Is your recruitment process fair, relevant and timely?

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More than three quarters of prospective employees are turned off a job/employer by a long recruitment process, according to a survey.

The survey revealed that the two biggest influences on a job-seekers’ opinion of an employer are the length of the recruitment process and the person or persons conducting the interviews.

The research, from recruiter Robert Walters, found that 79% of job-seekers were turned off from a job by a long recruitment process and 45% have withdrawn from a recruitment process because they didn’t like the person or persons conducting the interviews. Robert Walters’ managing director James Nicholson, said the findings are consistent with feedback consultants regularly receive from candidates. “Skills shortages are becoming apparent across a range of industries/professions and quality candidates often have multiple employment options to choose from,” he said.

Nicholson said he has consistently observed that the organisations that are slow to make decisions or fail to properly sell the role/employment promise find it impacts their ability to attract the best talent available. As a result, it is critical that employers examine their recruitment processes to ensure they are streamlined and clearly defined, and that the people involved in the process are best equipped to represent the organisation in a positive light.

In other findings, 77% of respondents believed that a full recruitment process (from applying for the job to receiving a written employment contract) should take less than one month; only 3% believe it should take more than two months. The majority of respondents (71%) also believe they should only have to undertake two job interviews before receiving a job offer, and 91% said they had at some stage applied for a job and never received a response.

Most recruitment processes today also include background checks and skills/abilities assessments – again, not only is the length of time it takes to complete these an issue, but they can also influence individuals’ perceptions of an organisation and the job.

Leanne Lee, consulting psychologist at Onetest, provided five tips for how employers can increase candidate perceptions of justice, fairness and relevance in the selection process:


  1. Selection procedures that are related to the job – candidates want to be assessed on criteria related to the job they will be performing. An easy way to ensure this is to provide accurate information about what they can expect during the recruitment process. Further, making clear the relevancy of the assessments at each stage of the recruitment phase.
  2. Opportunity to perform – candidates want to be able to display their skills, knowledge and abilities to their employer. If candidates feel that they are assessed on irrelevant criteria they feel they have missed the opportunity to show what they can really do.
  3. Consistency of administration – similar to employers, candidates want a level playing field to ensure fairness. Assessments are one way to ensure this, as all candidates for a position are assessed using a standard, objective test. This level playing field can be contrasted to a recruitment process based solely on interviews, which are subjective and leave the candidates wondering whether the process was consistent. 
  4. Honest, timely and informative feedback - feedback is important in making the candidate’s experience positive and helps candidates feel like recruitment is a two way process. Appropriate candidate feedback is accurate, informative and prompt. However, assessments are only one aspect of the recruitment process. Providing timely feedback or an accurate estimate of when a candidate can expect to hear about the progression of their application is a low-cost but effective way to create a perception of fairness and provide a positive candidate experience*.
  5. Interpersonal, two-way communication – clear communication is important for candidates to feel they have been treated fairly and humanely.

*Gilliand, S.W. (1995). Fairness from the applicant’s perspective: Reactions to employee selection procedures. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 3, 11-19.


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