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How to lose a candidate in 10 ways

By Charlotte Ashton

We see it all the time – organisations spending months searching for that golden candidate and finally finding ‘the one’.

After such a long time looking for someone who ticks all the boxes, hiring managers then go above and beyond to ensure the candidate is the perfect fit. Sounds great? 

The candidate might not think so. Making candidates jump through several hoops on the way to receiving an offer could see them out of the door before you get chance to mutter the words "you’re hired!". Whilst carried out with good intentions, complex hiring processes often hinder, not help.

Ultimately, organisations need to sell themselves now more than ever, from day one. There are infinite ways to do this, and as times are rapidly changing, we're seeing new things appear at the top of candidates' checklists of desires of what they’re looking for in an organisation, and its hiring process. 

So here's how to lose (or avoid losing!) a candidate in 10 ways...*

Bad job adverts

A job advert is the first thing a candidate will see - so give it some flavour of what your organisation is really about! When trying to appeal to a breadth of candidates, job ads need to be modern and inclusive in the language they use to avoid failing at the first hurdle. Careful thought and consideration needs to go into writing adverts to ensure they not only catch the eye, but don't steer people away with an incorrect tone of voice.

Interview engagement

Following the job advert, a first interview is the next stop where a candidate can weigh up an organisation. A warm, 'get-to-know' style interview compared to immediately being drilled at the first stage bodes well with candidates. Making time for an informal discussion allows both parties to build an opinion of each other and avoid a cultural clash later on in the process. If interviewing virtually, remember it's not just the candidate who needs be prompt - we surprisingly see many hiring managers leaving candidates waiting around! 

Multiple interview stages

Dragging out multiple stages may risk losing the best candidates - organisations that are minimising barriers in their interview processes are seeing more success than those that aren't. Move fast and provide speedy feedback, avoid excessive back and forth when discussing availability for interviews and a have a fast turnaround in decision making. Short and slick is key!

Salary, salary, salary

Paying well will always reap its benefits. Whilst we’re increasingly seeing money no longer being the be all and end all of candidates’ accepting an offer, it’s certainly going to grab their attention if you’re offering a solid salary. Being competitive in comparison to the rest of the market with financial packages is vital, and is even often the ultimate factor which sways a candidate if they have more than one offer on the table. 

Lowballing (please don't!)

Sticking to the salary theme, organisations need to meet the salary expectations presented to them by a candidate from day one. Lowballing candidates once they’ve progressed through multiple stages will leave them feeling undervalued and could have them accepting an offer elsewhere. Having the safety blanket of other processes to fall back onto means if a candidate gets thrown a last minute curveball in the form of a lower than anticipated salary, it’s highly likely they'll go find what they’re looking for elsewhere.

Benchmarking candidates

The grass isn't always greener. Elongating processes to find a comparison candidate can leave the original candidate left feeling deflated and ultimately, unwanted. The market at the moment doesn't allow for benchmarking so by doing so, you risk losing your winning candidate to another company for the sake of comparing them. Once you've found the candidate you think has it all, get the offer out to them! 

Using multiple agencies

Whilst multiple agencies may mean more candidates are approached, sometimes less is more. Putting agencies against each other in a race to secure the best candidates not only overcrowds the market, but can tarnish the role itself. Seeing the same role advertised by various agencies can be a red flag - why is it taking so much people power to fill? Using an exclusive recruitment provider gives the role an exclusive, desirable feel.

Brand competitiveness

It's all about innovation for the candidates we work with. Organisations that take a clear, strong pipeline of new products to market really appeal to those who feel motivated by daily job satisfaction - making adaptive brands the most sought after. Candidates want to believe a company is seeking to make a change in their industry and if this is not evidenced, it's unlikely they'll feel a spark.

Overall package

Put your best package forward from the get-go. Grabbing the attention of candidates, especially those actively looking for work and are comparing your organisation against others, is vital in order to get them excited about what a role can offer them. It's imperative to sell the full picture - hiring leaders need to highlight any additional perks from the beginning of the process instead of focusing on financials alone.

Lengthy onboarding processes

A slick onboarding process is just as important as a slick interview process. Leaving a candidate in the dark after sending out an offer is a surefire way to set off on a bad foot, leaving them feeling like they're not a priority to their new employer. Ensure contracts land promptly in their inbox to avoid raising uncertainty about the agility and decision making of the organisation.

*Recruitment advice plus a rip off of the name of a early noughties rom com? What's not to like.

If you're interested in talking about recruitment in the surgical space, you can get in touch with Charlotte on