How to Fix your Candidate Drop-off Rate

How to Fix your Candidate Drop-off Rate

view of workers representing manufacturing recruitment

In today’s job market, getting the candidates you need isn’t always easy. Many companies invest a lot of time and resources into their recruitment efforts, yet still struggle to fill roles. And even when they do attract a strong pool of candidates, many end up dropping out of the process.


In fact, a survey that looked at the responses of more than 1,200 HR professionals and 3,700 recent job seekers found that drop-off rates are around 71% in the UK today.


There are many reasons candidates might drop out of your hiring process, but luckily these are easily fixable with a few small tweaks to your approach.

Table of Contents

What is Candidate Drop-Off?

Candidate drop-off is any time a job applicant leaves the recruitment process before completion.


This might mean that they start an application and don’t finish it. Or it could be that they finish an application, make it to the next round and choose not to continue, or to attend an interview. Any one of these situations is candidate drop-off.


Drop offs can happen at any point in the recruitment process. It can happen at the screening stage, after a phone interview, or a candidate may even not show up on their first day.


A high candidate drop-off is a setback for employers in almost every industry. This is because the further candidates are moved through your process, the more time and resources are spent on them. So naturally the more candidates that drop out mid-way through, the more time and resources are wasted.


Why Does Candidate Drop-Off Happen?

Below, are some of the most common reasons for candidate drop-off in the UK – are you doing any of these?


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Lack of communication from the employer

In one UK survey, 87.5% of candidates said ‘communication issues’ were the main reason they dropped out of an application process. A failure to keep them informed of what was happening in the process, led them to look elsewhere.


If candidates feel that they’re not kept up to date about the status of their application, they’re more likely to lose interest. This is especially true if you have a longer application process.

woman stood shushing

A lengthy recruitment process

72% of candidates said a lengthy recruitment process was their main reason for dropping out of a job application.


In today’s world, (the digital age as some people say) we expect everything at blinding speed. Whether that’s a few minutes wait for a train, fast internet, the list goes on. In fact, we’re so used to speed in the tech world we live in, that anything that doesn’t meet our expectations can cause  negative feelings.

Take the example of an instant text message. Centuries ago, it would have taken weeks, even months to communicate with someone halfway across the world, but now a text arrives in seconds.


These things also play a part in how candidates see a recruitment process. They expect that same level of speed.  

A poor candidate experience

Around 70% of candidates blame poor candidate experience for drop-offs. This could be down to a hiring manager’s behaviour during an interview, or unrealistic expectations for the role in question. Candidates might also feel the application is asking too much for what the job’s worth.


A bad recruitment experience will not only cause candidates to drop out, but it’ll also hurt your chances with other candidates too. Those who have a bad experience may tell friends, family, and even post it on to social media.


Its even been found that 64% of candidates who have a negative experience would be likely to share it with friends and family.

Salary and benefits

You might think that a higher salary would be the deciding factor on whether a candidate wants to work for your company. Whilst that may have been the case before the pandemic, it isn’t now.


A survey by Aviva revealed that more workers were attracted to their roles because of the work/life balance rather than the salary. The same survey highlights that this wasn’t the case in 2019, before the pandemic.


Despite that, we remain in a cost-of-living-crisis. So, to not lose candidates to competitors, or to different industries, you must make sure what you can offer matches what’s expected for the role.


The care sector in the UK is an example of an industry losing employees and candidates to a different industry. Some care workers for example, are leaving to work in supermarkets instead.

cartoon woman surrounded by money


If the job is in an area that’s hard for candidates to get to, they may drop out of the process. This is why remotely located businesses struggle to hire, particularly if you offer little to no remote work options (or it’s not possible).


Additionally, imagine you’re a care home or warehouse in an affluent area. Your chances of finding local workers are reduced.

How to Prevent Candidate Drop-Off

There are changes you can make throughout your hiring process that have a huge impact on your drop-off rate.


Make the application process as simple as possible

Use a simple application form that’s easy to understand and fill out. Reduce the number of steps needed to finish the application and get rid of any unnecessary fields.


