How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days


In any new relationship, certain behaviors are immediate turn-offs. Bad karaoke, perhaps. Close talking. Or maybe it’s discussing an ex. The point is that most people understand what those behaviors are—and unless they’re deliberately trying to lose someone, they avoid saying or doing anything that might create a rift in those crucial early stages.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Why, then, do so many recruiters seem to sabotage their relationships with candidates right off the bat?

Surely they aren’t doing it on purpose; the job market is far too competitive. Perhaps they don’t understand how important the initial candidate experience is to the long-term relationship, or to the hiring process in general. Or maybe they simply don’t understand what today’s candidates want and need. The truth is that job seekers today are fickle. They’re the next-generation workforce, with very specific interests, skills, objectives, and expectations. When recruiters don’t properly acknowledge or manage those criteria, even before the moment of first contact, candidates will happily turn up their noses and walk away. And this is a risk most companies can’t afford right now.

In this eBook, we’ll take a look at how 10 short days and a few wrong turns can easily and inadvertently offend the candidates that might have been perfect hires. We’ll also offer tips on how to avoid these behavior problems to keep your talent search on track.

Download the PDF


Day 1: You post an inaccurate job description

The engineering department sends you the requirements for an open position, and you use them to craft an ad that you’ll post across a number of job boards and social networks. So what if you embellish a little? And who cares if the team sent you a few inaccurate points? The ad is only supposed to garner attention and get candidates to apply. Right?

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Wrong. That’s like peppering an online dating profile with fake photos and expecting no one to notice when they meet you in real life. When you bring a candidate in for an interview, inaccuracies will come to light— and the candidate won’t be pleased. Furthermore, if you are looking for specific skills and backgrounds, and you’re not up front about what you need, you’ll end up with the wrong talent in your queue.

You’re looking to hire intelligent people, so don’t assume they aren’t bright enough to know or care whether a job description faithfully matches the position to which it relates. It’s one thing to spice up ad copy, but it’s another thing entirely to be misleading or untruthful.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Verify job requirements before you post them, and make sure that all recruitment ads and other communications consistently and accurately refect those requirements.
  • Don’t leave room for misunderstandings or misperceptions. Use clear and compelling copy that’s based on facts.

Day 2: You decline to respond

While you kick back and wait for candidates to apply, you blissfully neglect responding to comments and questions on social media. You also opt not to pay attention to those bad reviews on Glassdoor. That’s just gossip, and you’re too busy to deal with all that communication. Who cares what random people think anyway?

You should care. This is a socially networked world, where comments have a way of instantly transforming from gossip to gospel—particularly if you ignore them. When you don’t respond to inquiries or comments on your Facebook or LinkedIn pages, you run the risk of tarnishing your employment brand (which, for the record, is something you should be working very hard to build and promote). You’ll also appear, particularly to many millennial job seekers, as a company that’s incapable of managing an effective social presence. If that happens, you can forget trying to convince prospects you’re a forward-thinking company. Innovators don’t sweep conversation under the rug. They start conversation, on every technological platform available. And that’s how you get candidates to apply.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Tips to stay on track:

  • Never lose sight of your employment brand. Consistently present your company to the world, on all your social network sites, career sites, and web pages.
  • If negative comments or reviews surface, track them. Engage with your team to determine the veracity of what’s being said and decide on an appropriate course of action. Keep your positive brand messages at the forefront of any response.
  • Take an active role on social media. Communicate regularly with prospects about your company and its employment culture, so you can maintain an innovative image. Using tools that help automate social recruiting posts will simplify the process and save valuable time.

Day 3: You create a scheduling nightmare

Great news! You’ve got candidates you want to bring in for interviews. Of course, this means you have to coordinate the schedules of six different interviewers— none of whom is responding to your questions about possible dates. Naturally, you cross your fingers and hope for the best, picking a few times that look clear. How are you supposed to know you’ll have to reschedule four times as each interviewer finally weighs in? And does it really matter that you put that extra hour in between the first and second interviewers? Candidates need to be more resilient.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Actually, they don’t. You need to be more professional. Every time you schedule an interaction with a candidate and then reschedule that event or leave time too much time between meetings, you’re communicating your disorganization and your disrespect. (You’re also showing your hiring managers that your process is painfully tedious, which probably irritates them as well.) Remember that many of your applicants likely have other jobs, and blocking the time for a multi-hour interview is not easy. Candidates don’t want to be inconvenienced, and they are not likely to look favorably upon a company that can’t even get an interview figured out.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Make the interview scheduling process convenient, for candidates, for your interviewers, and for yourself. With the right Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in place, such as Jobvite Hire, you can integrate calendars for instant visibility into available time slots, so you can avoid rescheduling headaches.
  • When scheduling is too tricky and you aren’t ready for an in-person interview, consider a video interview solution. Jobvite Video allows you to pre-record questions for specific candidates that they can respond to from their own locations using a webcam or mobile phone, and send back according to your deadline. Hiring managers can review responses at their own convenience.

