How Long is Too Long for a Candidate to Wait?

April 13, 2016 Guest Contributor

I’ve recently re-entered the job market in search of my next career challenge. As a recruitment specialist, I might be a bit critical when it comes to a company’s careers website, social media presence and application process. What has surprised me is that — in a world of professional profiles, applicant tracking tools and smartphones — the application process can still take so much time. It does make me wonder if the recruitment manager or head of HR have actually put themselves in the candidate’s shoes to see if they emerge from the process feeling positive about the company (or feeling like they need to lay down in a darkened room).

When designing your application process, you may want to consider:

1. Do you absolutely need this information in order to shortlist candidates? 

If the information is not fulfilling a legal requirement or isn’t essential to the role itself, then why is it being asked? I was asked on an application for my passport number and work permit number, which seemed a bit over the top. A simple “Do you have the right to work in the U.K. without employer sponsorship?” would have been sufficient.

2. If you accept a CV, then accept a CV. 

If you allow an applicant to upload a CV, it is repetitive to then ask the applicant to fill in their education, professional qualifications and work history information in another section of the application. All of that can be found on the CV.

3. Save the interview questions for the interview.

 Some short-answer questions can be helpful for you to understand the interest the candidate has in the role, but asking them to detail what skills and experience they possess compared to the job spec is a question best left to a phone or face-to-face interview.

4. Online assessments. 

SHORT online assessments integrated into the application process can really provide some basic insight into targeted skill sets. There are some handy assessment tools out there that will integrate with your ATS. Otherwise, you may have the facility to create your own within your ATS. The emphasis should be on short, though. Applicants are oftentimes working full-time and perhaps have a family to look after, and if your application takes them more time than they are able to spend, you may lose a quality candidate.

5. Are you mobile? 

With more and more people ditching their laptops and PCs for tablets and mobile devices, can your process cope? People expect to do just about everything on their mobile or tablet these days, including banking, booking a holiday and applying for a job. If your current process or ATS does not allow candidates to apply with their LinkedIn profile or upload a Google doc or Dropbox file, you might want to think about a new solution.

We are all getting increasingly busier with heavy workloads, long commutes, family commitments and outside-of-work activities. Is your recruitment process throwing up obstacles to quality candidates? With the battle for talent, can you afford to be putting skilled applicants off? Don’t make your process so long that you are losing people along the way.


Learn why you should invest in an applicant tracking system


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Bustos, originally from Colorado, began her career in HR and recruitment with some iconic global hotel and hospitality brands, landing her on the South coast of England. Now, having lived in the U.K. for 10 years, she focuses on transforming recruitment functions into high performing, commercial machines. Some of her notable projects include launching new careers websites, implementing ATS systems and designing and delivering interview skills trainingShe is most passionate about making a positive influence on the community, traveling and cake. 

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