Autofill or resume parsing technology can be used to scan CVs for relevant information, saving candidates’ time filling in forms (as well as your own sifting through CVs).


Also, allow candidates to save their progress and come back to complete the application. That removes the pressure to have to do it all in one sitting, which may cause candidates to leave the application for good.


Communicate regularly with candidates

Regular communication with candidates about the status of their application along with information about your company and the opportunity can keep them engaged with you.


Even an auto-sent message straight after application thanking the candidate goes a long way.


Set expectations and provide regular updates on their application status. Consider using automated emails or chatbots to free up your own time while still providing a personalised experience.


Streamline the recruitment process

71% of applicants would abandon an application if it took 15 minutes or longer to complete.  


Consider also using one click apply or easy to fill forms that can be auto filled by uploading a CV and pasting a cover letter. Don’t make candidates fill in information that you can access by having them upload a CV.


Provide a positive candidate experience

A positive candidate experience can help create a strong impression of the company and the job.  Create a positive candidate experience by making candidates feel valued and respected throughout the hiring process.


Be clear and honest about the position and company, and offer timely and personalised feedback. Finding out a job is different to what was being advertised can lead to poor candidate experience and affect your employer branding.


Optimise the application process for mobile

In today’s world, many candidates prefer to apply via their smartphones or tablets. In fact, since 2020, job applications done on a mobile surpassed those done on a desktop. Now, almost 61% of job applications are completed on a mobile.  


So make sure the application form is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and is easy to navigate. Consider providing the option to apply via social media or other messaging apps as well.


Offer competitive salaries and benefits

Offering competitive salaries and benefits ensures candidates don’t instantly rule you out. No matter how good the job sounds and how good your reputation might be, if a candidate can’t sustain themselves on the wage, they won’t apply. The same goes if it’s below the average salary of what’s expected for the job.


Other benefits like a good amount of holiday days, pension plans, volunteer days, go the extra mile. It all helps to tell a candidate what to expect of the company culture.


Be flexible about location

As we mentioned earlier, be realistic about what you expect from candidates. Offering remote work options or being flexible around location can help attract candidates who might otherwise get put off by the commute. This is especially true if you’re in hard-to-reach areas or you’re isolated in the middle of nowhere.


If remote work isn’t possible, you’ll need to re-strategise other ways to attract local candidates. 


Tailor the application process to the specific job requirements

Depending on what job you’re hiring for, make sure to tailor the application process. There should be no one-size-fits all process.


If you were hiring a data scientist, you’d want to see some of their past work or have them do tests in the application form to check their skillset. But if you’re hiring delivery drivers, you may just need to verify their licence and test they can drive a van.


Don’t leave candidates wondering what relevance an application has for their job. Doing so can result in candidates dropping off.


How to calculate your candidate drop-off rate

To improve your drop-off rate, you first need to understand what it currently looks like. That way, you can check over time to see if it’s improving, getting better, or worse (hopefully not if you follow the points in this blog 😊), or staying the same.


Calculate your current drop-off rate, by simply following the steps in the infographic below. To save time, a system like occy will calculate this for you, and pinpoint what area of the process creates the most drop-offs.


How to calculate candidate drop off graphic

How can recruitment technology help?

Using an automated recruitment system can help you avoid most (if not all) of these pitfalls. With a system like occy, you can streamline your hiring with automated communication tools, smart candidate filtering & screening and more – keeping candidates engaged and happy.


But the most useful, is occy’s powerful hiring analytics that automatically calculate your candidate drop-off rate, and where these drop-offs are happening so you can fix it.


With all that occy can offer, you’ll have more than enough tools to tackle high candidate drop-off rates. This is even more important if you’re consistently hiring, as you need a system that works and delivers over and over again.


Candidate drop-off is a thorn in the side of most recruiters. It can lose most companies a large amount of good, qualified candidates. By understanding the reasons why candidates drop off, and at what points in the recruitment process, you can change your hiring process to prevent it.


Candidate drop-off is just one important hiring metric you should be paying attention to. Discover how to improve your hiring performance with the Recruitment Metrics Guide today. 

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