How to “Turn Off” Prospective Candidates



In case you aren’t aware, Instinct specialises in digital learning recruitment covering positions within the Commercial World, Higher & Professional Education, the NHS and Charities (to name a few). Therefore, as a collective we encounter a range of recruitment processes from clients – some of which more successful and more popular than others.

Instinct can appreciate why certain processes are in place, however we will share some of the more arduous processes we have encountered and why we would suggest steering away from certain routes. Likewise, we will share the most successful processes for candidate retention and therefore securing the perfect person.

The (really) Bad

Safe to say, the most outrageous interview process was a whopping 13 stages stretched over a period of 10 months. Yes, you read that correctly, 13 stages over 10 months. We understand that Senior level professionals need to speak to relevant members of the company, and the fit needs to be correct, but our view is that 4 stages should be sufficient for any Senior/Director level posting.

Process Duration

There are many drawbacks of lengthy recruitment processes, the main being – if you move too slowly, your favourite candidate (usually the best candidate) will be offered a new position from a company (competitor) that moved quicker. Your own competition will beat you to the best candidate.

Candidates (especially if the recruitment process is not outlined from the start) will view the process, and therefore the company, as inefficient. Their impression will be that in order to get anything done within the organisation, they will have to get through layers and layers of red tape whilst trying to jump through several hoops simultaneously. This will either make them not interested in the role or chose another company (with a streamlined process) and you will be firmly back to square one.

Initial Application

Before getting to the interview stage however, candidates need to apply. Instinct does not disagree with this, it is very important that they apply, and that the hiring manager can see information about the candidates before moving them forward within the process. However, is it necessary for them to fill in an online form taking 3 working days detailing their life story in a series of boxes, attaching their CV, and a personalised cover letter along with a copy of their medical history, diversity monitoring and their family tree? No, it isn’t!!!

The longest application form we encountered was an outrageous 9 pages with the request for a diversity monitoring along with their CV and Cover Letter. Suffice to say, the best candidates, with multiple opportunities declined this unnecessary admin.

Attracting the Best

The highest quality candidates are usually rather busy individuals. They have a job, they have a social life & responsibilities, they may have children and any of the spare time they do have doesn’t need to be spent writing their autobiography for a career application page. If people aren’t actively searching and desperate to move, then the chances are they won’t be willing to do this lengthy application process therefore, this automatically narrows your pool of suitable candidates.

We understand “if they aren’t willing to do the form, then they aren’t invested in the process”, however, we find that following a first initial call directly with the client to find out more about what you can offer them, that candidates automatically become more interested and invested. This call can be 15-20 minutes of your day – a similar amount of time it takes you to read through the form.

Instinct’s Value

At Instinct we thoroughly screen all candidates, give them an insight into the company and the position along with any additional information. If the candidates have the correct skillset, you will see their CV. This process acts as an initial application process, so you can be assured that the candidates are relevant to your opportunity and have provided written confirmation that they would like to apply. For the candidates, all they need to do is provide an updated version of their CV.

Our Polite Suggestions

Throughout our 10-year history, we have found the following to be the best for a recruitment process:

Following an initial screening call with Instinct, you will see their CVs & Portfolio (if applicable)…


·        Junior & Mid-Level: 1 stage

·        Senior/Director Level: 2 stages with presentation or task


·        Junior & Mid-Level: 2 stages (with task or presentation if necessary)

·        Senior/Director level: 3 stages (with task or presentation if necessary)

Overall, there is no reason to complicate things. Keep it simple, be agile and don’t miss out on the perfect person because of a slow, unnecessary process.

Get in touch today