How to Keep Candidates From Dropping Out of the Interview Process

You have no problem getting candidates in the door. In fact, it may not be uncommon to receive dozens or even hundreds of applicants for every job you post. Kudos!

But then you move onto the interview process, and things start to get a bit hairy. You’re sorting through resumes, scheduling meetings, and suddenly, the candidate pool becomes much more shallow as you narrow down your top picks. If you make it all the way to the end in one piece, your top candidate has accepted your offer. If not, well, you have no choice but to start the grueling process all over again. It’s no wonder it can take about 44 days to hire for a position you likely wanted filled yesterday.

In today’s tight labor market, Kayla Norflus, a senior recruitment marketing specialist at The TemPositions Group of Companies, says it’s imperative for employers to streamline the recruitment process. “A lengthy and convoluted process can deter top talent, who may opt for companies that provide quicker responses and a more straightforward hiring journey,” she says. “An inefficient process not only slows down hiring but can also tarnish the company’s reputation as a potential employer, making it harder to attract qualified candidates in the future.”

According to Monster’s 2024 Future of Work report, one of employers’ top priorities this year is to improve the success rate on hard-to-fill roles and to reduce the time to hire. To help with this, we explored the top reasons why candidates withdraw their applications and what you can do to keep them engaged throughout the interview process.

Maintain Constant Communication With Candidates

When a candidate submits their resume, it can often feel like they’re sending it into a black hole — unsure exactly where it’s going or who may receive it. This uneasy feeling doesn’t always go away once the interview process begins, either. When candidates don’t hear back from a company, they may wonder if they’re still in the running or if they’ve been ghosted by the recruiter.

Employers that fail to communicate with candidates run the risk of losing contact with that candidate altogether. In fact, Monster’s Future of Work report identified poor communication as the  #1 reason why candidates voluntarily pull out of the recruitment process.

“Maintaining open lines of communication throughout the interview process is key to keeping candidates engaged,” Norflus says. “At TemPositions, we prioritize regular updates to ensure that candidates never feel forgotten. Implementing automated emails at every step of the process not only keeps candidates well-informed but also establishes a reliable channel for ongoing communication. Friendly check-in calls are another way we make candidates feel valued and part of the team.”

Check Negative Attitudes At The Door

Especially in today’s competitive labor market, hiring teams need to get excited about interviewing for open roles. Being passionate about the company, enthusiastic about the position, and welcoming to the candidate are all necessary requirements for closing the deal. When candidates don’t see this kind of positive attitude or behavior, it can be a major red flag, with 46% saying it would cause them to rescind their candidacy.

We get it — everyone has an “off” day every now and then where you just don’t feel like yourself. Maybe your morning coffee hasn’t kicked in yet or you’ve had a long day putting out fires and are ready to go home.

“Being an interviewer can be a challenging, demanding role, and it’s a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” says Shena Mistry, founder and certified career coach at Own What’s Next Career and Leadership Coaching. “Behavior such as unclear communication, interrupting, dismissiveness, poor listening, or discriminatory remarks are a few major red flags for interviews and generally in the workplace. Training can support with building self and situational awareness, practicing active listening and empathy, and maintaining an ethical, inclusive environment.”

Avoid Assigning Homework

As an employer, you want to know the quality of work you can expect from someone you’re considering hiring. For some employers, this may mean assigning candidates “homework” or some kind of task like making a business case or creating a presentation.

While having this insight can certainly be nice to have, assignments like these are often very labor-intensive and time-consuming for candidates. In fact, some candidates may choose not to do the work at all, with 35% saying they would withdraw their candidacy if they were required to complete an assignment as part of the interview process.

The good news is there are alternatives you can incorporate into the interview process that are less intensive but still informative. “Employers can gain insight into candidates’ skills and abilities through more practical and efficient methods, such as skills assessments, case studies, or asking situational questions,” says Ariel Westphal, director of marketing at Acumen Connections. “These alternatives provide valuable insights without overwhelming candidates with an excessive workload.”

Ensure Job Descriptions Align With The Job Duties

Writing job descriptions is both an art and a science. Sure, you want the job description to be intriguing enough to catch a candidate’s eye, but you also want it to accurately paint a picture of the day-to-day expectations of the role. When candidates feel like the job description was misleading, you can’t expect them to hang around for much longer.

To avoid any confusion, Norflus says it’s vital that job descriptions are transparent and reflect the true nature of the role. At TemPositions, she says, “We actively collaborate with hiring managers to regularly review and update job descriptions to ensure they accurately represent the duties and expectations.”

During the interview process itself, Norflus also encourages a balanced exchange where both parties can discuss the role in-depth. She says, “This approach not only clarifies expectations but also allows candidates to ask questions, ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of what the job entails.”

Watch The Number of Interviews

While there is no magic number of interviews to get the hiring process right, every candidate will eventually reach their limit. Monster’s Future of Work survey shows that making candidates jump through hoops with a long, drawn-out interview process can cause them to drop like flies.

“The optimal number of interviews varies depending on the complexity of the role and organizational needs,” Westphal says. “However, excessive interviews can signal inefficiency and indecision on the part of the employer. Employers should aim for a balanced approach, conducting only as many interviews as necessary to assess candidates’ suitability for the role while respecting their time and effort.”

Be Upfront About Compensation

Imagine making it to the end of the interview process and extending a job offer to your top applicant… only for them to decline the offer when they hear how much the position pays. Then it’s back to square one after all that time and work.

Since it’s often considered taboo for candidates to be the first to bring up pay, it rests on the employers’ shoulders to be upfront and transparent about compensation. After all, you don’t want your top candidates to accept a job at a competitor who pays more. (Check out Monster’s free salary tool to quickly calculate average pay for the positions and markets for which you are hiring!)

Over the past few years, pay transparency laws have come into effect in several states and cities, requiring employers to disclose salary ranges for posted positions, but this can be good practice regardless of where you are located. In fact, Monster’s State of the Graduate report found that even most entry-level job seekers won’t apply to a job that doesn’t include the pay range in the job description.

If the salary range is not included in the job ad, Mistry says it should then be discussed in the first interview with the recruiter. “It’s important to understand what the range is from the employer and what a candidate’s expectations are from step one to reduce the chances of any misunderstandings or wasting anyone’s time once the offer stage is reached,” she says. “When both parties are transparent about compensation, it builds trust and helps keep the right candidates engaged.”

Stay On Top of the Latest Trends

Monster aims to provide employers with the insight needed to move forward. As you plan your hiring strategy this year, check out Monster’s 2024 Work Watch report for a deeper look into workforce trends, predications, and work sentiment.