9 Things Hiring Managers Do That Scare Top Talent Off

Andy Agouridis Talent acquisition

The secret sauce to a successful company is its people. Hence, hiring professionals are investing a great deal of time, money, and effort in finding the best potential employee their business needs the most, especially during this time of talent shortfalls. Competition is fiercer than ever while talents are having higher expectations about the job and from the company due to threats of economic uncertainties. As a result, there are fewer applicants for any given job opening, so losing even one can mean the difference between having a good talent pool to choose from and not finding a suitable fit. 

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These past few years, we have seen the importance of providing a good candidate experience to attract top talent. This starts with the job posting itself and continues throughout the interview process and even after employment begins. With this in mind, you need to pay close attention to what candidates are going through when they are applying for a job and interacting with your company. If they perceive your processes as inefficient, don’t feel valued, or come across anything that makes them feel pressured or uncomfortable in any way, they are likely to turn their heads to other opportunities. 

To help you avoid making any of these mistakes, we’ve listed the most common things that drive top candidates away or make them lose interest in a job opportunity even before they submit a formal application. Awareness is the first step to making improvements. So, we hope this article helps you identify the areas you need to work on and improve to ensure you don’t scare top talent off. 


1. Listing too many and too detailed job requirements

Job requirements are a critical part of the hiring process, as they can act as the first line of pre-screening and be a major factor in finding the right candidate. Hence, it is important to have a job listing that clearly defines what you’re looking for in your future employee. However, a long and overly thorough list of requirements that are likely only the person who left the job could meet can scare off top talents. Those who are actually qualified for the role may become hesitant to apply if they don’t meet all the skills listed, because they may feel that they are not a good match for the job and the company.

To prevent turning away potential great hires, we suggest narrowing your list to include only the core requirements of the job. This can be done by taking the time to understand the position you’re hiring for, including getting an overview of daily tasks, what a candidate will need to accomplish the job, and which attributes are critical to success. You may also consider separating your list into “required or needed”, “preferred or good to have”, and “desired”. This will allow candidates to better self-screen themselves and feel more confident with their current skills and experience. This in turn could lead to increased interest and applications.


2. Leaving out critical information from the job posting 

As job seekers’ priorities and expectations continue to change, smart employers understand that a job posting plays a critical role in their ability to attract qualified applicants. In fact, it is often the first impression job seekers have of your company. And yes, creating a good first impression does not only apply to job seekers who are trying to land an offer but also to hiring professionals who are looking to engage top talents to fill critical roles. So, posting job descriptions that don’t paint a comprehensive picture of the position and your company can be a huge turnoff for them and may even cause them to lose interest in applying altogether.

While it has become common for job seekers to conduct further research to learn more about the job and the company, sharing everything they need to know upfront is a great way to keep them engaged, increasing the chances that they will take the next step. This would include information about the company culture, relevant requirements, clearly defined job responsibilities, salary range, benefits packages, and other perks. Doing this will help you ensure that only the most qualified and interested will apply for the job, making the process easier for both you and the candidates.


3. Making the application process overly complicated and lengthy

When filling out a job application, candidates are expecting a straightforward and concise process. According to a study, more than 70% of job seekers today are only willing to spend less than fifteen minutes to complete one. This means they no longer want to go through the hassle of answering multiple questions or completing a long, complicated form just to apply for one position. In fact, many of them won’t hesitate to quit halfway through if they find the process to be too overwhelming or cumbersome. 

While having some pre-employment qualifications may make sense to make the process of finding the best fit a little bit easier, be careful not to ask for too much information from your applicants right from the start. For example, refrain from asking them for other personal information aside from their full names and contact details. Also, when they are asked to upload their resume, make sure you don’t require them to enter the same details manually. So, we suggest re-evaluating your current process to identify and eliminate unnecessary steps that make your job application intimidating for top talents.


4. Taking too long or failing to respond to applications

A study revealed that 82% of applicants are expecting to hear back from the company they applied to. However, approximately 75% of them end up not getting any response at all after sending their applications, making them feel infuriated. From a candidate’s perspective, it is incredibly frustrating to apply for a job they think they’re a perfect fit for and not even get a single acknowledgment. This will diminish their enthusiasm for your company and may even cause them to lose interest in working for you in the future.

