Empty interview chairs

5 Ways You’re Missing Out on Great Candidates

Recruiting can be stressful, especially in a small business where team members balance hiring with other responsibilities. Many employers struggle to drive qualified talent to their job ad, hire the right candidate on a tight timeline, or find an applicant that checks all the boxes.

While these challenges are common, there are a few easy tweaks you can make to your recruiting process to attract more qualified job applicants. Here are five ways you may be missing out on great candidates and proven tips for ensuring you’re not letting talent slip through the cracks.


Recruiter interviewing great job candidate


1. You’re not pipelining qualified applicants.

Only one person can land the job, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t receive other qualified applicants. Each time you hire, add your runners-up and finalists – those who narrowly missed the job offer – to your talent pipeline. That way, if a similar role opens in the future, you’ll already have a list of strong candidates who are interested in your company.

Talent pipelining means you’re nurturing a backlog of high-quality candidates so that you can hire top talent quickly and easily when the need arises. Make sure you periodically reach out to the people in your pipeline – even if you’re just checking in with a quick email – to keep them engaged with your company. Engaged candidates will be more likely to apply when a position opens up a year or two down the road.


2. You’re making job requirements too strict.

Take a look at your job description. Have you described the perfect candidate with all the job-specific experience, industry know-how, and technical skills you could ask for? That means you’re looking for a “unicorn,” and as we all know, those are hard to find.

It’s every hiring manager’s knee-jerk to create a laundry list of requirements in their job ad so that they can hire a candidate that can hit the ground running. However, by doing so, you may be missing out on great candidates who don’t apply because they don’t feel qualified.

Instead, make a list of “must-haves” to include in your job ad and a list of “nice-to-haves” to keep in the back of your mind when screening candidates. Not only will this expand your talent pool so that you can get more qualified job applicants, but it may also connect you with a more diverse set of candidates with different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas.


Large pile of rejected resumes


3. You’re not considering career changers.

In the wake of COVID-19, professionals are increasingly switching careers since many sectors have experienced unprecedented job loss. This provides both a unique opportunity and a challenge to employers. Candidates with non-traditional backgrounds can bring valuable skills and fresh perspectives. However, it tends to be more difficult for recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate these candidates.

Instead of looking for candidates with a professional background in your industry, look for applicants with skillsets necessary for the position. To attract career changers, you can use skills-focused job descriptions instead of background-focused descriptions. For example:

Background-focused job description:

Looking for a sales professional with 5+ years of experience in the manufacturing industry.

Skills-focused job description:

Looking for a candidate who has strong relationship-building skills, can learn quickly, and has a proven record of reaching goals.

A skills-focused description allows you to pinpoint a set of competencies needed to succeed without requiring specific professional experience. As a result, you’ll expand your talent pool to include qualified applicants who may come from a different background.


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4. You’re not doing task-based assessments after the interview.

Interviews are great ways to assess potential hires on key competencies. However, they don’t always demonstrate whether candidates will perform well on the job. To supplement the interview, ask applicants to complete task-based assessments. For example, if the position calls for a strong grasp of Excel, have interviewees take an Excel skills test. Or maybe you’re interviewing for a writing position. In that case, ask for writing samples or have the applicant show off their skills in a writing exercise. For customer-facing positions, you may even simulate on-the-job scenarios to evaluate how the candidate handles common situations.

Task-based assessments allow candidates who didn’t shine as brightly in their traditional interview to demonstrate their abilities, and they may weed out those who aren’t a good fit for the job. If someone performs really well during their assessment, it may be worth overlooking a sub-par interview. Just make sure you’re asking candidates to perform task-based assessments that directly relate to the requirements listed in the job ad.


Candidate filling out job application on their smartphone


5. Your job application process is too long.

A recent study found that job applications that take longer than five minutes to complete have a 50 –75% abandonment rate. If you’re asking job seekers to fill out a lengthy application, provide writing samples, or answer essay questions before they even interview, you’re probably missing out on great candidates.

As an employer, your goal should be to minimize barriers on your job application so that you can get more qualified job applicants in the door for interviews. This may mean accepting a LinkedIn profile instead of a resume, saving screening questions for the phone interview, and asking for things like writing samples later in the hiring process. At iHire, we reward employers whose application process is under 10 minutes with extra exposure to job seekers – it’s one way we are helping the industry improve the candidate experience.


No employer wants to miss out on great candidates, so it’s important to examine your recruiting process and identify areas where you can improve. Implementing just one or two of these five easy tips will help you expand your talent pool, get more qualified job applicants, and make sure you’re not losing out on potential hires.

by: Sarah Ballow
September 21, 2020