Call us on 01702 464 444
Latest News - One to One

10 Warning Signs for Losing Applicants

Friday, 08 April 2016

As a company within the recruitment industry we see a lot of applicants come and go. Sometimes they may just fall off the planet, other times they may change into someone you previously did not recognise (I don’t mean grow a set of horns, but rather suddenly become very inflexible or start to just talk about the money). When you are the hiring company and these applicants are leaving on your watch this can be a frustrating and disappointing part of the process.

As seasoned recruiters, we thought we would share some of the warning signs that should start to ring your alarm bells and question the commitment of the applicant to a job role. You might relate to some or all of the points listed, as such we’ve also briefly covered how we’d deal with each situation.

1 They just want any job

As an employer it comes naturally to expect job seekers to be interested in the job they have applied for. But when this isn’t the case, it could be a lost cause. Anything from lack of enthusiasm, generic cover letters, no recollection of the job all leads us to think this person just wants a job…not our job. In which case we wonder whether we’re wasting valuable time on someone not committed to our company or vacancy – in this instance question them thoroughly to ensure they are committed to you.

2 They are disengaged in interview

Sometimes an applicant that looks great on paper, they even returned your call in speedy time and had no problems arranging the interview. Then it happens, the interview comes around and they’re suddenly disengaged. This is a big warning sign.

Disengagement at interview isn’t just limited to lack of verbal responsiveness but also body language – are they slouched? Not making eye contact? Not asking questions? All of these are tell tale signs for us that this job seeker has been put off the job between applying and attending the interview.

Here we like to get to ask direct questions to get to the bottom of why their behaviour has changed so that we can make a decision on whether we want to progress with their application or not.

3 The applicant stops returning your calls

We don’t like turning into a stalker so when a jobseeker stops returning our calls it signals something. Leaving more than 2 unanswered messages via email, text or phone could suggest that the applicant is no longer interested.

We use the word ‘could’ here because to give them the benefit of the doubt, they might be taking a holiday…maybe, possibly. But no-one wants to waste time, resources and sanity chasing someone who doesn’t seem to be too keen – 2 messages (on various devices) max and then move on.

4 They suddenly become inflexible

Another tell-tale sign of losing an applicant is when there is a change in their availability. Perhaps they were available any time for the first interview but come the second interview they are really inflexible and it is difficult to pin down a time.

We recommend asking directly how keen they are for the job and whether there is a problem. As with any company, the recruitment process doesn’t need to be rigid but you do need to know your limits and when to move on.

5 The applicant does not show for an interview

A no-show is a definite sign of a lost applicant. This is so frustrating especially when valuable time has been spent preparing and waiting for someone to turn up.

All we can say is that if a pattern does emerge, and there are several no-shows, then it’s time to review the recruitment process and ensure a positive applicant journey.

6 Enthusiasm starts waning

Similar to point 4 – if an applicant goes from being eager to a little nonchalant then it is plausible to question whether they have stopped thinking about working for the company or that they have another iron in the fire.

Again, in this situation we would speak to them directly and try to draw out reasons for their change in attitude. Without being confrontational, we think it is best to resolve the problem or put our efforts into other and more enthusiastic applicants.

7 Their priorities change

Another indicator of a shift in an applicant’s attitude towards the job could be a change in priorities. At first interview they were seeking a work-life balance and a great friendly company to work for, at second interview or offer stage, they are more interested in the money and the pension.

What has changed? We assume that they have experienced a change in circumstances or that their employer has uncovered that they are looking for other jobs and they have received a counter offer. If the latter is the case, we advise you to be prepared for this outcome – think in advance what your stance would be i.e. up your offer or show them the door.

8 They use stalling tactics at offer stage

At this late stage in the recruitment game we (and you?) don’t expect to lose many applicants, however, sometimes little things happen that suggest someone is on their way out.

If we send out an offer letter, we would expect a maximum of a week to be a suitable length of time to consider it. Any more time than this rings alarm bells. Chances are, they have other options and they may be trying to play one company off against another or maybe someone else in their life will be involved in making the decision with them.

Building the relationship early, getting as much information about their decision making process and frequent updates of changes in their job hunting efforts will help with potential and frustrating let downs at this stage.

9 Paper work is not completed

Another stalling tactic at offer stage is not completing paperwork (references, right to work, contracts etc.). If an applicant isn’t able to supply sufficient information in a prompt manner then alarm bells should probably go off.

Why are they stalling? They could be uncertain about the contract, they might not have references etc. to give you or again, they may have multiple offers. Communication here is key – is there a hold up and why?

10 They don’t show up for work on the first day

Last but not least – the biggy – a no show on day one! This can happen and sometimes they may even start and not come back after lunch. Hopefully not on our watch, but remember the recruitment process doesn’t stop just when the offer letter is out.

We keep in touch with our new employees from the moment the offer letter goes out to the end of their relationship with us. This is really important so that any changes to their attitude or behaviour is picked up and can be addressed quickly…before we put in a load of time and resources.

Hopefully you won’t experience all of these warning signs and the applicants you interview will be up front, communicative and honest with you. The main reason we lose applicants throughout the recruitment process is because of the questions we do not ask. To help reduce any nasty shocks and prevent frustrating time wasting, we think it’s important to talk to your applicants, listen to what they say and importantly, what they don’t say. Be up front and ask them about money, other interviews, counter offers, decision making, flexibility and whether they can see themselves working for your organisation or accepting an offer from you.

Article by Rachel Horrocks

Article source (

Share this news article: