How to Lose a Job Candidate in 10 Easy Steps

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It’s no secret that finding a great candidate can be difficult.

A whopping 75 percent of companies are struggling to attract and recruit the top people they need. The problem is that we don’t view candidates as part of our organization until they start.

And that’s not the right mindset. Every candidate you spend time on is a mini investment.

Granted, not all of those investments pan out, but giving candidates a poor experience is wasting your investment completely. And currently, 46 percent of candidates say they’re having a poor candidate experience.

Here are 10 ways you may be unintentionally turning off great candidates:

1. Making a poor first impression

A candidate’s first impression of your company will likely be on Glassdoor, a job board, or your company’s job portal. You should be monitoring these online presences closely because 78 percent of candidates say the professionalism of a company’s career portal impacts their decision to even apply.

Pay closer attention to the first thing candidates see. If you don’t, good candidates won’t even apply.

2. Having unreasonable requirements

Candidates say the length of the application process is the most difficult part of applying. You might think being complicated is a great way to only get candidates who are really interested in your company, but it just makes the company look narcissistic.

The best candidates likely have many great options. If you make things too hard for them, why should they bother with you?

3. Being really needy

If you’re leaving candidates multiple voice mails and emailing them excessively between interviews, you need to take a step back. The candidate will assume your company is overbearing — and possibly full of micromanagers.

Instead, focus on what they really need to know and only approach them with that information. Also, be reasonable with their offer letter. Contacting candidates while they’re thinking about your offer simply puts unnecessary pressure on them and makes you look desperate.

4. Ignoring them

On the other side of the coin, don’t ignore your candidates.

If a candidate has a question, respond as quickly as you can. If she is coming for an interview, don’t make her wait in the lobby for 20 minutes.

You probably don’t intend to ignore candidates. But employees still want to be treated as individuals, and currently more than half of them don’t feel that they are.

And when you find the right candidate, don’t twiddle your thumbs. Make him or her an offer quickly, and let the other candidates know as quickly as possible.

5. Acting superior

Interviews aren’t about you.

When someone else is talking about their accomplishments, some people naturally want to talk about their own. Be strong and make sure to focus on the applicants! Also, be sure to give applicants the time they need to talk and ask questions.

Of course, it’s OK to build up your company and its accomplishments — especially those of your team — to get applicants excited to be a part of it. Then give them the chance to tell you how they can help build upon what you’ve already made great!

6. Being negative

What is the worst thing about your last job?” is a common question we ask.

We use it to weed out toxic, negative employees. And savvy candidates know this tactic too. But if you bring up negative things about your company — like a bad boss, office politics or inefficiencies you have to deal with — you probably won’t ever see them again.

Be honest when they ask about the toughest part of your job, but don’t use it as an opportunity to air out your career angst.

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7. Trying to stump them

Please ask hard questions, but only ones your ideal candidate would know the answer to.

Ask analytical questions. It’s important to have thoughtful employees. But don’t ask questions simply to make candidates feel they’re inadequate.

Interviews aren’t the time to ask trick questions. You should be able to get the information you need by asking thoughtful questions. And candidates should be able to walk away feeling good about your company.

8. Having a bad workplace environment

Is your office an environment people are enthusiastic to be a part of? Or is it full of fluorescent light and misery?

When candidates come into the office, don’t just shuffle them into the interview room and simply escort them out when they’re finished. Give them a tour! Introduce them to people they’d work with.

Observe how they interact. You may be able to weed out people who aren’t culture fits (which is the biggest reason new hires fail).

9. Making a low-ball offer

Of course you don’t want to pay more than you have to, but offering less than candidates are worth is offensive.

Evaluate what a candidate is worth to your company, and then offer the amount you can. You’re entering a relationship with the employee. Don’t start it off by trying to cheat them.

It’s not honest, and it will leave your employees (if they do accept) resentful. Or they won’t stick around long when they realize what other companies are willing to pay them.

10. Asking illegal questions

Get to know your candidates on a personal level, but don’t ask them illegal things. Candidates usually know what’s appropriate, and they won’t appreciate you making them feel uncomfortable.

Own the fact that you have the upper-hand in an interview. It’s not right to pressure candidates into sharing information you shouldn’t ask. And it’s not legal. Would you want to work for a company with shady interviewing techniques?

Candidates want to find a great company just as much as you want to find a rock-star employee. And of the candidates you don’t hire, 95 percent will re-apply if they had a great experience.

Take a look at your recruiting process from the candidate-experience point of view. Work just as hard to impress candidates as they are trying to impress you, and you’ll be hiring great candidates more effectively.

This originally appeared on the Bamboo blog at BambooHR.

Kelsie Davis is an HR insights specialist for BambooHR, the leading online HR software used by over 11,000 businesses in more than 100 countries worldwide. Her mission is to help HR create more strategic and impactful initiatives. She does this by researching, analyzing, and writing about all things HR—particularly topics helping HR professionals engage, attract, and maintain employees. Because of their unique ability to influence the most fragile and important asset a company has—it’s employees—Kelsie believes HR professionals are crucial to company success.

Kelsie studied Communication Studies and Journalism at Utah State University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude before pursuing a career in marketing. Kelsie writes frequently for BambooHR’s blog and has written for HR publications such as Talent Culture, TLNT, and about.com.

You can contact Kelsie at kdavis@bamboohr.com or on Twitter at @kelsjonesdavis.

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