Why your Interview Process could be Turning Off Top Talent

By: Derek Khan


If someone is actively looking for a new job, they expect to be asked to present a resume, to fill out some paperwork, and to have a series of formal interviews. But if you’re looking to attract the best and the brightest people in your field, a traditional interview process may actually be turning them off.

Consider this, most top talent already has a job.  They are spending their time being successful in their current role. They aren’t interested in spending hours jumping through hoops (on-line applications, phone screenings) just to see if this new role would be a fit.  Asking them to take time to follow “the process” may seem like a reasonable request to the hiring team, but in the end, it could do more harm than good.

Why a Formal Interview Process Doesn’t Work with Passive Candidates.

Top performers are in great demand. While they may be interested in networking with you and possibly having a conversation about joining another company, they’re typically not looking to change jobs. These passive candidates need a new approach to entice them to come work for you.

Pitfalls of the traditional hiring process and how to fix them.

Announcing a Job Opening

Many companies start their job search by posting a job opening. It seems like the logical first step. If you want to attract the best in the field, not only is it not the first step, it might not need to be a part of your process at all.


Before there’s even an opening, companies should be looking for potential candidates within their network of top performers. These networks should be built over time and nurtured so when the time is right, these top candidates are ready to consider making a move. Reaching out to top candidates in a personal way, over time, helps create an environment of trust right from the beginning.

Asking for a Resume

Many companies typically ask for a resume, even with passive candidates who aren’t in the job market. The problem is that many passive candidates may be put off by this step and don’t want the possibility of their resume being circulated, especially if the new opportunity is in a similar industry. A resume feels too official in the conversation stage and also takes a lot of time and effort to create.


Top performers are already well known in the market because of their strong backgrounds and success stories. Having clear performance objectives outlined for the role to see whether this person can do, achieve, and accomplish the new opportunity is what’s important.  Creating conversations around these objectives along with administering assessments can be much more productive and accurate than reviewing any resume.

Completing an Application Form

For some companies this step is required for legal reasons and skipping it is not possible, but shifting it to another point in the process may be a great alternative.  Imagine a passive candidate who is comfortable in their current position but open to maybe moving to your company. The application process feels like a formal commitment and asking for references and background checks, etc. suddenly removes any feeling of confidentiality. This is one of the biggest turnoffs for passive candidates and can cause them to bail out of the whole process.


Consider moving the application paperwork portion to the very end of the process to satisfy your company’s legal requirements.  This allows the candidate time to solidify their decision to join your company and takes away any non-critical work that might frustrate a top performer.

Formal Interview in the Office

The first meeting with the company is often in the office and can be uncomfortable. If you’re talking with a passive candidate, they might feel uneasy about being in a competitor’s office around colleagues in their field.  In addition, having to be part of a formal interview may make them feel on edge, especially if they’re not actively looking for a job.


Consider changing the word “interview” to “conversations,” and moving them outside of the office environment.  Meet for breakfast, lunch, or coffee after hours.  You can even have a couple of team members at these conversations to make this process more productive.  Having conversations instead of formal interviews in the office not only creates a more relaxed environment, it also may help you get a glimpse into the real person.

The overarching solution to turning a rigid process into an inviting approach is shifting the mindset from a paperwork-centric one to a conversation between professional peers. This demonstration of your company’s flexibility and innovation from the outset is inherently appealing to today’s highly sought after professional. It’s a novel way to turn your hiring process into an acquiring process.

If you’d like to learn more about how Titus Talent opens doors to recruitment, contact us and we’ll start that conversation.



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