5 Things Recruiters Do That Drive Candidates Crazy

June 2, 2015

As a recruiter, we assume you don’t want to annoy candidates. Even looking at it in the most selfish way possible, it hurts your ability to close candidates and ruins your company’s reputation, which is never good for the bottom line.

So, to help you understand what irritates candidates most, we surveyed more than 20,000 professionals and asked them a pretty simple question: “What one thing frustrates you most about the recruiting process?”

While there was a wide-array of responses, five themes emerged. Without further ado, here are the five things recruiters do that drive candidates crazy and solutions for you:

1. They don’t keep candidates up-to-date

This is one of the most common responses we saw. People who didn’t get a job were upset when recruiters didn’t tell them. And, candidates who were still in the process complained that they only hear from a recruiter when it’s convenient for the recruiter.

Sample responses:

“Lack of communication. I’m left to guess that they’ve gone with another candidate because my phone stops ringing and my emails go unanswered.”

“Poor communication from the recruiter. They should respond back in a timely matter. They are the ones who made contact.”

“Recruiters can be very selfish with communication.”


Keep your candidates warm by contacting them at least once-a-week, even if there is no new news to report. And let your candidates know if they don’t get the job, particularly if they interviewed with you.

2. The hiring process is sloooooooow

Another very popular one. A lot of people complained the hiring process was just too long and burdensome.

Sample responses:

“The process takes so long! Speeding up the application process would make me a lot happier.”

“It takes too long for interviewers to get back with recruiters and too long for recruiters to set up interviews. There appears to be no sense of urgency.”

“Length of the process.”


Obviously, shorten the process when possible. But, if you feel like you can’t shorten it without compromising quality, keep candidates engaged by consistently communicating with them.

3. They don’t give straight answers

Quite a few people complained that recruiters didn’t give them straight answers about the position or embellished. Some even said they were outright lied to.

Sample responses:

“Too much mystery. More upfront information could save both parties a lot of time.”

“Selling the company for something it isn’t.”

“Recruiters tend to oversell the company. It's tough to get an accurate idea of the good and the bad.”


Lying or exaggerating about a position is never a good idea and will almost certainly have a negative outcome. Think about it - if you hire someone under false pretenses, how long do you really think they’ll stay? Obviously, the solution here is just to be as honest and straightforward as possible. That’s the only way to hire the best fit for the role and keep everyone happy.

4. They reach out despite knowing nothing about the person

This was another one of the most common complaints cited by professionals.

Sample responses:

“Recruiters who don't bother to read my resume before contacting me.”

“I find that recruiters just troll LinkedIn for candidates and don't actually look at my profile.”

“Recruiters having done minimal research or just cold calling without knowing my specific skills and contributions.”


Not only is this annoying for candidates, it’s ineffective for recruiters. Targeting the people who are most likely to accept the job and then researching them before you reach out is the most effective way to recruit passive candidates.

5. They don’t know the job. At all.

This was a particularly common complaint among people who work in the technical fields.

Sample responses:

“Recruiters usually have little knowledge about what the actual job entails besides what's written on the job description. It doesn't give them much credibility.”

“Most recruiters don't speak with knowledge of the industry or job they are hiring for.”


You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in the field you are recruiting in, but you should at least know it enough to have a conversation about it. So, be sure to have at least a cursory knowledge of the position and what it entails before reaching out to candidates.

To learn more about what talent is experiencing and what they like (or don't like) during the job-seeking process, download our free 2015 Talent Trends report.

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*Image by The White House