The Top Ten Reasons Candidates Drop Out of the Hiring Process

June 7, 2023

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer

As a hiring manager, it can be frustrating when candidates drop out of the interview process. Not only does it delay the hiring process, but it also wastes valuable time and resources. So, what are the top 10 reasons candidates drop out of the running, and how can hiring managers prevent it from happening? 

Competing businessmen waiting for job interview in office lobby

Hiring is undeniably one of the most challenging aspects of an organization. You’re not just looking for someone who can come in and rock the position and excel in their role; it’s much bigger than that. You’re looking at culture add, how this person will integrate relationally with the team, ramp up time, and after all that, how longthey will be with your team, and how engaged they’ll be.

On top of that, inevitable growth and change take place. Personal circumstances outside of work impact the approach to the day-to-day. In short, there are a lot of unknowns. People are unpredictable, and the way they think, act, and perceive their experiences can shift based on several variables.  

It is essential to approach the hiring process with an open mind, a set of clearly defined performance goals, and the willingness to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. 

In this blog, we talk about the experiences, engagements, and psychology that would cause an otherwise invested and interested candidate to turn their back on an opportunity that can send the hiring manager back to square one. 

Titus’ Top Ten Talent Turn Offs 

1. The Job Description was Misleading or Inaccurate

One of the most common reasons candidates drop out of the interview process is that the job description did not accurately represent the role. This can lead to candidates feeling misled and uninterested in the position. 

To prevent this, ensure that the job description accurately reflects the responsibilities and requirements of the position. Be clear about the skills and qualifications needed, as well as any necessary certifications or experience. 

At Titus, we prefer to use Performance Profiles. The focus of these profiles is to bring a definition of what success looks like in the role and not just what the candidate will be doing. Job roles morph and shift, but what success looks like over time can be much more linear. 

People want to know where they are, where they are going, and how to get there, and a Performance Profile can help set accurate expectations and whereby, they can more actively picture themselves in the role. 

2. The Hiring Process Was Too Long

Candidates are often juggling multiple job opportunities, and a long hiring process can cause them to lose interest or accept a job offer elsewhere. To prevent this, streamline the hiring process as much as possible, and communicate with candidates about the timeline. 

If you’ve ever been in the drive-thru line behind a minivan full of people, you’ll know what this feels like.  

Story Time: The Hiring Process and the Eternal Coffee Line…

Imagine the situation, you’re on your way to work, you know how long your route is meant to take (factoring in some delays for traffic) with a quick stop at the coffee shop. As you’re about to turn, in you see another vehicle about to get in line. Who goes first? It could be you, or it could be them. If you’re in the Midwest, you probably decide to wave them through, and then you immediately regret the decision as you come to your senses. What have you done?

That’s EXACTLY how a candidate feels when you want to bring them in for “just one more interview” or when you need to compare them against two or more added candidates, just to be sure.  

Defining the role and what the ideal candidate looks like earlier in the search, and using toolsets like the Predictive Index, can drastically reduce your interview time while keeping the level of objective insight needed to make a great hire. 

 3. Poor Communication

Lack of communication can be a major turnoff for candidates. Ensure that you are responding to emails and phone calls on time and keep candidates informed throughout the hiring process. 

If you’ve ever been to a restaurant and the food you ordered is taking a long time to get to the table, you’ll know the power of a quick update. Let the candidate know what to expect, and keep your word. 

 4. Salary or Compensation Is Not Competitive

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if the salary or compensation package is not competitive with other offers. To prevent this, do your research and offer a fair and competitive salary and benefits package.  

Beer or Champagne?

While you may not be able to ask what a candidate earns, you can ask them where they would like to be. There are some Talent acquisition professionals who frame it like this, “What is your beer number and what is your champagne number?” In other words, what do you need this role to offer for it to be worth considering further (based on alignment from a job stretch, challenge, and impact perspective)? That’s the beer number. The champagne number would be, “What would you like to be making assuming this is a lateral/step-up move?”