Timing is everything when responding to applicants. So, to ensure you won’t drive potential great hires away, make it a point to get back to them as soon as possible. Did you already see their impressive resume? Are they considered for the next step of the process? Is the job already filled? No matter what the status of their job applications is, it is better to give them an update rather than keep them in the dark.


5. Not giving sufficient and timely details about the interview

Advancing to the interview stage is a big milestone that candidates have always been looking forward to. However, failing to provide them with sufficient and timely job interview details can send them off track or even make them lose interest in pursuing their application in your company. For example, you scheduled an interview with very short notice, rescheduled the interview timing and only informed applicants at the last minute, or canceled the interview without giving any reason at all. 

The scenarios mentioned above can cause a bad candidate experience, as these may give applicants the impression that you do not value their time. Consequently, this may affect the overall reputation of your company as an employer, which then can scare off talents to apply to your future vacancies and hurt your ability to find the best potential employee. To prevent this from happening, make your applicants feel valued by informing them about all the necessary interview details in a manner that will allow them enough time to prepare.


6. Showing up in the interview unprepared 

Failure to prepare for the interview beforehand is one of the quickest ways to turn off top talents. These may include hiring managers not arriving on time, failing to go through the candidates’ resumes, or not having a clear understanding of the role they’re interviewing for. These unprofessional behaviors can leave a negative impact on the candidate’s perception of you. They may think that the company they would love to be a part of doesn’t respect the people that work for them. 

For candidates, arriving for an interview fully prepared is important to convince hiring managers that they are the perfect fit for the job and enthusiastic about joining their company. The same should apply to hiring managers. You must prepare fully before conducting any interviews to demonstrate to candidates that you’re serious about considering them for the job. Make the time to review their career documents and do some further digging when needed to learn more about them.


7. Appearing disengaged during the interview

Body language and eye contact can give a lot of insight into how engaged a hiring manager is during the interview process. With this in mind, it is imperative that you are aware of the non-verbal cues you are conveying to candidates through your physical behavior, expressions, and mannerisms. Any undesirable signs that you give off when interacting with them may scare them away and give them a negative impression of you and the company.

For example, if you are not making any eye contact, constantly looking at your watch, or cutting the candidates off while they are talking, you may appear not interested in what they are saying and make it seem like you are rushing the interview. So, make sure to be self-aware throughout your interviews and be mindful of how you carry yourself around each candidate to avoid making common body language mistakes that can send the wrong message.


8. Throwing tough and irrelevant questions 

Questions are a critical part of the hiring process, more specifically during the interview. However, in some cases, job interviews become a battle of wits, where the interviewer tries to outsmart the candidate. While it’s important to ask tough questions that can assess a candidate’s skills and knowledge, asking too many unnecessary questions can turn an interview into an intimidating experience for candidates. 

When throwing questions at a candidate, it is important to ensure that they are directly related to the position they are applying for. Asking about salary history or some of the quirky interview questions will not give you ample information that can help you determine their suitability for the role. These can only put pressure on and scare candidates off especially if they can’t think of an answer right away. So, try to stick to questions that focus on the candidates’ ability to do the job.


9. Not informing candidates about interview results

Anyone who has ever interviewed for a job understands how frustrating it is to wait for a response. Candidates have invested a lot of their time and effort going through this process, so no matter what the outcome of the interviews or the status of your recruitment, they deserve and need to be informed. Whether the decision has been delayed, the position has been canceled, or they did not make it to the next stage, make sure to let them know. Failing to keep them in the loop is a lack of basic etiquette and professional courtesy, which can reflect on your company’s overall culture.

While it varies between industries, the average response time after a job interview is up to 24 business days. Ensuring you inform your applicants about their interview results within this period will help you prevent them from getting frustrated and may even help you improve your reputation. As a result, you may be able to attract the best people for your job opening and the company.

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Andy Agouridis

Andy helps candidates and employers connect faster and better. Apart from being a Jobylon contributing writer and a Careers content creator. He has a background in HR with Fortune 100 businesses, holds an MSc in HRM, and is a Chartered member of the CIPD.

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