Are candidates pulling out of your recruitment process?

In a UK survey of candidates over 75% said that they had withdrawn their application at least once in the previous two years because of aspects of the process which the hiring organisation or the recruiter did badly.

This represents a huge challenge for organisations in the current climate of skills shortages. Especially given the difficulty of finding strong candidates in the first place and getting them into a recruitment process for the management consultancy job you need to fill.

It is however also a great opportunity for recruiters to tighten up their processes. They should ensure they give management consultancy candidates a top quality and professional service. A key way to think of applicants is that they are as vital to you as clients and customers, if not more so.

The main reasons for applicants withdrawing their applications were:

  • 87.5 % cited “communication issues” namely failing to keep the candidates informed.
  • 72.1% mentioned “timescales”. While mainly this reflected slow and protracted processes causing them to lose interest in a minority of cases it was too short!
  • 70.6 % were unhappy with the interview and assessment process. Examples include being inappropriate for the level of the role, repetitive questions, attempts to find out about competitors and “jumping through hoops” were regular complaints.
  • 68.4% blamed recruiter behaviour/attitude. This covered both internal and external recruiters.
  • 64% referred to interviewer attitude. This included sometimes appearing rude, arrogant, aggressive or ill informed

Other factors leading to candidates withdrawing from the interview process

Less frequent reasons included discovering the role wasn’t what they thought it was i.e. “not as advertised”. Negative research about the employer and lack of rapport between the applicants and the people they met in the process were also cited.

The survey excluded answers where the candidates withdrew because they had found another job elsewhere. However the poor experience may have contributed to them doing so. In other words, the figure is probably an underestimate!

This suggests that while many employers are concerned about candidate and talent shortages that a modest investment in improving processes and communication could significantly improve the likelihood of getting good candidates.


The most common reasons are: poor communication, a slow process and a poor process.
In this competitive market the most common reason is a slow process and lack of regular communications and updates. Candidates will either find another job first or will view the poor process as indicative of a poor employer.

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