How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Vector image of 4 candidates running out of an open door

Nowadays, recruiting has become much like dating. Gone are the days of sitting across a desk grilling someone who has applied for — and probably really needs — this job. Just like a “date,” your candidate has options and they are checking you out every bit as much as you are checking them out. Think about how you meticulously plan for that first encounter with someone who might turn out to be “the one” and you begin to get the idea.

Start at the beginning. First impressions are crucial, and you only get one chance to get it right. Having a well thought out recruiting strategy and partnering with a trained professional recruiter is key to avoiding missteps that often lose quality candidates. Working as partners, you can identify how to build trust and rapport with candidates while at the same time assessing whether or not they would be a good fit for you and your organization.

Ultimately, the candidate you’re hoping to hire needs to feel valued and wanted, and there are definite things you can do during the process that will influence the outcome. What you do or don’t do, say or don’t say, and how you go about all of this will impact the end result. If you want to find the right person — and do so in a timely and economical manner — then you will want to avoid these common mistakes we see hiring managers make time and time again.

Slow and steady loses the race.

  • An email from your recruiter arrives in your inbox. You’re busy at work and don’t prioritize responding with feedback on candidate profiles or interviews, delaying the process.
  • You let your recruiting team know that you like a candidate’s profile and want to interview them, though you don’t provide your availability in that same email, prompting yet another email from the recruiting team.
  • A member of the hiring team doesn’t prioritize interviews in their schedule, leading to interviews scheduled a week out or further, giving other companies the opportunity to scoop up candidates before you can even vet them.
  • You meet a candidate you like, yet decide you want to interview more candidates in order to make a better “informed” decision. Or, you hold on interviewing candidates until you can batch the interviews together, delaying those who were contacted earlier in the process from moving forward.

Lesson Learned: The best and brightest candidates are fielding multiple offers in any job market. As a matter of fact, most if not all candidates who are actively looking are fielding multiple offers. If you want to hire top-tier talent, you have to move quickly and decisively.

The interview process is a hot mess.

  • The interview process is lengthy, with multiple participants, and/or very involved, including assessments, prompts, or exercises.
  • The hiring team is not organized and does not outline the interview process at the start of recruitment.
  • The process continues to change along the way, such as added steps that were not originally discussed, leading to inconsistencies in the candidate experience.
  • Too many team members are involved in the hiring process and it is unclear who will make the final decision or how participants’ feedback will be weighted.

Lesson learned: Keep the interview process short and sweet – avoid more than three steps if possible. Outline the process, communicate this with your team, and set expectations of how decisions will be made. Inform your recruiting team of the process, as well as candidates so they know what to expect.

Your communication could use some work.

  • You’ve successfully chosen a candidate, the recruiter has extended the verbal offer, and the candidate accepts. You, as the hiring manager, do not reach out to congratulate your new hire, making them feel as if you don’t care about them joining your team.
  • During the two week notice period, your new hire only hears from their recruiter or HR, not from you, their new boss.
  • You don’t properly prepare for your new hire to start. You fail to communicate with them ahead of time so they know what to expect.

Lesson learned: If a candidate accepts, call them to let them know how happy you are to have them on the team. Stay in contact with them during their notice period. It’s nerve-racking to start a new job – make sure they know the details of what to expect in the first few weeks.

You don’t heed outside advice.

  • The hiring manager or team does not provide a clearly outlined job description.
  • You hold back your true feelings, rather than being open and honest when you’re feeling uneasy about a candidate or the process.
  • A member of the interview panel provides generic feedback, saying the candidate is “not a fit,” or fails to provide any specific feedback at all.
  • You change your search parameters midway through the search, directing the recruiter in a new direction without their buy-in or an opportunity to discuss.

Lesson learned: Your recruiting team is there to be your champion. Help them help you by knowing what you want before you start a search, being clear and consistent in providing feedback, and staying focused on your must-haves. Recruiters are an amazing asset, but they can’t read your mind.

Leaving a bad impression.

  • The interviewer assumes the candidate is the one who has to sell their accomplishments and skill set during the interview. Once they determine the candidate has the skills they are looking for, they don’t bother to sell the opportunity at your company and the culture during the interview process, leaving the candidate to wonder why they should choose you over the other companies out there.
  • An interviewer rescheduled at the last minute, shows up late, or fails to show up at all for a candidate interview.
  • The interviewer appears disinterested or disengaged during an interview. The candidate doesn’t feel valued because they did not know their name, background, or which position they are interested in upon arriving at the interview.
  • The interviewers are multitasking and do not fully engage in what the candidate is saying.
  • You are unable to fully communicate what you want from a candidate and fail to clearly outline expectations.
  • Your ego gets in the way of a genuine conversation with the candidate.

Lesson learned: Not respecting the time that a candidate has devoted to an interview–which likely requires them to take time away from work–is not your best foot forward. We know things come up, just be sure to let the candidate or your recruiting team know as soon as possible. Be prepared, and engaged, ask thoughtful questions, and remember to focus on making a connection.

Not keeping up with the times.

  • The hiring team or HR does not do their market research on salary, nor do they listen to the recruiter who is sharing their knowledge of the market.
  • The candidate is given a low-ball offer.
  • The requirements of the position are not reasonable, realistic, or flexible and are in stark contrast to the salary.
  • The hiring team or company leadership is not open to remote or hybrid work.
  • The hiring team does not have a managed set of expectations and is looking for a unicorn candidate at a steal.
  • Candidates are required to submit cover letters or go through a reference check.

Lesson learned: It’s competitive out there – pay people what they’re worth and be open to accommodating changing expectations of the workforce. Be realistic in your expectations and receptive to feedback from your recruiting team. Don’t expect your recruiter to work a miracle in the face of what is objectively an improbable find.

Finding someone to be in a long-term relationship with, whether it be personal or professional, takes effort on both ends. Make sure you do your part in order to attract the best candidate for you!