During the interview process, it is always an innovative idea to treat that number as fluid, and should it reach the offer stage, you can ask again and use the information they’ve given you to soft-close the candidate. The soft close is also a great tool for uncovering any last-minute misalignments that could derail the process.  

5. Lack of Company Culture Fit

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if they don’t feel like they would fit in with the company culture. To prevent this, be clear about the company culture and values in the job description and during the interview process. 

As part of our Hire for Performance process, we have a section called The Head, where we ask candidates questions that help determine their cultural fit and to what degree there is alignment of vision and values.  

Culture and environment are becoming topics of increasing importance to candidates, especially given diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and the language we can now give to toxic work environments. There is a deep recognition of how work-life affects personal-life, and vice versa.  

Providing a strong employee value proposition along with a set of core values that are demonstrably outworked is critical to not just making a hire but to successfully putting the right person in the right seat.  

 6. Poor Candidate Experience

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if they have a poor candidate experience, such as a disorganized interview or unprofessional behavior from the hiring team. To prevent this, ensure that the hiring process is well organized and that all team members involved are professional and respectful.  

You could place poor candidate experience into the open hand of poor communication, and they could skip together straight over a cliff.  

Candidates notice errors in correspondence. They note when names are misspelled, or interviews are scheduled/canceled at short notice. They also notice the work environment they are stepping into and how they are treated during the interview process. There is a lot to be said about supplying a level of hospitality that puts the candidate at ease (unless you are using tactics that are designed to see how a candidate performs under pressure). 

 7. Lack of Growth Opportunities

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if they don’t see opportunities for growth or advancement within the company. To prevent this, be clear about the growth opportunities available, and how the company supports career development.

People want growth; they want a career path. If you can’t give them that, they will look for somewhere/someone else who can. There is a high chance that they are exploring a position with you because it offers them a step up/beyond where they currently are. If their current company could offer them that career path, then there is a good chance they would stay. Don’t make that same mistake. 

8. Unreasonable Expectations

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if they feel like the expectations for the role are unreasonable or unattainable. To prevent this, be clear about the expectations and requirements for the role, and ensure that they are realistic. 

If you need this person to come in during off hours, then let them know up front. That would be grrrreeeaaat (a little Office Space reference for you there). 

9. Lack of Flexibility

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if they feel like there is not enough flexibility in the role, such as with work hours or remote work options. To prevent this, be clear about the expectations for work hours and remote work options and be willing to negotiate if possible. 

More candidates are looking for remote work. Presenting an on-site/hybrid opportunity needs to come with a strong business case as to why this person should consider your role vs. one that allows them the flexibility and freedom of working from home.  

10. Lack of Enthusiasm from the Hiring Team

Candidates may drop out of the interview process if they feel the hiring team is not enthusiastic about the role or the company. To prevent this, ensure that all team members involved in the hiring process are enthusiastic and engaged and that they communicate this enthusiasm to candidates. 

People want to be wanted. Imagine going out on a date with someone who just looked at their phone the whole time. Date number two would not likely take place. People are also sensitive as to how the people of the company give credibility to the brand they experience. If there is misalignment, then that doesn’t bode well for future connections. 

The Wrap Up 

There are many reasons why candidates may drop out of the interview process, but there are also many steps that hiring managers can take to prevent it from happening. By being clear, organized, and communicative, hiring managers can create a positive candidate experience and attract the best candidates for the job. 

One of the ways to ensure that we find the right candidates, and keep them engaged, is through our Hire 4 Performance process. You can learn more about it here. 

More than recruiters, Titus Talent Strategies are a team of Talent Optimizers who genuinely care about the work we do. We empower companies to put the right people in the right seats through informed, connected strategies that combine data with an empathetic understanding of what makes people tick. We recognize that our partners are investing in us and that results mean more than just people placed in a role. It’s about impact and connection. 


Refreshing perspectives and practical expertise from the Titus team.

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