1st February 2022
Have you noticed an upturn in candidates withdrawing partway through the recruitment process or even getting to the point of being offered the job but then rejecting it? If so, you’re not alone – and you are probably wondering why it’s happening and what you can do about it.
It’s not an easy time to be recruiting; you’ll be aware of all the news stories about the rising number of vacancies, and the fact that many employers are struggling to get the staff they need. According to the most recent ONS figures, the number of vacancies is at a record high of over 1.1 million in the three months up to September. There’s variation by sector and location, but the bottom line is that good candidates have options and securing those candidates is becoming increasingly competitive.
As a result, employers are finding themselves in the frustrating position of being turned down for job interviews, having candidates withdraw partway through the process, and even getting to the point of offering the role but then having that offer declined. So what can you do if you’re one of those employers and you need to improve the likelihood of a successful outcome?
With such a candidate-driven market at the moment, if you don’t contact applicants quickly, they could be gone by the time you do. More and more applicants are turning down job offers or withdrawing from the process simply because it’s taking too long. With so many options available, the reality is that they’re not going to wait around for you.
Some employers are delaying making decisions because they want to see if any other good applicants come through, even though they’ve already found some who look promising. But this delay has cost them those original applicants who’ve found another role in the meantime. If you feel a candidate has potential, respond quickly to make sure they are booked in for the next stage of the process. Don’t only rely on email to invite them to interview either; if there’s no response to an interview invitation within a couple of days, don’t automatically write them off. Emails can get lost into junk folders so pick up the phone and give them a call.
It’s worth looking at your overall recruitment process as well to explore what you could do to make it run more efficiently.
There are a few things to consider. Depending on the role, online pre-employment skills testing can help quickly narrow down the talent pool. Certain skills, like computing skills, are difficult to assess from conversation alone anyway. But these tests also avoid time being wasted on interviewing applicants, only to later discover they don’t have specific skills essential for the role.
You could also consider using video for first stage interviews instead of doing them in person. As well as the current considerations relating to Covid, it can enable you to engage applicants more quickly. It helps candidates fit interviews around existing work commitments, while being more time-efficient for you by potentially reducing the number of face-to-face interviews you’ll need to hold.
You might also want to explore how applicant tracking systems could help you manage applications more efficiently. These systems remove a lot of the administration headaches that can accompany recruitment. They help you rapidly filter applications and identify any of interest so you can create a shortlist. You can also use an ATS to organise and coordinate the interviews, as well as communicate easily with candidates to quickly progress their applications.
Take a look at whether there are any bottlenecks that could be causing problems too. If you have a slow authorisation route that requires a lot of people to sign off the job offer for instance, that’s another delay that could cost you your chosen candidate.
Put yourself in your candidates’ shoes. How would you rate the recruitment experience from their perspective? They will be sizing up your company throughout the process and deciding whether working for you is the right decision for them and clearly, if they decide it isn’t, they’ll leave the process. So as well as making sure the process is efficient, keep it friendly and welcoming too. Make all of your interactions as positive as possible. Be transparent and open, and ideally be readily accessible to shortlisted candidates in case they’d like to get hold of you with any queries they have outside of scheduled interviews.
There can be a real problem if there’s a mismatch between the way the role has been marketed, and the offer that you ultimately make to the candidate. Does the salary and package match the expectations created throughout the recruitment process? If a candidate feels it’s not competitive or fails to reflect their worth, they might think you don’t really value what they have to offer and turn you down. Or if the role was positioned as “flexible” but it transpires you have very different ideas about what that actually involves, you may end up losing them.
It’s very easy for candidates to do their homework about potential employers and see what past and current employees are saying. You aren’t able to stop people sharing opinions of course. But if you’re aware of online comments, you can respond appropriately. Potential candidates are more likely to consider a company that demonstrates it’s prepared to listen to negative feedback and takes steps to improve, than one that appears to ignore poor reviews.
A potential employer who’s engaging quickly, efficiently, and effectively with candidates will create a great impression. You’ll come across as genuinely interested - and increase the chances of being able to make a successful offer before someone else does.
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