Losing Candidates in Your Hiring Process? Maybe That’s a Good Thing

Candidate experience is dominating today’s narrative about how to attract and hire the best candidates. There is plenty of research out there to convince us of how critically important candidate experience is. A good candidate experience can improve a company’s overall employer brand and can drive long-term improvements in candidate quality. But when it comes down to the day-to-day reasons behind improving the candidate experience, many companies are simply hoping to reduce candidate drop-off, or the number of candidates who abandon an application due to how long or time-consuming it is.

The fear of candidate drop-off is very real. Many employers are struggling to find enough applicants; in a recent survey conducted by Criteria Corp, 67.3% of hiring professionals say that finding enough applicants represents a challenge for their organization. When candidates are scarce, the logical response is to do everything in your power to attract and hold onto as many applicants as possible so that you have a larger applicant pool to choose from.

But a larger applicant pool isn’t always better

Increasing your applicant pool doesn’t necessarily lead to better hiring results, which is ultimately the end goal. To demonstrate why, we can compare two types of ways that employers can modify the candidate experience to increase the volume of applicants. These improvements fall into two general camps.

First, there are improvements that simply make the process less clunky. For example, you can reduce the number of clicks it takes for an applicant to submit an application; you can make your application process mobile-friendly or accessible on multiple devices; or you can reduce the number of redundant steps a candidate has to complete, such as having to submit a resume and then having to submit an additional, cumbersome application form. These improvements are arguably effective changes to make because they help your applicants complete the process without taking away valuable information that will help you make a hiring decision. (Check out this blog post for more tips on how to get more of the right applicants for your job openings.)

Second, you can reduce the number of steps or requirements that each applicant must complete. For example, maybe you decide not to ask for references up front, or you decide not to administer pre-employment assessments until later in the process. While reducing the number of steps that you require in the hiring process will likely lead you to get more applicants, you may notice that your applicant pool is noticeably less qualified, putting the burden on the hiring manager or recruiter to do the legwork to determine which candidates should proceed to the next step of the process. Removing requirements may work in certain circumstances, but typically it leads to a larger applicant pool that, on average, is less qualified.

Losing candidates isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Friction isn’t always a bad thing. No hiring process should be frictionless. A frictionless hiring process would make it easy for anyone and everyone to apply, leading to thousands of unqualified or irrelevant resumes.

As a pre-employment testing company, we know that assessments can introduce some friction into the hiring process by creating an extra step for candidates to complete. However, we view pre-employment tests as a form of “good” friction. Assessments represent one step in the hiring process that a candidate must work through in order to be considered for the role. Some candidates will make the decision not to complete the assessments. However, through our own internal research at Criteria, we have found that minimal candidate drop-off occurs with testing unless the total length of the assessments exceeds 45 minutes. (Learn more about our study.)

While it’s likely that a small number of applicants will be deterred from completing assessments, the ones who do complete this step have self-selected themselves for consideration. As a result, they are more likely to be qualified for the role, to be committed to the application process, and to genuinely be interested in the opportunity. Anecdotally, our customers back this up, expressing a stronger quality of hire when assessments are included in the process.

Quality over quantity

The reality is that pre-employment assessments will lead to a small amount of candidate drop-off. This should be expected. While it will lead to a slightly reduced applicant pool, it will lead to a higher quality of candidates. Ultimately, the goal for hiring is always the same: to find the best possible employee for the role. It’s up to each organization to strike the appropriate balance between creating a frictionless application process that invites any and all candidates, and a process that surfaces the most qualified candidates for the role.