Unfortunately, just like death and taxes, you will at some point in your life as an employer, lose your applicants. Sometimes they may just fall off the planet, other times they may change into someone you previously did not recognise (I don’t mean grow a set of horns, but rather suddenly become very inflexible or start to just talk about the money). There are lots of things you can do to minimise the risk of losing them (check out some of our previous blog posts about that here), but as seasoned recruiters, we thought we would share some of the warning signs that should start to ring your alarm bells and question the commitment of the applicant to your job role.
1. They just want any job
When first vetting your applicant on suitability for an interview, consider if their enthusiasm is for your vacancy or just any job. On many occasions, you might have the perfect person on paper but how much does the applicant want your job? If they have low enthusiasm, their cover letter is very generic, they can’t remember applying for your job, think very hard about whether it is worth perusing their application – you may end up wasting a lot of valuable time.
2. They are disengaged in interview
They look good on paper, they returned your call quickly, it was quick to arrange the interview but at some point, throughout the interview, they suddenly become disengaged. Maybe their body language becomes slouched? Perhaps they are not asking questions or give answers that are yes or no or really short? Look for the telltale signs that your applicants have suddenly been “put off” the job. Get to the bottom of why their behaviour has changed so that you can make a decision on whether you want to progress with their application or decline it.
3. The applicant stops returning your calls
If you suddenly have to start “chasing” your applicant, leaving more than 2 messages - email, text phone – take your pick, it would suggest that the candidate is no longer interested. You could tell yourself that they have taken a holiday or something and maybe they were your perfect candidate and you want to keep trying to get hold of them? Don’t! You will be wasting your time, resources and sanity. Let them go, don’t become a stalker!
4. They suddenly become inflexible
You had a brilliant first interview and the applicant seemed really keen, they were available on any day at any time. You call to arrange a second interview, but suddenly they become very inflexible and cannot make the interview for a couple of weeks and even then it is difficult to pin down a time. I would recommend asking the direct question on how keen they are for the job, what seems to be the problem and then move on.
5. The applicant does not show for an interview
Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently and valuable time preparing and waiting for someone to turn up for an interview is really frustrating. If you can confidently say you have done all you can to ensure that the applicant has had a positive and informative experience with your company so far, put it down to a one-off and move on. If there seems to be a pattern emerging, I would suggest reviewing your attraction policy and recruitment processes.
6. Enthusiasm starts waning
This is similar to inflexibility. If your applicant, who was once keen and eager, suddenly stops being proactive, asking questions and their enthusiasm about the job looks to be reduced, they may have stopped thinking about working for your company and could possibly have another iron in the fire. It would make good sense to ask the applicant and try to draw out the reasons for their reduction in enthusiasm, perhaps ask about other interviews and gauge their commitment to your job role. You may not get the full truth, but if you do experience this telltale sign you may wish to work to resolve the problem or put your efforts into other and more enthusiastic applicants.
7. Their priorities change
At first interview they were seeking a work-life balance and a great friendly company to work for, a second interview or offer stage, they are more interested in the money and the pension. What has changed? Probably their employer has uncovered that they are looking for other jobs and they have received a counter offer. The majority of people who accept counteroffers, end up leaving their job within the next 3 months, so they may be back on your doorstep in the future anyway.
8. They use stalling tactics at offer stage
You make your verbal offer; you are keen to get things moving and get your offer letter out, but your applicant wants some time to think about it. Overnight or a weekend may be acceptable, but any more than this should ring those alarm bells. The chances are, they have other options and they may be trying to play you off against someone else or maybe someone else will be involved in making the decision with them. Getting as much information about their decision-making process and frequent updates of changes in their job hunting efforts will help with potential and frustrating letdowns at this late stage in the game.
9. Paperwork is not completed
Before your new employee starts their job, you will probably need to get some paperwork completed, such as references, right to work and contracts signing. If your application is not able to supply you with the sufficient information that you need in a prompt manner, alarm bells should go off and further questioning is highly recommended.
10. They don’t show up for work on the first day
This can happen and sometimes they may even start and not come back after lunch. Hopefully not on your watch, but remember the recruitment process doesn’t stop just when you get your offer letter out. Ensure you keep in touch with your new employee throughout their notice period and read our 5 tips for successfully hiring your new employee too.
Hopefully, you will not experience all of these warning signs and the applicants you interview will be up front, communicative and honest with you. The main reason we lose applicants throughout the recruitment process is because of the questions we do not ask. To help reduce any nasty shocks and prevent frustrating time wasting, talk to your applicants, listen to what they say and importantly, what they don’t say. Be upfront and ask them about money, other interviews, counteroffers, decision making, flexibility and whether they can see themselves working for your organisation or accepting an offer from you.
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