Day 4: You make candidates wait on you

You’re a busy person with a lot of projects to juggle, so running behind is inevitable. Take that phone screen you have this morning. He won’t mind if you call 15 minutes late, right? You need more time to get your questions together. And the candidate that’s here for a 3 p.m. interview can surely sit out in reception for half an hour because you haven’t tracked down all your interviewers yet. You might even put her in a conference room and forget about her while you clear your inbox and try to catch up. Sometimes people just run late, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days
As with inadequate scheduling practices, making people wait reflects poorly on your organizational skills—and on your company as a whole. It’s one thing if you’re truly running behind and apologize for your oversight, but if you forget about a candidate—whether for a phone call or in a conference room—or you simply haven’t prepared, it shows you don’t consider your applicants to be a priority and have no respect for how busy they are. Candidates are hard enough to engage today. Don’t turn someone off before you even have a chance to speak with them.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Respect candidates’ time. You are courting them, so it should be your company that works to accommodate their schedules—not the other way around.
  • Use advanced applicant tracking tools that help you manage your time and better prepare before interviews, so you stay ahead of the game.

Day 5: You provide useless and vague information

You can’t possibly be expected to know everything. When you get emails from applicants asking things like which manager they would report to, who they will interview with, or what certifications are required, it’s easier to let those things go than track down the answers. The same goes for those phone screens, when candidates ask about what it’s like to work in the Operations department, and you hesitate before coughing out a rote response. How should you know? That’s not your job.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Let’s be serious. You’re recruiting on behalf of a company. It is completely your job to know that company inside out. You should know every position you have open, including what’s required and who’s involved. If you set up an interview schedule, you should know it like the back of your hand. Be the expert you are supposed to be. You cannot evangelize your company’s employment brand or sell applicants on why they should work for your company if you can’t provide the right information at the right times.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Give candidates specifics. When they have questions, get them satisfying answers. Odds are, they are asking for a reason, and you might save a lot of time by answering up front instead of waiting till an interview.
  • Provide as much information ahead of time as possible. Use a well branded career site and social networking pages as communication tools that effectively answer common questions about corporate culture, benefits and perks, team dynamics, and so on. The more detailed information you offer up front, the less leg work you have to do down the road—and candidates can easily build a sense of familiarity with your company.

Day 6: You make jobs hard to find

Yeah, yeah, yeah—you know that your career site looks jacked up on a cell phone. You’re not the IT department. It’s really annoying to be told by candidates that they can’t find the job description they thought you posted. You want to tell them to get off their devices and go sit at a desktop. They’ll see it just fine from there.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Contain your frustration. Now more than ever, candidates expect companies to have full-featured mobile career site functionality. Often, this is because job seekers don’t have the luxury of checking on opportunities from their work computers, so they can only conduct searches during lunch breaks on their phones. Other times, it’s a matter of convenience. Perhaps they spot a post from a friend while checking Facebook, and they want to learn more right away. Whatever the reason, today’s innovative companies must strive to cater to the millennial workforce with recruiting processes that are optimized for mobile devices. If candidates can’t act on the impulse to apply when they want to, they’ll just forget about it and move on.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Investigate your site from a range of mobile devices, and see how you stack up. Is your career site easily navigated from a cell phone? Can candidates complete applications using a mobile device?
  • Integrate with functionality already offered on popular cell phones and tablets. Jobvite’s Mobile Career Site offering, for example, allows candidates to upload photo resumes or attach social profiles. These are time-saving features that candidates truly appreciate.
  • Look for a complete recruiting platform, like the one offered by Jobvite, that offers integrated mobile functionality throughout the hiring process.

Day 7: You cross the line

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days
So you sent a friend request to a candidate. And used a lot of emoticons in that email thread. Big deal. You’re a human being, and you’re just trying to be nice. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate personal and professional. People shouldn’t be so serious all the time anyway.

