too. But cancellations and even no no-shows still happen when a contingency plan could often be put into place.
  • 10 Lateness/kept waiting – This seems like a small point, but it’s a top gripe from dissatisfied candidates. Attending the interview is a stressful situation and folks often feel exposed especially waiting for what is a sensitive confidential appointment. People want to be acknowledged quickly and ideally seen on time.




So that’s 10 of the 20 big bad black marks that can tarnish an employers ‘employer brand’. However, given some consideration from the candidate’s point of view (who is, in effect, the customer of your hiring process), there are some easy fixes. So let’s re-write the story below:

  • 1 Do away with application forms, they’re antiquated and universally hated. If you really need one completed for compliance, make it a simple one and just have the successful candidate complete it upon acceptance of offer.
  • 2 Discourage lengthy cover letters and merely ask for a few details. It saves candidates’ time and makes them more likely to apply.
  • 3 Keep your recruitment process as short as possible to keep engagement high, minimise drop-outs and create a professional impression of your organisation.  
  • 4 If several interviews or stages are required, plan the process and compress it where possible. Is it really too hard to have one manager coordinate handover for a second interview to another manager in one visit, if the candidate is a real winner?
  • 5 Be flexible in respect to process and timings. This may not be required but just to be able to offer an out-of-hours appointment creates massive goodwill and may allow you a better pick of candidates. A post went viral recently of a Hiring Manager reassuring applicants that if they had to bring a child to the interview, this would not be a negative. That kind of attitude is employer branding gold!
  • 6 Limit time and work that a candidates are required to put into the process – especially if an offer still isn’t likely. Think of how the unsuccessful candidates feel and how they will relay the story to friends and family.
  • 7 Hold yourselves accountable to the same expectations of communications that you will expect from the candidate. This can be with regards to being professional, timely detailed correspondence regarding interviews including, directions and preparation and contact details.
  • 8 Always give interview feedback. Just do.
  • 9 Avoid cancellations which typically cause difficulties for candidates who have booked time off. Try and eliminate no-shows entirely by having proper appointment system with contingency plans in place.
  • 10 Empathise with the stress a candidate undergoes in attending an interview and appreciate they may be on a tight schedule. Do make arrangements for them to be greeted quickly and seen on time. Yes even booking the room in advance rather than roaming the halls looking for one with the candidate.

Read more: How Macstaff’s NPA Worldwide membership can help employers

Read more: 18 Top Tips to help you settle into your new job