Candidates are Demanding Better Communication from Recruiters

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 Subpar communication sends candidates running for the exits

At a time when the labor market remains tight, and skills shortages are increasingly common, companies need to be capable of setting themselves apart from their competitors. The hiring process should immediately show candidates that the company respects their time, values fairness, and prioritizes consistent and open communication. A high-quality candidate experience is indispensable to attracting and hiring the best employees.

The 2023 Criteria Candidate Experience Report  contains an array of insights from a survey of over 2,000 job-seekers around the world, and it provides the latest data on what candidates are looking for (as well as what they’re trying to avoid) in the hiring process. One of the most alarming findings from the survey is that companies are struggling with communication in hiring. This blind spot seriously impacts the hiring experience and leads promising candidates to run toward the exit.

HR professionals are responsible for developing a transparent hiring process that keeps employees engaged from beginning to end. All candidates deserve to know what they can expect from a role, what the hiring process will entail, and the status of their application. When HR teams provide ample information about all the above and make themselves available throughout the hiring process, they’ll drastically increase the quality of their hires.

Inadequate communication is a major candidate pain point

When hiring managers fail to provide sufficient information about the role, keep candidates updated, or answer questions promptly, they risk alienating and ultimately losing prospective employees. The Criteria survey found that the number one reason candidates abandon the hiring process is poor communication between recruiters and employers. Most candidates (54 percent) say they have stopped pursuing an open position.

It would be bad enough if companies were merely slow to respond or reliant upon ineffective communication tools and techniques. But the problem is even more severe than that – 39 percent of candidates report that a recruiter has ghosted them over the past year. This is the worst possible communications failure, as it shows candidates that the company is completely indifferent to their needs and willing to waste their time. Beyond the fact that this is deeply disrespectful behavior, it can also harm a company’s reputation and limit the pool of qualified candidates willing to apply.

HR teams should closely examine the entire recruitment funnel to avoid poor or sparse interactions with candidates to identify and fill communication gaps. This will ensure that candidates are engaged throughout the hiring process and increase companies’ likelihood of attracting and securing talent.

Improving communication at every stage

Many candidate engagement touchpoints are essential for providing exceptional hiring experiences: job ads, initial outreach, pre-employment assessments, follow-ups, and onboarding information are critical to the hiring process. While HR professionals often have limited control over certain elements of the hiring process – such as salaries and benefits, which are subject to budget constraints, economic shifts, and market factors – they’re always capable of improving their communications.

HR teams must offer thorough and accurate information on compensation, responsibilities, culture, and every aspect of the role and the hiring process itself. For example, the second-most-cited reason candidates drop out of a recruitment process is the discovery that a proposed salary didn’t meet expectations. This is also a communication issue – a recent Monster survey reports that 98 percent of candidates think employers should provide salary ranges in job ads. At the same time, a majority said they wouldn’t even apply to a company that omits this information.

The Criteria survey found that a “lack of communication” is the top issue that affects candidates’ opinions of a company, and misrepresentations of job requirements and salaries follow this. These are all reminders that responsive, respectful, and comprehensive communications are integral to any successful hiring process.

How communication facilitates better candidate experiences

Poor communication shows candidates that the company doesn’t respect their time and effort, making the process slower and less streamlined. According to the Criteria survey, other sources of frustration for candidates include an inordinately long decision-making process and “too many rounds of interviews.” In fact, over one-third of candidates say they have abandoned the recruiting process because it was taking too long.

HR professionals have more tools than ever to increase communication in hiring and make the process more efficient. Eighty percent of candidates say they like video interviews (including 59 percent who strongly feel this way) – an indicator that companies should be wary of forcing candidates into the office for physical interviews. Companies also have to consider which types of interviews they’re conducting. Unstructured interviews don’t just have an extremely poor record  of predicting job performance – they can also contribute to a slow and cumbersome hiring process as candidates are subjected to one aimless conversation after another.

Finally, HR teams can use pre-employment assessments to quickly and objectively evaluate candidates. Seventy percent of candidates say assessments help them showcase their potential beyond work experience, demonstrating that this hiring method will increase efficiency and perceptions of fairness. Assessments also provide an opportunity for dialogue – 90 percent of candidates say they like receiving feedback on their results, which opens constructive communication.

A smooth, engaging, and transparent candidate experience is a major competitive advantage, as it allows companies to guide employees through the hiring process quickly and with minimal headaches. Communication is central to this process at every stage.


Josh Millet, founder and CEO of Criteria