We live in an increasingly casual and socially networked world, where we sometimes say things in real life that ought not to be said out loud. But make no mistake: There is always a line between recruiter and candidate, and it should never be crossed. Don’t make jokes about relationship statuses or comment on a candidate’s attire, for example. Being nice is a good thing—but being overly friendly is not. What you might think is a gesture of good will could easily be misunderstood by a candidate and cause them to run.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Be appropriate and professional across all communication channels.
  • Keep your social media posts and emails limited to a corporate voice that speaks on behalf of your employment brand—and not on your own behalf.

Day 8: You present an arrogant front

There are four candidates coming in for interviews today, and you’ve got them lined up with a bunch of pompous bigwigs who always make people wait (and sometimes make people cringe). Grab the popcorn. This ought to be interesting.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days
You’re in a marketing-focused recruiting world now, where you must prove to candidates that you value them not only for the skills they provide, but as people. That’s part of the millennial mindset; they want their work to have meaning and purpose. Egotistical or impolite interviewers will only impede that goal. Remind them that there’s a reason candidates come in for interviews. They’ve cleared many hurdles and are strong possible matches. At the end of it all, you want everyone you bring in to be willing to join you, so you can simply choose the best match.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Collaborate with interviewers in advance. Remind them who is coming in and how a candidate measures up to the qualifications—so they take the task seriously. Every day without a key position filled is money wasted and productivity lost.
  • Listen to candidate feedback. If you learn that certain interviewers are repeatedly problematic, see if you can find a workaround that won’t irritate candidates or slight any managers. Maybe those interviewers would do better having their questions answered via video screen, for example.

Day 9: You don’t call anyone back

Another day, another set of interviews, another pile of resumes, and another stack of emails. You’ll round up everyone’s notes and sift through them over the next week. Hopefully there’s a good candidate or two in the mix. You can touch base with them at some point in the next few days. Everyone else will figure out they didn’t make the cut eventually. Candidates who are really interested won’t mind hanging tight for a while.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days
Candidates don’t want to be left hanging. Ever. They are likely on the hunt at multiple companies, and they want to be proactive in the choice about where they work. Involve them. Keep them updated. If you say you’ll call, then call. If you fill a position, notify candidates who didn’t get hired, so they know the opportunity has passed. And don’t let too much time lapse between initial contact and the next time you chat with an applicant. Even a passive job seeker will move on to other interviews if you’ve piqued his interest and then waited too long to act.

Tips to stay on track:

  • Track candidate communications in your ATS, so you can stay on top of your callback promises.
  • Use an advanced ATS, like Jobvite Hire, that provides candidates with real-time status updates.

Day 10: You love your outdated technology

Everyone’s talking about new ways to do things, and how you should be using this or that recruiting technology, but you’re a stickler for routine. You’re going to do things the way you’ve always done things. You like to think of your approach as “classic.”

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days
Waiting five days to get approval on a job requisition or to contact a qualified applicant is not classic, no matter how traditional you are. It’s a waste of time, and it’s risky. In the days it takes you to complete your slow processes, a candidate could easily accept another offer from a competitor. Making the move to more advanced recruiting technology shows candidates that your company is not afraid of progress. Likewise, sticking with old systems sends the message that you can’t keep up with a dynamic world. Which image would you rather present?

Tips to stay on track:

  • Be on the forefront of what recruiting technology can do. Jobvite can help. Our complete recruiting platform provides everything from a full-featured, modern ATS to tools for video interviewing, employee referral programs, mobile accessibility, and branded career sites.
  • Remember you are wooing the next-generation workforce. You need to show them you are part of that generation, and willing to move forward alongside them.


If you want to drive talented job seekers away, by all means follow the behaviors above. Smart recruiters, of course, know better. While some of these practices are difficult to halt, the right technology can make it easy—and even rewarding—to shape up.

Jobvite understands the importance of the candidate experience. The initial stages of the relationship between a company and a jobseeker (whether passive or active in the job hunt) are critical to the long-term relationship between a company and its employees, and between a company and all its future prospects. Our complete recruiting platform includes the innovative technology recruiters need to quickly and easily improve the way candidates navigate the hiring process, from start to finish, with everything from branded career sites, to full mobile functionality, to video interviewing. We also make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to work with candidates, so they can communicate better, eliminate scheduling hassles, and enhance the employment brand across social networks.

For more information on how Jobvite can assist your company in enriching the candidate experience, visit


Download the PDF