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4 red flags job seekers look for that may cause candidate drop-off

Anna Ruby
July 15, 2021

“Another one bites the dust. And another one gone. And another one gone. Another one bites the dust.” 

If the above song lyrics can describe your talent acquisition pipeline, you may have a candidate drop-off problem.  

Candidate drop-off is a natural part of the recruiting and talent acquisition process. It’s normal for job seekers to remove themselves from your pipeline if they realize there isn’t a good fit or accept another job offer. But if your candidate drop-off rates affect your ability to fill open positions, it may be time to address the situation.  

As a recent job seeker (I joined iCIMS in April 2021), I found that half the battle in job searching was learning which companies to avoid. Unfortunately, sometimes these red flags weren’t evident until I started to interview. If I ever felt uncomfortable (or even offended), I would politely excuse myself from the process.  

I’m sure that your company would never intend to offend a candidate or make them uncomfortable. But it can be helpful to see things from a candidate’s perspective to make sure that your hiring process is as inclusive and welcoming as possible.  

Here are four red flags job seekers look for that could be contributing to high candidate drop-off rates.  

1. Not hearing back from recruiters in a timely manner 

When you’re a job seeker, there seems to be a natural rhythm to the interview process. First, you apply to a bunch of jobs. After a few weeks of silence, you get a flood of responses. After interviewing, the silent treatment returns. Rinse. Repeat. 

In between this rhythm, the candidate could be working a full-time job, sending follow-up emails to interviewers, and submitting other applications. So, when a recruiter takes more than 3-5 days to respond with next steps or feedback, it can cause candidates to lose interest in the opportunity and drop out of the process.  

Personally, I invested my effort in the companies and recruiters that invested in me. If I didn’t hear back from a company for several days, I took it as a red flag that they had moved on, and I did the same.  

Consistently engage with candidates to help keep them interested. Something as simple as a text message from a recruiter goes a long way. I always felt special and recognized when my iCIMS recruiter sent me a text to ask how the interview went. Of course, we all know how that story ends 😉  

2. A lack of diversity in your hiring panel 

A non-diverse hiring panel can be a red flag for job seekers that look for diversity and inclusion when evaluating a potential employer. While it is important to demonstrate your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the entire talent journey, the iCIMS Class of 2021 Report found that 58% of Gen Z looks for diversity during the hiring or interview process.  

Furthermore, a Glassdoor study revealed which sources job seekers trust to understand what diversity and inclusion really looks like at a company. 66% of job seekers trust employees, 19% trust senior leaders, 9% trust the company’s website, and only 6% trust recruiters. 

When a candidate interviews with a group of diverse people from your company, it can help them feel confident that you practice what you preach.  

To further demonstrate your commitment to DEI and prevent candidate drop-off, you can encourage your hiring panel to talk about diversity and inclusion during the interview. They could mention available employee resource groups (ERG), their favorite part of the company culture, or even how they practice diversity and inclusion in their day-to-day role.  

Learn four more ways to build diversity and inclusion into your business practices. 

3. Negative employee reviews  

Probably the most common red flag for job seekers is bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor. These reviews can have a significant impact on your candidate drop-off rates. When I was job searching, I would often find an open role that seemed like a decent fit. But after psyching myself up to apply, I would remember to check their employee reviews. If the company had a low rating and many negative reviews, I would run for the hills!  

Common red flags I found:  

  • Poor benefits and/or compensation  
  • Rude or unhelpful management
  • No room for advancement  

If you have reviews like these, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad company. Often, it just means your detractors are louder than your advocates. 

Consider asking your hundreds (or thousands) of happy employees for their feedback. With employee onboarding software, you can routinely ask new hires for their feedback without adding manual effort to recruiters’ plates.  

Remember, reviews should be honest and optional. If your employees have had a positive experience (of course they have, you’re a great company!), a simple ask can be just the trick to prompt their positive feedback. Over time, those reviews turn your online reputation around and pull job seekers in. 

4. Requesting free work as an “assessment”  

This is a BIG red flag for job seekers. While the exact details vary, the accounts I have witnessed follow the same general story:  

  • During the interview process, Abigail is asked to submit a logo mock-up to prove her design capabilities.  
  • Abigail submits her work and doesn’t move forward in the interview process.  
  • Several weeks later, Abigail checks the company’s website and sees her logo!
  • She did not receive compensation or credit for the use of her design.  

Stories like this get around, and candidates may become paranoid that they will be ripped off. I was paranoid, too. 

One interviewer asked me for a 30-day plan to detail how I would execute the marketing department’s objectives. This was an associate role with associate-level compensation, and the marketing director asked me to provide strategy and direction after only one interview. 

I felt I was being taken advantage of, so I politely excused myself from the running. I wanted to be overly cautious (and protect my time), even if that meant turning down a potential opportunity.  

Of course, assessing a candidate’s skills in the right way is an essential part of the hiring process. To keep candidates in your funnel, use automated talent assessments from reputable providers. Automated assessments are recruiter-friendly because certified, third-party experts grade them. This helps to reduce implicit bias and reduces administrative work for recruiters. 

Candidates can feel confident that companies genuinely want to evaluate their skills, not rip them off.


If you find that your company has performed some of these red flagsyou can commit to doing better. Small steps every day can significantly enhance the candidate experience. To find more tips on how to address red flags and create a more inclusive candidate experience, download our Inclusive Hiring Guide.

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