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What Causes Candidate Drop Off (and What You Can Do About It)

Posted by
Sneha Mashetty
July 27, 2023

The cost of losing qualified candidate drop off during the hiring process is very high. With tech solutions for proactive communication and process optimization, you can dramatically improve candidate drop off rates.

Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards is a non-profit research body that studies candidate experience and establishes industry benchmarks in the field. In the foreword to their 2020 North American Candidate Experience Report, they make an interesting observation: “...every candidate who expresses an interest in a workplace, regardless of whether they move forward to be selected, are still considered customers, potential customers, or at the very least job and brand-related influencers."

The stats behind candidate drop off

The report itself has proof of this: 77% of respondents say that they share positive job application experiences within their network and 52% say that they spread the word when they have had a negative experience. Why does this matter? Because candidate experience has everything to do with drop-off during the hiring process. 

What causes candidate drop off?

From the first moment a candidate discovers your job posting, be it an ad they see on LinkedIn or a recruitment flyer, every single interaction impacts how they perceive your employer brand. As the adage goes, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. Let’s take a look at the most common, but underestimated, reasons why great candidates drop off in your recruiting funnel.

#1 Your job description is creating candidate drop off

A job description has the tough job of capturing candidates’ interest and giving them enough information to make the decision to apply. Candidates are put off when key information is missing (for example, the payscale) or important details are unclear (you might be open to a remote candidate but the job description doesn’t highlight this, keeping out talented candidates located elsewhere.) Something else that turns away top talent are the unconscious biases that creep into the job description, like the use of gendered wording or regional slang.


What you can do about candidate drop off caused by your job description: Have a standardized format for job descriptions that not only captures essential information, but also includes helpful fields like links to the company website or Glassdoor page and alternative job titles (a candidate may not identify with the title ‘Procurement manager’ but may do so with ‘Supply chain manager’). This will give applicants better clarity about the role as well as the employer brand.

#2 Candidate drop off can be caused by disappointing interactions

Remember the Maya Angelou quote? “People won’t remember what you said or did; they will remember how you made them feel.” Wise words, especially in the world of hiring. The role, the pay, the location, the benefits—all of these matter when a candidate decides to take a job. But if they form a poor impression about the company culture during the hiring process, that is enough to make them question everything else.

This can happen in any number of ways: an overworked recruiter may appear to be in a hurry during a conversation. The tone of a recruiter email was off. An interview conversation went badly. The biggest reason, according to the Talent Board survey, is time; 50% of responding candidates felt their time was being disrespected during appointments and interviews.

What you can do about candidate drop off caused by interactions: Automate as much of the application process as possible, from sourcing to pre-screening. This frees up recruiter bandwidth to focus on relationship building. Empower recruiters with recruiting solutions that simplify communication and amplify candidate engagement. To get you started, here are ready-to-use templates for cold recruiting emails that you can customize and use now.

#3 Delayed responses cause candidate drop off

A majority of candidates are already employed elsewhere and engaging in job searches post office hours. So their queries about the role might come in on holidays, weekends or after working hours. By the time your recruiters get back—according to our recent staffing industry survey, this takes 6-24 hours or more for 41% of recruiters—the candidates may have moved on, been distracted, or caught up in other activities.

What you can do candidate drop off caused by delayed responses: Deploy an AI-powered natural language chatbot that can work as a 24*7 digital recruiter, answering candidate queries and collecting information that will help your recruiters’ work more efficiently. It also saves them the tedium of answering basic, repetitive queries and frees up their time to focus on people-centric activities.

#4 Lack of clarity about next steps

Every marketer knows the value of a clear Call To Action (CTA). It is what cues the customer on what to do next, the desired action. The CTA is equally important in hiring. Consider a recruitment email that you have sent out to your talent base. The job description is clear and detailed. The job itself is attractive. You are expecting a lot of applications—but few come in. Why? The email does not have a clear CTA! Hundreds of candidates have opened it but they don’t know how to apply. Do they come to your website, login and search for this job? Do they write to a particular email ID? Chances are, they will simply close the email and forget about it.

What you can do about candidate drop off caused by lack of clarity: Ensure that every piece of communication that goes out from your recruitment team has the next steps clearly spelled out. (“Reply to this email with your latest payslips”, “Upload your resume on this link”, “Reply to this text with YES if you’d like to know more” etc.) This not only avoids drop-offs but also speeds up the application process.

#5 Poor communication about application status leads to drop off

Job search is a very stressful time for anyone; it is even worse when you are in the dark about the status of your job application. Remember that candidates would be applying to multiple jobs simultaneously and their anxiety would be multiplied. At the same time, given the workload that most recruiters have to tackle, it is tough for them to get back individually to candidate queries.

What you can do about candidate drop off caused by poor communication: Invest in an automated communication system that lets your recruiters easily trigger thoughtfully worded, templatized updates to candidates in a timely manner. What you see below is how the winners of Talent Board’s CandE awards proactively communicate with their candidates at every stage of the application process.

Here is a smart candidate texting starter kit to kick off your talent engagement. If you are looking for the right solutions to scale up your candidate experience, we can help. Drop us a line at to know more.

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