min read

Losing Candidates to Lengthy Interview Processes

November 22, 2022

It goes without saying - when you’re in the market to hire, you want to choose the best candidate for the job. This likely includes several rounds of interviews and, the longer these stretch out, the risk of candidates dropping out along the way.

So how do you balance careful consideration with a concise process? Read on for our tips.

Respect candidates’ time.

In a global survey of 3700 job hunters, a third recalled dropping out of an interview loop. When a viral  LinkedIn post by software engineer Mike Conley expressed frustration after seven rounds of interviews, the comments filled with stories of similar experiences. A prolonged process erodes a jobseeker’s confidence of arriving at an offer, and drives them to apply elsewhere.

So it’s worth asking: how many interviews do you realistically need to evaluate a candidate’s fit? Jenny Ho of International Workplace Consulting concluded that director level positions should only require 3 to 4 interviews. Google determined that a maximum of 4 interviews is enough to satisfy both thorough vetting and a positive candidate experience.

Demonstrate your company values along the way.

The interview process is an opportunity showcase your employer brand. What does working at your company feel like? What values are you looking for in a teammate? You get to set this tone through communication, organization, and modeled behavior.

A drawn out process tends to leave candidates confused and frustrated, so much so that they may leave negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor. A common complaint is lack of communication. Forbes reported that over 75% of candidates have been ghosted after an interview. Some candidates do not get an automated response or any indication their application was received when they finish applying. The global staffing firm Robert Half concluded that 62% of US professionals lose interest after the first interview if there is no communication from the employer in 10 business days.

The answer for delivering a positive candidate experience lies in your values. If you want to demonstrate respect, this may look like touching base within 24 hours of each interview. If you want to demonstrate teamwork, this may look like having multiple interviewers provide constructive feedback. What are your company’s values, and what do they look like in action?

Streamline the process by preparing beforehand.

Before you reach out to applicants, it’s crucial to have these details confirmed:

  • A hiring deadline. When do you need this role filled? Say you set a start date of March 1st. Determine how much time you need for each step and work backward, such as:
  • Offer accepted by February 15th
  • Offer extended by February 8th
  • Decision by February 6th
  • Conclusion of interviews by February 3rd
  • A set (small) number of interviewers. Solidifying the hiring team facilitates organization and equity in evaluating candidates. Determine who truly needs to be involved. Pulling in anyone beyond that takes away from other tasks and can intimidate or confuse candidates.
  • A dedicated point-of-contact. Who owns communication? This is usually the recruiter or hiring manager, and establishing ownership from the beginning provides consistency. This person will follow up after each interview, communicate delays, and keep candidates engaged. Communication demonstrates courtesy and appreciation.

Don’t assume that candidates will wait for weeks to hear back from you or be willing to complete an unspecified number of interviews. Being prepared and respectful of an applicant’s time reflects well on your company and will help you attract top talent in the future.

Losing people in long processes can be frustrating for both parties. You want to find the best candidate, but numerous interviews and unstructured timelines can drive them away. Next time you’re looking to fill a position, take the time to deliver an experience that sets your company apart.

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