10 recruiting annoyances that jobseekers hate – and how you can avoid them

It can be easy to forget that a job advert and job interview needs to sell the company to a prospective employee as well as the other way around. While you have a vacancy to fill, you’re asking someone to put their career and potential happiness in your hands, so it’s important to make sure that you do a good job of letting the best candidates know that your company is somewhere they should be working. Here we take a look at some of the top recruiter annoyances, and how you can get around them:

1. Not letting an applicant know they’ve been unsuccessful

Alright, if you have 400 applications for a job and 300 are clearly unsuitable, it might be very difficult to get back to them all without hiring a temp in. But if you can reply to as many as possible who have applied you should.

Even if the candidate has been unsuccessful this time around, you don’t want to potentially put someone off when a more suitable job becomes available.

2. Not letting an interviewee know they’ve been unsuccessful

This is far worse than not letting an anonymous jobseeker know the situation, as they’ve taken a day out of their schedule, taken the trouble to come to your place of work and potentially completed a long list of tasks for you. Not affording them the courtesy of a quick telephone call, with some brief feedback points, will certainly make them wary of applying again.

3. Being too vague in the job advert

Is it any surprise that so many jobs are seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants when you consider some of the poorly written and vague adverts that do the rounds? Be as specific as you can possibly be and, if a qualification or given length of experience is essential, say so.

4. Ignoring the “preferred contact” method

It may seem like a small thing, but if a candidate has listed they’d prefer to be contacted by email, bombarding them with phone calls that go unanswered is a sure fire way to put someone off. Consider that it may be difficult for someone to talk on the phone during the day, and besides which, showing that you pay attention to details is never a bad thing.

5. Not including salary details upfront

If someone has taken a considerable amount of time putting together the perfect covering letter and CV only to discover that the “competitive” salary you mentioned is £5k less than was expected, they’re unlikely to be impressed, so always be upfront as soon as you can.

6. Asking intimidating questions

Ok, so your company is a big deal and you were the number one last year – but there’s no need to lord it over a poor interviewee. Don’t deliberately ask trick questions designed to make someone look silly if they don’t get it.

You can also help put candidates at ease by smiling lots, maintaining eye contact and speaking slowly and calmly.

7. Using a “too rigorous” interview process

Interviewees tell us that they find lengthy interviews which require presentations, tests or other activities annoying, especially if little to no warning is given. You shouldn’t really expect a candidate to be able to drop everything to prepare a 20-minute presentation with 12 hours’ notice, so bear that in mind when setting tasks.

If you’re going to go through more than a first interview, it’s a good idea to explain why you think it’s necessary to have a second interview – once again allowing enough time for preparation.

Interviewees should bear in mind the words of Chris O’Connell, MD of TJ Consulting, who says of lengthy interviews: “These are fundamental to the interview process to help assess skills. A thorough, robust interview process ensures that we get the highest quality of colleagues.”

8. Overselling vacancies

As we said in the intro, someone is putting a lot on the line to come and work for your company, so if you’ve been a little less than accurate in the job description or at the interview, then chances are they won’t be sticking around for long.

Is the position a junior position? Are there a lot of ‘menial’ tasks? Are there opportunities for promotion in the pipeline? All these questions, and more, should be addressed at some point.

9. Not checking a CV or covering letter properly
It’s going to look a little odd if you ask “have you ever worked in retail?” to a candidate that went into length about their sales history in the application, so make sure you set yourself enough time to properly go through what you’ve got available.

That way, you can be poised to ask more relevant questions and show that you took the time to get to know the person a little bit.

10. Not researching the candidate
Just as you would be insulted if a candidate knew absolutely nothing about your company, so a candidate has a right to be if you know nothing about them.

Candidates expect to be Googled these days, and while for some all it will throw up is a LinkedIn account (which can be very handy for checking recommendations and job history), for other job sectors (for instance media) it can be an excellent way to have a look at what someone is already capable of.


A few tips on how not to wind up jobseekers:

  • Do your research – there’s nothing worse than showing you haven’t even bothered to read the covering letter.
  • Set the candidate at ease – try to relax yourself, maintain eye contact and keep a friendly tone of voice.
  • Ask appropriate questions – avoid those designed to deliberately trip up or fluster a candidate.
  • Be upfront – don’t oversell the vacancy, include salary and promotion details.
  • Make courtesy calls or emails when a candidate is unsuccessful – especially after an interview, to not do so is just plain rude.



  1. Peter Cosgrove June 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks Amy – One thing that I would add.
    Clients that insist on 5 or 6 rounds of interviews, there is only so much you can ask – so plan your interview approach and who will interview as opposed to planning as you go – jobseekers hate that!. one piece of advice to companies – if you found the best candidate tomorrow would you be able to hire them, if not dont start interviewing until you can answer yes to this.

  2. Stuart Richards June 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I have to agree with all of this Amy – ESPECIALLY the not letting applicants know if they are unsuccessful – Since April first I have sent out over 50 CV’s with cover letters, complete with email address (once on CV, once as part of the email itself, and once as my standard signature), along with mobile number twice – and home address twice. I believe I had 6 responses (two for interviews) so less than 10% telling me I was unsuccessful. It is rude, and not necessary in an age where you can group email addresses and BCC at the very least a generic “Thanks for your application but…” At least you know they saw it then rather than just binned it off!

  3. M Bush June 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Agreed. I would also add acknowledging the application – even an automated email receipt gives you confidence that the application has been received. Also a closing date for applications – too many companies leave jobs on their websites that are closed for applications and you only find out when you try to submit your CV.

  4. Mersey August 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Good points about the quite often abysmal ways in which a lot of these employers treat us job applicants. And in regard to those ridiculous, lengthy tests that they force us to complete – well, all I can say is that they should be scrapped.

    • Milton August 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      1) I was interviewing a Sales peosrn for my office and I told the candidate he had to really be able to think on his feet- he asked what does that mean ? NEXT!2) Had one take a call from his cell phone and leave the room. But that wasn’t as bad as when I left the room later to get him water I came back and he had his full size laptop busted out on the table checking email (or something). I was only gone like 4 minutes. NEXT! 3) Had a woman ask me if I was married during a pretty intense interview. NEXT!4) This one is post interview but pre-start. My 40 something year old candidate emails me at 4:30 the morning he is to start and informs me he has had a diving board accident and is too injured to start!!! He didn’t realize it at the time that he would in-fact be starting- but I did!!!!!!!! After 17 years of Recruiting I have stories!!

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