3 Application Barrier Mistakes That Cost You Top Candidates

Like most people, I’m a fan of a good donut. But I rarely go to my favorite shop because it’s a one-hour drive, traffic is insane, and the seemingly-constant road construction makes me nervous. Instead, I buy slightly less delicious, but still great, donuts at a shop five minutes from my office.

Applying for jobs works kind of the same way. If candidates want a great job and have multiple companies to choose from, they’re probably going to take the path of least resistance and apply to the job with a more convenient application process—even if the other company is slightly better. And this is where you lose great candidates.


You aren’t the only option great candidates have, and a process that’s too strenuous may cause candidates to walk away. Especially in this job market. Ana Recio, head of global recruiting at Salesforce, said in an interview with Fortune, “The days of begging for a job are gone … It’s a candidate’s market. We send them ‘thank you’ notes after interviews now.”

You may or may not need to send a thank you note to applicants, but you certainly need to make it reasonable for them to apply to your company. With that in mind, here are some common application barrier mistakes that cost companies great candidates:

Poor User Experience

If you download an app that’s not simple to use, you delete it. If checking out of an online store is a pain, you don’t buy. If navigating an application process is complicated, great candidates don’t apply. And why should they? If they’re an active candidate, figuring out how to apply to your company will delay them from applying to multiple other companies. And passive candidates won’t be bothering to look anyway.

One way to improve user experience is to find an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that provides a delightful experience for both recruiters and applicants. Recruiters benefit from better tools and more applicants. Applicants will have a better candidate experience (and will likely be more impressed with your company). It’s a win-win.

Unchecked Requirements

Some requirements listed on job descriptions become recruiting traditions and nothing more. The problem is, these traditions cause great candidates to self-select out of your candidate pool. In order to get the great candidates you need, take a look at the requirements section of your job descriptions.

Now, by yourself or with a hiring manager, drill down to the why of each requirement. Is a degree really required? Or are you just listing “degree” when what you need is someone with deep knowledge and experience? Do you really need someone with three to five years experience? Or would it be possible to train a tenacious entry-level hire? Requirements aren’t bad, just make sure you’re listing what you actually need.

Time-Consuming Processes

It’s not fair (or efficient) to take too much of your applicants’ time. And most applicants don’t tolerate the runaround. In fact, 68 percent of applicants who give up on an application do so “because the process was too long or required too much information.” Also, make sure your interview process doesn’t have unnecessary steps. (Remember: They’re likely taking time from their regular job to interview with you; be respectful of their time.)

To streamline the process and avoid unnecessary barriers, cut everything that isn’t necessary to help you pick a candidate. Don’t make them type out experience if they’re attaching their resume. Just ask for referral phone numbers (not letters or addresses) if you’re just going to call anyway. And keep interview rounds to a minimum. Cutting out unnecessary steps will make the application investment more worthwhile for your applicants.

I really love my favorite donut shop. But not enough to jump (or drive) through hoops to go there regularly. Similarly, great applicants likely won’t jump through hoops to apply for your jobs. Make applying delightful with the help of an ATS, drill down to the “why” of each of your requirements, and take out unnecessary application and interview steps. If you focus on only keeping the right barriers, and get rid of the unnecessary ones, you’ll be able to create an application and interview process that helps you source and hire great applicants.

Want more tips on recruiting that attracts top talent? Check out the BambooHR and Glassdoor webinar,
“7 Ways to Build a Brand That Attracts Top Talent.”