Is Your Interview Process Turning Candidates Off?

Job candidates usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to interview complaints.  There are career blogs, educational seminars, and social chats all dedicated to addressing their inefficiencies and fatal blunders of the interview process.

But applicants aren’t always to blame for a not-so-great interview experience.  Recruiters and hiring managers can be their own worst enemies in the recruitment process, often without even realizing it.  Do you know if your interview process is turning candidates off?

The number one complaint heard from job seekers day-in and day-out is in regards to lack of follow-up in the interview process.  While most candidates don’t like it, they can excuse not hearing back after they’ve submitted a resume.

But when an applicant has been contacted directly by a recruiter or the company, and especially if they’ve been invited to interview, either in phone or in person, they want to know where they stand, after the fact.  They have decisions to make and they’re trying to see if your company fits into their plans.

Companies can chalk up their follow-up misses to things like lack of time or a disorganized process, but what they don’t often realize is that poor follow-up can be costing them business and hurting their brand.

How so, you ask?  When you have a poor experience with a business, whether you’re shopping or dining or having your car serviced, what’s the first thing you tend to do?  Most people vent their frustrations to someone they know.  Bad reviews can go viral, even just by word of mouth.

When a candidate has a poor experience with your organization, it can stop other top candidates from applying for positions with your company.  It can also lead people to stop doing business with you, buying your products, or referring business and talent.

Sometimes companies forget that job seekers are often their customers or potential customers, and they should be treated with similar respect that you would give your clients.  Don’t burn bridges unnecessarily.

Sure, not every candidate will react well to a call or email stating they didn’t get the job, but the number of individuals giving you bad reviews will be far less than if you never made any attempts at all.

And if your problem is you just don’t have the stomach for turning applicants down, check out a previous piece, Interviewing Rejection: The Art of the Turn-Down, for tips on how to address each scenario of the interview process.

Another common complaint involves interviewers fielding multiple calls for extended lengths of time during the interview, which can leave applicants feeling taken for granted and devalued.

Here’s a tip: if you’re having the interview in your office, turn you phone ringer on mute.  If you can, try to schedule the interview in a conference room where you can be away from distractions and provide your full attention.

And just like interviewers, job seekers don’t like to have their time wasted.  This comes in many forms including: not having a clearly defined job description or salary range for the position they’re hiring for, not pre-screening or vetting their resumes and experience before asking a candidate for a face to face interview, and interviewing a candidate for a job other than what they applied for.

All of these scenarios have a high percentage of a candidate showing up to a mountain of disappointment, resentment, and anger when they’re finally told that the position you asked them to interview for pays significantly less than what they’re currently making,  that they don’t have enough experience for the role, or they’re not the right fit for the position (that they didn’t know they were interviewing for.)

A job seeker’s time is valuable to them, and they have basic expectations that if you are asking them to interview you have actually looked at their resume, background, and experience and think they might be a good fit.  They want to be treated like a human being, not a number or name on a list to fill a spot or make another candidate look good.

And companies beware, if you are using one of these 3rd party agencies that churn through both their candidate pools and their recruiters rapidly and the talent they refer seem to liken to spaghetti being thrown against the wall–these recruiters/companies are representing your organization throughout the recruitment process–and the reviews aren’t good.

I could continue to go on and on, but the objective here is not to complain, but to showcase things many already know but aren’t realizing or putting into action to improve the candidate (and ultimately the company) experience during the interview process.

One, the little things do matter and do effect your bottom line, and hiring the right employees is a hugely important decision for a company.

If you’re too busy to hold a respectful interview process, you should probably hold off on hiring, because you’re not going to get the quality of hire you desire.

If recruiters, whether internal or external, are hurting your brand, you probably need to address it, adjust your recruitment strategy, or find a new vendor.

And if you don’t know what you’re looking for in a new employee, take the time to assess it first, because you might think you’ll know it when you see it, but you’ll waste a lot of time and energy, as well as the candidates, in the process.

