For many employers, getting clients into the recruitment pipeline requires significant attention and energy. But, what happens once candidates apply? Not surprisingly, most candidates drop off during the hiring process. In fact, according ERE Media, 80% of candidates drop off during the application process. That can be problematic for organizations, which often need those extra candidates.

Here, the problem often lies in the application process, employee assessments, and even finding out too late that candidates aren’t good fits for the role. Streamlining the application process, starting with the job description and salary indications, can greatly improve how candidates react to the process and the number of highly qualified candidates that make it through the process.

Common issues with job applications

Non-Qualified Candidates

Poor, outdated, or poorly set up hiring processes always start with job boards, job profiles, skill sets, and required competencies. If your organization doesn’t know exactly what it needs to fill the role (qualifications and competencies, not just education), it’s impossible to sort out candidates who aren’t a good fit. You’ll spend significant money and energy filtering candidates who are applying based on unclear parameters, like the job skills, competencies, or actual requirements not being set correctly. Similarly, offering a salary indication can prevent applicants who might be looking into a better paying or more senior position.

  • Make sure that competency mapping is done and mapped to the job description
  • Ask for skills and requirements that are necessary not just nice-to-have

High Candidate Drop-Off

Most organizations lose roughly 80% of candidates during the application process. That’s after the initial weeding of unqualified candidates has been performed. So, 80% of the candidates you want to consider for your role drop off, usually without ever even telling you. Why is that? Often, it means that the application process is too long or requires too much involvement. That’s important considering many applicants apply to 10+ jobs at once. If they’re looking for a new role, they’re applying to every position that’s interesting. Keeping early investment as light as possible is important.

  • Use light screening and assessment to tailor your candidate pool, not several hours of assignments
  • Use several clear and defined application stages, with each designed to further qualify the candidate. Heavy lifting of projects and assignments can wait until you’re on one of the last few candidates

While you can’t help that some candidates will be hired to other jobs during the application, others will not get along with your recruiters, and others will decide the company culture is not for them, you can work to ensure the actual application process is streamlined and easy to go through.

High Costs

Most organizations spend several thousand dollars on each new recruit. For a mid-level position, that’s often well over $4,000. The Society for Human Resource Management quotes that as $4,129 days and an average of 42 days to fill a position. That’s a long time, considering the lack of a person in a role likely costs you significantly as well. But, it’s difficult to offset without designing more streamlined hiring processes. For example, many organizations are moving back towards opening up recruitment for mid-level positions to internal job boards. Hiring junior workers is faster and easier than hiring intermediate and senior workers.

At the same time, streamlining the hiring process by tailoring it down to what you actually need to know can shorten interview and application times. So, if you need to know a general assessment, general skills, whether the person gets along with a team, and then how they interact with company culture, you could design a simple and cost-effective application process of:

  • Initial phone interview/screening
  • In-person/video interview with team lead and recruitment manager
  • Final selection pool / competency assessment/skills test
  • Trial day working with the team
  • Hire

That short process is significantly faster than the 4+ interview stages that many organizations use today. It also means you don’t ask people to complete work or do anything that requires oversight until they’ve already been screened and interviewed. That reduces the drop-off rate, because you can tell candidates doing the work that they are in the final pool.

Improving Application Processes

Eventually, simplifying your application process benefits recruiters, teams, and the candidates applying. In most cases, that means defining what you need to make a hire, what you have to do to get that data, and then mapping out the easiest way to get to that. In most cases, you need, at minimum:

Of course, the exact requirements here vary depending on what the role is, the seniority of the role, and how important it is. If you’re hiring for upper management, you need a longer and more in-depth hiring process. If you’re hiring for intermediate roles, you can normally stick to a lighter approach, designed to get basic information that is most relevant to making the hire.

Here, you can always start by working with teams to define what they need to know. For example, do you have personality frameworks mapped for building teams? Do teams want someone who can work in specific ways? Is working with a new tool or technology important or can that be trained in with little effort? Making those decisions requires an internal assessment, prioritizing what’s important, and then updating that information on a role-by-role basis. Once you have defined what’s really necessary for making a hire, you can build the full application process around it.

Most importantly, simply customizing the application process and making the candidate feel important as part of the process can help a great deal. That means building assessments around their needs, introducing them to potential future teams as part of the application, and ensuring that the candidate gets to experience your company – rather than the company just getting to experience them. After all, they are deciding whether they want to work for you as well.

In almost every case, a shorter application process saves time and money for the organization. While it does mean that teams have less time to decide if a hire suits their needs, it also means happier candidates and less money spent on the process.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick