Bad first impressions deterring candidates

?Almost half (48%) of candidates are deterred from applying for jobs after poor first impressions, according to research from Hays

The Hays What Workers Want 2018 survey found a gap between employers' and applicants' perceptions of the recruitment process. While 65% of employers think they provide a 'good' or 'excellent' overall hiring experience, only 55% of applicants agreed.

The report suggested that employers should carefully consider the first impression a prospective employee has of their organisation. It found that 64% of applicants have been deterred by an unwelcoming office environment, and 44% put off by unwelcoming staff. Thirty per cent were put off by the office exterior or location.

Beyond first impressions, one of the main deterrents for applicants was a bad experience at interview, with 59% of applicants saying they've been discouraged from pursuing a role further for this reason.

The majority (84%) of applicants surveyed have had a negative experience at a job interview, with the main complaints being unprepared interviewers (39%), and poor communication or a lack of clarity on the steps involved (38%). Meanwhile, 62% of applicants said they want to meet their direct reports during the interview but only 13% of employers offer this.

A poorly-managed applicant experience can create staff retention problems, the report revealed, with almost half (49%) of employees found to have left at least one new job within the first 12 months because it didn’t meet expectations set during the application process. The key reasons cited by respondents were misleading job adverts (42%), training not provided as expected (42%), mismatched management expectations (34%) and issues with cultural fit (33%).

Delays throughout the recruitment process were another issue highlighted. More than half (57%) of applicants said they are only willing to wait one week after submitting their application before looking elsewhere, and a similar number (58%) are prepared to wait only one to three days after an interview. A quarter (25%) had accepted a job verbally, but because of a long wait for a formal written offer had accepted another position in the meantime.

Simon Winfield, regional managing director, West and Wales at Hays, said that employers should invest more time and resources in the recruitment process.

“Unwelcoming first impressions, misleading job adverts and badly-structured interviews are all key contributors to a poor applicant experience, ultimately making it harder for employers to recruit and retain talent. Organisations need to scrutinise their applicant journey and invest both time and resources into addressing the issues potential employees experience when applying for roles,” he said.

"This means looking at every stage from careers websites and job adverts to interview structures and the on-boarding experience, and ensuring processes are efficient, transparent, welcoming and personalised to the individual. Applicants are telling us that first impressions really matter, so employers must audit, assess and refine the applicant journey to consistently present their organisation in the best possible light to prospective candidates.”

Hays surveyed 14,000 jobseekers and employers.