Don’t think that just because the examples above don’t apply to you that there aren’t flaws in your own interview process that leave candidates with a bad taste in their mouth.  The key is to be honest, identify your problem areas, and address them before the flaws becomes the focal point of the interview process.

Have a bad candidate experience of your own to share?  Please feel free to comment below.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Share this post!

About Robin Rayburn

Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog,, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.

View all posts by Robin Rayburn →

Related Posts


  1. Jeremy HutchingsFebruary 22, 2013 at 12:50 amReply

    There are several companies, and even HR people who have moved and taken their “reputation” with them that I don’t bother with any more. Also when asked, I tell people to not bother dealing with them because of the HR people’s attitudes, and I deal with a *lot* of people.
    I’m near the top of my game, and I tell not only my peers but up-and-coming stars to stay well clear of those companies and the specific HR people too.
    There is only one thing a job hunter hates hearing more that “Thanks, but no thanks” it’s nothing …… it’s the ultimate in disrespect and a good indication of why 95% of people in recruiting need to be fired on the spot.
    All things are two way, and the very typically arrogant “I’m in the position of power” HR person at that point in time is representing their whole company, while tripping on their own ego, and it shows 100% of the time. The top talent will walk away from that every time.
    The up side is, that the minority that actually choose to show some basic level of respect for other humans – which is rare in the profession – really stand out.
    Long live personal networking.

  2. CarolynApril 27, 2012 at 4:02 pmReply

    “If you don’t know what you’re looking for”… has been the most frequent and frustrating part of my job search. I only apply to positions I’m highly qualified for and generally pass phone screens easily. Once in front of hiring managers, I’m amazed at how many are unable to clearly answer questions or define the outcomes they need. Or the job expectations differ significantly from one interviewer to the next. Most insulting is the candidate brain dump disguised as an interview, where its clear you are educating the interviewers. That leaves the candidate wondering whether they should submit an invoice instead of a thank you note.

  3. AAApril 27, 2012 at 4:00 pmReply

    As an applicant, I’ve encountered all of these things. In my experience, too many companies and/or hiring managers have no idea what they want and waste applicants’ time while they figure it out. I’ve interviewed with people who clearly have no idea how to conduct an interview and spend a lot of time asking irrelevant or even inappropriate questions. I hear a lot about how difficult hiring is for the employer, but little about how much time and effort the applicant puts in preparing for interviews and of course going on the interview itself. When I write a thank you note to the hiring manager after an interview I no longer thank them for their time, because I consider my time to be just as valuable as theirs.

  4. Robin RayburnApril 26, 2012 at 3:07 pmReplyAuthor

    Ryan, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure there are many candidate’s that can relate, and unfortunately, hiring managers like the one you mentioned are what make many people dread the interview process because it’s not a positive experience. Hopefully more companies will take a vested interest in how they approach the process and reap the benefits of building a community of supporters for their brand even if they don’t hire them as employees.

  5. RyanApril 26, 2012 at 10:41 amReply

    I spent 28 months job hunting, and had some horrible interviews. I think the ‘best’ bad story, was when the hiring manager made me wait 45 minutes after the set time, to actually talk to me, and then spent most of the interview checking their email. It was obvious they didn’t understand the questions they were asking, or the answers I was giving. I felt like I had wasted my afternoon before the interview was over. I really wanted to walk out of the interview, but I did not want to burn bridges with the agency that sent me on the interview – though I did tell them about the experience (they were horrified).

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Recent Product Reviews

  • Candidates or Recruiters: 3 Job Tools to Aid Your Search
  • Product Review:
  • Product Review: Forte by Korn Ferry
  • Product Review: Acclaimd
  • Product Review: Wowzer
  • Product Review: Review Recap & Highlights – Volume 1
  • Product Review: Gozaik
  • Product Review: GetTalent
  • Product Review: SmartGuide by FurstPerson
  • Product Review: HiringThing

Find us on Google+

Find us on Facebook